Under 11s at EPSCA Finals

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Mark McCallum, Essex u11 Team Manager makes the following report -

EPSCA Inter-Association Championship 2015


The Essex Under 11s played in the EPSCA Under 11 Final at Nottingham High School in Nottingham on 9th May 2015. 

The 16 teams competing were Barnet, Berkshire, Cheshire and North Wales, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Manchester, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oldham, Oxfordshire, Richmond, Sussex, Wey Valley and Yorkshire.

This year it has been a real struggle to get Essex teams together with the loss of many strong players for a variety of reason.  On top of this for the national final I had five withdrawals from the team which played at the zonal (most were able to strengthen their teams for the final, particularly Barnet and Wey Valley).  This meant three new players, Ruhaab, Christopher and Oliver had to be drafted in for a baptism of fire.

Today’s best win came in the first round and was achieved by Zahra against a much higher graded Wey Valley (Surrey) player.  A return of 10 points contained some good wins against the stronger teams and the odd disaster.  It also left us 8th equal with Richmond and some way behind four teams in equal first on 15 points.

The second round was similar to the first with some good wins (particularly Zahara, Lorenzo and Abbey), some expected losses and the odd unexpected one (even the weaker teams are not that weak these days).  It was also notable for the rare event of Aditya losing – it was against the top seed and it was on time.  Aditya has been a truly inspirational player for Essex over the past few years – we will miss his calm brilliance.  A familiar score of 10 points still left us in 8th place but now on our own.

A final pep talk was given before the troops were sent into the final round.  The manager was quickly left wondering if he should cut out the pep talks as five losses came quickly one after the other in the first 20 minutes.  Then came a lull and finally after half an hour our first point from William followed by a flurry of wins including our ever dependable Anum.  After that the points gradually accumulated, which included Aditya winning his final game plus very good wins for Dio and Lui Michael, punctuated by the odd loss.  Of note was Abbey who battled for well over an hour against Barnet before finally succumbing.  Also Giulio, who clearly has recovered from his travails with the U9s, who came back with our 10th point after one and a quarter hours.  Finally our last player in the room, Aadarsh, who likes a long game, came back with a big smile to ruin our round score symmetry. 

Our score of 11 points in the third round and a total of 31/60 was enough to secure 8th place out of 16 teams.  Clearly we have some way to go to challenge the big teams but this was one of the best performances by an Essex under 11 team in many years and I was very proud of the way that all the team members, especially our newbies, conducted themselves. 

Full results for EPSCA team competitions can be found at http://oxfordfusion.com/epsca/TeamsOverall.cfm?EventID=69

Thanks to Mo and Nas for offering to be board stewards.  Also thanks to all the families and supporters for their support and for making the long journey.

Thanks also to the organisers for a well run competition. Finally thanks to the other teams for providing some tough opponents and congratulations to Kent and Barnet on their mammoth struggle and their sportsmanship in sharing the overall prize.

Mark McCallum

Essex Under 11 Team Manager