Essex Junior Secretary reports on the Junior assessment trials held recently

The Essex Junior Assessment Trials were held at BATTS, Harlow on the weekend of 01/02 October. All the Girls events were played on the Sunday, but with no girls entering the Under 11 event there was obviously no event. In the Under 11 Boys event there were only three entries and one withdrew on the day so they ended up playing one another in the Under 13 and Under 11 events, each winning once. 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 two junior teams, one less than last year. With 46 entries, 4 more than last year, the players were divided in to six groups of six players and two groups of five players based roughly on national rankings. With the top ranked Alex Holland withdrawing with a broken toe just a few days before event, second ranked Scott Dowsett attending a work induction day, another entrant also injured, four others not turning up on the day and one entry accepted on the day we then had eight groups of five players. This meant we finished two hours ahead of schedule. The next two players in the ETTA Ranking Order were moved up before matches started to fill the vacant seed spaces left by Alex and Scott and three other players moved to create the five equal Groups.

In the first round of matches all the Group seeds came top of their Group. Closest match was that between Aaron Crisp (Southend) and Elliott Attrill (Clacton) where Elliott came back from 2-1 down to win 12-10, 15-13 and take third place in the Group. In second round of matches every one of the eight players in the Group winners Group lost at least two matches giving a headache for sorting out the Essex rankings where National rankings also have to be taken in to account. There were three equal firsts, two equal fourths and two equal sixths and an odd point here and there in deuce games could have made a considerable difference to the Group finishing order. On count back of the three equal firsts James Denyer (Clacton) was first, Robert Shrimpton (Chelmsford) second and Charlie Bates (Southend) third.

Sunday saw the remaining events. There was more interest than in past years in the Under 15 Boys event as Essex had entered a cadet team in the County Championships this season. Ryan Williams and Ben Holland withdrew some three or four weeks beforehand, Ryan to take part in the Milton Keynes Two Star Tournament which he won. This left the top seed as Charlie Williams but he did not turn up on the day and I later found out this was because he had no transport. From three Groups of six and two of five in the first round we ended up with four Groups of five and one of four. The only Group seed not to win his Group was Navdeep Panesar (Mossford) beaten 11-8 in the fifth game by Neil Mendoza (Eastbury). In the second round matches Kleber Silva (Eastbury) won his four matches comfortably to head the Group with Livingstone Nadarajah (also Eastbury) second and Samuel Lowman (BATTS) third, Samuel missing out on second place by losing the fifth game to Livingstone 15-13 in the closest match of the event.

In the Under 13 Boys event, the first event of the day, there were originally three Groups of four players but two players withdrew. The three Group winners, Sidney Dorn (Southend), James Knudsen (BATTS) and Ryan Gooday (Chelmsford) won easily but it was much closer in the second round between the three. Had Ryan have been able to clinch one of the match points he held when losing the fourth game of his match with Sidney 18-16 there would have been a three way tie.

In the Under 11 Boys event Rahul Jindal (Mossford) beat Sam Fullick (Southend) 11-8 in the fifth game having earlier in the day lost to Sam 3-0 in the Under 13 event.

There were good entries in the Girls events, 5 in the Under 13’s and 9 in the Under 15’s and Under 18’s. With all events to be played as round robins Jane Li (Colchester), who entered all three events, would have had to play 20 matches in the day. I considered this too many for any player and thus restricted the girls to only playing one another once during the day with the result of any match between the two players in the first event of the day counting as the result in later events where the two players were again due to meet.

The first girls event of the day was the Under 15’s and with Sarah Austin withdrawing injured and Lucy Burton withdrawing two days beforehand the Group was reduced to seven players. Stephanie Cross (BATTS), seeded 3, saved a match point against her in the fourth game of the match against Shannon Conway (Eastbury) before winning the deciding game and thereafter won her remaining matches 3-0 to top the Group. Top seed Jane Li also lost to Lara Esquivel (BATTS) in five and this result gave three equal runners up with Cheridan Thompson (Mossford) who had only lost to Jane as well as Stephanie.

In the Under 13 Girls event Stephanie and Jane only had to play Zoe Davies and Rebecca Parker (both Southend) and won all four matches 3-0. Thus the Under 15 match between them was the match that determined the top two positions.

The Under 18 Girls event also ended up as a Group of seven. Emily Godfrey (Southend) came back from 2-1 down to defeat Jane and head the Group, having won all her other matches. Lara Esquivel only lost to Emily and therefore finished runner up in the Group by virtue of her earlier win over Jane in the Under 15 event but had had to come back from 2-1 down in a fluctuating match to defeat Shannon Rolfe (Southend).

In the issued Essex Junior Ranking List those players who did not turn up on the day and did not subsequently give a valid reason have not been ranked. Those players who were off injured or who gave an acceptable valid reason for absence were considered for ranking and ranked as appropriate.