EFA Junior Tournaments Make A Bright Start
04/10/21: The new EFA Junior Tournament programme has got off to a flying start, with excellent numbers attending the first two competitions.
Howard Wiseman reports:
On a wonderfully sunny Sunday afternoon, the first event in the new EFA junior series took place at Harrow School - the U18 individual.
40 youngsters from six different schools took part and it was just wonderful to see everyone mixed in together, working together and enjoying the sport as a group of young and talented enthusiasts.
Seven rounds were played, with a retrospective handicap of seven points so that even if a lower score was achieved, seven was the minimum that could be recorded. In this way nobody‘s hopes were shattered by a low score. In fact there were many extremely close games that ran the longest, but which did not necessarily end in a close scoreline, so the handicap system really did work very well.
At the end of seven rounds, there were four clear leading scorers: two from Highgate and two from St.Olave’s. These were then paired across the two schools and the final result was 12–7 to Aditya and Alessandro. Many new friends and acquaintances were made across the afternoon and everyone enjoyed their time together enormously!
Many thanks on behalf of the EFA to Ian Hutchinson for allowing the use of the Harrow School clubhouse and courts and to Dominique Redmond for preparing the draw and administration at the event.
Above all else, thank you to those parents and in particular, teachers and coaches who gave up their day to bring their pupils along.
Highgate was the setting for the second event in the new junior programme - the girls individual competition.
32 players - conveniently with 8 available courts - took part from Shrewsbury, Ipswch, Highgate and Northgate. There was a late withdrawal from Holyport and it would be nice to see a wider range of schools next time, but the 32 players who were there had a fabulous time playing a series of matches with different partners and opponents, following a similar system to the one described above by Howard.
The field was divided into two separate mini-competitions of 16, with the players allocated to one or the other based on age and experience. As the rounds progressed it was great to see the improvements both in the standard of play overall, but also in the ability of the players to adapt to playing with someone different and to work together and communicate to achieve the best result.
The four leading players from each mini-tournament then took part in a final, with the senior final featuring one player from each of the four schools, the Highgate/Shrewsbury pairing of Zara & Libby winning 12-7 against Anna & Natasha from Ipswich/Northgate. The junior final saw an all-Ipswich winning pair as Emilia & Maddi triumphed over the Highgate/Ipswich duo of Charlotte & Sophie.
Thanks go to David Mew at Highgate for being a terrific host and organising the Highgate contingent and to the other parents and coaches who brought their pupils along and helped make the day a great success.
Howard Wiseman reports:
The U16 Individual Tournament was attended by 45 players from seven schools: Highgate, Marlborough College, QEB Barnet, Ipswich, St.Olave’s, Aldenham and Harrow.
The highlight, before the event had even started, was the entry from Marlborough College…possibly their first appearance in an Eton Fives tournament for over 50 years!!?
The standard of play was varied of course, but generally very high! Every school brought with them some superb players. The Harrow and Marlborough boys were all excellent, having played to a very high level at various prep schools.
Eventually, after six random rounds with no repeat partners, there were four clear top scorers. Randomly paired for the final, the line up was a Harrow and St.Olave’s vs Highgate and St.Olave’s. All four players had played to a consistently high standard all afternoon, and this appeared to have produced two very even pairs. However, in the event, the Highgate/St.Olave’s combination just didn’t put a foot wrong and tore through the other excellent pair; 12-0, before they could get going at all.
It was a really fantastic afternoon of Fives; everyone enjoyed how refreshing it was to compete alongside their usual rivals in a very supportive and friendly environment of like-minded Fives players.
Many thanks to the teachers and coaches who had given up their day to support their pupils. Especially also to Ian Hutchinson and Harrow School for the use of the courts. It was a great day, and the autumn sunshine was the icing on the cake.