Prep Schools' Tournament 2016

James Woodcock reports:

21/03/16: On Friday 18th March we returned to Harrow by kind permission of the Headmaster. It was a cold day and with 31 pairs representing 8 schools the tournament offered almost constant play. This was the second year of the Forman Salver and it was a pity that Belmont were unable to defend their trophy.

The group stages almost went to plan, although Ludgrove 1 made a slow start and were caught napping by Sunningdale 3. This meant that the top three pairs from Highgate and Sunningdale respectively were joined by Summer Fields’ 1st and 2nd pair.

The Forman Salver offered the pairs placed 3rd and 4th in their groups the chance to compete for silverware. After four further rounds Berkhamsted 2 came through as worthy winners beating Summer Fields 3 by a tight margin (14-11, 14-13). This match was the last to finish and was played in an excellent spirit of which Roddy would have approved.

The Marston Plate offered the second placed within each group best of three matches and the level of play was increasingly competitive. Ludgrove 1, having now found their true form, came through to beat Summer Fields 4 12-9, 12-2.

In the main competition the seeded pairs confirmed the draw at the quarter-final stage, leaving Summer Fields 2 the chance to beat Sunningdale 2 (12-2, 12-3) in the best of the losing Quarter Finalists (5th place).The draw was now an exact repeat of last year’s U12 competition. Sunningdale 1 played with assurance to defeat Highgate 1, whilst Summer Fields 1 looked to be finding form in beating Highgate 2. With one of their pair having only just returned onto court following a thumb injury the final was evenly matched- a replica of the U12 final. Summer Fields played well to win the first game 12-3 only to suffer a relapse as Sunningdale competed better in the second game winning 12-6. The stage was set for an exciting climax but momentum had shifted in favour of the Berkshire pair and Sunningdale came through worthy winners 12-2 thus reversing last year’s U12 result. With all four boys bound for Eton and one of the Sunningdale pair with another year left at Prep School the Eton teams of the future have much to look forward to. The mantle of organising the tournament now passes to dual Prep Schools' winner Guy Smith-Bingham (Master i/c at Ludgrove)

This was a final year for Andrew Bishop (master i/c at Summer Fields). Having previously coached teams from Belmont he was a driving force behind the re-building of the courts at Summer Fields and through his tenure so many boys have been given an excellent introduction to the game as well as having successfully founded the flourishing North Oxford club.

Anthony Brunner kindly presented the prizes in his final year. In addition to the many honours that Highgate Senior School have achieved with Anthony from 2004 his record in the Prep Schools is nothing short of phenomenal. In his 32 years at the helm from 1985 Highgate have won 22 times, with 17 all Highgate finals as well as losing in 3 other finals. The competitive nature of their play has often meant that any pair that has beaten him has gone on to serious honours within the sport. He will be much missed on the circuit- not a bad record for an Oundelian Rugby Fives player!

Sunningdale 1 (MRL Russell & SDS Hopkins) beat Summer Fields 1 (M Spirodonov & EA Bingham)