Mark Williams reports:
After their fine performance in the earlier rounds last week, Rydal reached their first National Fives final, and the neutrals eagerly anticipated a historic match as they took on Highgate for the U13 title. They were not disappointed and the final was one of those well matched sporting contests which swung several ways before the result was known. The first game was rather nervous, and the scores were level most of the time, before Rydal found some confidence to pull ahead and win 12-9. Highgate immediately responded and played more purposefully to win the second game 12-7. Having swung the initiative, they continued to play the more positive Fives to win the third 12-6, and it looked as though they would continue their momentum.
Throwing caution to the wind Rydal at last attacked, stood in to receive the cut, and having established a lead, found some self-belief and levelled the match at 2 games all (12-8). In the final game their talented left-hander found his length and dominated proceedings, well supported by his partner, to win the decisive game 12-5.
Rydal therefore won their first National Eton Fives trophy, and it was all the more satisfying for them that they had to come from behind and show some mettle to do so. The Highgate pair fought all the way, and played some very entertaining rallies themselves, and in the games that they won, won the set piece.
Many congratulations to Rydal coaches Mike Leach and Chris Bird on a magnificent achievement from one of our extreme outposts and it was good to see the Bhattacharya brothers who turned up in support, and who were responsible as gap year coaches for the initial spark which ignited Rydal Fives. It showed the rest of the Fives world what can be achieved given sufficient enthusiasm and organisation from a school whose nearest fixture is three hours drive away.
Rydal (W.Sissons & J.Jones) beat Highgate (J.Abramovich & K.Steele) 12-9, 7-12, 6-12, 12-8, 12-5