“Keen”, “dedicated” and “an example to all”: Eton Fives players praised after some strong tournament performances

“Keen”, “dedicated” and “an example to all”: Eton Fives players praised after some strong tournament performances

QE’s younger Eton Fives players have won plaudits from leading figures in the sport – and enjoyed success on the court ­– after competing against some of the most famous schools in the country in two tournaments.

Seven Year 10 boys, who took up the game last year, headed off to Eton College for the Eton Fives Nationals Competition for novices.

And seven pupils from Year 9 enjoyed their very first taste of competition in the EFA U14 Individual Competition at Harrow School.

QE is among only a handful of state schools to play Eton Fives, a handball game developed at Eton in the late 19th century that is played as doubles in a three-sided court.

PE teacher Oliver O’Gorman said: “It’s been fantastic to see how committed our current crop of Eton Fives players are, working tremendously hard and being very competitive.”

In the Year 10 competition, QE’s top two pairs, Dinuk Dissanayake & Rishabh Bhatt and Neev Sanyal and Yathoosan Suthash, reached semi-finals of the main cup, losing to strong Ipswich School and Eton pairs, while the third pair, Rushil Akula, Adith Jayasuriya & Hamza Mohamed, also enjoyed success in the plate competition, ultimately losing in the final.

Dinuk and Rishabh’s semi-final against Ipswich was, by common consent, acclaimed as the match of the tournament, with the scores recorded as 13-14,13-12 and 12-13.

“It was tight throughout – a real nail-biter – going down to the last point,” said Mr O’Gorman.

In a message sent afterwards, Paul Bowden, Director of the Eton Fives Association (EFA), congratulated the QE players on their “outstanding performance”, reserving particular praise for Dinuk and Rishabh and their Ipswich opponents. “That semi-final should have been recorded and shown to people as an example of the joy of fives. The level of play of the four very inexperienced players and the way they all conducted themselves was an example to all.”

Pair 2, Neev and Yathoosan, lost to Eton 12-5,12-5 in “a thoroughly entertaining match”, said Mr O’Gorman, while Pair 3, Rushil, Adith and Hamza, picked themselves up after being knocked out in the group stage, losing only narrowly in the plate final in “a thrilling game”.

He added that in the U14 tournament, the Year 9 boys had thoroughly enjoyed the day and gained “crucial experience”, too. The tournament featured players from Eton, Highgate, Westminster, King Edward’s Birmingham, Burford, St Olave’s and Ipswich, as well as hosts Harrow.

Organiser and EFA Trustee Howard Wiseman wrote subsequently to Mr O’Gorman to congratulate the QE party on their appearance and performance: “I am always in awe at how good your players are, despite you only possessing one court at school! Amazing…. And you never see a keener nor more dedicated bunch than the QEB boys,” he wrote.

Player Zayn Phoplankar said: “The tournament was a great experience – we played against serious players of the game and learned how to hold our own against more experienced opposition, which will be useful in the upcoming Berkhamsted and Mill Hill fixtures.

Soham Kale added: “We also experienced how to adapt to other Fives courts, learning crucial teamwork and communication skills at the same time.”

And fellow player Muhammad Ammaar Hurzuk added: “We did quite well against harder opposition – some of our scores went into the 60s, and although it was not possible for anyone from QE to reach the finals, we felt we had achieved and improved a lot in the time we spent there.” (The scoring was based on points scored: 12 for a win, 7-11 if a loss, with six rounds played.)

The first Fives courts at QE 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 School was affiliated to the Eton Fives Association and entered the Public Schools Championships in 1955.