New faces and changing roles in place as Essex Junior Squash drives forward

ESSEX Junior Squash held its Annual General Meeting at the Hamptons Club (formerly Marconi) last week where we reviewed the last 12 months, planned the forthcoming season, said farewell to two magnificent committee volunteers and welcomed aboard three new faces.

We have shuffled the committee pack a little after the change in personnel with our illustrious chairman David Harris swapping roles to replace Karen Selby as EJS secretary. We wish him well in the new and demanding role so brilliantly executed by Karen who has worked tirelessly and diligently for us over the past three years. We have truly benefited from having such an expert and enthusiastic volunteer to help guide us.

Same thoughts to John Allpress who has been a vital member of our team. His son Aaron, our current Under-19 champion, is off to University so the time is right for John to hang up his committee cap and concentrate on the rest of his life. Thanks, John, you have been a star.

David’s role as chairman is now taken by Matthew White who previously held the position of Child Welfare officer. That job is now in the hands of Juliett Sykes who we welcome aboard for the first time. We also have a new Treasurer, another role that previously fell into the lap of Karen Selby. Welcome Karen Gates and thanks for stepping up to help us. Our final new recruit is Sally Ann Brown who boosts our ranks as our Inter County Boys’ team officer. Again, thanks everyone for offering us your time and expertise.

Below is David’s end-of-season report and review which, I believe, perfectly illustrates the great strides Essex Junior Squash has made. We are setting the standard for counties across the country but none of us is sitting on our laurels. So here’s hoping for another great season ahead. Onward and upwards.

LH

SEASON REPORT 2016/2017

The 2016/17 Season has been extremely hard work for the enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers that make up the Essex Junior Squash committee.

We have continued to build on a structure that has seen the introduction of a increased number of new juniors to Essex Squash playing inter county and Essex GP events.

County Trials – Open to any young player who would be eligible to play for the county that has not previously been involved. 4 trials were held during the season, promising players are directed to either to the County Squads or Development Squads. The 2016/2017 season saw our trials identify an additional 25+ players for development training.

Development Squads – We have held 4 training squads at 4 different clubs around the county aimed at supporting and encouraging those players who show potential but are not quite ready for county training.

County Squads – We have held 4 main training squads and now have a total of 125 juniors involved in county coaching/training from which our Inter County teams are selected..

Grand Prix Series – Now completing its 3rd season, this series has gone from strength to strength with 8 events around the county aimed at giving players from school year 10 and below their first taste of competitive squash. The success of this competition has meant that we will again run 7 events next season. This year 81 juniors took part across all 8 rounds. Series winners for 2016/17 were: GYr6 Amelie Brooke, GYr8 Lara Newton, GYr10 Daisy Newton, BYr6 James Sydenham, BYr8 George Sweeting and BYr10 Lewis Dumas. The prize for these winners will be a 2 hour training session with World No. 55 Ben Coleman.

The Essex Junior Closed was held in September with 97 competitors, a 24% increase over last year’s tournament. Girl’s winners were U11 Renitha Srindran, U13 Hannah Morley, U15 Aliza Sheikh and U17 Eleanor White whilst Boys titles went to U11 Alex Banhidai, U13 Yusuf Sheikh, U15 Oliver Green, U17 Harry Kitchens and U19 Aaron Allpress.

Essex Junior Open – saw an increase of 25% in entrants from last season with 124 players entered from 10 counties. Essex victories went to GU11 Renitha Srindran, BU11 Alex Banhidai, GU13 Hannah Morley, BU13 Stanley Sykes and BU15 Oliver Green.

Inter- County Competition/Trophy Finals – With the increased number of players available to EJS we were able to field an additional 2 teams this season compared to last season’s 9 with some notable successes coming from our girls teams. In the National Finals our U13A team came runners up whilst our GU17 team finished 3rd. In the Trophy finals our GU13B team won, whilst our GU15 team finished runners-up. A magnificent effort!

Inter-County Friendlies – 4 events took place involving Essex, Kent, Surrey and Middlesex. Essex had winners in all U11, U13, U15 and U17 categories during the course of the season. These matches have provided much needed competition for players on the fringe of the main inter-county squads and a further programme is planned for next season.

National Rankings – England Squash are undergoing a process of upgrading the way rankings are created but at the last count Essex had 72 players in the top 100 of their respective categories, an increase of 21% over last season.

This season also saw the continued growth of two of our most respected junior girls with Elise Lazarus and Alice Green representing England in the European Junior Team Championships with both girls featuring extensively in the team’s U17 European title win. Further honours were bestowed on these two players when it was announced they had both been selected for the England team to play at the World Junior Team Championships in New Zealand on the 12th July 2017. Congratulations to both these players!

Sponsorship & Funding – This season has seen a continued improvement of EJS Players nationally and this has without doubt been helped by the monies invested by two sponsors and other initiatives for 2016/2017. Early discussions with The Physiotherapy Practice in Colchester resulted in a Silver package deal. Later in the year and following a competitive challenge match where a group of 9 EJS Girls took on Lloyds Squash Club the event resulted in a Platinum sponsorship package from Mills Smith Insurance Group.

Our 200 Club initiated at the beginning of last season has given us a steady and consistent revenue stream to help backup the sponsorship programme. We were also successful in a funding request to England Squash via the East Regional Forum that saw us receive a grant of £1726 towards Player Development, Coach Development and Fund raising.

As a result of this sponsorship and funding we have been able to enter more teams in the national finals as well as start a Schools Initiative Programme, the first of which has taken place at Walthamstow Squash Club. This programme has been successful enough to engage 3 new schools in the area. It is hoped that we will be able to roll out further such initiatives following discussions with Essex Coaches.

2016/2017 has been a hugely successful season for Essex Junior Squash as our teams, activities and presence continue to grow. Media interest has seen our website www.essexjuniorsquash.com go from strength to strength. Our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/essexjuniorsquash) and Twitter accounts (www.twitter.com/essexjnrsquash) have had in excess of 80,000 hits in the last year and we continue to receive publicity in various local newspapers in various districts in Essex.

2017/2018 will see a further increase in number of players at Inter County and Development training; an increase in the number of teams competing at National Inter County level; the continued growth of a six counties GP series; a stronger and consolidated Essex GP series and the continued success of our players at England National Events.

The Committee of Essex Squash will continue to look at growing the sport in our County as well as representing Essex to the highest level nationally.

David Harris – Essex Junior Squash Chairman (Now new Secretary)