Report from the Scottish Schools U18 and U16 tournaments

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Fettes College, Edinburgh
February/March 2024

Hector McFarlane reports: U18 Singles — A full day of high-quality Fives took place on Fettes’ courts as 14 players battled it out in the 7th edition of this Singles competition, playing to lift The Boyd Trophy and The McKeown Plate. Two late withdrawals left the draw with two groups of four and two of three, with the top two players in each group proceeding to the Cup knock-outs. leaving the rest to play for Plate glory. Two players from Fettes, two from Merchiston and four from E.A. made it through the groups stages to make up the quarter-final draw. The pick of the round was the tussle between Xander M. (E.A.) and Oli G. (Merchiston), with Xander holding a narrow lead entering the final stages. He saw a couple of match-points come and go before Oli powered through to edge it 16-14.

Some other tight matches brought about two semi-finals competed for by Will G. (Merchiston) versus James M. (Fettes) and Ronnie B. (E.A.) versus Oli G. Both matches were even contests in the early stages before James and Ronnie found greater power and accuracy to meet in the final. The final started at a ferocious pace with deft touch and tremendous speed. Locked at 6-6, Ronnie dropped his level slightly for James to take the first game 11-6. This gave James the edge that allowed him to take control of the second game 11-2  and deservedly pick up the trophy for Fettes.

In the Plate the young U14 players from Merchiston gained valuable experience against older opponents but it was James T. (E.A.) and Jack H. (Fettes) who made it to the final. Jack had lost the plate final last year, so had some unfinished business to see to. However, it was James who held the edge in a gruelling match, with neither player able to find winners but very few errors on show either. James held a 13-10 lead but could not find the killer blow as Jack stormed back to take a 15-13 win and do the double for Fettes.

Richie Murby reports: U18 DoublesWith coffee and chocolate muffins laid on lavishly by hosts Fettes, the viewing gallery was abuzz with caffeine, sugar and anticipation. The quarter-finals all went according to seedings, but Fettes second pair came close to upsetting the apple-cart, pushing Edinburgh Academy I all the way in an entertaining match before being edged out 15-13.

Now in the Plate, Fettes II, consisting of the tireless Seamus and impressive squash convert Mitchell, overcame a Fettes/EA hybrid pairing in the Plate semi-finals before coming through in the final against a young Merchiston pairing who look to be excellent prospects in their own right.

Back in the main competition, Fettes I comfortably won their semi-final against Edinburgh Academy II, while in the other semi-final, Ronnie B and Alec S of EA started strongly before losing concentration and letting a large points advantage shrink drastically against a determined Merchiston pairing who skilfully took their opportunity to get back into the match. However, EA held their nerve to advance to the final with a score of 15-13.

As the 1st seeds, Fettes were slight favourites to win the final, and keen to add to to their U18 Scottish Schools Singles Cup and Plate double secured by James and Jack respectively the previous week. Ronnie was equally keen to avoid losing in a final against James for the second time in a week! There was little between the teams in the first game, but as the tension rose, EA, perhaps helped by being a left-hand/right-hand pairing, were able to raise the pressure while keeping errors low, to eke it out 11-9.

Boosted by winning such a tough first game, Ronnie and Alec had a spring in their step in the second game, and despite wobbling momentarily as Fettes ramped up their attacks, they were able to steady the ship, defend when necessary and find winners at the right times to claim victory for the Edinburgh Academy 11-9, 11-6. It was a superb match, full of nicks, fast-paced but long rallies, and attacking fives — all played in a great spirit.

Richie Murby reports: U16 Doubles — Colts players from four schools congregated at the Fettes College courts to battle it out — though due to a late call-off, Loretto’s pairing had morphed into an Edinburgh Academy/Loretto hybrid by the start of play! This new pairing did well to reach the semi-finals but were swept aside by an in-form EA 1st pair, James T & Tom J. It was nevertheless a good debut for Loretto’s young Jack R, who is still in the u14 age category. Speaking of u14 players, Merchiston’s second pair, Hamish F and James R, also played some precocious fives, and did well to reach the Plate final. They are definitely ones to watch going forward.

Meanwhile, the Merchiston first pair, Lucas F and Reggie H, played some impressive fives in their quarter-final to best EA’s Jock and Freddie, who left it rather too late to truly spark into life. Victory in the Plate, however, offered the latter some consolation.

While EA I were storming into the final, EA III were in a close contest with MCS I. EA’s Weems and Max struck gold with winners in the early stages and commanded a substantial lead. But matches to 15 have a habit of swinging back and forth, and Lucas and Reggie came back very strongly to bring the score back to near-parity. Over the subsequent tense exchanges, EA held their nerve and took the match 15-12 to set up an all-EA final.

In the final, experience and energy levels told as James and Tom soaked up pressure against their younger, tiring opponents, Weems and Max, who for their part played with heart and skill but without the same precision as in their semi-final. Content to keep the rallies long, and to stay aggressive without forcing winners, James and Tom sealed the deal in two games. Congratulations to them on their victory; and also to Weems and Max, who, when the dust settles, will rightly feel pleased with their excellent Cup run.

Boyd Cup (U18 Singles)

Quarter-finals: Will G (M) bt Tom J (EA) 15-10; James M (F) bt Mitchell T (F) 15-3; Ronnie B (EA) bt Alec S (EA) 15-9; Oli G (M) bt Xander M (EA) 16-14
Semi-finals: James M (F) bt Will G (M) 15-6; Ronnie B (EA) bt Oli G (M) 15-10
Final: James M (F) bt Ronnie B (EA) 11-6, 11-2

McKeown Plate (U18 Singles)

Quarter-finals: Seamus Y (F) bt Hamish F (M) 11-4; James T (EA) bt James R (M) 11-4
Semi-finals: James T (EA) bt Seamus Y (F) 11-0; Jack H (F) bt Patrick T (F) 11-5
Final: Jack H (F) bt James T (EA) 15-13

U18 Doubles

Quarter-finals: James M & Jack H (Fettes) bt Hamish F & James R (MCS) 15-0; Thomas E & Weems H (EA) bt Geordie M & Monty D (Fettes) 15-0; Will G & Oli G (MCS) bt Xander M & Patrick T (EA/Fettes) 15-5; Alec S & Ronnie B (EA) bt Seamus Y & Mitchell T (Fettes) 15-13
Semi-finals: Alec S & Ronnie B (EA) bt Will G & Oli G (MCS) 15-13; James M & Jack H (Fettes) bt Thomas E & Weems H (EA) 15-1
Final: Alec S & Ronnie B (EA) bt James M & Jack H (Fettes) 11-9, 11-6

Plate Semi-finals: Hamish F & James R (MCS) bt Geordie M & Monty D (Fettes) 15-0; Seamus Y & Mitchell T (Fettes) bt Xander M & Patrick T (EA/Fettes) 15-12
Plate Final: Seamus Y & Mitchell T (Fettes) bt Hamish F & James R (MCS) 15-9

U16 Doubles

Quarter-finals: Tom J & James T (EA) bt Hamish F & James R (MCS) 15-2; Jack R & Oscar Z (Loretto/EA) bt Freddie A & Beau W (Fettes) 15-11; Weems H & Max R (EA) bt Lochie F & Louis M (Fettes) 15-7; Lucas F & Reggie H (MCS) bt Jock L & Freddie J (EA) 15-11
Semi-finals: Tom J & James T (EA) bt Jack R & Oscar Z (Loretto/EA) 15-1; Weems H & Max R (EA) bt Lucas F & Reggie H (MCS) 15-12
Final: Tom J & James T (EA) bt Weems H & Max R (EA) 11-5, 11-5

Plate Semi-finals: Hamish F & James R (MCS) bt Freddie A & Beau W (Fettes) 15-7; Jock L & Freddie J (EA) bt Lochie F & Louis M (Fettes) 15-8
Plate Final: Jock L & Freddie J (EA) bt Hamish F & James R (MCS) 15-1

The Boyd Singles Cup finalists

The McKeown Singles Plate finalists

Edinburgh Academy win the U18 Doubles

Fettes win the U18 Plate

Edinburgh Academy retain the U16 Doubles title …

… in all-Academy final …

… and win the Plate.

Action from the final