2013 EFA Trophy Qualifying Round: Fun in the Sun
The qualifying rounds for the EFA Trophy are always one of the highlights of the Fives Calendar and a beautifully sunny day at Eton on Sunday saw eight teams battle it out to make it into the last four of this year's competition. This was most definitely Fives at its best - competitive yet friendly, with players from 12 to 70+ playing a large number of matches in all sorts of different combinations and all having a thoroughly enjoyable time doing so.
The format of the competition was that each team played each other team across three pairs over one game, with the top four placed sides at the end of the day going through to the semi-finals on March 10th. The two pre-tournament favourites, perennial rivals the Old Salopians and defending champions the Old Wulfrunians, quickly asserted themselves as the two teams to beat and duly went on to qualify in first and second place, with the Shrewsbury team winning their head to head match 2-1 to help clinch top spot. The remaining two qualifying places were up for grabs all day, with several teams fancying their chances and only 5 points spearating 4th from 7th in the final standings.
It was newcomers the Monday Knights - who play a regular social game at Highgate on a Monday - who surprised themselves by clinching a well-deserved third place, one point ahead of the Old Etonians, who just held off the Old Ipswichians, leaving the OIs ruing the 12-10 first pair defeat at the hands of the Eton side early in the day. Cambridge University and North Oxford were both competitive all day but just fell short in the final analysis and Wycombe brought up the rear, having brought along a very young team - along with a smattering of golden oldies - who put in a huge effort all day and were rewarded by the very visible improvement in all of their performances during the course of the day.
The semi-finals will take place at Eton at 11am on Sun March 10th and will see the Old Salopians play the Old Etonians and the Old Wulfrunians take on the Monday Knights.