Shrewsbury School

Fives: Shrewsbury School senior girls and boys reach national EFA Under-21 finals

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Congratulations to Shrewsbury Fives pairs Sophia Breese & Lizzie Ware, Ella Windle & Issy Wong and Will Sissons & Tom Breese (OS) on their outstanding showing in the EFA Under-21s Tournament on Sunday 28th January.

Both girls' pairs progressed to the semi-final stage after qualifying out of their groups. Unfortunately, they then had to play each other.

The semi-final was a great match, with Ella & Issy winning the first set before eventually losing 2-1 to Sophia & Lizzie.

In the final, Sophia & Lizzie lost to the Oxford University 1st Pair. Nevertheless, being runners-up in an U21s tournament when they are still only under-17s is a triumph in itself.

The following is taken from the EFA official report:
Oxford University pair beat all comers at the EFA Under-21 Tournament at Eton College on Sunday but standing in their way were seven other pairs equally determined to win the trophy, especially the Shrewsbury School pairs Sophia Breese & Lizzie Ware and Ella Windle & Issy Wong, with Shrewsbury undoubtedly the coming force in women's Fives.

The field was split into two groups for the morning qualifying rounds; current Highgate school pair Mia Barry and Emma Williets were unlucky to miss out on a place in the last four, losing a tight match against Windle & Wong, who made it through in second place behind Briscoe & Valensis in Group A. Breese & Ware dominated Group B, with the Oxford second string of Allen & Elena Zanchini in second place.

The semi-finals were therefore two derby matches as the Oxford pairs and the Shrewsbury pairs battled it out for a place in the final. Allen & Zanchini never managed to get started against Briscoe & Valensise, who raced away with their match to qualify for the final without breaking sweat. In complete contrast, the other semi-final was turning into the match of the tournament. The hard-hitting and athletic Issy Wong and the much-improved Ella Windle flew out of the blocks in the first game, taking the game to the more fancied first pair, who fought hard but eventually went down 14-12. The expected pecking order was restored in game two as Breese & Ware took control right from the start to win 12-2 and level the contest. Wong & Windle showed that they are made of stern stuff, though, refusing to go quietly and pushing Breese & Ware all the way in the third game before finally going down 12-8. An epic encounter.

It is difficult to say how much the effort of winning that semi-final took out of Sophia and Lizzie, and how much their performance in the final was affected, but it quickly became clear that they were not able to live with the consistency and precision of the Oxford pair. Marjolaine and Carolina dominated from the start and never looked in any trouble, winning comfortably 12-1, 12-3 to take the trophy and finally break Carolina's duck.

Meanwhile on the other side of the arch, the boys had been battling it out in their tournament. OS Sam McLoughlin and Adam Aslam-Baskeyfield topped their group to book a place in the quarter-finals; OS Tom Breese (brother of Sophia) with Will Sissons (Rt LVI), having not played together before, got used to each other’s game quickly enough to do the same in their group.

Edited from the EFA report:
The quarter-finals went to form, with Olavians Ravi & Sathiamoorthy impressing against Breese & Sissons despite losing 15-9 and Aslam-Baskeyfield & Mcloughlin seeing off the Cambridge/Imperial pairing of Turnbull & Shah.

Much to their disappointment, Aslam-Baskeyfield & Mcloughlin found themselves up against Oxford students Kirkby & Denby in the semis, rather than fellow Salopians Breese & Sissons, against whom they clearly fancied their chances. Defending champion Kirkby, playing this year with Old Harrovian Oxford fresher Oskar Denby, looked very strong in the semi-final, withstanding the Salopian whirlwind of arms, legs and volleys and producing a very low error count, something matched by his partner. The result was too many Salopian mistakes and an excellent win for the Oxford pair.

There was more high tempo Salopian volleying going on in the other court as Tom Breese and Will Sissons finally ended the challenge of Millhillians Plummer & Kidd. Tom was showing some of the flashes of brilliance that marked out his school Fives career, which was slightly hampered by injury as a senior, but was also beginning to show signs of cramp, possibly a result of a lack of recent Fives, this being his first outing since reaching the Universities semi-finals for Durham back in October.

The final followed the script: Breese again produced the most memorable and eye-catching moments, with Sissons displaying the classy touches that have marked him out as one to watch from a young age. However, Tom was suffering from more and more bouts of cramp, and Kirkby and Denby were consistency personified, unshowy but effective on the set piece, playing good tight lines into the buttress, choosing the moments to volley and making very few unforced errors. The Salopian pair stayed in contact for the first half of the first game before a run from the Oxford pair took them ahead to win 12-6. With Tom's cramp worsening and any improvement highly unlikely, the Salopian pair were forced to concede at 1-6 down in the second game, leaving us wondering what might have been. There is no doubt Tom and Will are good enough players to have made that an exciting match.

Mr Cooley & Mr Barnard

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