QE pair make history by winning Eton Fives national final

QE pair make history by winning Eton Fives national final

Trailblazing Eton Fives players Zayn Phoplankar and Yash Kedia are national champions in their sport after an historic win over previous title-holders Shrewsbury School.

The Year 9 boys beat a Shrewsbury pair 3-0 in the final of the Eton Fives U14 Novices National Schools Championship Final – a competition for pupils who start playing the sport in this year group.

PE teacher Oliver O’Gorman said: “This is an extraordinary achievement: we believe it’s the first time in QE history a pair has made it to a national Fives final. I am beyond proud of this pair, who have put in non-stop work this year to deservedly claim this title.”

Congratulating them, Headmaster Neil Enright said: “I am excited to see what the future holds for this pair and for QE Fives.”

In the competition’s qualifying round, which attracted 24 pairs, QE entered eight pairs, of which seven qualified for the national finals. In fact, three of the qualifying round’s four semi-finalists were from QE, with Soham Kale & Muhammad Ammaar Hurzuk and Megh Modi & Arya Mandirwar reaching this stage alongside Zayn and Yash. The latter pair went on to beat an Aldenham School pair 2-0 in the qualifying round final.

The history of Fives at QE dates back to 1880, when the first courts opened at the old Wood Street premises, following a £10 grant from the Governors and a special fund-raising concert. Fives then languished after the School moved to its current premises in Queen’s Road in 1932, but was revived when the rebuilding programme of 1951-52 brought plans for a new court. By 1954, it was ready; QE was affiliated to the Eton Fives Association, entering the Public Schools Championships in 1955.

QE players are taught the sport by Mr O’Gorman, while there is also external coaching twice a week. Boys are fully introduced to Fives in Year 9, although trials are held in Year 8 to identify potential players.

Other QE achievements in the sport this year have included Year 10’s Rishabh Bhatt and Dinuk Dissanayake reaching the final of the national U15 qualifying round after beating Aldenham in the quarter-final and Ipswich School in the semi-final. They were eliminated 2-1 by a pair from Mill Hill School in the final.

QE’s burgeoning success has not gone unnoticed: after the victory in the novices final, the Eton Fives Association’s website hailed this “first-ever win at a national level” for the School and paid tribute to the “enthusiasm, dedication and excellent coaching” of Mr O’Gorman and of his counterpart at Cranleigh School which was also celebrating its first-ever national win, in its case in the U16 girls’ category.