1999/2000 Alan Barber Cup
Ed Taylor reports:
Once again the Barber Cup was a hugely exciting and dramatic event! Full of surprises and some titanic confrontations. It is sad that some formerly mighty clubs struggled to raise sides in the early rounds. I hope in years to come, with the renewed efforts of the EFA, the Eton Fives Coaching Agency and many keen individuals, a new generation of players will emerge from schools where the game had momentarily slumbered - to back up those enthusiasts searching for an extra player or two. At present - while many of the top club sides have strength, they are much like the British Tennis Squad - in a spot of trouble should anyone be injured!
However, one side does not suffer such an affliction, the Old Olavians were always looking like the dark horses in this tournament, with their wealth of fresh, young - ever improving - talent. Many of these players are actively coaching at schools, which not only bodes well for the future of Fives, but as a side effect (and in contrast to those of us who push-pens or mice) keeps them fit, practised and generally, mean, keen, Fives machines!
So, onto the results...the first excitement was in the very first round - when the Old Ipswichians stole a 2-1 victory from the Old Edwardians. The Ipswichians then proceeded to beat Lancing Old Boys 3-0 and cruise into the semi-finals for the first time in thirty-four years.....the remainder of the semi - finalists were the usual suspects!
The Old Salopians - last year's victors took on the Old Ipswichians, a 3-0 victory for the Shrewsbury boys, but the Ipswichians fought hard against tough opposition, with close scores at second and third pair. On the other side of the draw, the Old Cholmeleians took on the Old Olavians. J Toop and M Wiseman of the Olavians played well to beat E Wass and J Halstead, however, in the end this impressive scalp was superfluous as second and third pairs also came through for the Olavians - H Wiseman and P Markkanen beating J Pinner and G Chapman at second pair in a tight three games, each of which went to fourteen or fifteen points!
Old Salopians v Old Olavians. It felt like quite an occasion, with a great crowd of supporters gathered to urge their respective competitors to victory!
Andy Ligertwood and James Skelton, of the Salopians - paired together for the first time, had a tough time against the rapidly improving Seb Cooley and the mighty Karl Rudman, who took the three games comfortably. The other two pairs would be far less predictable.
On paper the bookies would find it hard to pick a favourite from the two seasoned pairs on court two - it could go either way. Ian Hutchinson and Mike Hughes battled long and hard to take the first 12-8, a considerable time later Howard Wiseman and Pauli Markkanen had the second under there belt 12-9, They then stormed through the next 12 - 3, only for the Salopians to slam on the brakes and take the fourth, 12-9. The fifth was nip and tuck and dreadfully tense, at this stage one loose shot or misfortune can turn the game. The score edged it's way to seven all, the Olavians then looked to be running for the line when the Salopians clawed back to make it nine a piece. The crowd was mesmerised...often tense mistakes decide results at this stage, but it was excellent play by the Olavian duo, rather than errors from the Salopian pair that saw them to Step point and a 3-2 victory.
Another tricky one to call - James Toop and Matt Wiseman had stormed through the season losing very few games - besides matches! Myself (Ed Taylor) and Mark Lascelles had the task of trying to stop them. It was a furious match - James and Matt were on great form and playing a tactically smart game - working the ball to the back corners with dazzling accuracy to stop us really capitalising with top step volleys. The Olavians were neat, tidy and practised..... I�m afraid we were none of these - but we were getting plenty of cuts up. The first two games were extremely long - neck and neck throughout - the Olavians stealing both with a flurry of good shots at just the right times (12-8, 12-8). The Salopians dug their heals in and took the third as they adjusted to the Olavian tactics and basically grit their teeth. It was seriously tense. Nine all in the fourth, when it got too much, Lascelles stormed off court over a tight call....the moment eventually cooled and play resumed - Lascelles channelling his fury to take the fourth 12-9. We�d come a long way, two games each.... while determination can take you so far, we, the Salopians, were shattered! Not quite as quick or sharp, by a fraction, as we had been and that was enough to tip the balance, the Olavians charged through the last 12-3.
Winning the match 3-2 and the Barber Cup Final three pairs to nil. An excellent victory - undoubtedly making the Olavians a force to be reckoned with and the club to beat next season. I, for one, look forward to a re-match!
Played over the weekend 30/31st October 1999.
Old Carthusians beat the Old Citizens 3-0 (walkover)
Lancing Old Boys beat Old Reptonians 3-0 (walkover)
Old Ipswichians beat Old Edwardians 2-1
Old Olavians beat Old Cranleighans 3-0
Old Etonians beat Old Aldenhamians 2-1
Old Harrovians beat Old Berkhamstedians 3-0
Old Salopians and Old Cholmeleians as seeds had a bye
Played over the weekend 15/16 January 2000.
Old Salopians beat Old Carthusians 3-0 (walk over)
Old Ipswichians beat Lancing Old Boys 3-0
Old Olavians beat Old Etonians 3-0
Old Cholmeleians beat Old Harrovians 3-0
Played at Eton on Sunday 13th February 2000.
Old Salopians beat Old Ipswichians 3-0
I Hutchinson and A Walters beat P V Boughton and J Levick 12-3, 12-5, 12-3
M Lascelles and J Skelton beat M Graves and S Burnell 12-3, 12-7, 12-10
M Hughes and A Ligertwood beat J Caudle and C Robinson 12-2, 12-8, 12-9
Old Olavians beat Old Cholmeleians 3-0
J Toop and M Wiseman beat E Wass and J Halstead 7-12, 12-9, 12-5, 12-9
H Wiseman and P Markkanen beat J Pinner and G Chapman 15-11, 14-13, 15-13
K Rudman and S Cooley beat M Williams and C Davies 12-4, 12-6, 12-5
Played at Eton on Sunday 5th March 2000.
Old Olavians beat Old Salopians 3-0
J Toop and M Wiseman beat E Taylor and M Lascelles 12-8, 12-8, 9-12, 9-12, 12-3
H Wiseman and P Markkanen beat I Hutchinson and M Hughes 8-12, 12-9, 12-3, 9-12, 12-9
S Cooley and K Rudman beat J Skelton and A Ligertwood 12-2, 12-3, 12-4
The Olavian Barber Cup winning teams of 1971 (RGL Williams, RTS Spooner, JW Biggs) and 2000