England’s top under-13 and under-15 players, including Essex’s Ellie Hewe,s got an idea of what to expect at senior national squad get-togethers recently when they attended the two-day ESR Invitational Grand Prix at Lilleshall.

The weekend focused on player development through team-based competition and was attended by the ESR High Performance coaches Lee Drewb, Andy Longman, Tania Bailey and Fiona Geaves, who each led a team.

The format of the event comprised a pairs team tournament for each age group which produced an overall winner for their combined team.

Each draw was limited to four pairs of players from the U13 and U15 age group, with each team consisting of two U13 girls, two U13 boys, two U15 girls and two U15 boys.

The event was played as a round-robin format, followed by a final play-off match, ensuring each player competed in four matches.

As the weekend’s focus was education and development, there were no ranking points awarded, but the event did give the ESR coaches an opportunity to work with players who are aspiring towards future England selection.

The overall winners were Team Excel, coached by Bailey, with 13 points. Drew’s Team Heart were second with 11, with Geaves’ Team Aspire third on 9 and Longman’s Team Dare fourth on 7.

Geaves said: “It was a fantastic weekend of squash in which the players performed and behaved in exemplary fashion.

“It was supported by generous sponsors Head, Ashaway and Harrow, who provided equipment for the players, and squash apparel provider 305, who provided the team shirts.”

On day one the match of the day was between Aspire’s Sam Osborne-Wylde and Dare’s Adam Goad, which Osborne-Wylde won 12-10 in the fifth, but wins for Lydia Robinson and Katie Maliff lifted Excel to the top of the leader board.

On day two, the boys’ U13 finals could not have been any closer. Sam Todd (Excel) beat Max Forster (Heart) 3/0 and Josh Perkins (Heart) also defeated Panos Liatis (Excel) 3/0, with the resulting deadlock having to be split by countback, which Excel just edged 22-17.

In the girls’ U13 finals Margot Prow (Dare) beat Lydia Robinson (Heart) 3/1 and Katie Maliff (Heart) triumphed 3/2 against Ellie Hewes (Dare), with the extra game won proving crucial in giving Dare the title.

Each of the boys’ U15 finals was a real battle. Oscar Beach (Excel) and Jack Mitterer (Aspire) fought out an extremely close four games before Mitterer triumphed 3/1, while Excel claimed the other final, with Jack Newey beating Aspire’s Jared Carter 11-8 18-16 12-10. The game that Beach won proved crucial as it handed Excel their second title.

In the girls’ U15 finals Karina Tyma and Kiera Marshall triumphed for Excel against Heart’s Ellen Cooper and Laura Neil to give Excel their third win of the day and the overall team title.

Report courtesy of EnglandSquashAndRackets.com