2010 Prep Schools' Tournament - Highgate on top

James Woodcock reports:

The 43rd Eton Fives Prep School Championships, sponsored by HSBC Insurance, took place at Harrow on Thursday 11th March.

This year we returned to Harrow with 32 pairs completing the draw. A winter virus had struck reducing Summer Fields’ team by two pairs, with some of the Ludgrove players recovering from something similar. Meanwhile Sunningdale had been unable to play for part of the term whilst waiting for their new roof to be fitted and so looked a little ring rusty. Three schools kindly added a 5th pair to balance the draw.

There were two particularly competitive groups which produced the odd upset. Both Cranleigh 1 and Sunningdale 1 succumbed to Orley Farm 4, whilst Orley Farm 1 were beaten by Highgate 4 in a closely fought encounter. Thus in the quarter finals all four Highgate pairs took their place and they were joined by Ludgrove 1, Summer Fields 1, Berkhamsted 1 and Orley Farm 4.

Highgate 1 proved too strong for their third pair as did Highgate 2 who beat their young fourth pair. Summer Fields 1 beat Orley Farm comprehensively whilst the best encounter was between Berkhamsted1 who overcame Ludgrove 1 in a tight first game before asserting their authority with some strong cutting in the second.

In the first semi-final Highgate 2 quickly won the first game against SF1, only for the second game to be well poised at 5-4 in favour of SF. At this point the effects of two weeks out of school, resulting in no Fives played, as a consequence of scholarship and sickness bug avoidance led to too many errors being made by the Oxford pair. The superior returning of the cut by Highgate helped them to seal a comprehensive win.

In the other semi-final Highgate 1 conceded just one point in their win against Berkhamsted, but it was good to see them back at this stage of the competition.

The final was a replica of the previous ten with Highgate 1 winning in straight games. They conceded to the organiser before the match that they had never lost to their second pair and played competent fives with R. Footman looking like a player to look out for in the future receiving solid support from A Robinson.

In the Jeremy Marston Plate Orley Farm 1 had an easy passage to the final whilst Summer Fields 2 just had the better of Ludgrove 2 in their semi with an eye injury to Ludgrove rather spoiling the climax. It was good to see Orley Farm win this competition for the first time as their pair ultimately made fewer mistakes in winning a one game final 12-8. In the plate for those knocked out at quarter final stage Highgate 3 narrowly beat their young but tenacious fourth pair. Many thanks are due to the Harrow Headmaster and their Fives Masters for their warm welcome. Next year we return to Eton and hope that the weather will be as kind to us.

Marston Plate

Orley Farm 1 (E Tebboth & K Sun) beat Summer Fields 2 (E Macdonald–Buchanan & M Macdonald) 12-8

Quarter-finals consolation

Highgate 3 (B Reid & C Thomas) beat Highgate 4 (J Bloomfield & R Maclennan) 2-1 (12-5, 3-12, 12-10)

Main competition semi-finals

Highgate 1 (R Footman & A Robinson) beat Berkhamsted 1 (C O’Gorman & O Green) 2-0 (12-1, 12-0)

Highgate 2 (M Budgett & D Light) beat Summer Fields 1 (T Skinner & T Nevile) 2-0 (12-4, 12-5)

Final

Highgate 1 beat Highgate 2 2-0 (12-8, 12-9)