St Bees Invitational 2023: Building Momentum
27/06/23: The Fives renaissance at St Bees School continued over the weekend with the first ever St Bees Invitational Tournament.
Since reopening in 2018, Fives has been an integral part of the school's sports programme; with numbers of pupils increasing year by year, Fives on the world's most northerly courts is now re-establishing itself with more and more people playing the game.
This year alone has seen a major court refurbishment, a first visit by St Bees pairs to the Northern Tournament for several years, a Wiseman coaching weekend and now the inaugural St Bees Invitational Tournament, which finished off a weekend of activity on the courts in fine style.
First up on Saturday morning was an open house session, with a mixture of staff, local families, ex school parents and youngsters from the nearby Egremont squash club all coming along to learn how to play under the expert coaching eye of Mark Yates and assistants Gareth Hoskins, Ian Mitchell and Mandie Barnes. Saturday afternoon was the turn of the St Bees staff, who joined in a series of mix and match games with the morning coaches, who were also joined by Tom Hoskins, Matt Chinery, Charlotta Cooley, Andrew Mitchell and Harriet Asquith.
The visitors enjoyed a swim in the sea (well the more intrepid/foolhardy ones did) and a Saturday evening celebratory meal at the Queens' Hotel before returning to the courts bright and early on Sunday morning where they were joined by eight of the strongest pupils and four members of staff, including tournament mastermind, Assistant Head and former Cambridge University Fives player Laurence Gribble. The tournament took the form of a series of timed matches, with new pairings and new opponents for every round; at the end of the qualification stages, the scores of the eight pupils were entered into the qualification algorithm to produce an "A" final and a "B" final. The B final was dominated by Felicitas & David who beat Theo & Charlotte; the "A" final was an absolute thriller with Freddie & Rares drawing level at 6-6 just as the timer sounded, leading to a tense period of sudden death foot down Fives to decide the winner, Freddie & Rares just clinching the win over Sandra & Suproto.
This was a fantastic weekend for all concerned - everyone at the school provided a wonderfully warm welcome and the standard of play (and sportsmanship!) was high all weekend. Hopefully this will now become an annual event and I would encourage any clubs or groups of players to consider heading up to St Bees for a weekend tour - it's a great place to visit!