As ever, the school Fives season began with the West of England tournament at Sherborne over the last weekend of the Christmas holidays. A squad of 10 pupils travelled to compete.
Each year the tournament sees a core of about 10 schools compete over four categories: U16 Singles, U16 Doubles, U18 Singles and U18 Doubles, as well as in Plate and Bowl competitions. The Winchester squad had a very successful tournament with Wykehamists participating in three of the four finals and winning two of them.
The U16 squad did particularly well. Ethan took a bit of time to get going after the Christmas break but having fallen into the plate competition, made it through to the final – which was lost narrowly to a Marlboroughian 10-15. Zach fared better in the early stage but lost to a player from St. Paul’s in the quarterfinals.
In the main draw, Arthur and James were seeded 1 and 2 for the tournament and, though each went up against talented players from St. Paul’s in their respective semi-finals, their seeding was fully justified as both won, setting up an all-Winchester U16 final.
In the end Arthur won the final and the trophy in a truly well-matched series. The following day Arthur and James joined forces for the U16 Doubles, comfortably progressing through the early rounds before beating the St. Paul’s first pair 11-3, 11-6 in the final.
Trophies were harder to come by in the U18 competitions, where the strongest player turned out to be St. Paul’s number 1 seed. Nevertheless, JP and Jeffrey both played very well, reaching the semi-finals. JP and his doubles partner, Anthony, went one better, making it to the final of the U18 doubles with an excellent victory over Alleyn’s 2nd pair: 11-7, 0-11, 11-2. In the final, St. Paul’s proved just too strong and consistent, winning 1-11, 5-11.
With school back in session the Fives club focus will be competing in the regular inter-school matches that fill the term, but the squad is already looking forward to the end-of-season National Championships in the first week of the Easter holidays when the Alleyn’s, St. Paul’s, Winchester rivalry will also have to contend with the quality players from Manchester, Durham, and Edinburgh.