The annual IAPS Squash tournament returned to the courts of Wellington College after 2 years at Millfield, being played over 3 days from Monday 26th March. Holmewood House this year had a large entry, 16, particularly with the U11s. We met up at the nearby Warbrook House Hotel on the Sunday evening in preparation for a 9.00 a.m. start the following morning. Open Singles Proceedings started with the contestants split into 6 groups, 5 of 6 players & 1 of 7, from which the top two of each plus the top four 3rds would go through to the KO stage. Angus Kingdon, George Jobber and Tara Radia had difficult groups and none managed to go further. Our remaining 5, Christopher Sneddon, Inigo Streets, Freddie Jobber, Jessica Fleming & James Allan all made the grade, most losing just to an England-ranked player in their groups except James whose group did not have one of these and came top. Our two girls, Jess and Tara, had entered the Open Singles, partly as the original draws had contained few matches for the Girls Competition but this was later expanded to the extent that they ended up playing more matches than everybody else! The KO stage did a major injustice to Christopher, our leading player. The organisers, mainly IAPS staff for the first time, decided to pre-seed this, ignoring the results from the group stage. This favoured players with national rankings i.e. those who collect ranking points playing in week-end tournaments out of school which our players cannot do due to Saturday commitments at HH. Christopher, who had already played the eventual tournament winner in his group stage, Oliver Coulcher-Porter, a brilliant yr7 player from Summer Fields school, then found himself drawn against the no. 1 seed, Harry Bloomfield from Wycliffe, in the first round of the KO stage. Thus he entered the plate which was for the KO stage 1st round losers. This was a poor reflection of his general standing. Only James managed a win in the KO stage. Freddie’s exit was signalled by being matched against Oliver C-P. We had three players in the plate semi-finals, Jess having kept up with the boys that far, but it was Freddie that made it to the final there losing to Christopher 11/2, 11/6/ 11/5. Thus we collected the gold medal with Freddie the silver and Jess the bronze. U11 Competition Our entries were Maxwell Barton, Olly Beatton, Devan Radia, Freddie Skarbek, Charlie Skarbek, Joe Smiley, Tom Underwood and Rufus Williams. For all but Devan and Tom this was their first IAPS experience. Freddie came 3rd in his group of 6 players but had a long wait before knowing if he had qualified as one of the four 3rds to go through; he did. Tom was in a similar position but unfortunately lost out by just 2 points. Freddie lost in the first KO round to enter the plate, there losing to the eventual runner-up. A special mention can be made of Charlie Skarbek who was the youngest player present; he did well to win two of his group matches and will have gained valuable experience. Girls Open This did not start until the Tuesday. We had just Jess and Tara entered. One possible advantage for Jess in having already played seven matches in the Open event on the Monday was that her professed nervous state at the start had largely worn off. Nevertheless the prospect of up to 11 matches on the Tuesday was not undaunting. There were two groups. Jess won her group including a 3-0 win over Emma Logan, who is nationally ranked, of St. Joseph’s College who was later to give her a much fiercer struggle in the final. Tara came 3rd in her group, putting her into the plate competition which she went on to win. Well done! In the semi-final Jess was up against another nationally ranked player, Daisy Hartson from Wycliffe, winner here two years ago and finalist last year, but came through this playing steady squash, winning 11/6, 11/8. Thus to the final and Emma Logan again. This was a tense match with Emma playing somewhat erratically, a mixture of deadly shots but also some poor ones. Jess played her best game but nerves caused several errors. In the 2nd game she had been 10/4 down, caught up to 10/10 but eventually lost it 14/16. The overall score was 11/9, 14/16, 13/11, 11/8, fantastic for Jess, becoming Holmewood’s only 2nd ever winner of the Girls event. Very many congratulations! Doubles We had 3 pairs in this, Christopher with Inigo, Freddie with Jess and James with George; it was a straight KO with 21 pairs. Christopher and Inigo came 3rd in this to pick up the bronze medals, having won their first two matches but then lost 11/7, 11/6 in the semi-final to Felsted’s top pair, the eventual winners and both England ranked. Freddie and Jess lost out in the 1st round to the Wycliffe top pair, also both nationally ranked, so entered the plate. James and George won their 1st round match. Freddie and Jess were our only representatives in the plate, Jess thus adding three more matches to her busy schedule. They played well as a team and prevailed without dropping a game. Well done to both for their gold medals and for retaining the trophy which Holmewood had also won last year. Thus we had a good tournament overall. Several of our opponents were from schools which offer squash scholarships and have squash academies where the pupils are on court for an hour or more every day; it is hard to compete with this when to many of ours squash is little more than a weekly activity plus team practices for the better achievers and internal tournaments, albeit enthusiastically pursued. I would like to offer my thanks to all the parents who were able to make themselves available to transport and support us. This added much to the atmosphere at the event and certainly contributed to our successes.
M.I.C Squash: Mrs Mary Scott-Miller