REPORT BY DAVID HARRIS
Colchester Garrison, home of Off The Wall Squash, staged the final round of the 2014/2015 Essex Junior Squash Grand Prix series on Sunday, an event designed to provide competition for the next generation of young players.
Aimed at youngsters who have yet to wear county colours, the Grand Prix competition was staged over six months at five different venues with points from each event counting towards an overall total.
In a series that has gone from strength to strength with every round attracting an increased number of entries, GP5 again broke attendance records with 47 entrants playing 117 matches across six courts. With the ever present EJS Committee in situ the schedule ran like clockwork.
A presentation by members of the EJS Committee to the parents and junior players designed to give all involved a view on how EJS Activities fit into their day to day training at their clubs, was well received with valuable information passed on to those participating.
In the girls’ Year 10 and Under category, Mary Kate Lavery held a 12 point advantage over her nearest rival, Anna Bantock, Mary Kate having won the previous 3 rounds at Lexden, Bishops Stortford and Woodford Wells. The group would be turned on its head for the final round though with the introduction of Georgia Smith from OTWS and the continued emergence of Pradnya Chaudhari from Walthamstow.
Georgia Smith upset our current leader with a fine 2-0 (14/12 11/8). Pradnya then upset the form book by beating Mary Kate 11/5 9/11 11/8 in another cracking match. As a result, Pradnya took her first series win with Georgia finishing second and Mary Kate third.
With these results collated, the final overall standings for Girls Year 10 saw Mary-Kate Lavery finishing top of the standings, 14 points clear of Anna Bantock. Pradnya’s late charge in the last two rounds snatched 3rd place in the final standings on count back from her club mate Isabelle Locke.
The girls’ Year 8 an Under cateory was again contested hotly by our two new players to the GP series. Henna Kaur Ranu taking the honours with Daisy Newton from Mersea finishing runner up. Both girls are making great strides with improvements to their game in particular; Daisy’s improvement was all the more noticeable when she took a game off our current leader. In the overall standings for Girls Year 8, Henna took the title with Daisy second and Libby Connor third.
The girls’ Year 6 category and Under was boosted by new entrants from Harwich and Mersea Island and the return of Brooke Smith from Woodford Wells. With series leader Alice Lindsay unavailable this weekend, the title was going to go to either Brooke Smith or Olivia Broderick. In the blue group, Leah Brooke from Harwich making her debut in the series, swept all before her without losing a game on her way to the group win. In the Red group along with our top two protagonists came our Woodford Wells year 6 winner, India Shepperson.
The first four games for all three girls went according to form. In the crucial group deciding matches India Shepperson took the spoils against Olivia Broderick in a pulsating match 9/11 11/9 11/7. Brooke then defeated her two closest rivals 11/5 11/7 v Olivia and 11/2 11/5 v India to confirm her growing reputation in this group. Brooke’s maturity as a squash player in the U11 category is growing by the day and this event sees her last appearance at the GP series before being promoted to the EJS Inter County squads. Proof for all juniors wanting to progress with their Inter County participation that anything is possible with the right attitude.
The girls’ Year 6 category and Under overall title went to Brooke Smith with Olivia Broderick 2nd and Alice Lindsay 3rd.
In the Boys’ Year 6 and Under category 16 entries meant the group had to be split into three with six of our top 7 engaged in a single group to decide the overall title for 2014/2015. In the Red Group, Eddie Harris made a welcome return following his last outing at Bishops Stortford to win the group from Jamie Smith and Joe Douglas.
In the Blue Group, Akash Shah, making his second appearance in the series, won the group without dropping a game with Jai Chaudhari finishing second and Max Harris finishing third. In the series deciding group Daniel Caton proved himself up to the challenge defeating all his nearest rivals without dropping a game to convincingly win this group and ultimately the Overall Boys Year 6 category from Charlie Broad in second and Sebastian Waugh in third.
In the Boys’ Year 8 and under category, only 4 points separated the top four players with Fin Guest leading the way closely followed by Joe Shepperson, Joshua Lambert and the absent Bastian Kelling-Reis. At the Garrison this category was joined by Nils Carter de Jong from Suffolk, Max Watts from Felsted and Leighton Huffey and Joshua Smith from OTWS.
Nils quickly threw down the gauntlet to the GP regulars with an opening win over second place Joshua Lambert, 11/1 11/1 whilst our other newbie from Felsted, Max Watts despatched series leader Fin Guest 11/6 13/11. In the other opening fixture of this group, Joshua Smith beat our GP4 winner Joe Shepperson in a closely fought contest 8/11 11/7 11/7.
Nils went on to completely dominate the group with 5 further wins without dropping a game and taking the group win. Joshua Smith came in a close second with his only defeat being that to Nils 8/11 4/11, whilst Joe Shepperson finished 3rd in the group, a single point behind Joshua. After the number crunching was completed, Joe Shepperson’s steady run to third had propelled him to the top of the overall standings to win this year’s title. Fin Guest collected enough points to finish second whilst Nils strong showing at the Garrison pushed him into 3rd place overall.
The Boy’s Year 10 and Under category saw the return of Adrian Dibattista and Stephen Barry from their last appearance at Lexden. Luke Woolridge went into the final round with what looked like an unassailable lead and this proved to be the case. Some steady results from Luke enabled him to finish GP5 in 2nd place and despite losing to Adrian Dibattista 11/9 11/6, this was enough to give him the overall title for 2014/2015. Adrian’s strong showing, where he did not drop a game, pushed him into 2nd overall whilst Stephen Barry finished 3rd at GP5 as well as 3rd overall.
All our winners and 2nd place overall winners will now have a two-hour group training session with world ranked number 71 player Ben Coleman. We’ll agree the date with Ben and notify everyone about the when and the where.
The Grand Prix series is a new venture for Essex Junior Squash as was whole designed to get youngsters who have yet to wear county colours playing different players from different clubs around the County. The number of juniors participating has increased from GP1 to GP5 by 252% highlighting that the format and structure of this series is moving along the right lines.
In light of this EJS plan to increase the 2015/2016 series from 5 rounds to 7 to increase competition, encapsulate more juniors and promote our game of Squash to the youngster in the County further.
Personally. as Chairman of EJS it has been a wonderful season for us to oversee and watch the talent in our County grow in confidence and ability in such a short space of time. The work of the club coach is highly valued and vitally important to this process and will ultimately allow the County scene to expand and grow.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those players who took part and to all those parents who chauffeured their siblings around the county for this series. I look forward to seeing you all at GP1 2015/2016 in September.
GRAND PRIX 5 RESULTS
Girls Year 6 and Under BLUE Group
1st Leah Brooke, 2nd Olivia Knox, 3rd Sophie Brame
Girls Year 6 and Under RED Group
1st Brooke Smith, 2nd India Shepperson, 3rd Olivia Broderick
Girls Year 8 and Under
1st Henna Kaur Ranu, 2nd Daisy Newton
Girls Year 10 and Under
1st Pradnya Chaudhari, 2nd Georgia Smith, 3rd Mary-Kate Lavery
Boys Year 6 and Under – BLUE Group
1st Akash Shah, 2nd Jai Chaudhari, 3rd Max Harris
Boys Year 6 and Under RED Group
1st Eddie Harris, Jamie Smith, 3rd Joe Douglas
Boys Year 6 and Under YELLOW Group
1st Daniel Caton, 2nd Sebastian Waugh, 3rd Charlie Broad
Boys Year 8 and Under
1st Nils Carter de Jong, 2nd Joshua Smith, 3rd Joe Shepperson
Boys Year 10 and Under
1st Adrian Dibattista, 2nd Luke Woolridge, 3rd Stephen Barry
OVERALL GRAND PRIX RESULTS
Girls Year 6 and Under
1st Brooke Smith, 2nd Olivia Broderick, 3rd Alice Lindsay
Girls Year 8 and Under
1st Henna Kaur Ranu, 2nd Daisy Newton, 3rd Libby Connor
Girls Year 10 and Under
1st Mary-Kate Lavery, 2nd Anna Bantock, 3rd Pradnya Chaudhari
Boys Year 6 and Under
1st Daniel Caton, 2nd Charlie Broad, 3rd Sebastian Waugh
Boys Year 8 and Under
1st Joe Shepperson, 2nd Fin Guest, 3rd Nils Carter de Jong
Boys Year 10 and Under
1st Luke Woolridge, 2nd Adrian Dibattista, 3rd Stephen Barry