REFCA Tournament Round-Up
29/11/18: The last few weeks have seen several REFCA schools competitions taking place, featuring young players from schools from all over the country, including a welcome reappearance after a very long absence of Dover College.
Howard Wiseman and Dominique Redmond report:
U12s Individual at Eton College
It was as good a final as you could hope for. Three boys from Berkhamsted school, and one from Highgate, had won all six of their one-set rounds, to win their places in what turned out to be a most thrilling Final. The fine quality of cutting was equally matched by the ability to return them, and the rallies were breathtaking at times. There could not have been a better example of how exciting Fives can be: the packed crowd of fellow participants, coaches and parents were treated to an amazing display of very long rallies that careered by at break-neck speed with committed chasing and diving from all four players to keep the ball in play in often seemingly impossible situations. Having trailed slightly throughout the set, the Highgate & Berkhamsted combination overtook their opponents right at the end, displaying huge trust in each other and great teamwork to get the best winning shots from their partnership. They won 12-10.
The whole afternoon had provided the opportunity for 72 girls and boys to play more Fives than they would normally manage over many weeks. The improvement by the end of six rounds was clear to see! Many thanks to the staff and parents from Highgate, Berkhamsted Prep, Westway, Ipswich and St.Olave’s for supporting these budding young Fives players. It was a pleasure to see them all enjoying themselves so much.
U18 Girls Individual Tournament
This took place at Highgate School and enjoyed a great attendance of 28 girls. The girls represented themselves as individuals, being paired randomly with a different partner against different opposition through each of six one-set rounds. The four top-scoring girls then paired up (randomly again) to compete in a final. Girls entered from Wolverhampton, Highgate, St.Olave’s, Northgate (Ipswich area), Westminster and Berkhamsted. It was a wonderful afternoon with many close matches. As ever with these individual events, there was an an unusually high level of commitment and effort on display for all to see. The nervous excitement of partnering with and playing against complete strangers, resulted in everyone really trying their hardest. The Final was won by a Westminster & Berkhamsted combination versus a pair from Highgate.
Open Individual U14s
This event was held at Harrow. 36 girls and boys took part, involving players from Westway, St.Olave’s, Ipswich, Highgate, Westminster and St.Bartholomew's. The Final ended up with a Highgate & Ipswich combination, playing against two Olavians. It was a close final (won eventually by the two St.Olave’s boys) and a fitting end to a really sociable day that saw boys and girls from different schools just enjoying sport together.
U13s REFCA schools championships: “The return of Dover College”
This, now in its 8th year, took place at Eton College. Amazingly, the dream number of 32 pairs entered this event, guaranteeing that all players would be kept busy all day with almost no waiting for court space. The absolute highlight of the day was undoubtedly the entry of four Dover College pairs. This was the first appearance of Dover College on the Fives scene for possibly as long as 60 years! Their Director of Sport recently claimed back one of their two valuable courts (second to follow soon). Despite not being a Fives player himself, he has been teaching the girls and boys to play and has done a fantastic job. The seven boys and one girl competed with great commitment and played extremely well to clock up an impressive number of wins between them across the afternoon. Dover College were joined by Highgate, Summer Fields, St.Olave’s, St.Bartholomew’s and Westway.
The standard was high and fairly even overall. All schools’ first pairs were particularly strong and St.Bartholomew’s deserve special mention for fielding two very good pairs who both who won most of their pools matches; losing only narrowly in the last 16 round.
The semi-finals were reached by first pairs from Highgate, Westway, Summer Fields and St.Olave’s. Westway were very strong, and defeated Highgate for their place in the Final against the title-holders from Summer Fields. Summer Fields were the stand out pair of the tournament and won comfortably to claim the third title in a row for their school. A real achievement.
Many thanks as ever to Harrow, Highgate and Eton, for the use of their courts.