September 2013: Zuoz Fives Club Zurich - 50 Not Out
John Reynolds reports:
The half century of the Zurich branch of Zuoz fives was celebrated, appropriately, by some 50 players (and their ages spanned about five decades – from early 20s to early 70s).
Half of those were from England - including several players who had travelled to Zuoz at the time the Lyceum’s old boys’ club was formed back in the early 1960s. Old Citizens Geoff Bates, David Cooper, Gordon Stringer and David White were regular visitors to the Alpine courts in the 1950s and 1960s and they were back again for the birthday party. Stringer (who picked up a life-time-contribution-to-fives award at a recent EFA event) has the honour of being the only UK honorary member of the Zuoz Fives Club Zurich. Alongside these veterans were some of the country’s most eminent players (such as leading lady players Emily Scoones and Karen Hird, top veteran Grant Williams and recent Kinnaird champion Matt Wiseman.
The thriving state of Zuoz fives was evident from the strength and technique of its younger contingent and the continuing enthusiasm and skills of its more senior players. Younger players included recent school leavers Katerina Kuenburg and Jessica Rees, current Zurich keeper Renato Buechi, his brother Felix, Kevin Michaelsen and Michael Kuenburg. They are of course standing on the shoulders of those players such as Dieti Mettler (who, it has emerged, was one of the Swiss players in the recently publicised film of Zuoz fives in the early 1960s) and the other founders of the club including the peerless and much-lamented Benny Oei. This flourishing of talent is also a direct result of the investment in coaching by the lyceum - much of it from Howard Wiseman and his team - over the past two decades and of the energies of the weekend’s indefatigable fives host, Daniel Haering.
And the weekend showed that standards of fair play ("fair play" merits its own chapter in one of the lyceum’s prospectuses from the 1950s which I have seen) were as high as ever.
The players divided equally into the main draw and the festival. The winning pairs in both main tournament and festival were combinations of Zuoz players and English visitors.
Sunday’s main tournament was won by Michael Kuenburg (who had shown himself to be a fearsome fast bowler in the first eleven cricket match the previous day) and Matt Wiseman (who was at the Lyceum coaching for a couple of weeks).
Kuehnburg’s cutting and powerful hitting, in alliance with Wiseman’s all-round game, were too much for Englishmen Ronald Pattison and Chris Morris, although the former bossed mid-court on occasion and the latter retrieved like his life depended on it.
The festival was won by the Lyceum’s chemistry teacher Peter Suess and English visitor Mark George Jacobs (another of the Old Citizen contingent).
Matthew Wiseman & Michael Kuehnburg versus Chris Morris & Ronald Pattison (won by Wiseman & Kuehnburg)
Matthew Wiseman & Michael Kuenburg versus Emily Scoones & Grant Williams
Chris Morris& Ronald Pattison versus Martin Powell & Renato Buechi
Marc Jacobs & Peter Suess versus James Fredenham & Dieter Büchi (won by Jacobs & Suess)
Marc Jacobs & Peter Suess versus Danny Hewitt & Isabelle Sommer
James Fredenham & Dieter Buechi versus David Cooper & Franz von Feilitzsch
Dale Vargas reports:
Fifty Years of EtonFives at the Zuoz Fives Club (Zurich)
On the weekend of 6-8 September 2013, 25 Eton fives players, former players and supporters from the UK accepted the invitation of the Zuoz Fives Club (Zurich) to visit the Lyceum Alpinum for their Summer Games Weekend. This is an annual event when the Old Boys and Young Girls (as they call them, now that the Lyceum is co-educational) return to Zuoz for cricket and fives matches against the current students. The setting of the Lyceum in the small Alpine village of Zuoz, 1750 metres above sea level in the Upper Engadin valley is enchanting and the views of the mountains, some still capped with snow, nothing short of spectacular. We were blessed with two days of wonderful warm sunshine and although a light drizzle invaded the valley on Sunday morning, it did nothing to detract from the magic of the occasion.
On Friday evening the guests and fives club members gathered at the Hotel Engadin in the village centre for welcome drinks and dinner. Some had driven from Zurich over the Flüela Pass (2400m) ―an ear-popping experience; others had taken the train ― invariably on time, of course ― to enjoy the mountain scenery in more relaxed style. For many there was some squinting and head scratching as memories were raked for the names of acquaintanceships made long ago. Gordon Stringer, who was there with his wife Margot, and David Cooper (with wife Jan) first visited with the Old Citizens in 1958. The club has had a long association with Zuoz, so it was right that theirs should be the highest representation among the guests: indeed Gordon had been made an honorary member of the Zuoz Fives Club (Zurich) in appreciation of bringing teams to Switzerland for more than ten years. David White dates back to the 1961 tour and Geoff Bates a couple of years later. Eleven-times Kinnaird winner, John Reynolds, added some distinction on the playing side – and comparative youth. From a younger generation were Ralph Morgan and Mark Jacobs with Rachel, Other guests were Grant Williams (Old Cholmeleians & Shrewsbury), Chris Morris (Old Salopians), Ronald Pattison (Old Carthusians & Brigands) with Louise, Martin Powell (Old Etonians) with Penny, John Cooley (Old Olavians) with Liz, Peter Knowles (Old Edwardians & Highgate) with Marian, James Fredenham (Old Cholmeleians), Danny Hewitt (Lancing Old Boys & Brigands), Peter Chen (Old Cholmeleians), Emily Scones and Karen Hird representing Ladies Fives and Dale Vargas (Old Harrovians) with Krystyna. The Zuoz Club President, Danny Haering, set the tone for the weekend in a warm welcoming speech.
Saturday was the day for the cricket and fives matches: three cricket matches in the morning followed by a barbecue on the ground; then a full programme of fives in the afternoon. There are two sets of three courts at the Lyceum: the Rondell courts, in a courtyard just off the main school, have been recently roofed and lit. The Spencer courts, built in 1963 in memory of Edward Gordon Spencer, who introduced Eton fives to Zuoz back in 1923, are open but were refurbished in 2010. It was a wonderful sight to see so many people clamouring for a game.
The centre of the Lyceum comprises a space some 50 metres square, surrounded on three sides by high, attractive terracotta-faced buildings. It slopes slightly and so offers a dress-circle view across the river Inn to Arpiglia and the mountains on the other side of the valley. It may lack the history of the Chapel Courtyard at Eton or the School Yard at Harrow, but the view cannot be matched anywhere. It was here that all the diners gathered for drinks and a short presentation ceremony before adjourning to the dining hall for dinner.
Dinner was attended by the Head Master (who, incidentally, is a keen supporter of the fives and plays himself) and some hundred or so former pupils of the Lyceum; the fives party occupied two long tables. After some speeches that were mainly addressed to the Old Members, Danny Haering again spoke, welcoming the party from the UK and celebrating the fifty years of fives since the first court was built at Geeren, just outside Zurich. Ronald Pattison, Vice-Chairman of the Eton Fives Association, replied (in English) thanking Beat Sommer, the Head Master of the Lyceum, and all our hosts for their generous hospitality over the weekend and giving a brief survey of recent developments of the game of Eton fives in the UK.
Sunday was the day of the Engadin Challenge. By tradition the names of the competitors are drawn out of a hat – or was it two hats? Anyhow some very balanced pairs played all day in spite of some quite slippery conditions in the Spencer courts from time to time.
It had been a memorable weekend. For any that might have doubted that fives could flourish in a school in a mountain village in Switzerland and then spread its seed abroad into the creation of courts in Zurich, Geneva, Rheinberg, Augsburg, and most recently Brazil, here was their answer. Happy birthday, Zuoz Fives Club (Zurich) and thank you for inviting us to your party!