2004/05 School Reports

These reports first appeared in the Eton Fives Association Annual Report 2004/05

Cranleigh - Jonathan Carr

Fives goes from strength to strength at Cranleigh School with more students playing than ever before and with the emergence of some genuine talent. We have fielded girls' teams for the first time in the school's history, the fixture list has been expanded and many of the players have benefited from regular professional coaching courtesy of Anthony Theodossi from Howard Wiseman's Fives Coaching Agency.The year started on a very positive note when we put out a school record 13 pairs against St.Olave's. The team included boys and girls at every age group including some U14 beginners and was played at Eton College. One or two of our girl players certainly attracted some bemused glances from the Eton boys as they battled with their opposition! Thanks to Mark Williams for opening up his courts so generously.

Another highlight of the season was Fives Captain, Michael Roper's, outstanding performance in reaching the final of the national Turnbull Trophy. Michael formed a combative partnership with Mr Mark Halstead from Cranleigh Prep School. Their "never say die" approach, including some spectacular diving from Mark, saw them through against pairs from Westminster, Ipswich, Eton and St. Olave's to be eventually defeated by Messrs Wiseman and Betts of Lancing.

The climax of the season came in the Fives Nationals at Shrewsbury in March. Cranleigh entered 11 pairs in this competition, many of the boys enduring a gruelling 6 hour round bus trip to make the event. The boys were buoyed, however, by our special "squad shirts" very kindly provided by Mr David Martin of The Brigands and Kelly International. David has been a great supporter of Fives at Cranleigh and matches between the school and The Brigands have become a regular part of our season.

The school's top pairs, Michael Roper/Matt Crump and Phil Roper/Harry Milburn-Fryer performed well in the Senior competition. Michael and Matt won the Plate Competition while Phil and Harry, competing in a much higher age group, also achieved some excellent results. They will be a pair to watch over the next couple of seasons.

Further down the school, we have been invigorated by some fresh talent. The pick of the U14 pairs is Billy Thomas and Alex Frew while a number of beginners such as Michael Holford, Henry Church and Matt Kealy are also developing quickly.

Once again thanks must go to Howard Wiseman and Anthony Theodossi for their exceptional support of Cranleigh Fives.

Lancing College - Andrew Betts

Fives is in a very healthy condition at Lancing. Over the last few years under the guidance of some very dedicated captains and the unfailing help and encouragement of Howard Wiseman and coaches, the game has taken secure root and the standard of play is rising.

Pairs from Lancing have entered most competitions over the year at all levels and we are beginning to reap the rewards of the effort put in by so many. Our U14 beginners, including an 11 year-old from Mowden, Lancing's Junior School performed very well at the Schools' Nationals at Shrewsbury. Our senior players, both boys and girls, have entered the Rossall Schools competition, the London Tournament and the Kinnaird, performing respectably in all of them, reaching the final in the doubles competition at Rossall.

This year's Captain, Will Betts, and Howard Wiseman won the Graham Turnbull trophy and Will and Charlie Gough reached the semi-final in the Plate competition of the Kinnaird Cup.

Sophie Palmer and Juliet Browning won the U18 Girls' National Championship at Shrewsbury this year. Girls' Fives is in a very strong state at Lancing, with the second pair, Ashley Lumbard and Rosie Scott not very far behind the first pair. Our U14 girls are very strong too and one of them, Ashley's sister, Jessica, stood in for Rosie at the Nationals in the second pair which was knocked out by Lancing 1 in the semi-finals.

The renovation and enclosing of the north courts has provided a real focus for the sport and there is now very much a clubhouse feel to the area. There are even two sofas for the comfort of spectators.

There is now a fairly steady stream of players leaving the College who are playing at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham and the OL club is beginning to benefit from a supply of younger players. Current members of the College as well as former pupils go each year on the Tour to Switzerland organised by Howard.

We hope to host a "Sussex Open" championship in the next year at the College and are aiming to run a weekly club on a Sunday evening, open to all pupils as well as any people interested in Fives in the local area. We have already had some interest shown in this idea.

This has been an excellent year and the prospects look very good for the future.

Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz - Seb Cooley

This year has seen a lot of new, young pupils coming to LAZ and taking part in the games program. Some have shown themselves over the course of the year to be both keen and talented fives players. I hope that in a few years time, the team will benefit from this large player base. It is also my first year on the full-time staff, meaning that I was able to continue to coach fives until winter set in, and start again in March or April. Previously Zuoz only had a fives assistant in June and sometimes in September.

The season in Zuoz remains defined by a few key events or tours to England. I shall briefly summarise the last year.

The first tournament of the year was the Engadin Challenge tournament. As usual many players came out from the UK for the weekend to take part. Our stronger school players therefore had opportunity to play with or against players of the highest standard, from whom they learnt a good deal. Our younger players played in the festival tournament, gaining experience and also learning a few tricks from the crafty seniors.

The fives team toured to England only once this year - to the Northern Championships in February. Again this tournament generated enthusiasm within the squad and proved an invaluable experience. As a coach here one is always aware of the lack of fixtures, so every opportunity to get players into a competetive environment is most welcome. Whilst getting together the players for this tour, one young man (not a fives player, indeed not a keen sportsman) asked whether he would be allowed to come. I began to suspect an ulterior motive, however, when he promised that he would not be a burden to us; we could drop him off near London on Friday evening and pick him up again on Sunday. Worth a try, I suppose!

The first trip of the new Swiss season was to France, where the old boys annually get together around 20 players to play for a weekend on the two courts near Geneva. John Reynolds and Ron Pattison attended from England, bringing sunny weather with them. This tournament particularly benefits our top young players, as some of the old boys there have reached the stage of substituting wiles for mobility, exposure to which style of play is very beneficial. The tournament dinner on Saturday is always very enjoyable; many commented on how fives manages to bring people together across boundaries of age and nationality.

Tours next year are planned to the London Tournament and to the Schools' Nationals, and of course to Geneva again. The plan is to enthuse the whole squad so that there is competition within the school for places on tour. We have already seen an increase in the number of players, which is a first step towards a team which can beat the Old Boys at the Summer Games in July.

Mill Hill - Steve Plummer

The school enjoyed a successful season with about 15 pairs of boys and girls playing the game and representing the school in competitive matches and competitions. Against other schools the record for the season was :

Played 16 Won 7 Drawn 1 Lost 8

The best team performances were victories over Repton, Berkhamsted and Westminster. In the Abbey Tournament the U16 first pair of Joe Coakley and William Hughes reached the final but lost to QEB. In the National Championship at Shrewsbury Coakley and Hughes reached the U16 quarter finals and because of injury Coakley partnered Nicholas Krendel in the Open and did well to reach the quarter finals. Perhaps not bad for a two court school ! Mill Hill looks forward to the opening of three new courts to replace the old ones which have to be demolished as part of new building works. The new courts will be open in the Michaelmas term.

Oakham - Alex Aldous

Over the last term we have exposed the sport to over 40 Jerwoods and a number of Middle and Upper school girls, all who have expressed a keen interest in playing again and being involved in a Girls Fives Team.

There has been a good number of 3rd form boys coming to Fives on a weekly basis, of whom several have now already played in matches for the school and some are putting in for school tournaments.

We have played 5 school matches, won 1 and lost four, but all games have been very close. Most recently we lost against Uppingham, but it was good to see the likes of Phoebe Annett playing in her first match against boys, after only picking the game up this term and with great success. In February we also hosted the Johnson trophy for its historic launch: this is a triangular match between Uppingham, Oakham and St Olaves Grammar school in Orpington, Kent who all share the same foundation under Robert Johnson. Although we came third. George Pender, Oakhams Fives Captain was named the highest scorer of the competition.

I am grateful to all those in the Seventh Form who have played so consistently over the past three years and have raised the level of the game at Oakham so much: particularly my thanks goes to Adam Edmond, James Spy-Leverton, Tom Winfield and captain George Pender. They were unfortunate not to get further than they did in their final National Schools' Tournament at Shrewsbury but Adam and George did well to get to the final of Plate 3. Their visit to Eton two weeks before, competing in the Open Kinneard Cup brought them some tremendous experience and great fun, playing in that adult tournament. I must highly commend, too, Jack Graham-Lindsey and Daniel Berhard for the tremendous effort they put in to the U14 competition at Shrewsbury: it proved to be a valuable learning curve and they will benefit from this experience enormously in the future.

Our thanks go to Dominique Redmond for all the hard work she has put into Fives this year, and we wish her well in the future: she has done much to raise the profile of the game, and it all began in September with the very memorable Centenary gathering of OOs, staff and present Fives players in her first week with us which celebrated 100 years of Oakham Fives! Here's to the next 100!

St John's Leatherhead - David Wells Cole

Fives at St John's continues to be very much an internal game because of the nature of our courts. There is much interest in Fives amongst junior boys in the school, which unfortunately seems to die away as other team sports and exams make their demands. At least we have preserved the senior house ties, which generate a lot of enthusiasm amongst older boys returning to the game, and we are actively exploring ways of trying to encourage more boys to continue to play after their first two years at the school. We hope that the forthcoming refurbishment of the almost century-old courts will have an effect.

A lot of junior fives was played, culminating in a very exciting final in which North house beat Churchill house by the very tight margin of 106-96. In the seniors, North won again, this time beating West by 108-78. There were only two school matches this term, both away, against Westminster (drawn) and Cranleigh (lost). Unfortunately the return home matches had to be cancelled.

Shrewsbury - Andy Barnard

Fives at Shrewsbury continues to excite, frustrate and occupy a very large number of boys. At times this year we could have filled another 10 courts with budding National Champions. The availability of the courts and regular access means that extra practice time and recreational fives can nearly always be viewed during the Lent term.

As I reflect on the past season the prevailing sense is one of quite satisfaction but underlying that a bewilderment at the way in which the sport is administered at the national level. I shall return to the following later in this report. During the term we played a large number of fixtures against schools of varying strengths and managed to get a great number of boys involved in school fixtures as well as the ever-popular house leagues and cups.

This year we were fortunate enough to have the adult assistance of David Blofield (OS) and Grant Wiliams in the courts. They gave up their valuable time to play against and coach a number of our senior and intermediate pairs. Additionally Tony Walters (OS) was able to pass on some helpful hints to our U16s squad when time permitted. The enthusiastic coaching staff of Steve Gale (U14s), Torin Morgan (U15s) and Chris Conway (U16s) kept everyone busy and it was once again very rewarding to see housemasters, academic staff and gap students playing in with the boys and passing on valuable advice.

In all school matches in 2005 we have dominated across the ages with the exception of the junior sides at Highgate in early February. At junior level Highgate remain the marker and we should work towards closing the gap slowly but surely, a tougher Michaelmas term and accelerated development for our best Beginners is required if we are to make substantial progress.

Our record in all school matches this year is: Played 18 Won 13 Drawn 0 Lost 5 Games Won 260 Games Lost 155

The Under 14s group have produced several players of real promise. There commitment to practice has been first class and in this age group we have used some 30 boys for school matches. Toon Jayapani and Rory Griffiths stand out as an exceptional pairing and easily dominated the Beginners' competition in the National Championship, they are true competitors that complement each other on court and quickly take on board advice and coaching tips.

The Under 16s squad ,despite being smaller, contains real quality. Rex Worth and Adam Parker have become Shrewsbury Schools first ever U16s National Champions. They have been the second pairing in our senior squad and would surely have pressed for a place in the Open Final if they had not been prevented from progressing due to a highly controversial ruling in the National Championships.

The success of the senior squad in retaining the Williams National Teams Cup was not achieved without more than one or two scares. We have now won the cup on more occasions than any other school. The win puts our name on the cup for the sixth time in less than ten years .The squad of Tom Cox, Ben Alderson, Patrick Duncan, Jack Travers, Adam Parker, Rex Worth and Lawrence Wong deserve praise for there effort, discipline and quality of play.

This year we hosted the HSBC National Championship and returned a fantastic set of results.

In the Beginners competition Rory Griffiths and Toon Jayapani won in some style. In the Under 15 competition Mark Hothersal and Peter Stewart did exceptionally well in making the final where they lost to a strong Harrow pair. In the Under 16s Adam Parker and Rex Worth dominated the field to win the competition for the first time in the school's history. The same pair were unfortunately blocked from proceeding into the semi-final of the Open event due to unfair scheduling and a lack of flexibility on the part of the organiser. At this stage the U16 final had to take priority and so sadly the decision was taken to scratch from the Open event. Finally Tom Cox and Ben Alderson narrowly failed to retain the trophy in the Open event after a long hard fought final against Highgate.

I am another year into the job and just a little wiser but still along way from being completely confident of all aspect of schools Fives, however, I am confident enough to know that we need to seek new challenges to fulfil the great demand for Fives at Shrewsbury School. In wishing to generate a more comprehensive fixture list I am fully aware that the demands of academic life are ever present but the importance of Fives at Shrewsbury School is not lost on me.

Stowe - Mark Herring

This year has gone extremely quickly in regards to work at Stowe. At first numbers were low but soon we had hit the seasonal targets of twenty plus pupils in the courts! The vibe I got was encouraging with many children staying for the after school club. In particular there were three very keen and useful lower sixth players, two of whom paired up and competed in all the big stage events including the Northerns, the Schools Nationals and the Kinnaird Cup!

Next season the school have opted to double their fives quota and have a coach in twice a week which will help tremendously with the younger players. Many school masters have already been in contact with me and Mr Ruben about arranging school fixtures for the up and coming season.

The school seem keen and eager to improve the schools fives team and with much support from the old boys the sport seems to be growing already!

Westminster - Michael Milner

2004-5 was Westminster's best season in living memory. We had very pleasing results at the Schools' Nationals at Shrewsbury, indeed I think that it is fair to say that it was the most successful ever performance by a Westminster team. The girls did fantastically well. Lucy and Gaby Bishop were beaten in the Semi Finals and Esmay Luck-Hille and Laura Stojcevic were beaten in an agonizing plate final. In the boys U15s we had unprecedented success: Ben Bourne and Alexander Rankine were beaten in the semi-final by the same Harrow pair that eliminated Laurie Brock and Ian Bott in the quarters. To have two pairs get into the quarter finals was an impressive achievement for the school. To add to that George Illingworth and Adam Duchateau won the plate competition. In the U14 beginners, Dominic Burrell and Nick Leese reached the quarter finals.

More pupils are playing than ever at Westminster and I hope that in the next few years we continue to improve and get even stronger. The revival of the Abbey club for the 2005-6 season will enable our top players to get more competitive Fives than in recent years.