2004 Under 25 Tournament
James Toop reports:
This year's under 25s championships were held at the Westway Sports Centre on Sunday 21st December. The entry was larger than it has been for some years, attracting 17 pairs from Berkhamsted School, Old Berkhamstedians, Old Cholmeleians, Old Citizens, Old Edwardians, Old Emanuels, Old Etonians, Old Harrovians, Old Ipswichians, Lancing Old Boys Old Olavians, Old Westminsters, as well as two pairs from Westway who had only begun playing the previous September.
Due to the size of the competition, a qualifying round was played in the morning with the aim of deciding whether players would end up in the main competition or the festival. The eight seeded pairs all progressed easily into groups A and B of the main competition, and the losing pairs formed the two groups of the festival tournament.
In the afternoon, each group was assigned a court and each pair played the others in a two game match, the group winner being decided by the pair with the most points won. As not everyone could play at the same time, there was always a healthy group of spectators at the back of each court watching and encouraging. It was also a great pleasure to welcome the chairman of the EFA, Richard Barber, who was present to see some of the group stages.
Group A was won by number 1 seeds and defending champions, Chris and Seb Cooley. They held off a strong challenge from Will Sorrell and William Powell, who finished in second place. Group B was won by the second seeds, Tom Dunbar and Ross Bryan, who had to play extremely well to beat the Cholmeleian pair of Alick Varma and Hedi Young. The final itself was of an extremely high standard and produced three one sided games, all having the same scoreline. Dunbar and Bryan played good attacking Fives to force the Olavian pair into a number of errors to win the first game 12-3. The Cooley brothers then turned the second game around, dominating where the Harrovians had done in the first and they too won 12-3. The third game could have gone either way, but whereas the Olavians had found their form and were able to force mistakes from their opponents in the second game, this game Bryan played with great consistency. He was able to force his opponents to over-hit and try too hard to kill the ball. Dunbar was as sharp as ever at the front, volleying aggressively and the Harrovian pair ran away with the last game and the championship 12-3. This was the last appearance for Chris Cooley and Ross Bryan in these championships and it was fitting that they should have contested such a high quality final.
The Festival was also hotly contested, and provided some excellent matches. The two pairs which made it through from their groups to reach the final were, the Ipswichian pairing of David Cox and Tom Fletcher, and the Cambridge University pair of Nick Gill and Oli Cooley. The final went right to the wire, with Fletcher and Cox narrowly edging out Gill and Cooley in a close third game 12-6, 13-12.
T Dunbar & R Bryan beat C Cooley & S Cooley 2-1 (12-3, 3-12, 12-3)