2008/09 School Reports

These reports first appeared in the Eton Fives Association Annual Report 2008/09

Aldenham

Aldenham School continues to enjoy regular fixtures with local schools at Senior, Junior and Prep level. Pairs from all age groups thoroughly enjoyed participating in the National Schools' Championships at Eton and gained an enormous amount of experience from their visits. OAs continue to meet on Tuesday evenings and have been very welcoming to the boarding community, enabling students the opportunity to play against some seasoned players. Reverend Bond, the School Chaplain, has recently become Master in Charge of Fives and is excited about nurturing the sport throughout all year groups.

Dan Bond

Belmont

Fives at Belmont continued to develop this academic year. Pupils from Year Five were invited to begin to learn and showed great enthusiasm, quickly graduating from tennis balls to gloves and the proper ball. The school put out four pairs to compete in two matches, which also involved Aldenham School and Orley Farm. Four Belmont pairs also competed at the Prep Schools' Championships at Eton with the top pair of Raph Levy and Lewis Leader having some success, although ultimately being knocked out of both the cup and the plate competitions. All eight players returned to school with a new appreciation of the level of skills needed to play the game and were busy practising the next day. Next year it is hoped that Belmont pairs might also participate in the Under 12s competition. Bob Pace

Bob Pace

Berkhamsted

Berkhamsted enjoyed a good Fives season with a number of fixtures played across the U12-U18 age range. The U18 and U16 year groups were our strongest for some time and it was a pleasure to see them playing some competitive Fives against the likes of Eton, Harrow and Highgate.

Two areas of development this year have been the girls' team and a League Division 2 team.We hope to consolidate both over the next couple of years.Finally, a mention should go to our leavers: Andrew Joyce, Jeremy O'Neill, Tom Barnes and Alasdair Rennie, who have given so much to Fives during their time at school. I hope that they continue to play the game in the years to come.

Doug Foster

Bryanston

The Spring Term was unsatisfactory in many ways. Our match against Marlborough involved battling through adverse weather conditions and road closures and the failure of one of their pairs to materialise. That match was inconclusive.We cancelled our match against Lancing, again because of atrocious weather conditions. The match against St.Olave's was cancelled by them as Dominique was ill and so unable to deliver their team to the venue. Our match against Eton was very much enjoyed as Eton had chosen pairs to match our standard and we were fortunate enough to win. Games were close and a lot of fun, with good rallies and some valuable learning experience.

In the National Schools' Championships in the last week of term we fielded five Senior pairs and two Junior. The Senior pairs won several matches and enjoyed their day without progressing very far through the tournament. The Juniors had some success in the plate matches in the afternoon, both pairs playing each other in the semi-finals. Our first pair won this encounter and they went on to be beaten by a point in the final. The National Schools' Championships were a godsend for our group of players who had been severely starved of match practice.

Chris Poole

Charterhouse

The Charterhouse Fives team had a good season. We ended with an even record and played a lot of good Fives. The Seniors were affected by injury and the inevitable pull of football and hockey on our first pair. There is little doubt that if they had been regularly available Michael Manby and Ben Rinck would have been a threat to the best that other schools had to offer. Our other senior, Edward Birkett, was still recovering from glandular fever and was not able to risk his health in anything more than a coaching session. This was a great loss both to the school but more importantly to Edward, who is a thinking player. Despite this we managed to test all the schools we played against. The gap left when Manby and Rinck were unavailable was filled by Fergus Imrie and James Foley who managed the remarkable feat of playing against Seniors when still an Under 15 pair.

The Colts did well. When Imrie played for his age group he successfully partnered Foley. When he played as a Senior it left Harry Wise, Rory MacDougall, Anthony Kane and, as the Championships drew near, Jeremy Won, to move up a rung. Initially they found this difficult but adjusted admirably. The pressure of playing up a level helped all of them to develop their game. Next year will see the rewards being reaped from this. In the Schools' Championships George Rowe resumed his partnership with Imrie to remind us what we have missed. They got to the quarter-finals where they lost to a strong Berkhamsted pair.

The Junior Colts were affected by the disruptions higher up as James Foley was forced to desert his stable partner Ben Wilberforce Ritchie who then had a number of different partners. C Rogers and T Julius continued as the first pair but, as good sportsmen, had their practice time taken from them and did not come on quite as we had hoped. Their commitment cannot be faulted. Marcus Marsh and Ben Geffen both showed flashes of real talent and should improve next year.

The Yearlings were strong. Euan MacDougall is as natural a player as I have seen and would have done well in the Schools' Championships. The others all did well and will have laid the foundations for success as they move up the school ladder.We hosted the Southern Schools' tournament for novices in February which was a success. Nick Walker and Ben Burrowes confirmed their ability and got to the final of the plate competition. Next year it will take place in November on a Thursday afternoon to make it more attractive to weekly boarding and day schools.We took three pairs of yearlings to the Schools' Championships. Two of these got through the preliminary rounds before being put out by strong opponents.

I would like to thank our coach, David Mew, who was a great encouragement to players at all levels. Two OCs (Ronald Pattison and Alex Burrows) have come down on Wednesday evenings to coach. On top of this we have the knowledge and unfailing enthusiasm of Gilles Gergaud helping the sport. John

John Troy

Cheltenham Ladies' College

The first full season of Eton Fives at Cheltenham Ladies College was a huge success; Home and away fixtures against Westminster allowed our girls to play on a real court and exposed the Westminster team to the joys of squash court Fives. A training session at KES Birmingham was also an excellent opportunity for CLC girls to get on court. In between these real Fives experiences we have plugged away weekly within the squash courts and fought an ongoing battle with health and safety to add a removable buttress; Our failure to get approval for this was reflected in the swiftness with which our opponents at the National Schools'Championships figured out the weakness in our game.

The Nationals were, nevertheless, an excellent experience with six CLC pairs playing in the Open Competition and two in the Under 15s. Two of our pairs made it through the group stage in the Open and our third pair made it through to the quarter-finals of the plate, a commendable performance given their lack of real court experience. In the Under 15s competition the Highgate juggernaut did some damage to the fragile self-confidence of our two pairs who had never been on real courts before, but their competitive instincts won through and they are now taking the battle to the powers that be here at CLC. As a result there is a very real possibility of some Eton Fives courts being constructed over the next couple of years. A big thank you to all that took part, offered support and offered games, not least Mark Yates at KES/Wolverhampton and Adam Perkins at Westminster and I look forward to an increase in fixtures and an improvement in results in 2009/10.

Mark Stacey

City of Norwich

This June sees the end of another successful year of Fives at CNS. While the two courts aren't home to the largest group of players, the small Norwich contingent is very committed and keen. The ages of the pupils range between 13 and 16, and some of the older pupils have been participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Programme, using their Fives coaching as their physical activity but despite this, the interest in Fives is largely recreational. The players have made great progress over the course of the year and the introduction of a REFCA syllabus has helped improve all aspects of the students' game, from basic ground strokes through to more advanced tactical drill shots. While there haven't been any competitive matches this year, the pupils at CNS are eager and ready to participate in the new season!

Will Gibbons

Cranleigh

Fives at Cranleigh continues to thrive. We continue to gain good young players from Mark Halstead at Cranleigh Prep and our introduction sessions work very well for new players. We have continued our traditional house matches, with over 48 matches played. The school has also kept the traditional monthly fixture with the Brigands and they have been extremely beneficial in helping me in my first year as Master in Charge of Fives.

The school has played fixtures his year at Eton College against Shrewsbury and Emanuel. We also managed fixtures against Westminster and St John's Leatherhead.The highlight of the year was once again National Schools' Championships, with over 15 pairs attending the U16 and Open competitions. Despite losing our six best players last year the teams have played well, winning four fixtures overall. The enthusiasm the boys have for the game continues and I hope that over the next year or two we will have our first girls' team at the National Schools' Championships as well.

Alex Forsdike

Cranleigh Prep School

Cranleigh enjoyed another fine year on the Fives circuit. Although we are not quite up to the level of the Highgates of this world there were some notable achievements. In the Under 12s it was pleasing to see the progression made by some of the newer players and in the National Schools' Championships Monty Clarke and Daniel Chitty are to be congratulated for reaching the final of the plate competition.

At the Prep Schools' Championship we went one better, with the first pair of Harvey Jackson and Harry Eamey reaching the quarter-finals of the main competition before losing to the eventual winners. In the play-offs between the losing quarter-finalists they went on to beat Ludgrove 1, before narrowly going down to another Highgate pair. The second and third pairs of Charlie Thompson and Daniel Federer and Jamie Jarvis-Bicknell and Fin Johnston also acquitted themselves well, with the third pair reaching the semi-finals of the plate.

All in all it was very encouraging to see the boys play with such enthusiasm and enjoyment and to see us competitive at a national level. We look forward to building on this next year. My thanks go to Toby Batchelor for all his assistance and help over the course of the year.

Mark Halstead

Emanuel

This has been a breakthrough year at Emanuel. Eight years of plodding along has suddenly been transformed into a vibrant and energetic surge of rapid growth. Several factors have come together; during the previous season, REFCA coach Dominique Redmond made a particular effort to recruit younger pupils than the Year nine ones that we are first given in games lessons. The Year six, seven and eights loved the sport and filled the courts every lunchtime and after school. Building on this interest, the Headmaster allocated Fives priority dates for a match programme to be introduced this season, breaking with the previous restricted system that we had to try to operate from before. With matches each week, and pupils regularly playing in events at the weekend, we suddenly have a large, very young and very talented team. The Emanuel girls first U14 pair were seeded second in the U15 girls competition at the National Schools' Championships and several boys U14, U13 and U12 pairs are looking especially strong. The future looks very promising indeed! The full backing of the Headmaster has been key - aided also by his assistance in having the courts converted into an indoor facility the previous season (just like the Lancing courts). We are also soon to be the proud owners of an International 1-Wall court built along the side of our Fives court complex. This will alleviate the overcrowding of the Fives courts themselves, with up to four-aside Handball supplementing all club and training sessions.

Howard Wiseman

Eton

Fives at Eton received a terrific boost with the arrival of Seb Cooley as professional in September. A strong pool of novice players was established, and numbers playing at all levels increased. This enabled Eton to compete strongly in its Michaelmas fixtures, and the full House programme was completed. The House pairs competition was won by Ted Morrison and Henry Nicholls, and the New Boy Fives Competition, which attracted over 60 pairs, was won by Bertie Collins and Nick Russell. Keepers Jamie MacDonagh and Will Harman helped to coach and encourage the others, and significantly improved the standard of their own play at first pair.

In the Lent half, a full programme of fixtures was successfully completed, including block fixture wins against St Olave's and Harrow, and a fine win against Highgate in the Under 14/15 match. In the National 3 pair competition, Eton finished a creditable fourth with only four of the senior squad available. In addition to the Keepers, James Hopton, Jamie Glover, Ben Slater, Tom Weatherall and Hugo Meakin all made significant contributions to the success of the senior team. Felix Goodman, Ben Kelly and Chris Horne all made a marked improvement at Under 16 level, and a strong group of Under 15 players was headed by Jamie Abbott and Dan Byam Shaw. Charlie Courtenay and Charles Fairbanks- Smith were the best of our experienced Under 14 players, and we established a large group of talented novices.

In the National Schools' Championships, Eton produced its best overall showing for several years. Ted Morrison, a very talented left-hander who had concentrated on the Field Game and Rackets for the last three years, returned to the fold and partnered Jamie MacDonagh in the Open Competition. Winning their early games easily, they played a strong and much fancied Berkhamsted pair in the quarter-final, and played impressively to win 3-0. Against Shrewsbury (number two seeds) in the semi-final, they raised their game even further, to overcome an experienced and talented pair 3-1 after losing the first game. The final against Highgate was a very well matched contest played at a very high standard. Eton won the first and fourth games to level at 2-2, before Highgate ran away with the fifth game. This was an exceptional performance from a pair that had not played together before the Championships. Two Eton pairs reached the quarter-finals of the Under 16 competition, before losing to Shrewsbury. In the Under 15 competition, Jamie Abbott and Dan Byam-Shaw played their best Fives of the season to beat two seeded pairs from Shrewsbury and Q E Barnet to reach the final, where they were well beaten by St Olave's. In the Under 14 experienced competition, Eton reached the quarter-final before losing to Shrewsbury, but in the Beginners' competition, two pairs reached the quarter-finals, and Bertie Collins and Nick Russell went on to play with increasing confidence and skill to win the tournament without dropping a game.

Overall this has been a most encouraging season with plenty of success and much healthier numbers playing the game. Seb Cooley will be with us for at least another year, which should ensure continuity and continued improvement. The biggest obstacle to success however remains the availability of players in an ever-increasing games programme.

Mark Williams

Harrow

There has been a great deal of individual progress this term and we are very well placed for an excellent 2009/10. Alex Poole, Tom Faber and Geordie Bowes Lyon have had a superb attitude towards practice and will be able to compete at the highest level if they continue to work hard at their weaker areas. Alex has a great cut and is a formidable volleyer but he will need to improve on his return of cut, agility and fitness if he is to dominate against other schools next year. Tom has made the most improvement this year and will be a tour de force if he can cut with greater penetration and be more secure on the set volley as he has great anticipation and good control. Geordie has developed a formidable cut and has excellent reactions and the key for his development will be the elimination of unforced errors. The Senior Team recorded excellent results against Eton in both terms with Alex Poole winning his fifth consecutive first pair match.

Ollie Jones and Stephen Kirby have shown the most potential in the Colts and Junior Colts while the U14 pair of Jamie Cox and Zicomo Smith have put in some encouraging performances. A healthy number of boys are playing, particularly in the Junior Colts year group and it is to be hoped that these boys will be able to make their mark next year.

Graham Dunbar

Highgate Girls

At the National Schools' Championships at Eton, six of the nine Senior pairs made it through the pools to the main competition. Pair five - Lara Foch and Eloise Most (only Year seven) - did very well to make it to the quarter-finals, but were knocked out by Lancing�s first pair. Pair four - Ruth Khaw and Alex Beever - won the plate competition and pair three - Hannah Rapley and Francesca Howell - won the losers of the quarter-finals plate competition. Pair two - Anne Sceales and Emily Scoones - got to the semi-finals, but were confronted by an extremely able Swiss pair, who went on to win the finals against our first pair. This still makes our first pair of Connie Mantle and Jessie Varma the national champions!

In the Under 15 Competition, all but pairs nine and ten made it through to the main competition. Pair six made it to the quarter-finals and a special mention should go to Pair five, the tough, young Year Five pair of Eve Smith-Bingham and Amira Reimer, who made it to the quarter-finals, playing against much older contestants sometimes twice their height! Pair three played impressively, but were knocked out by Pair one in the semi-finals. The final was a well-fought match between Pair one (Hannah Rapley and Francesca Howell) and Pair two (Lara Foch and Eloise Most), resulting in a 2-1 victory for the former. All eleven pairs are eligible for the same competition next year!

Overall this was a huge improvement from last year. We very much look forward to striving for further success at the championships at Highgate next year.

Ali Brunner

Highgate

Despite a series of injuries during the season 2008/09 saw Highgate School enjoy a successful season in club and inter school matches but especially so at the National Schools' Championships.We entered two teams in League Division 2 this year and although we were stretched at times to fulfil our fixtures due to injuries and other clashes, it allowed many more boys to compete and gain valuable experience in adult Fives. Next season, however, we will only enter one team.

At the Junior end of the school we have a wealth of talented young players who have made great strides this season. Our Under 10s and 11s have won all their matches mostly against older opposition. In Year Five (Under 10s) our girls' first pair, Eve Smith-Bingham and Amira Reimer qualified for the main competition in the Boys National Under 12 Championship - a stunning achievement! Our Year Five boys are also very talented and advanced for their age and they include Daniel Vishnick, Andre Tejuoso, Daniel Marshall, Joseph Gibber, Sam Tansey, Shunya Matsumoto and from Year Four Ingimar Tomasson. The Under 11s have progressed well and a host of boys will be battling for first pair including James Bloomfield, Robert MacLennan, Charlie Kleiman, Christian Eaves, George Ratner, Ed Worthington, Jack Knowles, Alex Blofeld, Theo Abramson, Daniel and Jack Remo.

We were exceptionally strong in both the Under 12s (Matthew Budgett and Alex Robinson beat Richard Footman and Daniel Light in the final of the National Under 12 Championship) and the Under 13s, where Charlie Noble and Joe Berriman beat James Angel and Kane Rayner in the final of the Prep Schools' Championship and thus retained the trophy they won last year. Players to watch out for inYear Eight include Jamie Willett, James Hosking, Riaz Razaq, Joe Perl, Bertie Mills, Saachi Sehgal, Stephen Papaloizu, Ben Berrick and Mel Yiannakas and in Year Seven Ben Reed, Conor Thomas and Oliver Vincent.

Charlie and Joe also won the National Under 14 Championship in fine style beating a very good pair from St Olave�s (and congratulations to them on being the first St Olave's pair to reach the final of this competition) and they look an extremely talented pair. We were also pleased that Ben Kovar and Gabriel Mador reached the semi-final.The Under 15 Championship is always a difficult one for us as all the pairs who reached the quarter-finals of the Under 14 the previous year are excluded. So it was pleasing that Freddie Mills and Tommy Johnson reached the semi-finals where they lost to the eventual winners.

Our Under 16s came good towards the end of the season and we were relieved when Matthew Kovar (who had been off games since early January with a shoulder injury) was passed fit to play. He and Cameron Most overcame stiff opposition from Shrewsbury in the final and won 3-0. Alex Pavitt and James Curry reached the semi-finals and we were pleased with the overall improvement from Alex Coleman- Bennett and Jonny Airey who also played in some league matches. Oscar Moore and Thomas Lethbridge enjoyed a rewarding Championship and played with tremendous determination.

Our Seniors have been excellent again this season. They won the Williams Cup (Sam Little, Harry Hatchwell, Conrad Ryan, Joe Marks, Nick Lindo and Milton Karamani) and have performed superbly in club and school matches. Sam, who won the Open last year with Jonny Ho, and Harry established themselves as first pair after an ankle injury to Conrad Ryan, which put him off games for six weeks, and they never looked back winning all their inter school matches (and most league matches) and fully justified their seeding as first pair to win the Open by beating Eton 3-2 in a thrilling final. It is a great tribute to Harry that he raised his game in such a short time and he will be back next year. Sam has now won the Open twice and also reached the final when he was under 16. He is a truly outstanding Fives player and has graced our courts for the past nine years. He leaves us having won seven National Championships and this year reached the quarter-finals of the Kinnaird Cup with Jonny Ho as his partner. We are especially delighted that he will be returning in the Michaelmas term as a Fives coach during his gap year. Another of our leavers, Joe Marks, who has had a distinguished Fives career having won three National championships, is also returning to help with coaching. We say goodbye to Conrad Ryan (two National championships), Nick Lindo and Ollie Rowlands and also to Guy Woolf and Alex Franklin who have given so much time helping our Senior Girls to make such amazing progress.We thank you all for all you have contributed to Highgate Fives. We have enjoyed another tremendous season and I would like to thank all our coaches for all their fantastic support and invaluable input. Neil Shepperd has helped enormously with the progress of our all our girl players and with our Under 13s as has Mark Collins, who has been inspirational with all age groups, but especially with our Seniors. It is no accident that our senior Girls first pair reached the Final of the Ladies Open and we had another pair in the semi-final and that we had six pairs in the quarter-finals of the Girls' Under 15 Championship, three in the semis and both pairs in the final. We were also very fortunate to have Jonny Ho coaching all age groups throughout the Michaelmas term. To have had someone with Jonny's pedigree going on court and demonstrating the art and beauty of the game has been a major factor in this year's achievements.

Anthony Brunner

Ipswich

This year we only had a handful of senior pupils playing the game. As in previous years competitive games were provided via matches against the Old Ipswichians and participation in tournaments. David Leach, Keeper of Fives, was the only remnant of last year's team and he turned out for the OIs in several league matches with some success. Pupils also joined in the OIs and friends weekly Wednesday evening sessions.

With a shortage of players and limited coaching resources available we concentrated on stimulating interest in the first two years of the senior school. It is difficult to both stimulate the interest and then maintain it and we had the problem of those, initially keen, lessening in enthusiasm when finding others trying the game had filled the courts. One forty minute session a week is clearly not enough. That said and despite our external coach failing to come, a number of Under 12s have taken to the game and are coming on well. Our challenge for next year will be to take those players forward whilst introducing a new group.

We were pleased that both senior pairs that played in the National Schools' Championships performed well and clearly enjoyed the experience. David Leach is to be congratulated on being awarded the Martin Shortland-Jones Cup for the most promising senior player.

It was a delight once again to see the enjoyment the pupils get from playing the game and the improvement they made over the year. 

Peter Boughton

King Edward's Birmingham

Eton Fives continues to thrive at KES, despite the intense and inevitable time pressures from other sports and from being a day school. If we were a football league club our natural place would be in the Championship, not good enough for permanent top flight status and subject to the near-annual yo-yo of promotion and relegation, an experience not unfamiliar to the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City.

25 to 30 boys attended the weekly school team coaching sessions and represented the school in about a dozen matches in the season - with some degree of success. For example, the U14 players Matthew Gill and Ben Galyas won the Plate Competition in the Midlands U14 Tournament held at Wolverhampton last November. 19 competitors from four schools (including girls from KEHS Birmingham and Shrewsbury) braved the cold and snow to take part in the Midlands Schools Spring Ladder in February at KES. Tom Claughton from KES was the overall winner, dropping only one point through the competition. At the National Schools' Championships in March creditable performances included, in the Under 15s competition, James Claughton and Girish Merali making it to the last 16. Most success came in the Under 14s Beginners section, where we entered a large squad of keen and talented Under 13 players. Two pairs - Tom Claughton and George Galla, and Matthew Gill and Rahul Karavadra - reached the last 16 stage.

Within the school, Fives is attracting more attention from the PE staff as they see its obvious benefits for other small ball sports, particularly cricket. Five members of the PE Department attended an afternoon course run by coach Mark Yates to learn about the game prior to using the courts in PE lessons. All were very impressed by what Fives has to offer. At present, the game is played during Senior Games afternoons, it is part of a rota of Friday afternoon activities for Junior forms, and there is a highly competitive House competition at all age groups.

Further good news for Fives at KES is the resurgence of our nearest neighbours, Wolverhampton Grammar School. This adds to a strengthening match list in the Midlands, comprising Shrewsbury, Uppingham, Repton and Stowe. I hope that next season Oakham and Wrekin will swell the numbers.

The final encouraging sign here is the inauguration of the Edgbaston Fives Club, which meets at KES courts on Wednesday evenings. It is run by the tireless Rez Malik, the only person I've met more enthusiastic for the game than Howard Wiseman! All Fives players, beginners and experienced players, have been made welcome, and Rez has plans to involve the University and the locality to a much greater extent.

Finally, a very warm thank you to Mark Yates, whose high quality coaching and constant good humour has done much to keep Fives strong in the area.

George Worthington

King Edward VI High School for Girls

2008/09 saw the second season of Fives at KEHS and a first trip to the National Schools' Championships. A core of half a dozen girls played Fives throughout the autumn and spring terms, with many others coming and trying the game for a few weeks as part of the sports programme. The KEHS Ladies' first competitive fixture was in the Spring Ladder competition at KES Birmingham. The competition featured other ladies from Shrewsbury School, as well as boys from Stowe, Shrewsbury and KES. Susie Quirke completed a successful day�s Fives as the top lady player. March 2009 saw Susie Quirke, Maddy Grant, Rosie Laitner and Sarah Collier grace the courts at Eton in the School Championships Ladies Open. All the girls enjoyed a fun day of Fives at the home of the game and it is hoped that the foundations have been laid for the continued development of Fives at KEHS.

Mark Yates

Lancing

This has been a good season for Lancing Fives. In our regular school matches we have had our best season with very few defeats as a team and our first pair, Mylo Scurr and Tom Betts being beaten only by Highgate. The highpoint in school matches was a victory away at St Olave's with very narrow victory for Lancing at first pair.

Our players have been involved in a variety of tournaments over the season. We were very well represented at the Rossall Schools' Open tournament where after years of being in the runners-up slot we finally won the singles title with Mylo Scurr taking the trophy. Scurr and Betts also played in the Midland Tournament, reaching the quarter-final where they were knocked out by Howard Wiseman and Will Betts.

Lancing had probably their best overall result ever in the Schools' National Championships this year. Although we could not match the previous year's achievement of reaching the U15 semi-finals, our U16 pair of Jamie Betts and Mikey Jones reached the last 16 after a very strong performance in the early rounds. Mylo Scurr and Tom Betts likewise reached the last 16 in the Open competition, being knocked out by Highgate 3 in three games but being beaten by only one or two points per game. The top ladies pair, Lucy Bell and Scarlett Maguire did very well but were disappointed to be beaten in the semi-final by a Highgate pair who were stronger on the day. Lucy deserves special mention because she has reached the final or the semi-final in the last three years and has been an inspiration to girls' Fives at Lancing. This is not a bad set of results at a school where Fives is very much a minor sport and where all of the players fit Fives in round other sports.

I would like to thank Howard Wiseman, Dominique Redmond and Matt Wiseman for their excellent and utterly invaluable coaching over the years. We look forward to continuing success.

Andrew Betts

Ludgrove

The Ludgrove Fives season started in September 2008 for the first time in a long while without Gerald Barber at the helm. His authority and enthusiasm were missed but the boys began to pick up speed. Of particular note was the keenness and tenacity of the new boys who should be the stars of the future.

Meanwhile the Seniors were having two very good games against Sunningdale - games to test the mettle of players and teachers alike. And so onto the National Schools' and Prep Schools' Championships at the end of the Lent term - a couple of days out of school and how they were enjoyed! Thomas Weld and Hordern Farr (both U12) reached the semi-finals of the National Schools' U12, playing with bruised hands, great credit and supportive parents. The same pair won the Jeremy Marston Plate on the Thursday of the same week again at Eton. A trip to a certain fast food restaurant to celebrate and yes a call to a certain Mr Gerald Barber to discuss the victory - we plan on making a few more over the coming years. . . . Thank you GWPB. 

Paddy Buckley

Marlborough

Three matches this year, all most enjoyable. It is great to see the game being played here, albeit infrequently, and we are most grateful to Bryanston and to the EFA for coming here to play. The boys are not wild about practising, but certainly enjoy playing and learnt a lot from their time on court. The eminent and brilliant EFA IV were particularly welcome, on a day when we played an RFA IV at the same time next door. Honours were pretty much even in the Bryanston games, one before Christmas and one in the New Year. The arrival of Max Koe from Summer Fields has provided an injection of skill and finesse into our little squad. Tom Kiggell

Tom Kiggell

Mill Hill

This season has been an enjoyable and successful one. There were some tough but successful matches against Repton, Harrow and Aldenham and even tougher and closer encounters with Eton, St. Olave's and Berkhamsted. The Senior teams have been spearheaded by Nick Hughes and Rohan Davda, ably assisted by the U16 team, who are strong enough to play up as Seniors including Josh Leader and Jack Weller, Stelios Georgiou and Saul Levy, Oliver John and Matt Jackson. Indeed the U16 year group is strong in depth with another two pairs available for matches.

The U16 first pair, Josh Leader and Jack Weller, were seeded in the Schools' Championships and were unlucky not to reach the quarter-finals following a thrilling and close match against Highgate which went against them 2-3 in games and 13-14 in the final game. However, there was some consolation for the team when Oliver John and Matt Jackson won the Plate competition.

There are very few U15 players at present and all were novices last year. It is often a struggle to put out three pairs. However, the two best cricketers of the year, Charlie Worsley and George Selley, are enthusiastic Fives players and are improving quickly.

In contrast the U14 squad is strong in depth and quality, consisting of six pairs well led by Alex Holmes and Jack Clayton. In the Schools' Championships Mill Hill did not do itself justice and failed to reach the quarter-finals but some consolation was gained by the first pair, Alex Holmes and Jack Clayton, and third pair of Calum Christie and Oliver Warren, both winning Plate competitions.

The Mill Hill feeder school, Belmont, regularly practises at Mill Hill and there are several promising players in the pipeline for the future including, it is hoped, some girls' pairs.

Steve Plummer

Oakham

Over the year, the school has experienced a gradual increase in the number of people who have been exposed to the Great Game and because of its location near to the main sports field at Doncaster Close there is always passing interest, and people drop in to try their hand. We have had an encouraging response to the Tuesday Session after school under the guiding hand of Charlie Jenkinson, when a number of Third and Fourth Year boys are now reaching a good standard: this will pave the way for an encouraging team over the next four years. Practices also take place after school on Thursdays and Saturday mornings. This is all alongside the usual Tuesday and Thursday afternoon sports slot when an ever-growing number of girls, too, are learning the game: this is in addition to the sports carousel on Fridays and Activities slot on Mondays.

One of the great triumphs of this year has been the development of a Monday evening session when parents, staff and friends of staff have attended the courts and we regularly have 10-12 people playing. This has become the sparring ground for the rising school teams and matches have been played against them, the school narrowly defeating the Monday Club by three points in a well fought contest.

What is also of interest is that we have become aware of two chaps near to Oakham School who are carpenters and joiners who have been playing Fives unbeknownst to them! Every lunch hour, without fail in most weathers they can be seen enthusiastically playing with a soft ball against the front of their workshop wall with an area marked out specially, and it was only recently that an ex-Winchester player spotted them and told them about Fives. I have since made contact with them and they plan to join us on Monday nights! Hopefully we will capture their version of Fives on camera soon and send it in to the magazine.

We have enjoyed moderate success at the National Schools' Championships and Ladies competitions and although no trophies have been won, many of the new players have been honing their skills and learning a lot for next year.

Those representing the school this year were: Graham Hill, Freddie Turner, James Henley, Sam Brigstock, Tom Smith, Toni Lawrence, Natasha Ley and Katherine Sturt- Scobie.

Alex Aldous

Orley Farm

This has been such an enjoyable year. Firstly, the appearance of Mr Peter Ryan on the scene was inspirational for us all. Peter is one of our senior staff (in terms of responsibility, not age) who learnt the game way back as a young master at Highgate and has been a great addition to the Fives scene at Orley Farm. Secondly, more pupils than ever have become involved and made good use of the opportunities provided. Thirdly, we now have a coach (courtesy of REFCA), Joseph Acton, whose skill and ever-patient manner are much appreciated and have led to a steady improvement in our level of play.

We have extended our weekly practice session from one hour to two-and-a-half hours, continued Fives into the summer term (a strange experience), inaugurated two house competitions and also set up two internal championships (yet to be played at the time of writing).

Our friendly matches this year have been against Summer Fields, Aldenham, Belmont and Highgate. These fixtures provided opportunities for some excellent individual contests. One of the most notable of these arose between a Summer Fields first pair and our actual first pair (Luke Brady and Josh Robson) playing in Oxford. The game went on for nearly two hours with both sides alternating between ascendancy and dogged hanging-on - an epic for players and spectators alike.

The National Schools' Championships Under 12 Tournament at Eton in March enabled us to bring two minibus-loads of children. A day spent in this environment was an improving experience for all. In terms of matchplay and games won, our first pair, Elliot Tebboth (captain) and Kory Sun acquitted themselves particularly well. Alek Pialucha and Rory Howells (second pair), Tom McGivney and Daniel Mirzai (fifth), Matthew Andrews and Akhil Shah (sixth) and Sahil Shah and Kasim Hussain (eighth) also had a good day.

The Prep Schools'Tournament later in the same week saw our first pair retire early in the day because of a wrist injury to our captain and our second pair reduced in effectiveness because one of them had picked up a stomach virus. Our third and fourth pairs (who were our first and second pairs in the U12s) got a good look at the sort of play they will have to aim at next year.

Our latest Fives event in April did not involve any pupils at all. Howard Wiseman provided an excellent training day for seven Orley Farm staff at the Westway Centre. For most of us, it was an introduction to Fives (and a very pleasant one). For the rest, it was an opportunity to revitalise some old and valued skills.

We very much look forward to next year�s round of play. Brian Smith

Brian Smith

St Bees

Since their refurbishment two years ago, the three Lakeland slate-covered courts at St. Bees have been quietly busy.We have now re-established ourselves in the Northern Championships at Shrewsbury, which is a much sought-after trip amongst both players and staff. This is due in part to the fact that the superbly hospitable "Northerns" are approximately 200 miles to the south of St. Bees, resulting in an excellent weekend away.

Fives is taught, as it has been for many years at St. Bees, as part of both the Games and Physical Education programmes at the school. Whilst it would be over-optimistic to state that it is followed with enthusiasm by all, the game does produce a small band of talented enthusiasts who are fiercely loyal to the sport.

I would like to suggest to any schools which may be considering travelling with a team that you bear St. Bees in mind as a potential venue for a trip. With three courts, plus our own golf course and an edge of the Lake District setting, it may well be an experience worth thinking about and we would be delighted to see you.

Huw Lewis

St John's Leatherhead

This year at St John's School there has been a greater push to offer Fives to more pupils. This has resulted in a bigger take up of the sport and has led to some brilliant domestic competitions. The Junior competition was won by West House which overcame Montgomery House and the Senior competition took place at the end of June. St John's Fives has also had a boost to its coaching staff with Ashley Vargas, an old Harrovian, coming on board in September and he has been passing on his experience to the pupils. Also the renewed enthusiasm for the sport from the Head of Girls' games has meant that more girls have been taking up the sport and have taken part in inter-school matches. Unfortunately bad weather this year meant that the annual fixtures against the Jesters had to be called off as well as the match against Cranleigh. We do, however, look forward to building up our fixture list in the in the coming year. Mark Sartorius

Mark Sartorius

St Olave's

This has been another highly successful season for the school team. Over 150 girls and boys represented the school in a wide array of matches and tournaments. REFCA provided all the coaching and management, and the Sixth Form girls and boys also maintained their traditional responsibilities of arranging team availability, running the adult Second Division side, and helping with the coaching of younger pupils and their supervision at lunchtimes. As an ambassadorial team, the school managed to play against most Fives-playing schools with teams that were pitched to give a level contest no matter how inexperienced some opposition may have been. At the competitive end, St.Olave�s enjoyed great success in numerous tournaments, including the National Schools' Championships, in which the U15s was won and the U14s final reached, as was the Open semi-final. The Rossall Schools' Championships was also a great success with the Singles title being won at U15 level. The Junior end of the school team is looking stronger than ever - 18 extremely keen Year Eight and Nine students are on tour in Switzerland at the time of writing. Support from the Headmaster and Games staff also remains very strong. Fives, despite being a non-curriculum sport, is the highest populated activity (sport or other) in the school; it is the most popular and also the most successful. Fives remains the only sport at St.Olave's that brings together girls and boys to train together, cutting across both age and ability divides, a fact which certainly accounts for some of this success.

Howard Wiseman

Shrewsbury

Our fixture list this season included all our normal opponents but senior competition became the focus for the year. A number of boys attended the Kinnaird this year at Eton and we intend to add participation in the Northern Championship (Shrewsbury) to our list for 2010. We also took part, for the first time, in the Midlands Schools' Ladder.

We took 14 pairs of Under 14s to the National Schools' Championships at Eton. Will Miller and Guy Williams reached the quarter-finals of the main tournament playing terrific Fives and will be serious contenders for future championships. In the beginners' tournament we had three pairs in the semi-finals with Max Pragnell and Edward Lloyd losing out to a strong Eton pair in the final.

This season 30 Under 15 boys were regularly turning up to the courts, and I'd like to thank Tony Walters for his invaluable help in keeping so many boys busy and engaged. We're also seeing boys arrive into the U15s who are already technically very advanced, and this must be (at least in part) the result of so much focused training during curriculum games lessons. The likes of Jack Hudson-Williams, Stephen Leach, Henry Lewis and Sam Welti quickly found themselves more at home amongst the U16 and even senior squads, and I'm sure we will be seeing their names on some trophies in the next few years.

The Under 16 year group were highly committed and worked hard to improve through the term. It was testament to their efforts and ability that any of the players could have been selected in the top two pairs for the nationals. The leading players in this group in 2008 were George Thomason, Jason Tse, Tom Elliot, Nikhil Morjaria, Lloyd Wang, and Ben Jones.

In the nationals Jack Hudson-Williams took the step up from U15 to partner George Thomason in the U16s, to great effect reaching the final of the tournament. Jason Tse and Tom Elliott produced some outstanding Fives, reaching the semi-final where they lost to the winners from Highgate. The Lower Sixth contingents were boosted by the return of Ramith Abrol. He, together with Alex Blofield, Rupert Salmon and Frank Collings, made up a small but very important group of players that may well form the centre of next year's drive for silverware.

The Upper Sixth outstanding players had less success than they had hoped. At the start of the Lent term the form of Chris Hughes and Tom Welti buoyed our confidence but illness and injury disrupted their flow and they were disappointed to fall in the quarter-final stage of the National Schools' Championships. Rory Griffiths and Toon Jayapani never managed a sustained period of preparation and despite being naturally gifted players (and former U16 finalists) fell short in pressurised match play. All four players can feel very satisfied with their efforts over a long career at Shrewsbury but must surely go on to play Fives after school and take their game forward.

A special word of praise must also go to the following boys; Tom Mcalpine, Tom Wordie, Richard Jenkins and Stephen Craigen who wholeheartedly committed themselves to the Fives court during their time at Shrewsbury and achieved must without achieving national success or recognition. They were great company and played with enormous enthusiasm and no little frustration from time to time.

The arrival on court of Saskia Haining and Alice Walker I hope will be the catalyst to many more girls playing Fives at Shrewsbury. Saskia and Alice played in a Midlands Ladder event at King Edward's, Birmingham and the National Ladies Competition at Eton. Later in the term Emma Darrington joined forces with Alice and competed in the National Schools' Championship at Eton. Lyndsey Albut also showed great promise during the time she spent on court. I am very hopeful that these girls will return to the courts next term and encourage more to follow. They were a delight to work with.

The imminent departure of Mark Lascelles to King's Canterbury has already caused a cataclysmic eruption at school because of his influence and involvement in school sport. As far as Fives is concerned we will soldier on but we will not be able to replace him in any shape or form in the short, or long, term. As a character, manager, leader and motivator there cannot surely have been a more influential Fives coach at Shrewsbury School. He single-handedly restored the sport to the highest level during his period as Master in Charge (1995-2003) and continued to instil the rigorous discipline required to achieve success throughout the past five years as our Senior Coach. 

Andy Barnard

Stowe

Stowe Fives has enjoyed another year of growth in popularity at the Junior level with three pairs of Third Formers competing at competitions and with successes at the regional ladder competition held at King Edward's Birmingham and in the Southern Schools' Tournament at Charterhouse. House Fives was keenly contested by pairs from several houses over the two terms and the courts have been used more this year than at any time in recent memory.

Rod Tait

Summer Fields

The Summer Fields Fives squad had another successful season, recording some encouraging victories, often against older opponents. A total of 25 boys (aged 9-13) represented the school and another dozen or so also practised regularly. Our top four pairs competed keenly amongst themselves and in matches, and in the run-up to the Prep Schools' Tournament they established a clear superiority over Ludgrove and Sunningdale. Our preparation was helped by some tougher fixtures with Shrewsbury, Eton and Harrow, and hindered by the cancellation of several other matches (snow, illness, opponents' "crying off"). Consequently we were not quite at our peak for the tournaments.

As usual, however, the strongest opposition was provided by Highgate and we were very pleased with the achievement of our first pair (Barnaby Bossom and Jack Parham) in reaching the semi-finals of the Prep Schools. Particularly heartening was the progress made by our fourth pair (Thomas Nevile and Thomas Skinner) who will still be with us next year. They played very well in the Prep Schools to qualify for the quarter-finals, whilst in the National Schools' Championships Under 12 Tournament they lost to another strong Highgate pair in the semi-finals.

We are proud of the fact that we are sending some experienced players to schools with Eton Fives courts, and we very much hope that the following boys will feature strongly in future schools tournaments: Barnaby Bossom, Jack Parham, Thomas Hearn, Oliver Sale, Jamie Curran, Sandy MacAulay, Claudio Bassano (all Eton), Charlie Robinson (Shrewsbury) and Mayowa Soyinka (RGS High Wycombe).

Andy Bishop

Uppingham

Uppingham Fives has continued to be a successful minor sport within the school, attracting as ever a loyal band of followers from throughout the school. The lower years are heavily involved, with nearly all new pupils having a go at the game and a newly instituted beginners House tournament being fiercely fought. Particularly pleasing has been the growing number of girls who have got themselves involved, with several of them going on to represent the school in competitive fixtures. At a higher level the senior players have shown great commitment with training sessions regularly filling all four of the main courts. House competitions have reflected this, with the standard of play being higher than ever before and the outcome of several matches being in the balance throughout. In addition to this, the number of staff playing has grown still further and weekly "club" nights have begun, with up to 12 people taking part. The standard has risen impressively, with a number of novices making great improvements. School matches have continued to take in a good range of opposition on the growing Midlands circuit of schools: Oakham, KES Birmingham, Stowe and Wolverhampton along with the EFA / Jesters. Finally, the two courts at Brooklands, one of the boarding houses, which are considered to be the oldest surviving courts in the country, are undergoing renovation, which promises to further boost the state of the game.

J.S.Birch

Westminster

As summer faded into winter, which in turn bled into spring, Ashburnham garden has remained in a state of unflinching serenity, just as Fives has remained a stable fixture in the Westminster almanac. Throughout the season we have dealt out our fair share of upsets to old rivals and also forged new relationships. The last weeks of Lent saw swarms of Westminsters descend on Eton for the 2009 National Schools' Championships and a fair few pairs walked away successful. All in all, it's been a good Fives season. Plenty of matches have been played; a lot of them won but all of them enjoyed.

Adam Perkins

Wolverhampton Grammar School

The initial core of boys who started playing in January 2007 are now in Year Nine and competing at Under 14 level. A very pleasing Midland U14 Championship saw two WGS pairs in the semi-finals; sadly WGS 2 (Ben Hart and Owen Shave) didn't have quite enough experience to make the final. However, in the final, WGS 1 (Tom Weston and Matt Pritchard) won a tightly fought match to defeat St Olave's 1 by two games to one.

The Autumn Ladder Competition, where the boys compete on an individual basis, saw the four WGS boys occupy the top three courts for most of the day. Individual glory was not forthcoming on this occasion, but collectively WGS finished top (Stowe, Uppingham, KES and Aldenham all showing good progress in their performances).

Home and away fixtures with KES Birmingham and Shrewsbury School provided great experience for the increasing number of players at Under 14 level. It was very pleasing to field seven pairs in the away fixture at Shrewsbury. The National Schools' Championships at Eton saw WGS back in the main Under 14 competition and proved to be a great experience for the two pairs. Ben Hart and Tom Husselbee did very well to progress from their pool; However, they came up against one of the many high quality Highgate pairs in the second round and lost out narrowly. Matthew Pritchard and Tom Weston also negotiated a successful passage to the second round where they had a tough game against Berkhamsted 1. Berkhamsted took the first game, but Matt and Tom dug deep and prevailed. The last 16 saw Wolverhampton 1 play Shrewsbury 2 and sadly, after a long and demanding day of Fives, progress to the quarter-finals proved elusive against an experienced Salopian pair.

There are a healthy number of new players coming through in Years Six, Seven and Eight who will all hopefully develop during the coming season to feature in the increasing number of school matches. Many thanks to all involved in helping and supporting Fives at WGS.

Mark Yates

Wrekin College

The efforts of the pupils at Wrekin College, amongst them Sam Wright, John Dyer and Alex Shanklin, have seen one of the Fives courts cleared and returned to action. Originally there would have been eight courts, four back to back, and each with covered seating for spectators. Two courts have been converted to a storage shed and boiler room, however, six remain. Of the remaining six, three are used by the groundsmen for storage and still have their slate-roofed spectator huts in place. The final three have been used to accumulate a variety of unwanted bric-a-brac from around the school. The courts are in good condition with sound roofing and some lighting. The endeavours of the Sixth Form boys have seen one of the courts cleared and play recommenced. An eagle-eyed Howard Wiseman spotted an order for four pairs of gloves and a ball at the Handball Supplies Co bound for Wrekin College. Following a number of telephone calls, I was dispatched to the school for an hour's introductory coaching session with the boys. The boys were already clued up on the game having accessed the websites and studied the Coaching Manual. Their enthusiasm and determination has resulted in the court being used on a near daily basis and other boys and girls coming along to try the sport. It is to be hoped that the great efforts that have been made by the pupils of Wrekin College can be continued into the new season.

Mark Yates

Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz

Eton Fives at Zuoz is in a very healthy state. The effects of Seb Cooley's residence at the school for several years are still showing. Most notable has been the rise of girls' Fives at Zuoz. Six pairs were chosen to compete in the Schools' Championships at Eton in March, where they were welcomed and coached enthusiastically by their former Master in Charge. There were high hopes for our U16 players (all day girls from the Engadin valley) and our first pair in the Ladies Open, Franziska Kuenburg from Austria (also the school's 1st XI cricket captain) and Saskia Becker from Germany. The latter pair advanced steadily in the Open and reached the final without conceding a game. Despite a heavily bandaged hand, Saskia played as well in the most important match as she had all tournament and Franziska's thunderous cuts were too much even for Highgate 1, against whom they won 3-0. This is easily the school's greatest achievement in the sport so far. The boys have been strongly encouraged and they will be highly motivated when they join the girls' team on their journey to Geneva in June 2009 for the (continental) European Championships.

Curt Schmitt