Champions again at the Women’s Winchester Fives Championships

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Bradfield College
Sunday, 2nd June 2024

STOP PRESS It was a repeat of 2022, with Shinan Zhang winning the Singles, having earlier paired up with her opponent Helena Tunks to win the Doubles — for the second time in both cases. Rachel Wood and Freya Butler achieved an impressive treble, Rachel winning the Singles and Doubles Plate, the latter with Freya, and Freya winning the Challenger Singles Cup. 

Maddy Raynor reports: This year the Ladies Winchester Fives championships were held on a lovely sunny day at Bradfield College. The day started off with the Doubles competition, with 5 pairs entered. All pairs played each other 1 game to 15 in a round robin format. The first matches on court were Shinan Zhang & Helena Tunks taking on Phoebe Thornhill & Lisa Denderuk, whilst on the other court Maddy Raynor & Phoenix Fleming played Rachel Wood & Freya Butler.

Shinan and Helena showed their experience on the courts and playing together to dominate their doubles games in the round robin to comfortably reach the final, where they met Maddy and Phoenix. In the first game Shinan and Helena showed their strong partnership and experience on a Winchester Fives Court and took advantage of Maddy and Phoenix’s unfamiliarity of playing together to win 11-2; however, in the second game Maddy and Phoenix fought back and started to gain the edge. There were some fantastic long rallies, where you would see a great ‘winning’ shot, only to have it amazingly returned by the opposition, with both sides fighting for everything and using the buttress. It was all to play for; however, it was Shinan and Helena who triumphed, winning the game 15-11. Huge congratulations should go to Phoenix for some fantastic shots and holding her own on the court; she is still at school and I can’t wait to see her future in Fives, which looks very exciting.

The Doubles Plate Final saw a domination from Rachel Wood & Freya Butler — both players had got ‘into their stride’ and worked very well as a team. They beat Serin Hartopp & Emily Palmer 11-0. Serin and Emily put up a good fight, but the experience of Rachel and Freya playing doubles showed. Then Rachel & Freya played Phoebe Thornhill & Lisa Denderuk and managed to reverse the result from their round robin match to win 11-1 (in the round robin Phoebe & Lisa had beaten Rachel & Freya 15-10).

Once the Doubles competition was over there was no rest for the wicked, as it was straight back on court and into the Singles championship knockout and the new competition, The Ladies Winchester Fives Challenger Cup.

The first round of the Singles knockout saw Phoebe and Phoenix take to the court. Theirs was a good game, though Phoebe’s greater experience on a Winchester fives court showed as she took the game 15-2. On the other court Rachel and Maddy battled it out, and a battle it was proving to be, with the score ever slowly moving forward; it seemed to go on and on, but eventually it was Maddy who prevailed, managing to befriend the buttress with a final effort to take the game 15-11.

The semi-finals saw a battle-wounded Maddy take on Helena. Again both players fought for every point, but Helena showed the greater strength and skill to win 11-5, 11-6. On the other court, Shinan beat Phoebe 15-2, 15-4 (a slight miscommunication happened here, where the players were too keen — the semi-final was meant to be best of 3 games to 11!). There were some great rallies, but it was Shinan’s experience that once again prevailed as she headed to the final.

The Singles Final saw a repeat of 2022. There were some fantastic rallies that had all the spectators on the edge of their feet (I would say seats, but we were all standing to see). Shinan managed to gain the edge and used the buttress to her advantage, which forced Helena’s to second-guess Shinan’s movements and shots. After some great play it was Shinan who was victorious, winning 11-2, 11-4.

The Ladies Challenger Competition was a great success, with all the challenger competitors gaining in confidence and some really competitive games of fives. In 1st place was Freya Butler, an Eton Fives player, turning her hand to play Winchester Fives and proving her skills in being able to use the buttress to her advantage. In 2nd Place was Serin Hartopp, who learnt to play Fives at Blundell’s School, but was unable to continue to play once she left. She has just started to play again after some years. Lisa Denderuk came in 3rd, originally a squash player, who played in the Mixed Winchester in May for her first time on a Fives court. Emily Palmer and Leonie Brown did really well, as they have only just started to learn Fives (and on a squash court), so it was a big bold step to compete, yet they managed to hold their own and produced some fantastic rallies. All ladies seemed to enjoy the day and were interested in future competitions.

A comment from one of the challenger participants: “I’ve very much enjoyed playing my games, but the thing I’ve loved most is watching the ladies playing in the championship. I’m wowed by the shots — it’s memorising.”

A huge thank you must go to Jeremy Ball and Bradfield College for allowing us the use of their wonderful courts. A great day was had by all and I am already excited for next year’s event and the future of ladies Fives.



1st round: Phoebe Thornhill bt Phoenix Fleming 15-2; Maddy Raynor bt Rachel Wood 15-1
Semi-finals: Shinan Zhang bt Phoebe Thornhill 15-2, 15-4; Helena Tunks bt Maddy Raynor 11-5, 11-6
Final: Zhang bt Tunks 11-2, 11-4
Plate: Wood bt Fleming 11-3, 11-0


Group: 1st Helena Tunks & Shinan Zhang 60 pts; 2nd Phoenix Fleming & Maddy Raynor 49 pts; 3rd Lisa Denderuk & Phoebe Thornhill 41 pts; 4th Freya Butler & Rachel Wood 36 pts;  5th Serin Hartopp & Emily Palmer 15 pts.
Final: Tunks & Zhang bt Fleming & Raynor 15-2, 15-11
Plate: 1st Butler & Wood; 2nd Denderuk & Thornhill; 3rd Hartopp & Palmer 

Challenger Singles

1st Freya Butler 44 pts; 2nd Serin Hartopp 39 pts; 3rd Lisa Denderuk 27 pts; 4th Emily Palmer 16 pts; 5th Leonie Brown 4 pts

Always sunny at Bradfield College

Singles and Doubles champions again


2 Plates and a Challenger winner!

Whoop, whoop!

Action from the Challenger