We have reached the end of four days of the National Schools Rackets championships sponsored by Brown Advisory. Tomorrow we head to The Queen’s Club for the final four days, including the start of the main event, the Foster Cup.
Eton still has 10 boys involved overall which is not too bad a return after four tough days of competition. In the Jim Dear (Under 15s) our three best players are still in the competition, although I think it is fair to say none has had to play a strong opponent as yet. Jamie Hardy is playing as well as I have seen him, serving strongly on both sides and more importantly moving well in the rallies. It is good to see that Louis Manson‘s injury from earlier in the half is not causing him any problems and he too has had two comfortable wins. Luke Philipson has been playing aggressively, hitting the ball hard and dominating against smaller boys. His test will come when he plays someone capable of returning his forehand serve from the right down the line – at the moment he stays too far up the court after his serve and this may be a problem in the next round.
The Incledon-Weber is for U16s and we have one boy still in the draw. Harry Thistlethwayte had to play really well tonight to beat his doubles partner Bertie Duncan. There were some really good rallies in this match, Bertie retrieving really well at times but Harry’s power and ability to hit winners helped him finish on top.
In the Renny Cup, there are two Etonians still competing: Luke Pitman and Salil Navapurkar have winnable matches on Thursday to look forward to.
The Foster Cup has not started yet but does tomorrow afternoon. This event is for the 16 best players in the country and it is great that we have a quarter of the field, including both the top and the second seeds. Rory Giddins is top seed and favourite and plays a good player from Malvern tomorrow. George Nixon, his doubles partner is seeded 2 and has to play the potentially dangerous Cawston in round one. Cawston is the son of a rackets professional and is a good mover and strikes a clean ball. If George can dominate with his serve, he should be favourite to progress. Tom Loup plays Rath from Harrow in a match featuring two hard-hitters. Hector Hardman has a good match tomorrow against Jordache, also from Harrow, a competent opponent who won the Renny Cup last year so will not be lacking confidence. Hector has been playing well this half and should be confident that he has the power and control to beat Jordache. Hector’s serve will be crucial as cheap points at Queens can make all the difference.
There are rarely easy matches in the Foster Cup and all the Etonians will need to bring their best play to Queens tomorrow afternoon. I wish them luck and hope we can keep many of the 10 still involved into Thursday and beyond…..