James Woodcock reports:
This year we returned to Harrow by kind permission of the Headmaster with 32 Pairs from eight schools enjoying a busy day’s Fives on a warm day. We are hopeful that Horris Hill will rejoin the competition next season. The courts had been well prepared in anticipation of our tournament. This year there was more noticably more Fives played by more children for longer and at an appropriate level thanks in part to an additional plate competition given in memory of Roddy Forman (former Housemaster and master i/c Fives at Eton and Summer Fields master).
There were some competitive games within the eight pools, notably Cranleigh 1 coming through group G and in group B where Summer Fields 3 beat both Belmont 1 and Highgate 4 to top the group. An upset to form was also seen in group E where Summer Fields 4 narrowly overcame Highgate 2. As a consequence, the quarter-finals featured four Summer Fields pairs, two from Highgate and the first pairs from Sunningdale and Cranleigh.
The Marston Plate allowed the eight 2nd placed pairs from the groups to compete in a best of three knock out. The standard of play by these pairs was pleasing to note and ultimately Highgate 2 prevailed against Highgate 4.
Meanwhile the Forman Plate allowed pairs 17-32 the chance to play for a new trophy. These games were well supported and Belmont 1 came through 12-10 in a tight final against a young 3rd pair from Sunningdale. Roddy would have approved of the enthusiasm and energy shown by all taking part in his competition.
In the main draw Summer Fields 1 beat a talented Cranleigh pair and Sunningdale 1 (deprived of their best player on the day due to illness) went one game down to Summer Fields 2 (the new National U12 champions) before conceding. There was an excellent encounter between Highgate 3 and Summer Fields 4, which the HIghgate pair won and Highgate 1 also qualified for the semi- finals.
The Summer Fields 2nd pair, hampered by a hand injury, were not quite at their best and despite an extremely close 1st game (14-13) lost to Highgate 1. Meanwhile Highgate 3 overcame the loss of their 1st game to Summer Fields 1 to level the match at 1-1. The Oxford pair started the third more promisingly and held on to win 12-7 in a close and slightly nervous match.
The stage was set for the Final, the first non all Highgate affair since 1999. After a tight opening with rallies evenly contested, the capable Summer Fields pair began to make progress. The cutting and volleying of Backhouse helped to give momentum and ably supported by his tenacious partner Porter they won a competitive first game and looked increasingly competent in wrapping up the match in straight games. This was a first triumph for Summer Fields in this competition, 20 years after their new courts were built. The day was well supported with more watching the finals than in previous years.
Roddy Forman Plate: Belmont 1 beat Sunningdale 3 (12-10)
Jeremy Marston Plate: Highgate 2 beat Highgate 4 2-1 (12-7, 6-12, 12-10)
Best of QF plate: Summer Fields 4 beat Summer Fields 3 (2-1)
48th Prep Schools Eton Fives:
Summer Fields 1 (AJS Backhouse & BCW Porter) beat Highgate 1 (M Knight & J Sochor-Grethe) 2-0 (12-9, 12-5)