Kent Schools Tournaments 2018
The end of the school year means schools playing squash for the chance to test their skills in the two County schools competitions – the Kent Schools Cup (secondary schools) and the Academy Cup (primary schools).
Both events have been running for at least 4 years and with the interest being shown by schools across Kent the events are set to expand over the years. Rodmersham played host to the tournaments and thanks should go to the management and staff who coped with 60 plus juniors each day along with their supporters.
The Kent Schools Cup is divided into two sections, Junior (years 7 – 9) and Senior (years 10 – 13). Within the tournament the skill levels are varied with some county players leading their school team which includes juniors experiencing their first competitive match.
The sections are keenly contested, and this year saw Wilmington reclaiming another schools title beating Judd in the Junior Final. Last year’s Junior winners Simon Langton moved up into the Seniors, but this didn’t stop them claiming their third consecutive title. The senior girl’s tournament was played out between Benenden Girls and Dover Girls with Benenden coming out as champions.
The Academy Cup saw 18 teams created through the Kent Primary School Academy Project contesting for the trophy.
Many playing in this tournament started with no knowledge of squash but are now playing at club or even county level. The 50 plus juniors represents a figure of 600 plus juniors who have taken squash up over Kent in the last 4 years.
The Junior section (years 3 and 4) was contested by Scott’s Park 1 and 2, with the 2nd team pipping the first team for the trophy. In the Senior section (years 5 and 6) Scott’s Park held off a spirited challenge from Madginford (last year’s Junior winners) to make it a clean sweep of the sections.
Ella Tunon played @ No1 string for the GU13 Kent team at the 2017-18 Junior Inter-county Finals @ Nottingham University on 13.01.2018.
In her first match Ella played against Amelie Hayworth for Hampshire.
It was a very hard fought match energy and imagination. Ella lost 3-0 but managed to take the first game to 12-10, and kept it very tight in the second and third games, to go down to a visibly rattled and unsettled UK no1. Despite losing 3-0 Ella showed grit and determination as well as more than a few neat combos and winners which forced Amelie to make uncharacteristic mistakes.
In her second match Ella played Francesca Hall. Ella played another hard match, but after giving it all in the first match, struggled with energy levels during some early long rallies and the score line did not reflect how close each point was. Some great plays from both girls saw winners close out rallies early in the second and third games, showing great touch and clarity of thought.
Ella, despite losing came away with food for thought. She pushed herself hard against the top girls in the country and despite losing demonstrated to herself that the gap was not as large as she had expected and that with perseverance and dedication she could put herself in a position to seriously challenge for honours at the next opportunity.
The team lost overall but showed great courage and fighting spirit as well as camaraderie through their support of each other and later the BU11 team, that both they and Kent Squash can be proud of.
The competition was always going to be competitive as within the four teams making the finals, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and of course Kent, 5 players were currently ranked in the top six in the England Rankings.
Kent stormed past Gloucestershire winning all three matches. First up was Freddie Miles who had a very convincing win and won 3-0. Next up was Dylan Roberts versus Harry Bloomfield. This pitted the England’s current number 2 v England’s Number 3. This was a real yoyo battle that went to the full five games. Dylan won the final game 11-8. Jude Gibbins was up next and had a very conformable 3-0 victory. This took Kent through to the final for the third consecutive year, a great achievement in itself.
In the finals they had to play Warwickshire who had won the other semi-final against Hampshire 2-1.
Warwickshire were strong opposition. They had 3 top 20 ranked boys in the team and the current number 4 ranked boy playing at number 1 for them.
The finals were on the all glass show court, much to the boys delight. Again up first was Freddie Miles. Freddie played amazing squash and again stormed to a 3-0 victory against a boy current ranked way above him. This gave Kent the perfect start.
The number 1 seeds were next on and it saw Dylan Roberts current England number 2 against James Lee currently England’s number 4. James got off to a commanding start winning the first two games and leading the third 9-4. Dylan managed to save the game and the match by winning the game 12-10. Dylan then went on to take command and take the next game 11-1 and the final game 11-6. A great come back and a victory for Kent with a match to spare.
The result meant Kent were champions even before Jude Gibbins played. Again Jude played some very assured and quality squash coasting to a 3-0 win. The boys all performed amazing well under pressure and shows why many had them as favourites to win the final.
Well done Kent Squash and especially coach Steve Franks who has nurtured and developed all the boys from an early age. Congratulation, you are now National Final winners.