Blazing a trail for the School in Eton Fives

Blazing a trail for the School in Eton Fives

Having taken up Eton Fives again a couple of years after leaving the School, Sunil Tailor (1999-2006) has now become the first QE old boy ever to reach the quarter-finals of the sport’s national championships. He hopes one day it might be possible to set up a Fives club for Queen Elizabeth’s School alumni.

Sunil learned the game at QE and then, four years ago while in his second year studying Economics at UCL, he got in touch with QE Fives coach Ian Hutchinson to ask for advice on playing the game as an adult. Since Mr Hutchinson is a teacher at Mill Hill School, he urged Sunil to join the Old Millhillians Fives Club.  “We currently have teams in the first and second division and have competitive matches once a fortnight on average, running from about October to April,” explains Sunil.

Together with an Old Millhillian, Joe Coakley, Sunil entered the Kinnaird Cup, which is the national tournament. Thirty-three pairs entered this year’s cup, which was held at Eton College.

“We were given a slightly difficult first round draw, which we won three sets to one,” says Sunil. “Then we were drawn against the seventh seeds and, in a very close match, we lost the first two sets but were able to bring the match back to two sets all. In the fifth and deciding set, the game was getting very tight. In the end, the scores went to ‘sudden death’ and we won 13-12 to move into the quarter-finals.”

In its report, the sport’s official website, praised this game as “a real dogfight” and saluted “a miraculous shot that had no right to go up”, by which Sunil saved a match point.

The following day, Sunil and his partner faced the second seeds, who had been Kinnaird Cup winners or finalists several times in previous years. They were comprehensively beaten in straight sets but Sunil adds:  “It was a great experience and playing against the better or more experienced players can only make us better. It is a great sport to continue playing after school and I do recommend it fully to QE leavers – hopefully one day, we could also create a QE old boys’ Fives club!”

Sunil is currently training to be a chartered accountant and is a part-qualified ACA trainee with accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson LLP. He is due to sit his advanced stage examinations in July this year.

  • The first Fives courts at Queen Elizabeth’s School opened at the old Wood Street premises in 1880, following a £10 grant from the Governors and a special fund-raising concert. The sport languished for some years after the move to Queen’s Road in 1932 and it was not until the post-war rebuilding programme in 1951-52 that plans for a new court were considered. By 1954, the court was complete and the following year the School was affiliated to the Eton Fives Association and entered the Public Schools Championships.