With 9 of the top 10 ranked players in the draw for this year’s Barnes Bridge it was the most eagerly awaited Winchester Fives Competition in years. There were 9 previous winners including a first appearance for many years for Roger Layton, the 5-time winner of this tournament (last victory 1996!). Roger, who this year was playing with his son Max was supported from the sidelines by his winning partner from those days Mike Tremellen (possibly regretting not entering himself??) and it was great to see 2 other members of their school team Philip Last and Tony Brown also joining in.
Concerns of the potential for sweating were raised when the courts started getting damp during a practice session played following Denise’s memorial service on the Saturday evening, however we were met with slightly cooler weather on the Sunday and bone dry courts so we started the tournament with optimism. Early round matches of note saw Mike Crompton and Rory James Duff push Tom Watkinson and Jez Sinton close before loosing 15-10, 16-15. Ben Hale and Steven Coffey would have claimed a game off Hamish Buchanan and Adam George had we been playing to 11 but they eventually went down 15-13, 15-5.
With the courts now sweating badly and with every likelihood they would get worse, a decision was made to take the plate and remainder of the tournament down to Winchester. Sadly not all plate players were able to make the journey but we still had all those in the main draw plus 7 pairs for an excellent plate.
On restarting the competition at the quarter finalist stage in Winchester our top 8 seeds were all still in the competition as expected. The only real fright for the top 4 seeds here saw Dan Tristao and Dan Grant given tough time by Sam Roberts and Giles Munn although the second seeds eventually went through in 2 games 16-14, 15-11. The first semi final saw a reasonably comfortable victory for number 1 seeds Will Ellison and Ed Kay against Theo Parker and Matt Shaw 15-5, 15-10 but there were some excellent rallies and Theo and Matt did make Will and Ed look rushed for the first time in the day. The Dans route to the final had been much harder work and they came through a very tough semi final against last year’s winners Dave Butler and Ben Beltrami 15-10, 7-15, 15-6. The top 2 seeds therefore reached the final and for the first time in this tournament we had the site of Ellison and Kay vs Tristao and Grant. Dan and Dan had lost 60 points on the way to the final compared to Ed and Will’s 17 and as a really exceptional game of Winchester Fives was played out fatigue started to play it’s part however the quality of the rallies remained exceptionally high and exciting. Will (for his 8th time) and Ed (for his 2nd time) came out winners in the end 15-8, 15-11.
The plate was played in a round robin format of 1 game to 11 against each pair and was won by Ben Hale and Steve Coffey who won all their games. They were pushed hard though by Rory James Duff and Oliver Bruce (11 - 10), against Tony Metcalf-Gibson and Harry Akerman (11-9) and against James Birch and Joe Gribble (11-8).
Thanks very much to Bradfield for kindly hosting us and of course to Winchester College for stepping in to save things when it was all getting a little slippy!
Next year we will be in Winchester hopefully for all of the tournament!
Preliminary Round: M. Crompton + R James-Duff bt N. Arnold + M. Stoddard 15-2, 15-1. R. Layton + M. Layton bt D. Shepherd + J. McIntyre.
First Round: W. Ellison + E. Kay bt J. Birch + J. Gribble 15-2, 15-0. J. Sinton + T. Watkinson bt M. Crompton + R. James-Duff 15-10, 16-15. J. Tilston + J. Aquilina bt L. Nelson + L. Amery 15-4, 15-2. T. Parker + M. Shaw bt T. Brown + P. Last 15-0, 15-0. D. Butler + B. Beltrami bt R. Layton + M. Layton 15-2, 15-3. H. Buchanan + A. George bt B. Hale + S. Coffey 15-13, 15-5. G. Munn + S. Roberts bt A. Metcalf-Gibson + H. Akerman 15-4, 15-8. D. Tristao + D. Grant bt N. Geere + A. Smith 15-2, 15-2
Quarter Final: W. Ellison + E. Kay bt J. Sinton + T. Watkinson 15-1, 15-0. T. Parker + M. Shaw bt J. Tilston + J. Aquilina 15-6, 15-8. D. Butler + B. Beltrami bt H. Buchanan + A. George 15-2, 15-4. D. Tristao + D. Grant bt G. Munn + S. Roberts 16-14, 15-11
Semi Final: W. Ellison + E. Kay bt T. Parker + M. Shaw 15-5, 15-10. D. Tristo + D. Grant bt D. Butler + B. Beltrami 15-10, 7-15, 15-6.
Final: W. Ellison + E. Kay bt D. Tristao + D. Grant 15-8, 15-11