Cooleys Win The Mixed Again
23/04/18: In a desperate bid to win more trophies in the season than their father, Seb & Charlotta Cooley won a seventh straight mixed title at Eton yesterday beating Karen Hird & Laurie Brock in the final at the end of a tremendous day's Fives.
A strong turnout of 18 pairs made it to Eton for the annual end of season mixed jamboree, with some welcome sunshine contributing to the end of term feel. The Mixed is always a relaxed, entertaining tournament with the emphasis heavily on fun and enjoyment and this year was no exception. The usual issues of late drop outs (fantastic last minute substitue work by Ollie Avery there), delayed trains and the Ipswich contingent still having breakfast at South Mimms at 11am were all taken in the competitors' stride as the morning group stages played out.
The four top seeded pairs made it through without any alarms while there was a fierce contest behind them to decide the other four qualifying places. In the end Harriet Asquith & Alex Abrahams, Elana Osen & Chris Ballingall and Francesca Turnbull & Gareth Hoskins all qualified fairly comfortably, while Charlotte & Tim Gregory produced some impressive Fives to win the battle of Suffolk against Eloise Carter & Isaac Weaver to complete the quarter-final line-up.
With the top four pairs containing seven of the eight players from the recent Kinnaird and Ladies finals plus the highly ranked Laurie Brock, the results of the last eight matches were perhaps fairly predictable, although the four lower ranked pairs all gave a good account of themselves with the possible exception of Asquith & Abrahams, who never quite got going in their match; they soon made up for it, though, refinding their form to win three games on the spin and claim the losing quarter-finalists plate competition.
In a slight twist to the usual format of the competition, the semi-final pairings were drawn at random. Emily Scoones & Jonny Ho drew perhaps the shortest straw, finding themselves up against serial champions Charlotta & Seb Cooley, and although they pushed the defending champions quite hard in the second game especially, the result was never really in doubt. In the other match, Karen Hird - risen from her sickbed and in fantastic cut-returning form - and Laurie Brock put in a fine performance to halt the challenge of Ashley Lumbard & Riki Houlden, going through 12-7, 12-7.
The final followed a similar pattern to many in recent years. Karen has made four successive finals with three different partners and in all four of them there has been some fantastic Fives from the challengers and periods of parity; the nature of the mixed format, however, is that certain points have greater significance than others and the Cooleys are past masters at seizing the moment to strike. The margin of error for their opponents in those circumstances is incredibly small and all it takes is a couple of errors - sometimes unforced but more often than not the result of carefully applied pressure - at the wrong time and the game is gone. This proved to be the case again as Karen & Laurie produced some fine play but were never able to pull out the dominant run of points they needed to buy themselves a bit of leeway and once Charlotta & Seb got ahead in each game there was no catching them.
This was their seventh consecutive win as a pair, their ninth together in total and Charlotta's twelfth win in the competition, including three with brother Chris back in the dim and distant past.
Competition was no less fierce on the other side of the archway where the coveted Dossi Dish was at stake. An early highlight was a first ever win in the competition for Faye Kerr & Joe Da Costa in the preliminary round before they met their match in the form of Erin Leatherbarrow & Abhishek Bhattacharya. Sarah Greasley & Andy Bishop won the internal North Oxford battle against Rachel Wood & Matt Chinery, Olavians Emily O'Malley & Sanjay Kundu pulled off a fine 12-11 win over Sarah Jackman & Nathan Turnbull and Eloise Carter & Isaac Weaver quickly got back on the victory trail with a win over the tournament's youngest player Natasha Gregory & her last minute partner Ollie Avery. The semi-finals were both tight tense affairs, Erin & Abs winning a 12-11 thriller over Sarah & Andy and Eloise & Isaac having to dig deep to beat Emily & Sanjay.
Eloise won the Dossi Dish last year with Will Gibbons and as she and Isaac celebrated a fine 15-8 win in the final over Erin & Abs, their pleasure was only slightly tempered by the realisation that Weaver was now the new Gibbons and serial plate winner CArter was now the new Tony Stubbs. In an ideal world the Ipswich minibus will have got lost on the way home thanks to Eloise's navigating but she's probably still got a little way to go before fully stepping into Stubbsy's shoes.
In a similar vein, Nathan Turnbull became the new Spencer Chapman, claiming the Plate B title along with Sarah Jackman, ahead of Rachel & Matt, Natasha & Ollie and young Ipswichians Lily Rendell & Ollie Garrard, who overcame the disappointment of losing their first plate match 12-11 against Faye & Joe to finish with a well-deserved 12-9 victory in their final game.
My thanks go to Mike Hughes and Eton for hosting the tournament and to everyone who came along and played (and spectated), making it such an enjoyable occasion.
C.Cooley & S.Cooley beat C.Gregory & T.Gregory 15-7
A.Lumbard & R.Houlden beat H.Asquith & A.Abrahams 15-1
E.Scoones & J.Ho beat E.Osen & C.Ballingall 15-7
K.Hird & L.Brock beat F.Turnbull & G.Hoskins 15-6
C.Cooley & S.Cooley beat E.Scoones & J.Ho 12-4, 12-8
K.Hird & L.Brock beat A.Lumbard & R.Houlden 12-7, 12-7
C.Cooley & S.Cooley beat K.Hird & L.Brock 12-6, 12-3
Plate A - The Dossi Dish
F.Kerr & J.Da Costa beat L.Rendell & O.Garrard 12-11
E.O'Malley & S.Kundu beat R.Tabizel & D.Mew 12-4
S.Greasley & A.Bishop beat R.Wood & M.Chinery 12-4
E.Leatherbarrow & A.Bhattacharya beat F.Kerr & J.Da Costa 12-3
E.Carter & I.Weaver beat N.Gregory & O.Avery 12-0
E.O'Malley & S.Kundu beat S.Jackman & N.Turnbull 12-11
E.Leatherbarrow & A.Bhattacharya beat S.Greasley & A.Bishop 12-11
E.Carter & I.Weaver beat E.O'Malley & S.Kundu 12-8
S.Greasley & A.Bishop beat E.O'Malley & S.Kundu 12-6
E.Carter & I.Weaver beat E.Leatherbarrow & A.Bhattacharya 15-8
Plate B (Round Robin)
1. S.Jackman & N.Turnbull
2. R.Wood & M.Chinery
3. L.Rendell & O.Garrard
4. N.Gregory & O.Avery
Quarter-Finalists Plate (Round Robin)
1. H.Asquith & A.Abrahams
2. E.Osen & C.Ballingall
3. F.Turnbull & G.Hoskins
4. C.Gregory & T.Gregory