The Essex Junior Assessment Trials were held at BATTS, Harlow on the weekend of 18/19 September. After last years record number of entries numbers this year in all events were down except for the Under 15 Boys event which was up by 50%. All the Girls events were played on the Sunday, but with only two girls entering the Under 11 event they played in the Under 13 event and the match between them counting also as the Under 11 match. Similarly there were only four entries (one withdrew on the day) in the Under 11 Boys event, including two brothers, so they warmed up in the Under 13 event before playing their Age Group round robin. There were ten tables in play on both days.

The Saturday was devoted to the Under 18 Boys event and the results would form the basis of selection for Essex’s three junior teams, one less than last year. With 42 entries, 12 less than last year, the players were divided in to seven groups of six players based roughly on national rankings. With seven players withdrawing shortly before or on the day and one player turning up on the day hoping for a space, the two groups short of players were merged giving six groups of six morning and afternoon leading to a finish two hours ahead of schedule. Unfortunately the County’s top two ranked boys, Jared Patel and Luca Mariano, were unable to play.

In the first round of matches the only seed not to win his group was the unwell Owen Warren, finishing runner up, but he then immediately withdrew unable to continue in the next round of Group matches. As expected Alex Holland and Brandon Crouchman met at the end of the day to determine the top two positions, Alex winning narrowly 9, 10, 9. Mossford’s Anai Patel’s narrow five set win over Clacton’s Mark Smith was just enough to grab third place in the group but there was little to choose between these two and Bradley Osborne and James Austin for the next four places with all four beating one another.

Sunday saw the remaining Boys events. The U15 Boys event had to be restricted to 38 players to avoid a 10.00 pm  finish. A late exemption for Alex Holland and Christian Gibson’s withdrawal enabled the reserves to compete in the event. After a long tiring afternoon and evening Clacton’s rapidly improving James Denyer beat top seed Bradley Osborne from Fellows Cranleigh 3-1 to secure top spot in the winners group. The three way tie for third place went  on sets difference in favour of Southend’s Charlie Bates, who had progressed at the expense of his wins over both seeds in his first round group, with Patrick Gilbert (NETTS) fourth and Ryan Williams (Waltham Forest) fifth.

In both of these events the majority of results bore little comparison with the National Ranking Lists giving the making of the Essex Ranking Lists a difficult problem

Most of the Under 13 Boys were new to the Trials so seeding the Groups was somewhat of a lottery and five withdrawals on the day from twenty entries in four Groups didn’t help. Club coaches soon thought that the top two players were in the same reduced group of three players. I thus increased the Group winners Group to five players to take account of this but the runner up, Eastbury’s Kleber Silva, could only finish third behind Waltham Forest’s Ryan Williams and Romford’s Thomas Herbert.

In the Under 11 Boys event Fellows Cranleigh’s Alex Terrell finished first, (he had finished runner up in his Under 13 first round Group), with his brother Oscar runner up and Mossford’s Rahul Jindal third.

As stated above the only two Under 11 Girls played in the Under 13 event and when they met Ilford’s Tiana Dennison beat Colchester’s Chloe Andrews.

Thus there was a round robin of six girls for the Under 13 event and it was no surprise that the top two seeded players remained unbeaten until they met to decide the top two positions, Colchester’s lower ranked Jane Li winning a close match 3-0 against BATTS Lara Esquivel. Eastbury’s Shannon Conway was third.

The Under 15 Girls was another round robin. A withdrawal on the day through illness leaving six girls. Ifunanya Okafor (BATTS) winning a close match with Southend’s Emily Godfrey to be Group winner. Jane Li was third with Southend’s Shannon Rolfe fourth.

The under 18 Girls event should have been two groups of five but the three withdrawals created a space for a reserve to play so the event was hastily rearranged for a round robin of eight. .Only Emily Godfrey managed to take a set off the winner Evangeline Collier (who went on to have a highly successful Womens British League the following weekend with seven wins out of ten and some notable scalps). The battle for second and third place between twin sister Lucie Collier and Emily went the full distance, with Lucie nicking it late in the fifth set.

The issued top Essex Junior Rankings issued by the Essex Junior Affairs Standing sub-Committee are:

Boys: 1. Jared Patel, 2. Luca Mariano, 3. Alex Holland, 4. Brandon Crouchman, 5. Scott Dowsett, 6. Mark Smith.

Girls: 1. .Evangeline Collier, 2. Nicole Sydorenko, 3. Ifunanya Okafor, 4. Ella Patel, 5. Lucie Collier, 6. Emily Godfrey.

A full list will be published on the Essex County website.