REPORT BY DAVID HARRIS
The Essex Junior Squash Grand Prix season saw its largest entry of the year when we took over the impressive courts at The Garrison in Colchester, home of Off The Walls Squash, on Sunday February 5th.
The GP 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.
In the Girls Year 6 & Under, our top 3 girls were joined by 2 debutants in Eleonore Dewey and Leonie Powling. After round 4 at Bishops Stortford, Felicity Halim and Amelie Brooke were leading the group. Eleonore was pitched against Felicity in her debut match and what a match it turned out to be with Felicity taking the first 11/9, Eleonore coming back 13/11 and and the match decider going 11/9 to Felicity.
Eleonore’s next match was against Amelie Brooke and this turned out to be another game to entertain the crowds. After a shaky start in which Amelie took the first set 11/2 Eleonore stormed back to take games two and three, 12/10 11/8. With Amelie taking the top of the group clash with Felicity 2/0 the category had a new winner on count back, Eleonore Dewey. Leonie in her first ever GP, found the going tough but complete all her matches with a smile on her face.
In the Boys Year 6 & Under series an influx of players meant 3 groups had to be played, with the top 7 from this year playing off in the Red Group, the next 14 split into Blue and Yellow Groups, both of which featured debutant appearances.
Current leader James Sydenham came up against his main rivals in Jack Tooley, Samuel Thickbroom and Matthew Salmon. James played controlled squash throughout the day only dropping 1 game on his way to victory. This was his 3rd GP win of the year to backup up his 2 second places and victories at Clements and Bishops Stortford.
Jack Tooley fought hard throughout the day and whilst being disappointed with his loss to James, came a most creditable 2nd. Completing the top 3 was Ben Bushell on his return to GP after missing Bishops Stortford. His only defeats of the day were to the current top 2.
In the Blue group, Finley Terrell (another debutant) announced his arrival to the GP series with 6 wins out of 6 and no games dropped. 2nd was Owen Toleman, 2 points behind and 3rd Sydney Jones. Finlay will no doubt be one to watch over the coming months.
In the Yellow group which contained 6 new players, Luca Johns claimed his first ever GP win with 6 wins and no games dropped whilst he was pushed all the way by Luca Batley in 2nd.
The Luca battle which decided the group was a close fought match with LJ winning 15/13 11/6 over LB. 3rd was Isaac Smith, his only two losses during the day with to the Luca’s.
In the Boys 8 & Under the battle the top 5 protagonists were all in attendance with current series leader George Sweeting facing tough opposition from Max Newton, the Hart brothers and series debutant, Noah McKennon.
Upsetting the apple cart somewhat, Noah made a blistering start winning his opening 4 matches before a top of the table clash with Oliver Hart saw Noah take a hard fought 11/5 11/7 victory.
Throughout the day George Sweeting kept the pressure on winning his matches but the deciding fixtures saw Noah take victory 11/7 11/2. Undeniably, the game of the day was the 2nd/3rd place match between Oliver Hart and George which finished 11/8 7/11 11/4 in Oliver’s favour.
The Boys Year 10 & Under group was as tough as ever with 5 of our top 7 being joined by 2 debutants. Lewis Dumas, winner at GP4 continued where he had left off in Bishops Stortford winning his opening 5 matches without dropping a game.
Making only his second appearance of the season and causing an upset amongst the regulars was Flynn McKennon, older brother of Noah, who also won his first 5 matches, only dropping 2 games along the way.
This setup a group decider, last match of the day, winner takes all game between Flynn and Lewis. On this occasion Flynn proved the stronger of the two players taking a very entertaining final 11/5 11/5 to win the group. 3rd in the group on his debut was Archie Pritchard who will become a welcome regular to the series.
I would like to thank the Staff at Colchester Garrison and Off The Wall Squash for allowing us to take over their club for the day. To Lara and Daisy Newton, Eli and Tim Barrott and Richard Pilcher for marking all day and to all the other kids who helped mark on the day and keep proceedings moving, to the point we completed 115 matches on 6 courts in 5 hours and finished 30 minutes early!
Girls Year 6 – 1st Eleonore Dewey, 2nd Amelie Brooke, 3rd Felicity Halim
Boys Year 6 Red – 1st James Sydenham, 2nd Jack Tooley, 3rd Ben Bushell
Boys Year 6 Blue – 1st Finlay Terrell, 2nd Owen Toleman, 3rd Sydney Jones
Boys Year 6 Yellow – 1st Luca Johns, 2nd Luca Batley, 3rd Isaac Smith
Boys Year 8 – 1st Noah McKennon, 2nd Oliver Hart, 3rd George Sweeting
Boys Year 10 – 1st Flynn McKennon, 2nd Lewis Dumas, 3rd Archie Pritchard
Grand Prix 6 takes us to Epping Squash Club on 2nd April 2017.
We look forward to seeing you all then.
David Harris – EJS Chairman