16 pairs entered this year’s Barnes Bridge and despite the post storm British Rail excuses of ‘trees on the line’ and ‘scaffolding on the line’, all 32 players made it safely to Winchester College for what could be the last Barnes Bridge before the new courts are opened. The first round sprung no surprises other than local Wessex stalwarts Martin Patterson and Miles Catton leading in both their games against number 2 seeds Dan Tristao and Dave Butler… but not for long! Again the second round/ quarter final went according to the seedings apart from a fine 3 game victory by Hamish Buchanan and James Bristow over Giles Munn and James Birch. The expected hard hitting onslaught of Ollie Arnold and Theo Parker could not put the number 2 seeds off their line and with Will Ellison and Ed Kay having a relatively easy semi final against an understandably tiring Hamish and James the number 1 and 2 seeds had made it through to the final without too many concerns.
Various plates were meanwhile underway to ensure that no one went home feeling short of exercise. In the main plate for first round losers Ben Chua and James Smith won an excellent final against James Marshall and Louise Mathias. A plate for the second round losers saw Giles and James coming out up against John Minta and Ed Hawke in another 3 gamer.
Other highlights of the plates included Duncan Neale (always one for a bit extra fives) playing a best of 3 in the plate without realizing it was a best of one and then he went on to display some extraordinary delaying tactics to catch his breath when playing against the organiser- you really need to learn to tie those laces properly the first time Duncan!
And so to the final, and what a final it was. I cannot think there have ever been too many better games of fives played.
The first started cagily with both pairs not wanting to give anything away. All players were serving well, not necessarily into the buttress but into the nicks around it, so chances to win points were scarce. Eventually, with the game stuck at 6 all, Will and Ed broke the deadlock to lead 13-7. As often happens in Winchester Fives however it was Dave and Dan’s turn to go on a run of points. It looked at one point like they may turn the tables and take the game but they never managed to quite get level and Will and Ed held on to take the game 15-13.
The second game was a role reversal of the first. Dave and Dan broke the deadlock again at 6 a piece to go up, only for Will and Ed to claw their way back successfully enough to earn their first match point, but Dave and Dan narrowly won 16-14.
With the match all square going into the third it was very hard to call a winner. Both pairs again knew the importance of a strong start and as was the norm there were a close first few points until Dave and Dan went 10-6 up. Were Ed and Will going to rue not winning that match point in the previous game? At 11-11 it was impossible to call a winner until some killer buttress shots gave Will and Ed the lead and eventual victory 15-12.
Main Competition- Barnes Bridge
First Round:- W. Ellison + E. Kay bt S. Frase + D. Percival 15-0, 15-2. M. Crompton + R James-Duff bt D. Neale + N. Geere 15-4, 15-3 H. Buchanan + J. Bristow bt L. Amery + G. Daykin 15-1, 15-2 J. Birch + G. Munn bt J. Marshall + L. Mathias 15-3, 15-2 O. Arnold + T. Parker bt B. Hale + S. Zang 15-3, 15-7. J. Minta + E. Hawke bt B. Chua + J. Smith 15-2, 15-10 A. Passey + L. Cook bt C. Davey + J. Sumner 15-7, 15-8 D. Tristao + D. Butler bt M. Catton + M. Patterson 15-1, 15-3
Quarter Finals:- W. Ellison + E. Kay bt M. Crompton + R. James-Duff 15-0, 15-2 H. Buchanan + J. Bristow bt J. Birch + G. Munn 5-15, 16-14, 15-13 O. Arvold + T. Parker bt J. Minta + E. Hawke 15-8, 15-2 D. Tristao + D. Butler bt A. Passey + L. Cook 15-0, 15-0
Semi Finals:- W. Ellison + E. Kay bt H. Buchanan + J. Bristow 15-4, 15-2 D. Tristao + D. Butler bt O. Arvold + T. Parker 15-9, 15-7
Final:- W. Ellison + E. Kay bt D. Tristao + D. Butler 15-13, 14-16, 15-12
Plate for 1st round losers
Quarter Finals:- S. Fraser + D. Percival bt D. Neale + N. Geere 15-7, 15-8 J. Marshall + L Mathias bt L. Amery + G. Daykin 15-3 B. Chua + J. Smith bt B. Hale + S. Zang 15-3. C Davey + J. Sumner bt M. Catton + M. Patterson 15-4
Semi Finals:- J. Marshall + L. Mathias bt S. Fraser + D. Percival 15-3 B. Chua + J. Smith bt C. Davey + J. Sumner 15-3
Finals:- B. Chua + J. Smith bt J. Marshall + L. Mathias 15-11
Plate for second round losers from Barnes Bridge
Semi Finals:- J. Birch + G. Munn bt M. Crompton + R. James-Duff 15,4 E. Hawke + J. Minta bt A. Passey + L. Cook 15-8
Final:- G. Munn + J. Birch bt J. Minta + E. Hawke 5-11, 11-7, 11-5
Plate for first round plate losers
Semi Final:- L. Amery + H. Akerman bt D. Neale + N. Geere 15-12 B. Hale + S. Zang bt M. Catton + M. Patterson15-6
Final:- B. Hale + S. Zang bt L. Amery + N. Geere 15-4
Plate for 1st round losers from plate for second round Barnes Bridge losers (!)
Final:- M. Crompton + R. James-Duff bt A. Passey + L. Cook 15-13
Congratulations to Dave Butler for winning the National U25 championship this weekend beating Andrew Boyd (ex Edinburgh Academy) in a tough final. The first game took an hour and then despite being 7-1 up in the second he found himself 12-9 down. Dave rallied as Andrew tired and finally ended up winning 15-7, 15-12.
Please click on the entry form below if you want to download a pdf of the entry form.
We have a national champion in the club again!! Well done to Shinan who won the doubles competition this weekend and also got to the semi final in the singles. Those of you who were in Edinburgh will know just how strong women’s fives is becoming. Below is a report from Bob Dolby….
We have a new National Ladies Singles champion -- Louise Mathias-- and new Ladies Doubles champions -- Louise Mathias & Shinan Zhang.
The venue and the 2-day format were a great success and the standard of play in the whole event, with its 25 contestants, was undoubtedly the highest we have ever had. I cannot imagine we have ever seen a Singles final of the quality that Kathleen Briedenhann and Louise produced (look at the scores), where point after point was gained by either a winning shot or a forced error. The effort put in by both players was enormous (Kathleen's fitbit tells her she ran four and a half kilometers). Kathleen was so gracious in defeat and Louise was, at least momentarily, in disbelief. One Doubles semi-final involving the defending champions (who lost) was more than worthy of the final, but the three-game final itself was extraordinary: it was often scrappy, with countless lets and comings-together, but it was utterly compelling and left the schoolgirls from Edinburgh Academy and Bedford Modern, who watched from start to finish, in some degree of wonder and the rest of us deep in admiration.
Both Plate finals were remarkable too: Dominique Redmond's considerable experience and powers of anticipation against Zara Elliot's weight of shot, athleticism and spirit produced a marvellous match in the Singles, and in the Doubles Dominique and Martha Nugent took the title in a tight game which Katie & Maddie could just as easily have won had the odd rally gone their way in the final stages.
So much more I could say!
Semi-finals: Kathleen Briedenhann (1) bt Shinan Zhang (4) 11-8, 11-7; Louise Mathias (3) bt Tessa Mills (2) 11-8, 11-4
Final: Louise Mathias bt Kathleen Briedenhann 15-8, 7-15, 15-10
Plate: Dominique Redmond bt Zara Elliot 11-1, 7-11, 11-9
Semi-finals:Kathleen Briedenahnn & Tessa Mills bt Ibby Lee & Anna Laakkonen 11-0, 11-2 [Ibby was injured] ; Louise Mathias & Shinan Zhang bt Alexandra Steel & Maddy Raynor 11-8, 3-11, 11-7
Final: Mathias & Zhang bt Briedenhann & Mills 15-8, 6-15, 15-11
Plate: Dominique Redmond & Martha Nugent bt Katie Sumner & Maddie Kent 15-9
Despite Dan Tristao and Will Ellison missing this fixture for the first time we had an excellent match on Sunday at Winchester College. The RFA have got the better of the Winchester Fives Association the last couple of years but this time the WFA edged out a very evenly matched game. No pair won all their games and all pairs won some. There were 4 old Bradfieldians on show for the WFA with James Birch being the dark horse and hitting the ball as cleanly as he always used to. Old pairings of James Marshall + Ed Ronan plus Kieran Mackinson + Tom Kidner (last year’s schools champions) were reunited so the WFA were able to use their ‘home advantage’ knowledge of the Winchester fives courts well. The overall scores in this excellent tight series now stands at 4-4 with the total of points won by the RFA being 1963 edging the 1943 won by the WFA….. 20 points over 8 years! The hard work of all was once again rewarded by lunch in the sun at the Queen.
Nice obituary of a fine fives player in the times today
There are some moments in a persons life that defines them as a human, moments that will be looked back on in years to come and remembered with such fondness by those present in body and in spirit that it brings a tingle to the spine and causes the hairs on the back of the neck to ruffle ones collar. Moments and events like these occur rarely and should be savoured and kept long in the memory. Of course one of these moments happened this past week - Giles Munn finally winning the Letchworth Bowl.
This brings us on nicely to the much more irrelevant topic of the Wood Cup. Months of preparation by Captain Akerman was not done and the week leading up to the tournament involved many frantic email exchanges and WhatApp groups being set up. However, finally a crack squad of Ellison, Butler, Hawke, Munn, Birch and Mettam was formed. A group of players so eager to fly the flag for King Frank of Wessex it was tough to see how they could lose.
For those who have no idea who half the people mentioned above are or indeed what the Wood Cup is, let me enlighten you.
The Wood Cup is the national club championship, four a side matches with some singles then doubles - you get the idea. That is the boring part done - now onto those fine individuals.
Ellison (Winchester, Imperial): Never missed a Wessex session in three years at school. We salute you brother William.
Hawke (Christ’s Hospital, Southampton): No, Hawk-Eye was not named after him. Yes, he was once on a video on the BBC sport website measuring a snooker table. No, on one has ever seen him in shorts.
Birch (Bradfield, Exeter, Army): A steely eyed deliverer of death who could kill with one stare.
Munn (Malvern, Imperial): Governor of the dynasty of Fives that is Winchester College.
Mettam (Bradfield, some medical school somewhere that may well have been Cambridge): Great bloke, always up for hiding the Sinton-Matthews cup when we have lost it, doesn’t happen often.
Butler: I will let Harry fill this one in.
Now I will endeavour to describe our semi final against the West of England Club. Messers Ellison, Butler, Hawke and Birch lined up to fly the flag. In the end this was a relatively straight forward win. My personal highlight was some advice from Hawke before yours truly was about to take to the doubles court with the steely eyed warrior, ‘don’t let him get carried away with the left handed volleys’. ‘Okay, Ed, I will bare that in mind’. Unbeknown to me Rear Admiral Birch had dug himself in on firm ground about halfway up the court on the left hand side and proceeded to give a left-handed volleying masterclass.
We were now through to the final against St Paul’s, the sergeant major rested, Braveheart (of Letchworth Bowl fame) came into the side. Tensions were high, chatter on the WhatsApp group fierce and the crowds were brewing. Wessex won the battle of the supporters, two to none. However it was tremendously disconcerting to find The Spiegal fraternising with the enemy before the match - but fear not, the Group Captain, who also came to support, split them up with ease.
The contest was going to be a close one. The top two on each side separated by only one ranking position, the singles was certainly going to set the tone for the match. However, neither was that close. Overall Wessex coming out 22 - 6 winners (one game to 11 each). Onto the bottom two games of singles. Fully trousered up, the Hawke battled hard to get to 7 in his match with Top 15 player Tilston, however it was in the battle of the fourth seeds where it could be argued the match was won. Giles, having gone a good margin down to the powerful left hander Tom Dean clawed his was back to win, a swing of about 10 points - life defining moments for the Winchester College head of sport. King Franks men went into the doubles 16 points to the good. The first round of doubles allowed the Paulines to claw back 4 points. Wessex 12 up going into the last round of doubles. Butler and Hawke decided to do their best to make it even closer by picking up the grand total of 0 points in the first of their games with the Pauline top pair, however restored some pride as they took the second game. This, along with the ever dependable Ellison and Munn pairing was enough to bring home the title to the great Kingdom of Wessex.
I am sure Harry has paraded the trophy and told you he taught us everything we know, this is a lie. A wonderful two days Fives, well done all, same again next year.
Disclaimer, I take no responsibility for the accuracy of any of this report or for that matter the spelling and/or grammar. It has been a tough morning getting over an awful hangover and watching the snooker.
Wessex vs Old Paulins
Will Ellison vs Charlie Brooks 11-5
Dave Butler v Julian Aquilina 11-1
Ed Hawke vs James Tilston 7-11
Giles Munn vs Tom Dean 11-7
Ellison + Munn vs Brooks + Dean 11-4, 12-11
Butler + Hawke vs Aquilina + Tilston 6-11, 4-11
Ellison + Munn vs Aquilina + Tilston 11-8, 11-9
Butler + Hawke vs Brooks + Dean 0-11, 11-9
Wessex win 106 - 98