Nearly 100 Players Take Part In The EFA Trophy Qualifiers
19/11/18: 14 teams, many of whom brought squads of 7 or 8, took part in the EFA Trophy in association with Advanta Wealth qualifying rounds at Eton yesterday, meaning well over 90 players filled all 16 courts at Eton all day, with a total of 126 games of Fives played.
The EFA Trophy has always traditionally been a well-supported competition, but the entry this year was particularly pleasing, hopefully a reflection of the healthy state of recreational club Fives at the moment rather than an anomalous one-off and perhaps even evidence of the impact of the FiveStar project.
Whatever the reason for the large entry, it made for a tremendous day's Fives, with a huge range of age and experience represented on the courts. The teams who have been involved at the sharp end of this competition in recent years - Old Salopians, Oxford University, Aldenham, North Oxford, Old Ipswichians, Old Wulfrunians and Monday Knights - were all present, with North Oxford having enough players for a second team and the Ipswichians enough to combine with the Lancing trio to make another side. The Old Citizens were back again, with Fives legend John Reynolds leading the line, as were the Old Olavians (with some support from REFCA coaches and the Wiseman family!) after an absence of several years. There were also some welcome newcomers: Ryan Perrie brought along a team of Berkhamsted parents, whose play during the course of the day deserved far greater reward on the scoreboard than they actually got; the work of regional organiser Will Thomas at Newbury meant an entry for a young and talented St.Bart's-based team and Will Seath & Ollie Avery's efforts at Royal Holloway produced a debut appearance in the competition for their nascent Fives club.
The fourteen teams were divided into two groups, playing a day long round robin of three pair matches with each game played up to 15. The two teams from each group with the most points at the end of the day would then move forward to the semi-finals in February.
Group A was dominated from start to finish by a very strong Old Salopian team, who won 18 games out of 18, conceding more than 10 points on only two occasions. A crucial 3-0 win by the Old Olavians over Aldenham in Round 5 (including a 15-13 and a 15-14) knocked the Aldenham team out of the qualification equation, leaving the Olavians and Ipswichians to fight it out in a winner takes all final round match. The Olavians won the second pair easily, but the Suffolk side won impressively at third pair to level, leaving qualification down to the tight and tense first pair match between Josh Ravi & Sanjay Kundu and Tim Gregory & Steve Burnell. With a large crowd roaring the players on, this one went right down to the wire, the young Olavian pair only moving ahead at the last gasp to win 15-12 and take their team through to the semi-finals.
The qualifiers in Group B were clearer from earlier on. Defending champions Oxford University were playing the Salopian role, moving through unbeaten despite having to work hard on occasions. Lancing/Ipswich, the Old Wulfrunians and the Monday Knights were all winning points but unable to muster the necessary consistency across all three pairs and all three fell to defeat at the hands of North Oxford A, who were emerging as the likely second qualifier. The last round saw the two Oxford rivals play each other with North Oxford needing a 3-0 win to take top spot: a comeback from 14-7 down at third pair to win 15-14 gave the students a 2-1 victory and first place in the group. Ultimately over the course of the day it was the ability to close out the tight matches that made the difference between first and second, North Oxford losing three games 15-14 and the University scoring 15-14 and 15-13 wins. The young (apart from uberveteran Cox anyway) Newbury side finished in fine style with a 3-0 win over Royal Holloway, who improved greatly during the course of the day.
Our thanks go to sponsors Advanta Wealth, to George Thomason and Eton for hosting the tournament and to all of the teams and players who came along and made it such a fantastic day.
Round 1: North Oxford B beat Old Citizens 2-1 (10-15, 15-10, 15-14); Old Salopians beat Old Olavians 3-0 (15-2, 15-1, 15-3) Aldenham beat Berkhamsted 3-0 (15-8, 15-3, 15-3)
Round 2: Old Salopians beat North Oxford B 3-0 (15-4, 15-4, 15-3); Old Ipswichians beat Berkhamsted 3-0 (15-4, 15-7, 15-0); Old Olavians beat Old Citizens 2-1 (11-15, 15-1, 15-6)
Round 3: Old Olavians beat Berkhamsted 3-0 (15-8, 15-3, 15-1); Old Salopians beat Old Citizens 3-0 (15-11, 15-5, 15-5); Old Ipswichians beat Aldenham 2-1 (15-7, 13-15, 15-4)
Round 4: Old Salopians beat Aldenham 3-0 (15-3, 15-14, 15-4); Old Olavians beat North Oxford B 2-1 (14-15, 15-7, 15-4); Old Ipswichians beat Old Citizens 2-1 (7-15, 15-6, 15-8)
Round 5: Old Ipswichians beat North Oxford B 3-0 (15-3, 15-12, 15-5); Old Salopians beat Berkhamsted 3-0 (15-2, 15-4, 15-5); Old Olavians beat Aldenham 3-0 (15-9, 15-13, 15-14)
Round 6: North Oxford B beat Berkhamsted 3-0 (15-7, 15-8, 15-3); Aldenham beat Old Citizens 3-0 (15-7, 15-6, 15-5); Old Salopians beat Old Ipswichians 3-0 (15-5, 15-7, 15-10)
Round 7: Aldenham beat North Oxford B 3-0 (15-6, 15-4, 15-3); Old Citizens beat Berkhamsted 3-0 (15-10, 15-14, 15-1); Old Olavians beat Old Ipswichians 2-1 (15-12, 15-1, 12-15)
Old Salopians 18 points
Old Olavians 12 points
Old Ipswichians 11 points
Aldenham 10 points
North Oxford B 6 points
Old Citizens 6 points
Berkhamsted 0 points
Round 1: Oxford University beat Royal Holloway 3-0 (15-1, 15-1, 15-0); Old Wulfrunians beat Monday Knights 2-1 (2-15, 15-3, 15-8); North Oxford A beat Newbury 3-0 (15-6, 15-3, 15-3)
Round 2: Old Wulfrunians beat Royal Holloway 3-0 (15-2, 15-3, 15-0); North Oxford A beat Lancing/Ipswich 2-1 (14-15, 15-2, 15-3); Oxford University beat Monday Knights 3-0 (15-6, 15-13, 15-7)
Round 3: North Oxford A beat Monday Knights 2-1 (15-4, 14-15, 15-9); Oxford University beat Old Wulfrunians 3-0 (15-6, 15-7, 15-9); Lancing/Ipswich beat Newbury 3-0 (15-7, 15-2, 15-7)
Round 4: Old Wulfrunians beat Newbury 3-0 (15-5, 15-4, 15-10); Monday Knights beat Royal Holloway 3-0 (15-7, 15-2, 15-2); Oxford University beat Lancing/Ipswich 3-0 (15-7, 15-8, 15-7)
Round 5: Lancing/Ipswich beat Royal Holloway 3-0 (15-3, 15-2, 15-0); North Oxford A beat Old Wulfrunians 3-0 (15-6, 15-5, 15-9); Monday Knights beat Newbury 3-0 (15-2, 15-1, 15-8)
Round 6: North Oxford A beat Royal Holloway 3-0 (15-4, 15-1, 15-1); Oxford University beat Newbury 3-0 (15-2, 15-0, 15-7); Lancing/Ipswich beat Old Wulfrunians 2-1 (15-12, 13-15, 15-5)
Round 7: Newbury beat Royal Holloway 3-0 (15-8, 15-7, 15-4); Oxford University beat North Oxford A 2-1 (15-5, 15-12, 15-14); Monday Knights beat Lancing/Ipswich 2-1 (15-3, 7-15, 15-7)
Oxford University 17 points
North Oxford A 14 points
Monday Knights 10 points
Lancing/Ipswich 10 points
Old Wulfrunians 9 points
Newbury 3 points
Royal Holloway 0 points
Old Salopians v North Oxford
Old Olavians v Oxford University
Feb 24th 2019 at Eton