Ladies Championships 2018: Top Four Seeds Through To The Semis
26/02/18: In arctic conditions at Eton on Saturday, the top four seeded pairs made it comfortably through the group and quarter-final stages of the 2018 Ladies Championships.
There was a disappointingly small entry this year, down on last year's turnout, but the quality in the main field was high and the Fives was excellent all day. The pairs in the Festival were well-matched, with some close and exciting matches and some impressive performances and big improvements from some of the more inexperienced players.
The twelve pairs in the main competition were split into two groups with the top four qualifying for the quarter-finals, making every game crucial as the pairs fought to get the highest possible placing in their group and the most favourable draw in the last eight. The top end of both groups was reasonably straightforward with last year's finalists Karen Hird & Charlotta Cooley and Ashley Lumbard & Emily Scoones topping their groups and Dominique Redmond & Elana Osen and Harry Asquith & Eloise Carter finishing second with few alarms.
The other four qualifying slots were much more closely fought; young Shrewsbury pair Emma Graham & Katie Oswald held their nerve twice to win 15-14 cliffhangers against Fiona Barnes & Mandie Barnes and Highgate's Mia Barry & Emma Williets to take third spot in Group B, Fiona & Mandie then getting the better of Mia & Emma to take the last qualifying spot ahead of the Highgate pair and Francesca Turnbull & Faye Kerr, who managed yet another 15-14 game against each other, this one just going the way of Mia & Emma.
In Group A, Shrewsbury's Issy Wong & Lizzie Ware struck an early blow with a tigh 15-12 win over Oxford's Georgia Allen & Rosie Parr. The Oxford pair recovered well, however, to defeat Natalie Lilienthal & Rachel Wood - impressive in having already reached main tournament standard despite only picking the game up in September - and then withstand a strong late comeback from the other Shrewsbury pair of Gwenan Davies & Phoebe Wasdell to ensure their qualification behind Issy & Lizzie and the two seeded pairs.
The Plate competition produced a series of excellent matches, with Gwenan & Phoebe coming from a game down to defeat Faye & Francesca in the semi-final before winning a sudden death first game against Emma & Mia in the final and going on to win 2-0.
The top two seeds wasted little time in winning their quarter-finals, showing that they are clearly the two pairs to beat again this year. Karen & Charlotta defeated Mandie & Fiona while Ashley & Emily ended the run of Gerogia & Rosie, both pairs losing only points each. The two young Shrewsbury pairs both gave good accounts of themselves in the other two quarter-finals. Emma & Katie took 6 points off Dominique & Elana in both of the first two games, but the older pair had too much experience and quality for them in the end. The new pairing of Harry Asquith & Eloise Carter - another quarter-finalist still at school - had to play well to hold off Issy & Lizzie, who pushed hard and threatened at times in the third game to take the match into a fourth but again that extra bit of precision and consistency from the fourth seeds was enough to take them through to the last four, for the first time in Eloise's case.
The Festival was a delight to watch all day, with all seven pairs enjoying themselves, playing well and improving during the course of the day. As with the main tournament, there were several nailbiters, with Oxford pair Lauren Stokes & Lauren Rowley in particular involved in a succession of thrilling matches. Sisters Charlotte & Natasha Gregory - the tournament's youngest player - grew in confidence as the day went on and recorded a couple of excellent wins, especially yet another 15-14 against Salopians Adelaide Sillar & Georgia Nicholas, to end up in second place behind the young Highgate pair of Isabella Valencia-Britton and Lorea Leclerq-Cerdirina, who played powerfully and returned cut well all day to go through the group undefeated and claim the title.
Thanks to Mike Hughes, George Thomason and Eton for hosting the tournament, Ian Mitchell and Mandie Barnes for their organisation and to Richard Black for presenting the prizes.
K.Hird & C.Cooley (1) beat F.Barnes & M.Barnes 3-0 (12-0, 12-1, 12-2)
H.Asquith & E.Carter (4) beat I.Wong & L.Ware 3-0 (12-7, 12-3, 12-9)
D.Redmond & E.Osen (3) beat E.Graham & K.Oswald 3-0 (12-6, 12-7, 12-1)
A.Lumbard & E.Scoones (2) beat G.Allen & R.Parr 3-0 (12-1, 12-0, 12-2)
The semi-finals will take place at Eton on Sunday March 25th at 2:30pm
P.Wasdell & G.Davies beat F.Turnbull & F.Kerr 2-1
M.Barry & E.Williets beat R.Wood & N.Lilienthal 2-0
P.Wasdell & G.Davies beat M.Barry & E.Williets 2-0 (14-13, 12-6)
Festival (Round Robin)
1. I.Valencia-Britton & L.LeClerq-Cerdirina
2. C.Gregory & N.Gregory
3. A.Sillar & G.Nicholas
4. I.Morris & L.Barden
5. E.Kynaston & M.Sandford
6. L.Stokes & L.Rowley
7. M.Light & F.Steiner