Success for Berkhamsted at the National U13 Championships

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St Paul’s School
Sunday, 12th March 2023

STOP PRESS Berkhamsted’s players once again took both the Singles and the Doubles titles in a tournament featuring 54 players from 9 Schools. In a long day it was possible to run a Plate competition in both categories, so that medals were eventually shared out between Alleyn’s, Berkhamsted, Edinburgh Academy and Merchiston Castle.

Organiser Sam Russell reports: 9 schools, 54 entrants, 221 games. One full on day of Fives at the U13 National Championships 2023 held at St Paul’s School on  March 12th.  

The day kicked off with eight round robin Singles groups. Competition was understandably fierce as there was all to play for, with the top two from each group qualifying for the knockout stages and those in third and fourth place entering a plate competition. It quickly became clear that Edinburgh Academy and Merchiston Castle School had made the journey to London with some extra space in their luggage roughly large enough to fit a trophy, as they dominated the early matches in style. Their main challenger appeared to be Berkhamsted, an Eton Fives playing school whose players were trying their hand at Rugby Fives for the first time and steadily improving after each game. Alleyn’s possessed excellent strength in depth and the remaining schools, Stamford, St Paul’s Juniors, Sherborne, Stoke Newington and Whitgift, were also all very capable of causing an upset. 

After an intense morning of play, the 16-strong line up for the knock-out stage was confirmed: it included 5 players from Alleyn’s, 4 from Edinburgh Academy, 3 from Berkhamsted, 2 from Sherborne and 1 from both Merchiston and Stoke Newington School. There were two stand-out matches in the knockouts. The first was an all-Berkhamsted quarter-final match up between doubles partners Beau Copeland and Rocky Higgs. Beau’s use of a sophisticated left hand down the line shot saw him race to an early lead, only to be pegged back by some hard-hitting from Rocky. At 10-10 it was anyone’s game, until some fine serving from Beau enabled him to swing the momentum back in his favour and take the match 12-10. 

The second was a semi-final clash between Benji Mahoney-Muir of Edinburgh Academy and James Robertson of Merchiston. The game was tight throughout but James had the edge, grinding his way to match point at 10-7. He had one foot in the final when he opted to play a drop shot on a mid-court ball, a moment that is no doubt still haunting him, allowing Benji back into the rally and, ultimately, into the match. Benji then displayed excellent resolve and fighting spirit to take the game 12-11. He was joined in the final by Beau, who did a fantastic job of dispatching Rumi Kohashi-Khan of Alleyn’s, a quality player feared for his powerful left hand, in the other semi.  

The final, at the end of a long day, was a good match up, with both players using the court space well, mixing up drop shots and their powerful right hands. In the middle of the contest, at roughly 7-7, Beau lunged into the back left corner to retrieve a ball and went over on his angle. He was seemingly in some pain and it appeared as if the final might have to end in a walk over. However, Benji showed good sportsmanship in helping Beau back to his feet, and the game continued. The injury scare provided Beau with a renewed energy and he managed to play his best when it mattered to take the game and the trophy 15-8. Meanwhile, Hamish Foley of Merchiston beat Prannav Jesurasel in an high quality Plate final.  

The Doubles was a straight knockout tournament with first round losers competing in a plate contest. Unsurprisingly, the players who had made it to the latter stage of the singles also fared well in the doubles. The highlight of the tournament was an incredibly close semi-final between Edinburgh Academy and Merchiston, which went the way of EA 12-11 after both pairs had saved numerous match points.  

The winning EA pair of Frank Brown & Benji Mahoney-Muir then took on the Berkhamsted pair of Beau Copeland and Rocky Higgs in the final. Although a close contest at times, the Berkhamsted pair were more powerful, and smashed their way to a reasonably comfortable victory. Unfortunately for the onlooking parents Frank and Benji displayed enough of the classic EA fighting spirit to hold off defeat long enough for the hopes of making the 6pm train back up to Scotland to slowly disappear. The Plate competition was dominated by Alleyn’s, with Noah Buck & Arthur O’Byrne coming out as eventual winners in an all-Alleyn’s final.  

Thank you to all the participants, teachers and parents for their involvement, helping facilitate a very competitive tournament and an excellent day of fives.   

Schools taking part: Alleyn’s, Berkhamsted, Edinburgh Academy, Merchiston Castle, St Paul’s Junior, Sherborne Prep, Stamford, Stoke Newington, Whitgift


Singles: Group Stage

Group 1: 1st F Brown (EdAc); 2nd A O’Byrne (All); 3rd L Hadcroft-Parrouty (Berkh). Also played: A Rankin (Merch), I Bhat (Whit), W Perry (SherPrep) and O Streather (Stam)
Group 2: 1st 1st F Derry (EdAc); 2nd F Gardner (SherPrep); 3rd A Walker (Merch). Also played: A Malik (Whit), A Ratto (All), T Mundell (Stam) and M Harper (Berkh)
Group 3: 1st R Higgs (Berkh); 2nd F McAllister (All); 3rd P Jesurasel (EdAc). Also played: J Hillel Baditz (StoNew), N Rao (All), N Afanasyev (SherPrep) and K Trichur (StPJ)
Group 4: 1st B Copeland (Berkh); 2nd T Green (All); M Hunter (Stam). Also played: H Weir (EdAc), H Stevenson (Whit), T Lawrence (All) and N Weldon
Group 5: 1st J Robertson (Merch); 2nd S Negyal (All); T Jones (Stam). Also played: N Ixer (Whit); R KInnear (All), O Sharpe (StPJ) and W Franklin (Berkh)
Group 6: 1st C Field (Berkh); 2nd X Aparacio-Paul (SherPrep); 3rd H Foley (Merch). Also played: G Blench (Whit), N Buck (All), M Bogan (Stam) and L Philip (StPJ)
Group 7: 1st L Clark (EdAc); 2nd D Gilbody (StoNew); 3rd J Hammond Giles (StPJ). Also played: H Ortner (Whit), A Tolumen (All) and A Krnc (SherPrep)
Group 8: 1st B Mahoney-Muir (EdAc); 2nd R Kohashi-Khan (All); 3rd L Shepherd (StPJ). Also played: A Dragazis (StoNew), A Roux (All) and R Rolls (SherPrep)

Knock-out Stage

Round 1: Kohashi-Khan bt Brown 11-4; Derry bt Gilbody 11-0; Higgs bt Arapacio-Paul 11-8; Copeland bt Negyal 11-7; Mahoney-Muir bt O’Byrne 11-5; Clark bt Gardner 11-4; Field bt McAllister 11-8; Robertson bt Green 11-4
Quarter-finals: Kohashi-Khan bt Derry 11-7; Copeland bt HIggs 12-10; Mahoney-Muir bt Clark 11-6; Robertson bt Field 11-4
Semi-finals: Copeland bt Kohashi-Khan 11-5; Mahoney-Muir bt Robertson 12-11
Final: B Copeland (Berkhamsted) bt B Mahoney-Muir (Edinburgh Academy) 15-8
Plate:  H Foley (Merchiston Castle) bt P Jesurasel (Edinburgh Academy) 11-6


1st round: Sherborne 2 bt St Paul’s Juniors 2 11-1; Berkhamsted 3 bt Whitgift 2 11-4; Stamford 1 bt Alleyn’s 5 11-8; Sherborne Prep  1 bt Alleyn’s 6 11-9; Berkhamsted 1 bt Stoke Newington/Stamford 11-0; Merchiston 2 bt Sherborne Prep 3 11-6; Alleyn’s 2 bt St Paul’s Juniors 3 11-0; Berkhamsted 2 bt Alleyn’s 3 11-4; St Paul’s Juniors 1 bt Alleyn’s 4 11-8; Edinburgh Academy 3 bt Stamford 2 11-0; Edinburgh Academy 2 bt Whitgift 3 11-0
2nd round: Edinburgh Academy 1 bt Sherborne Prep 2 11-5; Berkhamsted 3 bt Stamford 1 11-9; Berkhamsted 1 bt Sherborne Prep 1 11-3; Alleyn’s 1 bt Merchiston 2 11-3; Merchiston 1 bt Alleyn’s 2 12-10; Berkhamsted 2 bt Whitgift 1 11-7; Edinburgh Academy 3 bt St Paul’s Juniors 1 11-1; Edinburgh Academy 2 bt Stoke Newington 1 11-2
Quarter-finals: Edinburgh Academy 1 bt Berkhamsted 3 11-4; Berkhamsted 1 bt Alleyn’s 1 11-4; Merchiston 1 bt Berkhamsted 2 11-4; Edinburgh Academy 2 bt Edinburgh Academy 3 11-8
Semi-finals: Berkhamsted 1 bt Edinburgh Academy 1 11-4; Edinburgh Academy 2 bt Merchiston 1 12-11
Final: Berkhamsted 1 (Copeland & Higgs) bt Edinburgh Academy 2 (Brown & Mahoney-Muir) 15-7
Plate: Alleyn’s 3 (Buck & O’Byrne) bt Alleyn’s 5 (Lawrence & Roux) 15-2

The National U13 Singles Champion

The Singles medallists

Berkhamsted’s Doubles champions

The Doubles finalists


The Merchiston squad

The Organiser!