Kinnaird Cup 2003

Foreword

We had an extremely disappointing entry this year at only eighteen pairs which meant that we dispensed with Eton on the Saturday and went straight into a knockout competition on Sunday 6th April including the six seeded pairs.

As eighteen pairs, we had to have twopreliminary round matches and the losers of these two matches joined the losers in the first round proper and played for the Pepperpot Trophy which was eventually won by Sanjaya Ranasinghe and Hedi Young by beating Robin Nagy and Mark Herring in the final, 12-1, 12-2.

Seeded Pairs

1. Robin Mason and Tom Dunbar (Winners 2002)

2. Ed Wass and Jamie Halstead (Finalists 2002)

3. James Toop and Matthew Wiseman

4. Ed Taylor and Richard Tyler

5. Howard Wiseman and David Mew

6. Niifio Addy and Shanu Rasheed

In the first round, there were comfortable victories for all six seeds, although Howard Wiseman and David Mew managed to drop a game to Guy Chapman and Gareth Hoskins. The two unseeded pairs to progress were Mike Fenn (his 37th consecutive Kinnaird) and Courtney Friend, and Robert Beenstock and Alick Varma. The draw meant that the two unseeded pairs had to meet the first and second seeds respectively in the quarter-finals and, with an air of inevitability, both seeds progressed to the semi-finals without much trouble.

Of course, the other two quarter-finals pitted seed against seed but, here again, there were very comfortable wins by the higher ranking seed in each case. In fact, the four quarter-final winners conceded only forty-four points between them to reach the semis, an average below four a game.

Semi-finals

The semi-finals were played at Ludgrove on Sunday 13th April and we had Robin Mason and Tom Dunbar playing Ed Taylor and Richard Tyler and Ed Wass and Jamie Halstead playing James Toop and Matthew Wiseman.

In the first semi, Mason and Dunbar got off to a flyer and led 6-0, but a quick riposte narrowed the lead at 6-4. Certainly, Taylor and Tyler had to work extremely hard to keep Mason and Dunbar at bay in the first game but it was to no avail and they eventually lost it 12-9. The second started far better for Taylor and Tyler and they led 4-1 but, despite their hard work, they fell further behind by losing this game 12-5. Due to a hand injury earlier in the season, we were left to ponder whether Robin Mason was endeavouring to nurse himself through the match. Certainly, the third, and what turned out to be the final, game again saw Taylor and Tyler lead at 7-5, but they were pegged back to 9-9 and lost it 12-9. After the match, it was noticeable how swollen Robin Mason's hand had become. It was lucky for him that the final was still eight days away.

In the second semi, we were to witness an extraordinary match. In the first game, Wass and Halstead literally strolled to 12-2 with Matthew Wiseman clearly out of sorts and James Toop desperately trying to compensate. I do not know what Howard Wiseman said to his brother and James Toop before the second game, but it worked the oracle and, despite being close throughout, they edged it 12-9. We now had a match. In the third game, an early lead from Wass and Halstead was pegged back to 6-6 but their ascendancy was re-established in double quick time when they led again at 11-6. Toop and Wiseman fought back to 11-10, but it was in vain as they lost the game 12-10 and were left with the daunting prospect of having to win both the last two games to reach the final. Well, the fourth game went their way by 12-6 after the score had been 4-4 at one stage. So on to the fifth and final game. It certainly started well for Toop and Wiseman as they reached a 4-0 lead and had Ed Wass struggling. However, this final game was to give us some surprising twists. The lead of 4-0 turned into a 7-4 deficit as Wass and Halstead summoned strength from somewhere. Not to be outdone, Toop and Wiseman then assumed command and appeared to have the match sewn up when they led the game 10-7, but it was not to be as Wass and Halstead clawed it back to 10-10. Sadly for Wass and Halstead, with foot agreed at 14, they were unable to win another point and a memorable match had been concluded.

Final

The final, played at Ludgrove on 21st April, commenced at 2.30pm precise all four players having been on court for some thirty minutes beforehand during which time the match ball was agreed with the minumum of fuss. Matt Wiseman and James Toop got off to a good start with excellent first time cuts and Rugby style driving to the back of the court to take the first point. Rallies were hard fought and early even play was only broken when the defending Champions Robin Mason and Tom Dunbar collected two points from edges followed by two winning shots. Robin and Tom continued to pick up an occasional point and although leading at 7-3 there was little to choose beteween the two pairs. The score remained at 7-3 for several change of hands before Robin and Tom exerted their authority taking five points in a row to take the first game 12-5.

In the second Matt and James were soon 4-0 up due to good play on their part and the odd unforced error by the opposition. The rallies were nip and tuck as the Olavian pair became ever more vocal in their encouragemnet of each other. One poor shot from Mason that sailed out of court was accompanied by a whispered comment from a knowledgeable spectator 'he missed the angle by 30 degrees'! The scores were soon level at 5-5 and until the end of the game neither pair was able to break away, although Robin and Tom had every chance to close out when leading 10-8. At this stage James dominated play and at 10-10 rattled the Champions into several unforced errors and he and Matt took a 14-10 lead. Overeagerness then played its part with three unforced errors to bring the score to 14-13. However Matt and James held their nerve and after three changes of hand without score took the game 15-13.

Excellent cutting, volleying, retrieving, and winning shots kept the spectators enthralled throughout the match no more so than in what turned out to be the decisive third game. At 3-3 Robin and Tom crept further ahead to establish a 6-3 lead and at 8-4 appeared to be well on the way to taking the game. At this stage complaceny took over and after a period of good play from Matt and James and unforced errors by their opponents the scoreline read 8-6. For some twelve changes of hand neither pair were able to score. The moment was to prove decisive. Robin and Tom took the next point and within what seemed like only minutes the third game 12-7.

The start of the fourth saw Robin and Tom edge ahead to 3-0 during a tremendous period of play with all four players at the top of their form. The match held at that point for what seemed like an eternity before the Champions brought it to 4-0 and although Matt and James took the next point their game began to suffer and a run of five points at 8-1 gave the game and match to Mason and Dunbar.

In presenting the Cup to the winners the EFA Chairman, Michael Constantinidi, spoke of it being one of the best finals that he had witnessed during his period as Chairman. Certainly the standard of return by all four players was of a very high standard and made it difficult to play attacking volleys. Although Robin perhaps lacked the glitz play of earlier years his re-actions were terrific. Certainly his defensive play appeared more accurate than in the past with many searching shots from the back of the court. Tom ably supported him and was very sharp throughout the match. A feature was their short game accuracy when under pressure. Matt for his part played many excellent shots from the back of the court but was unable to win many in his own right. James, for short spells, dominated proceedings and he and Matt played significantly better than at any stage since winning the Championship in 2000. Their attacking game was the best over the last two years continually putting Robin and Tom under pressure, a feature being the number of times they hit the back brick only to see the ball returned by the other two.

Following the final some twenty spectators joined the Barbers for tea and cakes. Our thanks to them, Ludgove and Eton for looking after us so well.

Preliminary Round - Eton:

G J A Chapman & G J Hoskins beat D M Cooper & G B Bates 12-3, 12-0

D Davis & G Leftheriou beat S L Chapman & N J T Gill 8-12, 15-12, 12-0

First Round - Eton:

R A Mason & T G Dunbar (1) beat R P Nagy & M R Herring 12-1, 12-3, 12-1

M R Fenn & C K Friend beat P V Boughton & M Graves 3-1 Retired

H M E Wiseman & D G Mew (5) beat G J A Chapman & G J Hoskins 9-12, 12-7, 12-9, 12-5

E O Taylor & R C Tyler (4) beat S B Albert & N C D Fry 12-2, 12-1, 12-4

J P Toop & M C T Wiseman (3) beat S T P Ranasinghe & H Young 12-1, 12-2, 12-3

N O Addy & S Rasheed (6) beat D Davis & G Leftheriou 12-5, 12-2, 12-0

R H Beenstock & A S Varma beat C S Taylor & A L Taylor 12-2, 12-6, 12-8

E A Wass & J C Halstead (2) beat R Heindorff & J Burke 12-2, 12-0, 12-2

Quarter-finals - Eton:

R A Mason & T G Dunbar (1) beat M R Fenn & C K Friend 12-1, 12-2, 12-2

E O Taylor & R C Tyler (4) beat H M E Wiseman & D G Mew (5) 12-8, 12-7, 12-1

J P Toop & M C T Wiseman (3) beat N O Addy & S Rasheed (6) 12-4, 12-8, 12-4

E A Wass & J C Halstead (2) beat R H Beenstock & A S Varma 12-0, 12-4, 12-3

Semi-finals - Ludgrove:

R A Mason & T G Dunbar beat R C Tyler & E O Taylor 12-9, 12-5, 12-9

J P Toop & M C T Wiseman beat E A Wass & J C Halstead 2-12, 12-9, 10-12, 12-6, 15-10

Final - Ludgrove:

R A Mason & T G Dunbar beat J P Toop & M C T Wiseman 12-3, 13-15, 12-7, 12-1

Pepperpot Trophy

Semi-finals:

S T P Ranasinghe & H Young beat C S Taylor & A L Taylor 6-0 retired

R P Nagy & M R Herring beat S B Albert & N C D Fry 12-6, 12-7

Final:

S T P Ranasinghe & H Young beat R P Nagy & M R Herring 12-1, 12-2

Report by Martin Samuel and Mike Fenn