Sherborne, Dorset, Sunday November 15th
The Colquhoun Trophy benefitted from its new timing in November with a record number of players, and in the end boys from Malvern and Blundell’s took away the day’s big prizes.
The move from March to November was planned partly in response to fixture congestion in March, but also in an effort to inspire players ahead of the main season next term; and the latter certainly seemed to be the case: Sherborne’s five courts were in constant use throughout the initial round-robin section of the event; players volunteered for unofficial games (a third/fourth place play-off, for example); and, at the end of the day, much of the talk centred on the forthcoming West of England Schools’ Championships.
As ever, the boys from the four schools (Malvern, Blundell’s, Marlborough and Sherborne) played with tremendous spirit and admirable sportsmanship, whether they were relatively seasoned campaigners or – in one instance – had only been playing the game a few days.
In the Colts section, Addie Chai (from Blundell’s) dominated the first pool, and comfortably secured his place in the semi-finals alongside Marlborough’s Ben Lederman, who also put up a strong performance. In contrast, the second pool was much closer; and, although Addie’s fellow Blundellian James Maclaurin eventually won the group, he was pushed very hard in two of his three games. Behind him, the big battle for second place was between two boys from Marlborough, with Arthur Rigg pipping Oscar Waters 15-11 in their crucial encounter.
Oscar at least had the consolation of winning the plate, but had to work very hard for that: in the closest game of the day, he beat fellow Marlborough boy Harry Powell 16-15 in a thrilling match.
After the round-robin, the Colts semis were both Blundell’s/Marlborough encounters; and, in both, the Blundell’s boys won through, leaving Addie to face James in the final. It was a match of hugely contrasting styles, but in the end, Addie’s greater touch and variety overwhelmed James’ power, and secured him the title.
In the meantime, the Open tournament was taking shape, with the record number of players split into four pools. The winner of each group went into the knockout section, and the runner-up qualified for the late.
Right from the word go, a couple of players stood out – Malvern’s Andrew Tudor and Blundell’s’ Tobias Francis – and they both won their groups comfortably. They were followed into the semis by another Blundellian, Ben Clarke, but the closest pool was the third pool. Here, Sherborne’s Will Shardlow eventually topped the group, but only after winning two of his three games 11-8; and, the difference between second and third place couldn’t have been smaller: Marlborough’s Rupert Shingleton eventually took second place, but only after a 12-11 win over Jack Lockwood from Blundell’s.
Rupert later went on to reach the Plate final – completing a clean sweep of Marlburian Plate finalists – but lost out to his schoolmate Archie Wheeler.
Meanwhile, in the main competition, the draw pitted Andrew against Tobias in the first semi-final, and it was a cracker of a match, with some excellent play and fine shot-making. Overall, though, Andrew just had the edge, and secured his place in the final. Here, he would face Will Shardlow, who became the first boy from Sherborne to make a final in this event.
The score may give the impression that the result was a whitewash for Andrew, but it doesn’t give the full story of a match in which Will played extremely well. However, while there were plenty of long and closely-fought rallies, it was always Andrew who could find the winner or force a mistake from his opponent. Deservedly, he won the title without conceding a point in the final. Indeed, such was his dominance that he only conceded points in one of the six games he played all day. Clearly a man to watch…
Finally, the RFA wishes to thank Sherborne for their generosity and hospitality in hosting the event.
Pool 1: 1st Andrew Tudor (Malvern); 2nd Archie Wheeler (Marlborough); 3rd Alastair Findlay (Sherborne); 4th Christian Cabburn (Blundell’s)
Pool 2: 1st Ben Clarke (Blundell’s); 2nd Giles Williams (Malvern); 3rd Toby Smith (Sherborne); 4th Angus Mayes (Sherborne)
Pool 3: 1st Will Shardlow (Sherborne); 2nd Rupert Shingleton (Marlborough); 3rd Jack Lockwood (Blundell’s); 4th Tristan New (Malvern)
Pool 4: 1st Tobias Francis (Blundell’s); 2nd James Barrows (Marlborough); 3rd Edward Pyman (Sherborne); 4th Advait Manur (Malvern)
Semi-finals: Tudor (Malvern) bt Francis (Blundell’s) 15-6; Shardlow (Sherborne) bt Clarke (Blundell’s) 15-9
Final: Tudor bt Shardlow 11-0, 11-0
Plate: Wheeler (Marlborough)
Pool 1: 1st Addie Chai (Blundell’s); 2nd Ben Lederman (Marlborough); 3rd Harry Powell (Marlborough); 4th Will Brodie (Malvern); 5th George Gibbs (Blundell’s)
Pool 2: 1st James Maclaurin (Blundell’s); 2nd Arthur Rigg (Marlborough); 3rd Oscar Waters (Marlborough); 4th Matthew Bruce (Malvern)
Semi-finals: Chai (Blundell’s) bt Rigg (Marlborough) 15-0; Maclaurin (Blundell’s) bt Lederman (Marlborough) 15-8
Final: Chai bt Maclaurin 11-4, 11-1
Plate: Waters (Marlborough)