Full report on the Scottish Schools Championships

News  Schools  Tournaments

Fettes College, Edinburgh
February-March 2023

The Scottish Schools tournament season opened with the Scottish Schools U18 Singles Championship, in which Sam P from Merchiston Castle beat Toby C of Fettes College in the final to win the Boyd Cup. Lucas F (Merchiston) beat Jack H (Fettes) to win the McKeown Plate.

Richie Murby reports: Although it has only existed since 2017, the Scottish Schools Singles Championship is already a staple in the schools fives calendar north of the border. For some it acts as preparation for the UK National Schools, while for others it’s an opportunity to shed doubles partners for a while and enjoy some competitive singles matches.

16 players from four schools took part, which allowed for a group stage consisting of four groups of 4, with the top two in each going through to the latter stages, and the 3rd- and 4th-placed players going into the Plate. 
Edinburgh Academy contributed seven players to the tournament from their impressively deep squad. That five of them claimed a quarter-final place demonstrates that they brought quality as well as quantity. For Fettes, Toby C marched into the final in an impressive manner, although the resistance offered by EA’s Ronnie B in the semi-final was far greater than the scoreline suggests. Meanwhile James M, in qualifying for the last 8, showed that he is ready to step into Toby’s trainers next year.
Merchiston’s Sam P had a more testing path to the final than Toby — his semi-final with Hugo R of (EA) was a lengthy game full of beautiful winners and savage levels of endurance. It was the match of the tournament and an incredible advertisement for the game. Sam emerged victorious by a score of 15-11.
Given the exhausting nature of the semi-final, Sam P could have been forgiven had he run out of steam in the final! But he showed few signs of tiredness, and his retrieving remained excellent. Despite falling to an early 6-0 deficit as Toby found a string of winners, Sam demonstrated his fitness and determination to reverse the situation, and ground out the first game 11-6. In Game two, Toby’s lengths and nicks from the first game began to elude him at key moments, and Sam used his court coverage and movement to defend almost everything that he encountered. Sam’s impressive defending, mixed with some excellent width as the match wore on, allowed him to edge the second game 11-8 and win the Boyd Trophy. 
In the Plate competition, proceedings were dominated by Merchiston. They served up an excellent all-MCS semi-final, won by Lucas F over Will G by the narrowest of margins. Lucas’ subsequent 15-9 victory in the Plate final over a determined Jack H of Fettes was composed and patient, and demonstrated both his quality and his potential as a player — he is still in the U15 category, so we hope to see even more from him going forward.
Findlay S flew the flag alone for Loretto this year, and although he lost at the Plate quarter-final stage, he is to be commended not only for his improved play, but also for his efforts to galvanise the game at his school, successfully making fives a senior games option and bringing beginners to the courts. 
U18 Singles: Group Standings 
Group 1: 1st. Sam P (MCS); 2nd. Ronnie B (EA); 3rd. Jack H (Fettes); 4th. Max C (EA)
Group 2: 1st. Calum S (EA); 2nd. James M (Fettes); 3rd. Lucas F (MCS); 4th. Findlay S (Loretto)
Group 3: 1st. Hugo R (EA); 2nd. Thomas W (EA); 3rd. Harrison (Fettes); 4th. Alex S (Fettes)
Group 4: 1st. Toby C (Fettes); 2nd. Alec S (EA); 3rd. Will G (MCS); 4th. Max K (EA)
U18 Singles: McKeown Plate Competition
Quarter-finals: Jack H (Fettes) bt Findlay S (Loretto) 11-4; Max K (EA) bt Alex S (Fettes) 11-2; Lucas F (MCS) bt Max C (EA); Will G (MCS) bye
Semi-finals: Jack H (Fettes) bt Max K (EA) 11-3; Lucas F (MCS) bt Will G (MCS) 12-11
Final: Lucas F (MCS) bt Jack H (Fettes) 15-9
U18 Singles: Boyd Trophy Knockout Stages
Quarter-finals: Sam P (MCS) bt James M (Fettes) 15-1; Hugo R (EA) bt Alec S (EA) 15-6; Ronnie B (EA) bt Calum S (EA) 15-8; Toby C (Fettes) bt Thomas W (EA) 15-1
Semi-finals: Sam P (MCS) bt Hugo R (EA) 15-11; Toby C (Fettes) bt Ronnie B (EA) 15-1;
Final: Sam P (MCS) bt Toby C (Fettes) 11-6, 11-8
Scottish Schools U18 Doubles Championship
Richie Murby reports: 8 pairs from 4 schools gathered at the Fettes College courts to battle out this year’s U18 Doubles competition, and as is the traditional format for this competition, it was straight into knockout fives from the very start.  
Although the quarter-finals did not produce any close matches, this was emphatically not the case in the semi-finals. Thomas W and the hugely improved Max C matched the dynamic Fettes I pairing of Toby C and James M in large parts of the match, and they might feel that the eventual 15-10 scoreline could have been even closer. As it was, Toby and James were able to stay composed and turn the screw when it mattered, advancing to the final. On the other court, Hugo R and Calum S, the EA first pair, quickly found out that Merchiston I were not feeling at all diminished by the absence of Sam P. Will G was in sharp and focused form, and the colossal right hand of Thomas R rattled the Academy pair with running balls into the body, back corner wrongfooters and back-wall nicks. This mode of attack looked to be sending Merchiston through, but EA kept calm and grimly clawed their way back from gameball down at 14-12 to win the match 16-14.
Liberated from the tension of the semi-final, and perhaps aware of the safety net of a best-of-three format in the final, Hugo and Calum began to express themselves more, unleashing angles and dropshots against a Fettes pairing that was extremely quick and nimble around the court, and not without weapons of its own. This combination made for a wonderfully varied and exciting spectacle. Though their retrieving was excellent, Toby C and James M could not quite match Calum and Hugo in terms of winners in the first set, and went on to lose 11-6. The second game could have gone either way as James and Toby tightened up and raised the pressure. While any neutral fives fan might have hoped for the match to go into a deciding third set, just to enjoy more of the action, it was not to be, and once again Calum and Hugo demonstrated resolve and skill under pressure to edge it 12-11 and win the cup for EA. 
Loretto stalwart Findlay S had welcomed former teammate Cameron M back into the fold to form a somewhat spontaneous pairing for this tournament. They performed creditably under the watchful eye of legendary former Head of Fives Roger Whait, but were broken down by the more consistent unit of Fergus F & Nick de V of Merchiston in the Plate semi-final. In the other Plate semi-final, Jack H and Cameron M comfortably rode the challenge of EA’s third pair before advancing to the Plate final. There they were bested by MCS’ young u16 pairing of Fergus and Nick, who proved to be a little better on the day at hitting a low ball and keeping the ball in difficult areas. 
Congratulations to Fergus and Nick – we look forward to seeing them in Scottish Schools action again next year, along with the other 6 of the player entry who will still be at school next year. For those leaving this year, we wish you luck in the National UK Schools if you are taking part, and we hope you continue to play fives in the future. In any event, we salute you for the contribution you have made to the game.
U18 Doubles Main Competition
Quarter-finals: Toby C & James M (Fettes) bt Fergus F & Nick de V (MCS) 15-0; Thomas W & Max C (EA) bt Findlay S & Cameron M (Loretto) 15-2; Will G & Thomas R (MCS) bt Max K & Patrick M (EA) 15-1; Hugo R & Calum S (EA) bt Cameron M & Jack H (Fettes) 15-0
Semi-finals: Toby C & James M (Fettes) bt Thomas W & Max C (EA) 15-10; Hugo R & Calum S (EA) bt Will G & Thomas R (MCS) 16-14
Final: Hugo R & Calum S (EA) bt Toby C & James M (Fettes) 11-6, 12-11
U18 Doubles Plate
Semi-finals: Fergus F & Nick de V (MCS) bt Findlay S & Cameron M (Loretto) 15-3; Cameron M & Jack H (Fettes) bt Max K & Patrick M (EA) 15-6
Final: Fergus F & Nick de V (MCS) bt Cameron M & Jack H (Fettes) 15-10
Scottish Schools U16 Doubles Championship
Richie Murby reports: With various setbacks preventing Merchiston and Loretto participating in this tournament this year, Fettes and Edinburgh Academy had the opportunity each to field four pairs. This allowed Edinburgh Academy’s Rosa O and Anna B to step forward and become the first female pairing ever in this competition. It also allowed Fettes to hand two very promising u14 pairs, Louis M & Lochie F and Olly P & Jonty W, their tournament debuts.
These two latter pairs competed strongly in the main competition, and though they lost out (to the eventual winners and runners-up respectively) they both came through tough Plate semi-finals: Louis and Lochie showed teamwork and organisation to fend off the attacks of the fast-improving Geordie M and Monty D, while Olly P and Jonty W were able to make adjustments when necessary to impressively overcome the more experienced Rosa O and her partner Anna B 15-13. In an intensely hard fought Plate final, both teams defended very well, but Olly and Jonty were able to produce more slightly more biting attacking series – and more service winners – at key moments, and this proved to be decisive for them. 
In the main competition, Fettes II, Tom M & Henry L, produced the best fives of their careers so far to prevent the semi-finals from being an all-EA affair by beating Rosa and Anna, a pairing that, despite strong runs here and there, wasn’t always able to fully gel down the stretch. Tom and Henry could not, however, avert an all-EA final, as Tom J and James T’s sharpness and consistency proved too much in the semi-final. In the other semi-final, Jock L’s strong left hand and Freddie’s strong right gave them a platform to apply more and more pressure and crack the creditable resistance of Oscar Z and Fergus L.
Regardless of the result of the final, the trophy was already bound for the Academy (for the first time, incidentally, since 2014, when it was won by Ben Jourdan & Andrew Boyd) but the match was no less competitive for that. It was also highly entertaining, with neither team afraid to play short and hit a few angles as well as hitting long. Both pairs are still working on how to remain consistent without lowering the pressure and letting opponents back into a rally, but equally, both pairs were very hard to break down at times, and both capable of turning defence into attack. Jock L and Freddie J gave it their all, and are to be commended, particularly given that they are still in the u14 age category. In the end, though, their teammates Tom J and James T were unflappable, well-organised and, when necessary, deft, deservedly winning the final.
U16 Doubles Main Competition
Quarter-finals: Fergus L & Oscar Z (EA) bt Geordie M & Monty D (Fettes) 15-10; Freddie J & Jock L (EA) bt Louis M & Lochie F (Fettes) 15-6; Tom M & Henry L (Fettes) bt Rosa O & Anna B (EA) 15-10; Tom J & James T (EA) bt Olly P & Jonty W (Fettes) 15-9
Semi-finals: Freddie J & Jock L (EA) bt Fergus L & Oscar Z (EA) 15-7; Tom J & James T (EA) bt Tom M & Henry L (Fettes) 15-9
Final: Tom J & James T (EA) bt Freddie J & Jock L (EA) 11-4, 11-3
U16 Doubles Plate Competition
Semi-finals: Louis M & Lochie F (Fettes) bt Geordie M & Monty D (Fettes) 15-11; Olly P & Jonty W (Fettes) bt Rosa O & Anna B (EA) 15-13 
Final: Olly P & Jonty W (Fettes) bt Louis M & Lochie F (Fettes) 15-10

An all-Merchiston contest in the U18 Singles

Opponents in the U18 Boyd Cup final

Finalists in the U18 McKeown Plate

U18 Doubles winners from Edinburgh Academy

U18 Doubles Plate winners from Merchiston Castle


Edinburgh Academy win the U16 Doubles …

… in an all-Academy final

while Fettes win the U16 Doubles Plate