13 Feb 2019
U13 Nationals

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On Monday 11th February, the second Fives National event of the season took place in the form of the U13 Nationals over at Eton College; Berkhamsted was well represented with seven pairs participating. Our top pairing of Sam Kaynama & Barney Baines were not present having won the U12s last year which puts them straight into the U14 category which they will take part in after the half-term break in the main Nationals week up at Shrewsbury.

A total of 120 players from 10 different schools participated. The highlight for the tournament came early on where all seven Berkhamsted pairs managed to not only qualify from the pool stages, but all made the 3rd round, an incredible achievement. Our 1st, 2nd and 3rd pairs all progressed through to the last 16, again another impressive statistic. Our first pairing of Sam Matthews & Felix Harris had a scare against Belmont 2 losing the first set in a very tight game 12 – 13, before coming back strong and smashing their opposition off court 12 – 1; an injury to Belmont then forced them to retire allowing them a place in the quarter-finals. In a similar vein our 3rd pairing of Yule & Phelps came up against Highgate 1 losing the first set 12 – 13; there were a number of shots down which would have gone in favour of the Berkhamsted boys, but such is the way of school boys Fives the players missed these occurrences and in such a tight game it makes all the difference. They then came back strong in the second set winning 12 – 6 setting up an exciting third and final set. The Berkhamsted boys lost a bit of concentration and didn’t capitalise when they were in commanding rallies allowing the Highgate pair to sneak a point at a time before running away with the set 6 – 12. The 2nd pairing of Kibble & Rennie came up against a solid looking Ipswich 1 pair and looked to be in command of the match taking the first set 12 – 5. The Ipswich pair then dug their heels in and adapted their game to combat Kibble & Rennie’s strong cutting, leading to a very close second set, which went the way of Ipswich 9 – 12. This again set up a third and final set and the Berkhamsted boys also adjusted their game to come up with a way to cut down their opposition. It was an extremely long set with lots of very close rallies and high-quality Fives, but in the end the Ipwich pair just came out on top winning 14 – 11. A shame, as what looked like having the potential of three Berkhamsted quarter-finals ended up just being one.

With the quarter-finals set, our top pairing of Matthews & Harris came up against a very solid looking Olaves 2nd pair, who had impressed across the tournament all day. The match was of extremely high quality with both pairs clearly pushing themselves as hard as possible to claim a semi-final place. Both pairs had a very good set-piece play with good cutting and returning from each side, the difference came in the form of the back-court play where Harris struggled slightly with the power from the Olaves boys, who often drilled the balls deep back left court. In the end the Olaves pair over-powered the Berkhamsted boys taking two very tight sets 11 – 13, 12 – 14. A real shame for the Berkhamsted boys, but it was pleasing to see the high-quality Fives young Matthews played from both the back of the court and on top-step, getting a huge number of balls back into play on seemingly impossible shots and keeping them alive in many of the rallies.

Overall, it was a great day for Berkhamsted Fives, really showing off the strength and depth of the squad and all the hard work and time they have put in over the last term and a half with their training, a very proud Mr Theodossi being able to watch them all on the day. The season is not yet over with a few more fixtures in the calendar as well as the Prep Championships near the end of the season.

Mr A. Theodossi

Link: http://www.etonfives.com/news/2651-westway-and-st-olave-s-into-u13-final