Saturday saw 13 pairs coming from Eton to play what turned out to be some fine, very closely contested matches.
In the U14s and U15s alone we saw three of the matches going to five games over 2 ½ hours of play. Particularly exciting was the first pair in both these age groups with wins for them both: Digby Taylor West and Harry Cooke losing their first two and coming through to win magnificently in the fifth; and James Crews and Alex Clark holding onto their two-game lead to win after losing their third and fourth games.
Our U16s have only had one practice session since trials so were not match-sharp. Both pairs lost, but hopefully having competitive games kick-started their season.
Our Seniors lost 3-1, the win coming at 4th pair. 2nd and 3rd pairs were both in the contest though still making errors so not staying in rallies long enough. The first pair match was the last of the day to finish. Will & Dan found their stride after a long first game which they lost 12-4. They won a close second game (which lasted around 40 minutes) 13-10 to level the match 1-1. When they stormed the third it seemed momentum was with them but Eton replied strongly to win in 5, the whole match having taken 3 ½ hours. For Dan and Will, playing our second match of the season, that is nonetheless a very positive and promising result.
Total result: won 4, lost 9.
On Sunday, we traded the light blue of Eton for the dark blue of Harrow, who drove from their Hill without the City to our City on a Hill with nine pairs.
Our sizeable Senior squad meant that rotation was possible: after his epic Saturday fixture Dan Humes had a rest; rumour has it even Will put in some fresh batteries to restore full twinkle to his toes. James Hinwood stepped in, flush from 10th place in the National U23 fencing on Saturday; together they won the 1st pair match 3-0. Having fought back from 3-10 down in game 1, at no stage did they either look back or troubled.
Tom Castling and Marcus van Wyk, reunited after Saturday’s shock splitting of the Siamese pair, proved their quality with a 3-0 win at 2nd. Joe Kynaston & Ben Hulme lost at third pair in a fast-paced game, though they showed promise.
Finn Sansom and Guy Gowar played at U16: their first outing of the term. Though they lost, they scored well in all three games and know they can be competitive if they get enough court time.
Our U15s were reinforced by the return of Rory MacDonald-Obrien from golfing duties; back to full strength, they swept Harrow before them. Rory, with Digby Taylor-West, barrelling through the opposition again, despite threatening to lose the third game after a strong start. Rumours that their motivation dropped when a shop tea for 12-0 slipped from their grasp remain unconfirmed.
Dom Zaza and Harry Cooke had a slip in game 2, but at 1-1 they remembered they were playing fives, picked up their level and claimed a 3-1 win after two hours.
Pair 3 saw Jago Ainslie and Nick Argyle reunite. The Teacher-in-Charge thought they weren’t playing well, having watched the one point they conceded in game 1. Their result was a strong victory, leaving the U15 result 3-0 in Shrewsbury’s favour.
At U14, James Crews was as undaunted at following up Saturday’s five-setter as the Senior Captain: James’ digits, too, were comparable to Orion’s belt on a clear, moonless night. He and Jacky Chan won 3-0 against a Harrow pair who played at prep school, Shrewsbury playing accurately and with impressive control.
At pair 2, Sam Archer and Dan Cushnie completed the Salopian selection and played well and cheerfully, nonetheless losing to Harrow’s beginner pair 0-3.
Total result: won 6, lost 3.
Teacher in Charge of Fives