REPORT BY DAVID HARRIS
Despite the Easter holidays, the volunteers of Team EJS had their work cut out with 34 players at Round 5 of the Essex Grand Prix series at The Connaught Club last weekend with kids from school years 4 through to 10 playing over a hundred matches across five groups in the space of six and a half hours!
The 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 Grand Prix competition is being staged over six months at seven different venues with points from each event counting towards an overall total and the fifth round provided proof of this popular series.
Again, the level of enthusiasm and the closeness of the games were reflected in the scores with almost two thirds of the matches finishing 2-1.
In the Girls’ Year 6 & Under, the ongoing season long battle between Emma Logan (pictured left) and Lara Newton continued. With Lara having taken first place at Lexden in Round 4, Emma was determined to even the score with victory at Connaught. And so it proved to be the case. With both girls having won their 3 group matches it came down to a winner takes all battle between them and what a match it turned out to be. Lara took the opening game 11/9, Emma fought back in the second winning 11/7 and in the third, the girls traded point for point up to 11/11 when Emma played two tight drives after some incredible rallies, to take the decider 13/11.
In the Girls’ combined Year 8 & 10 Group Jessica Baxter (Felsted School) had a lot to live up to after her debut win at Lexden and again, she proved to be the player to beat winning her opening 4 fixtures. Also in the group Lara Newton’s sister, Daisy was proving to be as resolute as Jessica winning her opening four fixtures to set up another exciting winner takes all match. At Lexden, Jessica defeated Daisy 2-1 to take the GP4 win, this time Daisy was in no mood to face a repeat. In what turned into a classic battle between these two, Daisy came out on top 13/11, 12/10 to take GP5 with Jessica finishing runner-up.
In the Girls’ Year 10, the top three of the series were again locked in battle. In previous rounds Mary-Kate Lavery has been the person to beat, winning 2 of the last 3 rounds and this again proved to be the case. GP5 proved slightly different and this time Pradyna Chaudhari (pictured at the top of this page) upped her game in the deciding clash defeating Mary-Kate in what was the game of the group, 9/11 11/8 11/9.
The largest number of entrants saw two groups needed for the Boys Year 6 and under. In the Red group our seeded player Armaan Sattar (Connaught) again swept all before him with Sebastian Waugh (Woodford Wells) his closest opponent this time. The deciding match of this group saw Armaan defeat Sebastian 11/5 7/11 11/6 in a cracker of a match.
In the Boys Year 6 Blue group there were debuts for the Deville brothers (Palmer and Jenson) as well as Alistair Cartland along with GP3 runner up, Jamie Brown. The two siblings fought a great match in the group stages, with Palmer winning 2-1 but that solitary game for Jenson (pictured right) was enough for him to top his brother in the final standings. Another debut win in the series saw Jenson take the group by a single point.
In the Boys combined Year 8 & 10 group, Ronan Caruana followed up his debut win at Lexden with another at Connaught. Ronan played some excellent squash on his way to the Group win.
The final group saw the Boys Year 10 & under won by Abdullah Akbar from Felsted School for the second GP running. As in the previous round Abdullah swept all before him going one better than Lexden, without dropping a single game to any of his opponents.
I would like to personally thank the staff at The Connaught Club for allowing us to take over their facility for the day!
I would also like to thank the volunteers of the Essex Junior Squash committee who gave up their Sunday to run another successful Grand Prix event along with the help of Paul Selby. To the parents who helped us mark the 104 matches this weekend and to all the parents for bringing their juniors, I hope you all enjoyed the day.
Girls Year 6 – 1st Emma Logan, 2nd Lara Newton, 3rd, Anna Daniel
Girls Year 8 – 1st Daisy Newton, 2nd Jessica Baxter, 3rd Henna Kaur Ranu
Girls Year 10 – 1st Pradnya Chaudhari, 2nd Mary-Kate Lavery, 3rd Catherine Lilyanagame
Boys Year 6 Red – 1st Armann Sattar, 2nd Sebastian Waugh, 3rd Anthony Yip
Boys Year 6 Blue – Jenson Deville, 2nd Jamie Brown, 3rd Palmer Deville
Boys Year 8 – 1st Ronan Caruana, 2nd Akash Shah, 3rd Jai Chaudhari
Boys Year 10 – 1st Abdullah Akbar, 2nd Max Watts, 3rd Nils Carter de Jong
The penultimate round of the series takes us across the border slightly to Bishops Stortford Squash club on 29th May 2016.
We look forward to seeing you all then.
David Harris – EJS Chairman
PS: A number of parents reported that while listening to BBC Radio 1 on the way to Connaught, the EJS Grand Prix series received a “shout-out” on their mid-morning show. A big thank you to whoever arranged that.