Highgate Win The U13 Girls Nationals

Mark Williams reports: 

14/02/19: Thirty-two pairs from six schools entered this youngest age-group competition for girls at the National Schools' Championships in association with Advanta Wealth, which was won for the second year in succession by Highgate.

Three pairs qualified from each pool for the second round; Pool 1sts had a bye to the 3rd round.

In the second round (Pool 2nd v 3rd: 1 game), there were three instances of Pool 3rds winning: Highgate 8, Ipswich 4 & 6, and all eight matches were convincing wins. All subsequent rounds were best of 3 games.

In the third round, Ipswich 2 managed to beat Pool 1st Highgate 2 in two close games: a commendable achievement, but all other matches were convincing straight games wins. Notably, both Berkhamsted and Ipswich got five pairs through to this last 16 stage.

In the quarter-finals, Cranleigh 1, Highgate 1 and Berkhamsted 1 won easily, but Ipswich 1 and Belmont 1 were very well matched: locked at 1 game all, there was a terrific decider with the former just scraping through 12-9.

Both semi-finals were convincing wins for Cranleigh Prep and Highgate against Ipswich and Berkhamsted respectively. The latter were losing finalists in last year's competition, so the Highgate pair played particularly well.

Both pairs started nervously in the final, with Carnleigh Prep in particular unable to reproduce their impressive form in earlier matches. Highgate established an early lead 6-1, but Cranleigh rallied to level at 8 all, before Highgate recovered their composure to take the first game. The taller and stronger Anderson for Highgate, cut and returned cut well and dominated the game when given a chance; her partner, the left-handed LeClerq, cut very effectively at low pace to the server's left, and was surprisingly effective, although she was less dominant in the rallies.

Syvret and Barr for Cranleigh hit their stride in the second game with both players attacking the ball earlier, and returning a much greater proportion of cuts than before; they went on to win the game comfortably 12-2, and looked the likelier winners.

Cranleigh quickly established a 6-1 lead in the 3rd game, but Highgate upped their game and responded, with Anderson dominating the rallies, and crucially Cranleigh lost the ability to return LeClerq's deceptive cut. They drew level, but after a long period of relative equality, Highgate finally pulled away to record a remarkable victory. Cranleigh fought hard right to the end, but again lacked the confidence and accuracy that they had demonstrated in previous matches.

 

Results

 

Quarter-Finals

Cranleigh Prep 1 beat Ipswich 2 2-0 (12-1, 12-3)

Ipswich 1 beat Belmont 1 2-1 (12-7, 6-12, 12-9)

Highgate 1 beat Berkhamsted 2 2-0 (12-3, 12-0)

Berkhamsted 1 beat Berkhamsted 3 2-0 (12-2, 12-3)

 

Semi-Finals

Cranleigh Prep 1 (E.Syvret & C.Barr) beat Ipswich 1 (A.Parker & P.Tweedy) 2-0 (12-4, 12-1)

Highgate 1 (E.Anderson & N.LeClerq) beat Berkhamsted 1 (A.Wingfield & M.Day) 2-0 (12-6, 12-5)

 

Final

Highgate 1 beat Cranleigh Prep 1 2-1 (12-8, 2-12, 12-7)