Fiorita on Fire in Colwyn Bay
25/09/17: The Welsh Invitational tournament at Rydal Penrhos School in Colwyn Bay is now a well-established part of the Fives calendar and the latest edition at the weekend proved once again that Fives is thriving on the North Wales coast.
The tournament throws together players of all ages and abilities from young Rydal beginners to the top school players, gap year coaches past and present and assorted visitors, this year including national champions Seb Cooley and Karen Hird. The format splits the weekend into three separate competitions - a Saturday tournament involving everyone which ends in a final between the two best-performing senior school players, partnering the two highest-scoring junior school players. Sunday then sees the field divide into two, woth separate senior and junior competitions. Matches throughout the weekend are short timed affairs with a constant rotation of partners and opponents, with the organisational heft provided this year by Mark Williams and Paul Bowden.
There was even time on Saturday for an additional pre-tournament competition pending the arrival of the large number of boys playing school rugby matches, which allowed one or two returning players to shake off some rust - including Old Rydal Penrhosians Tom Cotterell and Jack Sissons - and for Aroop Bhattacharya to sweat out the previous evening's exceses. The various finals in this tournament have seemed at times in recent years to be the exclusive property of Jack's younger brother Will; having now moved to Shrewsbury Will found himself ineligible for the latter Saturday stages this year, providing an opportunity for others to steo into his shoes, a chance that was taken by Matty Fiorita and Adrian Lewis from the senior pupils and Osca Clarke and Adam McGuigan from the juniors, with Matty and Oscar taking the honours in an excellent final.
The visiting contingent enjoyed their traditional Saturday evening outing to the Pen-y-Bryn, this year with additional maths problems courtesy of CMBW that were of more interest to some (Cooley, Thatcher, Morgan) than others (Hoskins, Hird, Bowden). Aroop sadly failed to make it as he had an important business meeting back in Liverpool, which must have overrun significantly as he didn't then manage to make it back to North Wales the following morning.
Sunday's play started at 10am and carried on more or less continuously until 3pm, with constant rotation of partners and opponents and short snappy matches keeping everyone on their toes throughout the day. Sissons W was again unable to assume his customary place in the final as he had to leave early and once again it was Matty Fiorita, Osca Clarke and Adrian Lewis who cashed in, qualifying for the semi-finals alongside Rafa Mortuza from the Rydal contingent. They were paired up with the four highest-scoring guest players - giant of the game Seb Cooley, current school coach Adam Aslam-Baskeyfield, Old Boy Tom Cotterell and Westway player Richard Sabisky, looking for a third successive appearance in the final. Rafa Mortuza had been unbeaten all day but with partner Cotterell suffering from a badly bruised thumb, he fell at the semi-final stage, beaten by Old Salopian Aslam-Baskeyfield and Saturday champion Matty Fiorita, who found himself up against his erstwhile partner Osca Clarke in the final after Osca and Richard Sabisky had won a thrilling match 12-11 against Cooley & Lewis.
The junior players - marshalled by the magnificent Mike Leach - had also been competing hard all day and the climax of the tournament saw the two finals take place on adjacent courts in front of a sizable and appreciative crowd. Joshua Peevor & Chay Bonnington came through strongly in the knockout phase to win the junior tournament ahead of Callan Earle and Jonathan Osbourne, while the senior competition saw Matty Fiorita complete a fine double, partnering his coach to a comfortable victory over the valiant Clarke & Sabisky to complete an excellent weekend's Fives.
It is always a treat to spend the weekend playing Fives in Colwyn Bay; it is a beautiful location, everyone at the school is wonderfully hospitable and the Fives is the perfect balance of fun, improvement (for some, anyway) and competition. If you haven't been before, maybe you should consider coming along and playing next year?
Thanks are due to Mike Leach, Adam Aslam-Baskeyfield and everyone at Rydal for hosting the tournament, to Paul Bowden and Mark Williams for their organisational expertise and to all those who took part, in some cases travelling a long distance to do so. Finally, if anyone knows the current whereabouts of Aroop, do please let us know.
M.Fiorita & O.Clarke beat A.Bowe & J.Cousins
A.Lewis & A.McGuigan beat J.Stewart & J.Osbourne
M.Fiorita & O.Clarke beat A.Lewis & A.McGuigan 12-10
J.Peevor & C.Bonnington beat O.Davies & H.Battersby
J.Osbourne & C.Earle beat J.Rajagopal & J.Copeland
J.Peevor & C.Bonnington beat J.Osbourne & C.Earle 12-6
M.Fiorita & A.Aslam-Baskeyfield beat T.Cotterell & R.Mortuza 12-9
O.Clarke & R.Sabisky beat S.Cooley & A.Lewis 12-11
M.Fiorita & A.Aslam-Baskeyfield beat R.Sabisky & O.Clarke 12-4