Pictured: A Grade winners Ollie Martyn-Hemphill and Freddie White
Pictured: Senior Finalists Benedict Yorston, Ned Gordon, George Eaton, Ollie Martyn-Hemphill, Seb Hill, Cosmo Taylor, Louis Manson
On Sunday 5th February Radley completed an unprecedented clean sweep of titles in the National Schools Doubles Real Tennis Championship. With four different age group competitions running at three different venues, Radley pairs secured victories in the U18s A & B Category draws, the U16s event and the U14s competition.
U14s at Wellington
Archie O'Donnell (g) & Max Jardine-Brown (k) beat Canford 1st Pair 8-7
U16s at Radley
Ed Crowston (d) & Max Wetton (b) beat Wellington 1st Pair 6-5
U18s Category B at Queen's Club
George Eaton (h) & Seb Hill (d) beat Eton 1 6-3
U18s Category A at Queen's Club
Ollie Martyn-Hemphill (f) & Freddie White (g) beat Benedict Yorston (b) & Ned Gordon (c) 6-2, 6-1 (an all Radley final)
No school has ever won a clean sweep across the age groups before, so this a school sporting achievement to be proud of. A huge well done to all the boys involved and many thanks to all those involved in the organisation of what was an excellent day for all concerned.
Senior A Grade (Queens Club)
Radley 1 (Ollie Martyn-Hemphill & Freddie White) bt Radley 2 (Benedict Yorston & Ned Gordon).
Despite a limited number of low handicap pairs this year, there was some fiercely contested tennis. Radley 2 gave Radley 1 an early shock in the round-robin, leading 4-2 before just fading. Radley 1 then avoided scares with wins over both Wellington and Tonbridge.
Radley 2 then beat Wellington 6/3 after a few nerves from 5-0 up, but solid floor play from Yorston and excellent retrieving in the rallies from Gordon proved decisive. Wellington, though beat Tonbridge in a good contest by 6-3. Tonbridge then upset the applecart by beating Radley 6-4, who just managed to score enough games to gain 2nd place, and the final.
In the 3rd place play-off, Wellington (Vleck and Corbett) reasserted themselves over Tonbridge (Elmitt and Atherton) in a robust contest 8/5, while in the main final, Radley 1 had begun to find their form, attacking the backhand corner behind Ned Gordon and, in truth, won comfortably 6/2 6/1 – as, indeed, their low handicaps should dictate.
Senior B Grade (Queens Club)
Radley 3 (George Eaton & Seb Hill) bt Eton (Cosmo Taylor & Louis Manson) 6/3
Ten teams (Radley, Wellington, Eton, Clifton, Seaford, Bradfield, Oratory, Westminster) contested this event, operating at handicaps of > ~55.
Westminster, Bradfield and Seaford were the minnows here, though picked up plenty of games and a few sets. Bradfield beat Seaford 2, while Seaford 1 (with a little more experience) managed three, and nearly four as a come-back from 0-5 down to Eton was stifled at the death to lose 5/6. They did finish second in their group, as Eton won their others with some ease. Oratory battled hard, with one win and nearly two as they just lost 4/6 to Wellington2.
Radley 2 and Clifton dominated the other group, with Radley just pipping Clifton for the winner’s spot as they recovered from 3-5 down to win 6/5.
Clifton, slightly surprisingly I feel, failed to reproduce this form and lost heavily to Eton (1/6) in the semi-final, while Radley 3 beat Seaford in a very watchable contest, 6/3. Radley carried this form into the final, an equally watchable contest by beating Eton 6/3. Seb Hill’s control and consistency, allied to George Eaton’s aggression, was just too much for Eton, who nevertheless showed real promise for such an inexperienced pair. Louis Manson’s Lawn tennis pedigree shone through, but despite some real flair from Cosmo Taylor, it was not quite enough.
Colts (U16) at Radley
Radley 1 (Ed Crowston & Max Wetton) bt Wellington 1 (Freddie Bristowe and Rags Kanwar) 6/5
With entries from Radley, Wellington, Canford, Portsmouth GS and Eton, this event was as closely contested as any this year, with some outstanding players, notably Freddie Bristowe of Wellington besides Ed Crowston of Radley and Huw Thomas of Portsmouth.
Indeed, Bristowe and Rags Kanwar sailed through their group with few problems though dropping 2/3 games to both Radley 3 and Radley 1 (who did claim second spot).
Portsmouth GS had to work rather harder in the other group with narrow wins 6/5 over both Radley 2 and Canford 1. Canford 1 just then pipped Radley 2 6/4 for the vital 2nd spot and the semi-final.
Wellington 1 repeated their dominant form in beating a fine Canford pair in the semi-final 6/2 while Radley 1 pulled out a surprise in hauling back a 2/5 deficit to beat Portsmouth. The final, however, produced an even bigger surprise as Radley (from 2-4 and 4-5 down) managed a 6/5 win at the death. Knowledgeable spectators assure me that Ed Crowston had a spell of play that to dream about as Radley found ways to negate Bristowe’s attack and to target other areas. As a competition overall, however, it can hardly have been more exciting.