On Saturday 22 April, Eton College hosted the final round of the Independent Schools League (ISL). It was a warm and sunny day, the perfect conditions for tennis, and the School’s courts glowed in the heat. Each head-to-head consisted of a singles match for each player, followed by doubles matches. The winners would be decided on the total number of matches won by each team. The competition was fierce, with the 1st VIII having to play Reed’s, St Georges, and Bradfield. The 1st VIII from Eton consisted of Arnold C (Captain), Thomas B, Alastair B, Camran R, Ethan C, James C, Oliver S, Henry L.
First up, the Eton team faced St George’s and Bradfield faced Reeds. The Eton College team quickly took control, dominating the singles matches and taking an immediate 7-1 lead and a fixture win. They were relentless in the doubles too, not easing up and winning all four matches taking an overall 11-1 win. Meanwhile, in the other half of the group, Bradfield clinched a win against Reeds 8-4.
Next up, the 1st VIII played the most challenging team of the tournament, Bradfield. It was a close fixture, with Bradfield having a particularly strong top half of their team, with their first seed being one of the best players in the country and playing their second-best player in their fourth seed position. It was a tough for the first four seeds, who only won one out of their four matches, but the other half of the team played phenomenally, winning all of their matches, with Oliver S even playing through an injury. By the end of the singles, Eton had a narrow 5-3 lead. The tournament was hanging on a knife-edge with the doubles being the deciding factor to determine the winner of the tournament. It was a close match, but once again it was the second half of the team that helped Eton over the line, securing a 7-5 win.
The tournament went down to the wire. Eton needed to beat Reeds at least 8-4 and hope Bradfield did not clean sweep St George’s. With the pressure on, the Eton College team took to the courts for the final time. Eton stood strong and after the singles matches were 5-3 up. With the win on the horizon, the doubles held great importance and the focus became winning as many matches as possible. Again, the bottom two pairs took complete control winning both their matches while the first pair of Arnold C and Thomas B came back from 3-0 down to win 4-3. Overall Eton took the win 8-4.
It ended up being a close call as to who won the tournament but Eton College ended up just edging out Bradfield 26-24 to win the ISL for the first time since 2019. Many congratulations to all involved!