Guernsey has experienced one of their greatest ever performances in the British Primary Schools Championships this weekend by clinching medals in both the Boys Team Event and the Boy’s Singles. The tournament includes the best Under 12 players across Britain and Guernsey’s Boys consisted of Alderney’s Jack Ives and Guernsey’s Ben Foss, Luke Bichard and Ryan Bichard. The Girl’s team was made up of Alderney’s Jennifer Butler and Marli Barker and Guernsey’s Leah Moore and Erin De Carteret. The highlight of the competition was the silver medal obtained by Ben Foss in the Boy’s Singles event and the Boy’s team performed superbly to clinch team bronze.
There was no better way to kick off the team event matches in the Boys with a clash against the old rivals, Jersey. The outcome of the match was important not just in terms of this competition, but also as an upper hand ahead of the Inter-Insulars that will take place in Jersey at the end of the month. The Guernsey side were up for the battle and they excelled in securing an 8-2 victory. In this clash the only Jersey player to experience any success was their number 1, Luc Miller who edged Foss in 5 and Ives in 4. David Quinn, Alfie Kelly and Joshua Gardner were all well beaten by the rampant Sarnians.
Saturday morning’s action opened up with a tough fixture against hosts Ireland. The match was one of the closest contested in the team event stage and this fixture that could have gone either way, unfortunately went to the Irish 6-4. Ives opened with a 4 game win over Irish number 2 Ghenadie Isac and Ireland responded courtesy of Irish number 1 Owen Cathcart’s straight game win over Foss. Luke regained the Guernsey advantage by beating the Irish number 4 Ethan Duffy, however his brother Ryan was edged by the same score line by the Irish number 3 Tadgh Downey. The match continued to go game for game as Ben and Jack impressively defeated the Irish top pair 3-2 and Luke and Ryan were defeated in straight game by Duffy and Downey. Ives lost to Cathcart in straight games to give the Irish side the advantage for the first time. Things looked ominous when Foss trailed 2-0 to Isac in the following clash, but he battled back to win in 5 and leave the match delicately poised at 4-4. Despite their best efforts, neither Luke or Ryan were able to gain victory in the final 2 matches, Luke going down in straight games to Downey and Ryan losing out in 4 to Duffy.
Another tough match followed against eventual gold medallists England and an 8-2 loss was incurred. Despite the loss, there were encouraging performances shown. Foss showed good form via a 3-2 win over the English number 2 Tom Macintosh and the strong pairing of Ives and Foss continued their unbeaten doubles record via a 4 game win over the top English pair of Macintosh and Ethan Walsh.
Following two successive defeats, the side was determined to get back on track and they did this with aplomb in session 5. Coming up against Isle of Man, they took absolutely no prisoners in recording a 10-0 whitewash. More impressive was the nature of the victory, with not a single leg dropped in any of the 10 encounters.
The momentum continued in the penultimate round after an 8-2 win was obtained against Scotland. Foss and Ives remained undefeated in this clash, maintaining their 100% doubles record after a straight game win over Dennis Diaz and Andrew Mcrae. Luke and Ryan both defeated the Scottish number 4 Danny Bajwa, but were unable to overcome Zaid Khalid, the Scottish number 3. They combined to win the doubles against the Scottish pair in 5 games.
The outcome of the victory against Scotland was that they now faced a clash against Wales to decide who would clinch the Bronze medal. The equation was simple, the side that ended victorious would take the medals. The Sarnians were never behind and Foss and Ives were again both unbeaten throughout the encounter contributing 5 of the required 6 wins between them. Luke and Ryan both defeated the Welsh number 3 Harry Langley and they also teamed to win the doubles against Langley and Cade Short in straight games. The Welsh number 4 Short was the only victor and prevented a whitewash by defeating Luke and Ryan.
The Girls struggled in the team event and they fell to 10-0 defeats to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. This was the first international experience for the majority of the team and some members have a good few more years left in this age category. Despite the defeats, the experienced gained from these matches will ultimately prove beneficial to their future development.
The individual events were contested on the Sunday and Jack, Ben and Ryan all navigated their way through the group stage and into the last 16 of the knockout. At this stage Ryan was drawn against the top seed from England Ethan Walsh and he was defeated in straight games. Foss defeated Ireland’s Duffy in straight games to reach the Quarters and Ives joined him at that stage after beating another Irish player, Thomas Joyce, also in straight games. Unfortunately for the Sarnian duo, the draw was not kind and despite both finishing as Group winners, they were required to play against each other in the Quarter Finals. Ives clinched the opener and the second was a hard fought end that Foss pinched 12-10. Foss then went from strength to strength and won the match in 4. In the semi-finals Foss was paired against the top seed Walsh, whom he had lost to in straight games during the team event. This match was a different animal and it was one of the closest matches of the tournament. Foss edged the first game 12-10 before going down in the 2nd by an even narrower margin of 13-11. He regrouped well to take the 3rd again in deuce 12-10. Walsh responded well by winning a more comfortable 4th end to take the match into a decider. 11 year old Foss reacted well to the situation and managed to win the decider 11-8 and guarantee himself a silver medal. The final was against the tournament’s number 2 seed Cathcart from Ireland. Foss had been defeated in straight games by the Irish player in the team event and unfortunately the outcome was the same in the final, Cathcart just having a little too much.
Luke made the Quarter finals of the consolation event where he was defeated in 4 games by Wales’ Joseph Roberts.
None of the Girls were able to make it through to the main draw and they all competed in the consolation event. Barker earned the only victory by defeating fellow team member De Carteret in straight games but progressed no further.
Overall the team had a brilliant weekend of results and the improvement of our top junior players is encouraging for the future.