Essex Junior Grand Prix 7 showcases rising talent

Report by DAVID HARRIS

Round Seven of the 2016/2017 Essex Junior Squash Grand Prix season returned to one of its biggest venues when the event headed off to OTWS Academy at Colchester Garrison.

The Essex Junior Squash Grand Prix series is designed to provide competition for the next generation of young players. Aimed at youngsters who have yet to wear county colours, the 2016/2017 Grand Prix competition is being staged over ten months at seven different venues with points from each event counting towards an overall total. Winners and runners-up in each category will be invited to attend training with Current World top 50 player, Ben Coleman.

Sophie Singer who finished second in her debut GP appearance

In the Girls Year 6 & Under two of the series leaders (Amelie Brooke and Felicity Halim) were up against two debutants in Daisy Saxby and Sophie Singer. Whilst Amelie stamped her authority on the group with wins over her group opponents, Daisy and Sophie set up a final match for runner’s up spot between themselves. In what was an extremely close match, Sophie triumphed on the day winning 15/13, 11/8 11/9 to take second position in the group.

As has been the tradition through-out the series, the bulk of entries were in the Boys Year 6 & Under category and GP7 was no exception. The top 6 for this year’s series were playing in the RED group, positions 7 to 12 in BLUE group and a YELLOW group consisted of 3 regulars and 2 debutants in Thomas Ardley (Marconi) and George Dobson.

All 3 groups provided some entertaining and highly energetic squash throughout the day. In the Red group the top two seeds in this category (James Sydenham and Jack Tooley) battled their way to wins in each of their first four matches to setup a winner takes-all final game and what a game it was. With James returning to form after GP6 and Jack’s game improving round after round the pair fought hard in their tussle for top spot. James took the first game 11/5 but Jack fought back bravely to take the second 11/9. The deciding set was close to 6/6 when James made some great shots at crucial times to win the decider 11/6 and the GP7 RED group. Matthew Salmon came in 3rd, his only losses being to James and Jack throughout the day.

In the Blue group Luca Johns dominated the day’s play without dropping a single game. In second Owen Toleman battled hard to stay with Luca but in the deciding game, Luca ran out winner 11/2 11/7 over Owen. In 3rd place was Aidan Clifford who chased the top two all day but finished 2 points behind the top two.

In the Yellow Group we saw another dominant display, this time from Henry Marshall who won 5 from 5 without dropping a game. In 2nd place was our debutant George Dobson, only losing out to Henry early in the day. Third place went to Harrison Mussett after some battling performances against the top two.

The boys Year 8 was grouped together with the boys Year 10 this GP due to a drop in numbers. In the Orange Group our top 3 Year 8’s were pitted against the boys from Year 10 whilst in the Purple group position 4 to 7 battled out for top honours.

Our Purple group saw a return to the series for Noah McKennon and he swept all before him on his way to victory without dropping a single game to his counterparts. In second place came another returning player to the series in Antony Yip. Finishing 3rd in the group was Thomas Hart.

In the Orange Group, Oliver Hart upset the overall group leaders defeating George Sweeting and Max Newton on his way to GP7 win, his second since GP3 at Clements Hall. With George piping Max Newton for 2nd place in the group, Oliver Hart moved into second place in the overall standings with 1 round to go.

In the year 10 battle an intriguing final match between Lewis Dumas and Flynn McKennon closed the day at the Garrison. Both boys have traded first and second place in a number of GP’s this season and the finale to GP7 was to live up to expectations. Lewis took the opening game 11/8. Flynn hit back taking the second by the same score. The final game was a tense battle but in the end Flynn clinched victory 11/7 and the honours for GP7.

I would like to thank OTWS and the Garrison for stepping in at such late notice after we had to move away from Maldon due to the loss of court. A big thanks to juniors Josh Stinson, Daisy and Lara Newton and Elli Barrott for marking most of the day and to those from the committee who attended to provide support.

To all the parents and coaches who helped throughout the day, all of which contributed to another successful Grand Prix.

Final Results:
Girls Year 6 (Green Group) – 1st Amelie Brooke (OTWS), 2nd Sophie Singer, 3rd Daisy Saxby (Maldon)
Boys Year 6 (Red Group) – 1st James Sydenham (Kingswood), 2nd Jack Tooley (Lexden), 3rd Matthew Salmon (Lexden)
Boys Year 6 (Blue Group) – 1st Luca Johns (Tiptree), 2nd Owen Toleman (OTWS), 3rd Aidan Clifford (OTWS)
Boys Year 6 (Yellow Group) – 1st Henry Marshall (Mersea), 2nd George Dobson, 3rd Harrison Mussett (OTWS)
Boys Year 8 (Purple Group) – 1st Noah McKennon (OTWS), 2nd Antony Yip (Brentwood), 3rd Thomas Hart (Felsted)
Boys Year 8 (Orange Group) – 1st Oliver Hart (Felsted), 2nd George Sweeting (Felsted) 3rd Max Newton (Lexden)
Boys Year 10 – 1st Noah McKennon (OTWS) 2nd Lewis Dumas (Kingswood)

The final round of 2016/2017 Grand Prix Series, GP8 makes its way to Connaught Squash Club on the 18th June with a number of top two positions in each group, still up for grabs. For the winners and runners-up, a training session with Ben Coleman current world number 55 will be held on Sunday 9th July.

We look forward to seeing you all at Connaught in June.

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