Berkhamsted dominate hard-fought National U13 Championships

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St Paul’s School, Barnes
Sunday, 13th March 2022

STOP PRESS 38 players contested this year’s U13 Championships. Competitors from Berkhamsted School, newcomers who play Eton Fives, dominated both the Singles and Doubles with their hard hitting and impressive footwork, but were pushed hard in both categories by players from Alleyn’s, Stamford and the Manchester Y Club, the latter represented in this event for the first time. Warm thanks go to organiser Sam Russell and to the Blundell’s contingent who made the long journey from Tiverton.

Organiser Sam Russell reports: “The game of fives is alive and well” a voice, belonging to a former pupil at St Olave’s and current grandfather to a competitor in this year’s U13 Championships, rang out from the balcony of the St Paul’s School courts. It would be hard to disagree – the quality of this year’s tournament was up there with the best it has ever been.

In the singles, it quickly became clear that Berkhamsted, who were playing the sport for the first time as Eton Fives specialists, were going to be the school to beat, with 5 out of 6 of their entrants qualifying for the knockout stages. Stamford, however, were certainly not going to roll over, having consistently improved since Mr Smith introduced fives at the school – and were also genuine contenders for the title, with Jones and Hunter winning their groups comfortably.

The key battle in the round of 16 was between Burrows (Stamford), who was a favourite for the tournament having reached the quarter-finals as an U12 the previous year, and Keane, a member of the high class Berkhamsted contingent. The game was won by Keane 11-4, consolidating Berkhamsted’s credentials as the school to beat.

Meanwhile, however, Val Fikhter (of the Y-Club) was making easy work of his half of the draw, beating Geldeard (Alleyn’s) and Taylor-Ross (Blundell’s) on route to the semi-finals, dropping only 6 points in the process. Having practised with adults at the Y Club, and also being a junior wrestling champion, he was playing with a consistency and physicality seldom seen at U13 level.

The semi-finals saw Fikhter take on Hunter (Stamford) and Josh Fienberg take on Keane (the two of them from Berkhamsted). Both games were of very high quality with long rallies and remarkable accuracy; however, Fikhter and Fienberg both ended up convincing winners.

The final was simply the best game of U13s fives in recent history. Fikhter game out of the blocks firing, clearly familiar with intense competition, and established an early lead. Fienberg soon found his rhythm, starting to manipulate the ball down the left-hand side skillfully, in order to set up his big right hand winners. While Fikhter retrieved with effective consistency, he could not get on top in the rallies and Fienberg managed to turn the early deficit into a 14-3 lead. The prospect of losing galvanized Fikhter, who dug in admirably, saving a number of match points and slowly eat away at the score line. While a comeback looked on the cards, it was ultimately not meant to be, and Fienberg completed a deserved victory 15-8.

In the doubles, Fienberg then paired up with Faulkner to convincingly take down Alleyn’s in the final. It had been an incredibly impressive showing by the Alleyn’s pair of Zheng & Dorokhov, who made it to the final despite only being the 2rd pair at their school by beating Stamford 1 11-9 in the semi-finals, which was the game of the tournament. Stamford are no doubt now within touching distance of getting their hands on the top prize, having been the most consistent school at U13 level for the past 3 years.

Stamford did, however, win the Plate competition, beating the Y Club in the final. Commendation goes to Negyal & James-Duff, who successfully paired up despite being a couple of years younger than the rest of the field. Equally Grindal, Stevens, Tyler and Wright all performed incredibly well and will no doubt be the pairs to beat at the Girls’ Nationals.

Many thanks to all who entered, particularly the coaches for all they do to promote fives at their school. See you next year.

Key: All = Alleyn’s; Berk = Berkhamsted; Bl = Blundell’s; Man Y = Manchester Y Club; Stam = Stamford; Wes = Wessex Club


Group 1: 1st H Severino (All); 2nd: R Kohashi-Khan (All); 3rd: A Bogan (Stam). Also played: T Trix (Blu), W Parker (Blu), S Patel (Berk)
Group 2: 1st J Fienberg (Berk); 2nd P Taylor-Ross (Blu); D Dorokhov (All). Also played: E Zheng (All), B Grindal (Stam), F Fox (Man Y)
Group 3: 1st V Fikhter (Man Y); G Shilton (All); 3rd B Bownes (Berk). Also played: T Stevens (Stam), W Stephens (Blu), S Negyal (All), N Buck (All)
Group 4: 1st L Faulkner (Berk); 2nd C Burrows (Stam); 3rd T Foo (All). Also played: G Cox (Blu), A O’Byrne (All), E Tyler (Stam)
Group 5: 1st H Jones (Stam); 2nd Z Scott (Berk); 3rd A Geldeard (All). Also played: F James-Duff (Wes), R Wright (Stam), M Spring (Blu), T Green (All)
Group 6: 1st E Hunter (Stam); 2nd J Keane (Berk); 3rd F McAllister (All). Also played: D Khan (Blu), K Aravintham (All), H Van de Wait (Blu)

Round of 16: Severino bt Bogan 11-2; Keane bt Burrows 11-4; Jones bt Bownes 11-3; Fienberg bt Shilton 11-3; Fikhter bt Geldeard 11-1; Taylor-Ross bt Kohashi-Khan 11-4; Hunter bt Scott 11-5; Faulkner bt McAllister 11-3
Quarter-finals: Keane bt Severino 11-5; Fienberg bt Jones 11-0; Fikhter bt Taylor-Ross 11-5; Hunter bt Faulkner 11-5
Semi-finals: Fienberg bt Keane 11-1; Fikhter bt Hunter 11-1
Final: Fienberg (Berk) bt Fikhter (Man Y) 15-8
Plate: Hunter (Stam) v Faulkner (Berk) not played.


Preliminary round: Alleyn’s 6 bt Stamford 4; Alleyn’s 5 bt Blundell’s 4; Stamford 3 bt Blundell’s 3
1st round: Alleyn’s 1 bt Alleyn’s 6 11-2; Berkhamsted 3 bt Alleyn’s/Wessex 11-6; Stamford 2 bt Blundell’s 2 11-0; Berkhamsted 1 bt Alleyn’s 3 11-2; Stamford 1 bt Alleyn’s 5 11-4; Alleyn’s 4 bt Blundell’s 1 11-6; Alleyn’s 2 bt Berkhamsted 2 11-2; Manchester Y Club bt Stamford 3 11-4
Quarter-finals: Alleyn’s 1 bt Berkhamsted 3 11-5; Berkhamsted 1 bt Stamford 2 11-1; Stamford 1 bt Alleyn’s 4 11-0; Alleyn’s 2 bt Manchester Y Club 11-2
Semi-finals: Berkhamsted 1 bt Alleyn’s 1 11-5; Alleyn’s 2 bt Stamford 1 11-9
Final: Berkhamsted 1 (Faulkner & Fienberg) bt Alleyn’s 2 15-2
Plate: Stamford 1 (Burrows & Hunter) bt Manchester Y Club (Fikhter & Fox) 11-6

Medals and trophies for Berkhamsted

The Singles finalists

Manchester on the attack

We had some useful left-handers!

All eyes on the ball

Impeccable sportsmanship

And so say all of us!