2020 National Schools' Championships: The Story So Far

***Competition suspended as of 17/03/20***

The 2020 National Schools' Championships in association with Advanta Wealth are well underway, with many of the team competitions and qualifying days already done.

The format has changed this year due to the increasing number of entries year on year, with many of the competitions now having a pre-qualifying day for the pairs who are not already seeded through to the main tournament week at the end of March. As usual, the main (i.e. not pre-qualifying) days for some of the younger age group tournaments have also taken place in advance of the main week.

Here is what has happened so far (reports by Mark Williams):

Martin Pett Plate (3 pair team U13 competition): Berkhamsted beat St.Olave's

 

U13 girls competition

38 pairs from seven schools was a very encouraging entry and fully justified a competition at this level. The pools stage was one game up to 6 or 8. Nine of the ten Berkhamsted pairs qualified from the pools and all played in the 3rd round which showed their great strength in depth at this level. Pairs finishing first in their pool had a bye until the 3rd round. The 2nd round was one game and all but one of the matches was one-sided; Berkhamsted 3 just defeating Highgate 4 12-8. The 3rd round was best of 3 games, and most matches were one-sided; Holyport 1 won the first game against Berkhamsted 5 13-11, and narrowly lost the second 10-12 before Berkhamsted ran away in the third game. In the quarter-finals Highgate 1 and Berkhamsted 2 had relatively straightforward wins, but Cranleigh 1 rallied splendidly having lost the first game to Berkhamsted 4 6-12, to win the next two games 12-6, 13-12. The surprise of the round was an under 11 pair, Highgate 3; showing great determination and flair for two so small, they defeated the talented Berkhamsted 1 in two titanic games 12-10, 15-14. Both semi-finals were won in staright games: Highgate 3 experiencing no nerves against Cranleigh 1, but Highgate 1 pushed Berkhamsted 2 hard in both games before the latter won through. The final is yet to be arranged, but should be an excellent match, and it will be interesting to see how well the under 11 pair plays. Our thanks to Ian Hutchinson for organising the day at Harrow so hospitably: their renovated facilites are certainly second to none.

Quarter-Finals

Highgate 3 beat Berkhamsted 1 2-0 (12-10, 15-14)

Cranleigh 1 beat Berkhamsted 4 2-1 (6-12, 12-6, 13-12)

Highgate 1 beat Berkhamsted 5 2-0 (12-2, 12-4)

Berkhamsted 2 beat Berkhamsted 3 2-0 (12-6, 12-6)

Semi-Finals

Highgate 3 (Z.Kirstein & M.Rossburgh) beat Cranleigh 1 (P.Gray & B.Hoctor-Duncan) 2-0 (12-6, 12-6)

Berkhamsted 2 (B.Spooner & A.Diaz-Stevens) beat Highgate 1 (C.Hastie & L.Atkinson) 2-0 (12-7, 12-9)

 

Mike Hughes Cup (3 pair U15 team competition): Harrow

 

Open Qualifying Tournament:

15 pairs from five schools entered the Open Qualifying tournament; the quarter-finalsits qualifying for the Main Competition. In the quarter-finals, Ipswich 1, Mill Hill 1 and Aldenham 1 all had comfortable wins, but Mill Hill 1 won the first game against Charterhouse 1 12-3, before the latter rallied impressively to win 12-6, 12-4. In the semi-finals, Ipswich 1 won comfortably against a talented Ipswich 2, but the match of the day was between Charrterhouse 1 and Aldenham 1. Aldenham 1 won a tense first game 12-9, before Charterhouse recovered well to dominate the second game 12-7. Charrterhouse established a convincing lead in the third game, but Aldenham kept fighting and steadily caught up. Charterhouse were the first to step, but Aldenham drew level and were the stronger pair in the end, winning 14-12. The first game in the final was nip and tuck all the way, and was very well matched; Aldenham lead 11-10, but Weaver dominated the rest of the game and Ipswich won 14-11. In the second game Ipswich got off to a good start and played consistently attacking fives; Aldenham fought hard but Ipswich won comfortably in the end 12-6. Thanks to Highgate for hosting, and congratulations to Peter Boughton and Andy Stephenson on producing two talented pair who played the games very fairly.

Quarter-Finals

Ipswich 1 beat Aldenham 2-0 (12-1, 12-5)

Ipswich 2 beat Mill Hill 1 2-0 (12-5, 12-2)

Charterhouse 1 beat Mill Hill 2 2-1 (3-12, 12-6, 12-4)

Aldeham 1 beat Highgate 1 2-0 (12-3, 12-4)

Semi-Finals

Ipswich 1 (I.Weaver & M.Johnson) beat Ipswich 2 (C.Tweedy & T.Conway) 2-0 (12-7, 12-7)

Aldenham 1 (S.Harvey & B.Brick) beat Charterhouse 1 (H.Platt & F.Mclellan) 2-1 (12-9, 7-12, 14-12)

Final

Ipswich 1 beat Aldenham 1 2-0 (14-11, 12-6)

 

U13 Boys Competition:

53 pairs from eight schools entered this competition, where the previous year's Under 12 semi-finalists are denied a place. 14 of Berkhamsted's 15 pairs qualified from the Pools stage, nine of them winning their pool, which testified to their enormous strength in depth. Pools winners had a bye to the 3rd round, and in each 2nd round match a pool 2nd played a pool 3rd over one game. 3rds who triumphed were Cranleigh 2, Highgate 6, St Olave's 7 and Highgate 5 who beat Berkhamsted 5 12-11; Ipswich 1 beat Q E Barnet 3 by the same score. In the 3rd round (best of 3 games), all matches were won in straight games, but Berkhamsted 8 pushed St Olave's 2 12-14 in the second game. All of the 4th round matches were won in staright games, but Highgate 2 just squeezed through against Berkhamsted 6 14-12, 12-9, and Cranleigh 1 narrowly triumphed against Berkhamsted 7 12-11, 12-9. In the quarter-finals, St Olave's 1 and Berkahmsted 1 won their matches easily, but Berkhamsted 2 only overcame Berkahsmted 3 14-12, 15-14, and after a tight first game the match between Highgate 1 and Cranleigh 1 was level at 1 game apiece before the former ran away with the 3rd game. In the semi-finals, Berkhamsted 2 showed some promise in the second game against St Olave's, who looked impressive throughout, and Berkhamsted 1 were too consistent for Highgate 1. A mouth-watering final is in prospect between a talented yet relatively inexperienced St Olave's pair and a more consistent Berkahmsted pair with contrasting styles. The competition was transferred to Eton from Harrow at the last minute because of storm damage, and the players and coaches did well to remain cheerful on a bitterly cold day with little refuge.

Quarter-Finals

St.Olave's 1 beat Highgate 2 2-0 (12-3, 12-3)

Berkhamsted 2 beat Berkhamsted 3 2-0 (14-12, 15-14)

Highgate 1 beat Cranleigh 1 2-1

Berkhamsted 1 beat St.Olave's 2 2-0 (12-1, 12-3)

Semi-Finals

St.Olave's 1 (A.Agrawal & F.Abenuga) beat Berkhamsted 2 (D.Cowle & O.Smith) 2-0 (12-4, 12-7)

Berkhamsted 1 (F.Webster & O.Francis) beat Highgate 1 (M.Wijeratne & J.Lever) 2-0 (12-0, 12-5)

 

U16 Qualifying Tournament:

14 pairs from six schools entered the Open Qualifying tournament; the quarter-finalists qualifying for the Main Competition. In the quarter-finals, HIghgate 1, Cranleigh 1 and Aldenham 1 all had comfortable wins, but Q E Barnet 3 won the first game against Mill Hill 1 12-9, before the latter rallied impressively to win 12-1, 12-3. In the semi-finals, Aldenham 1 and Highgate 1 won comfortably against Cranleigh 1 and Mill Hill 1 respectively. In both games of the final, Highgate 1 took an early lead, but Aldenham 1 were not deterred and steadily caught up; both games were set at 10 all, but in both, Aldenham held their nerve to win 13-12. It was a memorable final played at a rapid pace and was compelling watching. Both pairs cut and returned cut effecxtively and volleyed whenever possible. The two pairs were supremely well matched and clearly of a higher standard than any other in the competition. The Highgate pair are both under 15, and played with great skill and commitment; the less experienced Aldenham pair have reached a remarkable standard in a relatively short time, and were able to play the big points without making many unforced errors. Thanks to Harrow for hosting, and congratulations to David Mew and Andy Stephenson on producing two talented pairs who played the game very fairly.

Quarter-Finals

Aldenham 1 beat Highgate 2 2-0 (12-3, 12-6)

Cranleigh 1 beat QE Barnet 2 2-0 (12-8, 12-3)

Mill Hill 1 beat QE Barnet 3 2-1 (9-12, 12-1, 12-3)

Highgate 1 beat QE Barnet 1 2-0 (12-3, 12-5)

Semi-Finals

Aldenham 1 (N.Booth & T.Francis) beat Cranleigh 1 (L.Hopcroft & S.Shanmugavel) 2-0 (12-0, 12-4)

Highgate 1 (T.Browne & A.de Freitas-Vile beat Mill Hill 1 (A.Joshi & A.Dewan) 2-0 (12-3, 12-3)

Final

Aldenham 1 beat Highgate 1 2-0 (13-12, 13-12)

 

U11 Competition:

38 pairs from six schools entered this competition; Berkhamsted had 14 pairs, and Highgate 12, demonstrating extraordinary depth at this young age; both had several girls pairs. 13 of Berkhamsted's 14 pairs qualified from the Pools stage (one short game), 5 of them winning their pool, which testified to the extent of their ability. Pools winners had a bye to the 3rd round, and in each 2nd round match a pool 2nd played a pool 3rd over 1 short game. 3rds who triumphed were Belmont 1 and Berkhamsted 7. In the 3rd round (best of 3 games), all but one match was won in straight games; the exception being that Highgate 2 took a gaame off Berkahmsted 5, and Summer Fields 1 were narrowly defeated by Berkhamsted 4. Berkhamsted had six pairs in the quarter-finals, and three of them won easily in straight games; Highgate 1 were potentially the only other pair who could seriously challenge them, but they crucially lost the first game against Berkhamsted 6 12-13. After a titanic fight, they just won the second game 14-12, but their opponents showed superior talent and temperament to triumph 12-6 in the third - a remarkable achievement. Sadly, they were a busted flush in their semi-final against Berkhamsted 2, and Berkhamsted 1 beat Berkhamsted 3 in straight games, although the latter won nine points in the second game. The Final will be layed at Berkhamsted on a date to be arranged, and many congratulations to Ryan Perrie who has taught all of these young boys and girls to play so well and in exactly the right spirit.

Quarter-Finals

Berkhamsted 1 beat Berkhamsted 5 2-0 (12-2, 12-3)

Berkhamsted 3 beat Highgate 3 2-0 (12-5, 12-2)

Berkhamsted 2 beat Berkhamsted 4 2-0 (12-3, 12-3)

Berkhamsted 6 beat Highgate 1 2-1 (13-12, 12-14, 12-6)

Semi-Finals

Berkhamsted 1 (L.Clark & A.Seddon) beat Berkhamsted 3 (R.Freer & J.Thompson) 2-0 (12-3, 12-9)

Berkhamsted 2 (O.Sheinman & O.Blasco) beat Berkhamsted 6 (T.Lloyd-Evans & J.Curtis) 2-0 (12-1, 12-1)

 

Williams Cup (Open 3 pair team competition): Eton

 

U15 Qualifying Tournament:

27 pairs from seven schools entered this tournament, where the eight quarter-finalists qualify for the Main Competition. It was very pleasing to welcome Repton for the first time in approximately 30 years. Pools winners had a bye to the 3rd round, and in each 2nd round match a pool 2nd played a pool 3rd over 1 short game. 3rds who triumphed were Aldenham 4 & 6 and Berkhamsted 4. Aldenham got 6 of their 7 pairs to the 3rd round (best of 3 games), which was a fine collective achievement. All but two of the matches were won in straight games, which included Ipswich 3 defeating Aldenham 1, and Aldenham 4 almost snatching a game from Mill Hill 2; Aldenham 5 surprised Berkhamsted 2 by easily winning the first game, but the latter recovered strongly to win through, and Aldenham 3 lost the first game to Mill Hill 1 before winning two tight games 13-12 and 12-10. Ipswich had four pairs in the quarter-finals which was a remarkable achievement, and all the matches were all won in straight games, but Ipswich 4 pushed Berkhamsted hard in both games, as did Ipswich 3 to Berkhamsted 1. Both semi-finals pitted Ipswich and Berkhamsted against each other with their first and second pairs. Ipswich 1 won relatively easily in straight games, but Berkhamsted 1 won a close first game against Ipswich 2, before the latter turned the match round by dominating the last two games. Ipswich 2 continued their good form by winning the first game in the final, the first pair responded well but the game reached 11-11 including a couple of match points, before they levelled the match; the last game was the best of the three and was again close, but the first pair marginally led all the way and triumphed 12-9. Congratulations to Peter Boughton and Tony Stubbs who do such a marvellous job at Ipswich and drive their players all over the country for their matches; this double success was particularly well deserved.

Quarter-Finals

Ipswich 1 beat Mill Hill 2 2-0 (12-8, 12-0)

Berkhamsted 2 beat Ipswich 4 2-0 (15-11, 12-8)

Ipswich 2 beat Aldenham 3 3-0 (12-4, 12-2)

Berkhamsted 1 beat Ipswich 3 3-0 (12-8, 12-8)

Semi-Finals

Ipswich 1 (S.Malaravan & R.Bhagwat) beat Berkhamsted 2 (D.Graham & A.Khare) 2-0 (12-7, 12-3)

Ipswich 2 (W.Kelly & A.Dunning) beat Berkhamsted 1 (T.Fleming & T.Head) 2-1 (10-13, 12-5, 12-3)

Final

Ipswich 1 beat Ipswich 2 2-1 (9-12, 12-11, 12-9)

 

U12 Qualifying Tournament:

57 pairs from eight schools entered this competition, a very high entry in the second year of this tournament. It was very good to see two pairs from King Edward's, Birmingham. The 16 pairs reaching the 4th round qualified for the Main Competition . Four of Ipswich's 7 pairs, and three of Cranleigh Prep's 7 pairs won their Pool, which testified to their growing strength. Pools winners had a bye to the 3rd round, and in each 2nd round match a pool 2nd played a pool 3rd over 1 game. 3rds who triumphed were Highgate 1, Berkhamsted 6, Holyport 2 and St Olave's 2. In the 3rd round (best of three games), all matches were won in straight games, except that Ipswich 3 dropped the second game to Highgate 4, as did Highgate 2 to Ipswich 7. All of the 4th round matches were won in staright games, except that Ipswich 3 narrowly dropped the first game to Belmont 2 before winning the last two games 12-11, 13-11 - a titanic struggle. Belmont 1 and Berkhamsted 1 won their quarter-finals in straight games, but Cranleigh Prep 2 dropped the second game to Ipswich 1, but won the first and third games narrowly 12-11, 13-11, despite being 6-10 down in the last; they cut particularly well at the crunch. Belmont 1 won their semi-final against Berkhamsted in staright games, but it was close for a long time in the first game before the former broke away steadily gaining on confidence with Turner looking very impressive. The other semi-final between Cranleigh 1 & 2 had to be postponed because of injury and will be played at Cranleigh in due course, and the final will follow at a later date.

Quarter-Finals

Belmont 1 beat Berkhamsted 2 2-0 (12-5, 12-5)

Berkhamsted 1 beat Ipswich 3 2-0 (12-8, 12-1)

Cranleigh Prep 2 beat Ipswich 1 2-1 (12-11, 4-12, 13-11)

Cranleigh Prep 1 beat Berkhamsted 3 2-1 (9-12, 12-3, 12-5)

Semi-Finals

Belmont 1 (J.Turner & J.Sandhu) beat Berkhamsted 1 (A.Meikle-Pebe & O.Scard) 2-0 (12-5, 12-1)

Cranleigh Prep 1 (S.Stevenson & H.Bown) v Cranleigh Prep 2 (T.Cooksley & M.Wheatcroft) to be played

 

U14 Boys Qualifying Tournament:

27 pairs from seven schools entered this competition; the eight quarter-finalists qualifying for the Main Competition. Pools winners had a bye to the 3rd round, and in each 2nd round match a pool 2nd played a pool 3rd over one short game. 3rds who triumphed were Highgate 3, Highgate 4 and St Olave's 2. In the 3rd round (best of three games), all of the matches was were in straight games, although Ipswich 2 narrowly lost the first game to Harrow 1 12-13. The competition then split into four pairs from the smaller Schools (including Harrow, whose players were beginners this year), and four pairs from the larger schools; this is the model expected to be the norm in the future. In the Smaller Schools competition, Ipswich 1 and Cranleigh Prep 1 (both under 13) won in straight games against good pairs Harrow 1 and Mill Hill 1. All four players in the final showed plenty of skill and determination, but the Ipswich pair were considerably more physically developed, and their weight of shot and cutting were decisive. In the Larger Schools competition, Highgate 1 and Highgate 2 won in straight games against good pairs St Olave's 1 and Berkhamsted 1, and were considerably larger physically. Both pairs initially found it hard to focus in the final, but play soon settled down to a fine display of traditional Highgate fives: plenty of volleying at pace and crisp cutting and flat ground strokes. The first pair made fewer errors in winning the first game 12-9, but in the second, pair 2 led for much of the way, but at the end pair 1 caught up and won the crucial point. Both pairs should do well in the Main Competition since they hit the ball extremely hard for this age, cut well and play a fast game. Our thanks to Ian Hutchinson for hosting the tournament so well, and to Mike Till for efficiently running a pool in Plate A.

SMALLER SCHOOLS

Semi-finals

Ipswich 1 (E Caudwell & W Woods) beat Harrow 1 (A Anderson & F Dinan) 2-0 (12-7, 12-1)

Cranleigh Prep 1 (J Marriott & H Prior) beat Mill Hill 1 (T Skelly & E Gibson) 2-0 (12-6, 12-6)

Final

Ipswich 1 beat Cranleigh Prep 1 2-0 (12-6, 12-3)

LARGER SCHOOLS

Semi-Finals

Highgate 1 (F.Lee & A.Antoniazzi) beat St.Olave's 1 (M.Bhargava & A.Tavva) 2-0 (12-3, 12-7)

Highgate 2 (D.Rahamin & B.Womack) beat Berkhamsted 1 (J.Pannett & W.Rennie) 2-0 (12-6, 12-7)

Final

Highgate 1 beat Highgate 2 2-0 (12-9, 14-13)

 

U14 Girls Competition

20 pairs from four schools entered this competition; pools were one short game, as was the 2nd round which pitted Pool 1st v 4th, and 2nd v 3rd. The quarter-finals were all won in straight games, and Shrewsbury 1 played very well to beat Highgate 2, given that they only started this term. Both semi-finals were well contested, but Highgate were too experienced for Shrewsbury, and Ipswich got close to Cranleigh Prep in the second game. In a repeat of last year's U13 final, Highgate again proved just too strong for Cranleigh Prep, who played with great determination. Anderson dominated the match with her height, physique and skill, and LeClercq had improved significantly, playing particularly well in the back of the court and cutting effectively. From the quarter-finals onwards the standard was remarkably high for players of this age; a shame that there aren't more schools interested in entering girls'pairs; there are several who could.

Quarter-Finals

Highgate 1 beat Ipswich 2 2-0 (12-3, 12-1)

Shrewsbury 1 beat Highgate 2 2-0 (12-8, 12-5)

Ipswich 1 beat Shrewsbury 2 2-0 (12-6, 12-7)

Cranleigh Prep 1 beat Shrewsbury 5 2-0 (12-4, 12-2)

Semi-Finals

Highgate 1 (M.Anderson & N.LeClercq) beat Shrewsbury 1 (A.Mupesa & A.Mupesa) 2-0 (12-5, 12-7)

Cranleigh Prep 1 (E.Syvret & C.Barr) beat Ipswich 1 (A.Parker & H.Bishop) 2-0 (12-3, 12-9)

Final

Highgate 1 beat Cranleigh Prep 1 2-0 (12-8, 12-5)