Kinnaird Cup 2006
Following the enormous entry to the Kinnaird in the 2004-2005 season, it was inevitable that there would be good general awareness that it would soon be coming round again. Mark Herring did a great job at alerting everyone as to the precise dates, but chose not to pursue players on the telephone and to pro-actively recruit it as he had done so successfully the previous year.
It was interesting to see that a good entry of thirty two pairs subsequently enroled in reasonably un-prompted. On the one hand this demonstrated the continuing success from the work put in the previous year, but at the same time highlighted the need for continuing pro-active telephone recruitment if the event is to continue building in size. Lesson learnt. More recruiting next season.
All seeds played in the opening rounds and there were some very evenly balanced matches from the beginning. The Pepperpot Trophy was well attended on the second day, and everyone was rooting for Mike Fenn to end his run of forty consecutive Kinnaird entries, by winning the Pepper-pot with partner Courtney Friend. The Fletcher brother, fellow Ipswichians, managed to pip Mike and Courtney to the post - an exciting end at least to Mike's fantastic run of entries to the Men's Nationals.
The Main tournament itself sported four closer matches in the Quarter-finals than are produced most years. The first Seeds, James Toop and Howard Wiseman dropped a game to the power-brokers Peter-Cohen and David Mew who played spectacularly well with no sign of their trade-mark unforced errors! Second seeds Tom and Peter Dunbar were run very close in two of their three games by Seb Cooley and the talented, but relatively unknown George Campbell. It is noteworthy that both Seb and George had flown especially from Switzerland (they work at Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz) to take part in the Kinnaird - commitment! Third seeds, Ed Taylor and Ian Hutchinson dropped a game against Will Sorrell and Alex Illingworth, whilst the Fourth Vs 5th Seed match between Richard Tyler & Jonathan Mole vs John Reynolds and Niifio Addy was an epic! Reynolds and Addy saved four match points in the third game to come back and win in five games after almost four hours of play.
The semi-finals took place at Westway on 19th March, a chilly Sunday, one by arrangement at 1.30 pm, the other at 2.30.
In the first one Toop and Howard Wiseman had a very comfortable victory over Addy and Reynolds, 12-3, 12-3, 12-1. Addy and Reynolds took a while to get the measure of a bouncy ball on fast courts, hitting 2 cuts and three other shots out of court to be 6-0 down very quickly. Even when they found their length there were too many unforced errors, and Toop and Wiseman were just too sharp and accurate in all parts of the court.
In the second match the Dunbars also had a fairly comfortable ride against Hutchinson and Taylor, winning 12-3, 12-9, 12-7. After the first game the spectators, in the shelter of the marquee, were expecting a rerun of the first semi, but Hutchinson continued to play steadily and Taylor found startling reserves of speed and energy, and we began to wonder if the mighty Dunbars might be humbled. Not so: Like Toop and Wiseman, they were just too sharp and too controlled for their seniors, and were worthy winners.
There was considerable interest in the final this year: James Toop and Howard Wiseman had beaten Tom and Peter Dunbar 3-1 in the Northern Final earlier in the season, although two of the games won by the former had been set. It was Howard Wiseman’s first appearance in the final, after several unsuccessful semi-finals, and if the Dunbars won, they would be only the second pair of brothers (after Peter and John May) to win the Cup. A small marquee had been erected behind the courts and the fencing removed to give about 25 spectators a splendid view of proceedings, and the sun shone between occasional light showers.
The first game started at a furious pace, with both pairs determined to make early headway. The ball was rarely allowed to touch the buttress, despite frenzied volleying, because all four players stood their ground and parry volleyed with extraordinary control and efficiency: this became an enduring feature of the match. The Dunbars pulled away eventually, reaching game ball, but Toop and Wiseman fought back admirably as far as 8-11, and their opponents looked distinctly worried at one point, before clinching the first game.
The second game ebbed and flowed with dazzling volleying, parrying and retrieving, and with all four players playing somewhere near the top of their game. The game was set at 11-11, and it was anyone’s for the taking. Crucially, in the context of the later games, the Harrovians won it 14-11 to establish a two game lead, and the Olavians would look back later to a missed opportunity, for they had looked the likelier pair to win for most of the game.
Somehow James Toop and Howard Wiseman picked themselves up and sustained their momentum in the third game, and cracks were beginning to appear in the Dunbars’ game, and the former thoroughly deserved their 12-7 success to keep the match alive.
In the fourth game, the Dunbars admirably reduced the number of mistakes and concentrated more on the buttress as the main target, as all four players tired a little, and the pace slowed a fraction. Nonetheless it was a fascinating battle and started at level pegging before the Dunbars pulled away to win 12-5.
Ultimately it was the Dunbars superior accuracy which won the day, but if they had lost the second game, it might have been a very different story. For Peter and Tom (and proud father and mother Graham and Teresa) it was a very special day for the Dunbar family; hoped for ever since the boys were first introduced to the game as toddlers. They became one of a very select list (Mason & Mole and Toop & Matt Wiseman spring to mind) who have won both the Kinnaird and Schools Championship. For James and Howard it was a case of what might have been, but they had played their part in full in an engaging final.
H Wiseman & J Toop (1) beat P Cohen & D Mew (8) 12-6, 12-7, 8-12, 12-7
J Reynolds & N Addy (5) beat R Tyler & J Mole (4) 12-8, 7-12, 4-12, 15-14, 12-8
E Taylor & I Hutchinson (3) beat A Illingworth & W Sorrell (6) 12-2, 12-9, 3-12, 12-3
P Dunbar & T Dunbar (2) beat G Campbell & S Cooley (7) 15-13, 12-8, 12-5
J P Toop & H M E Wiseman (1) beat N Addy & J P Reynolds (5) 12-3, 12-3, 12-1
P R Dunbar & T G Dunbar (2) beat I J F Hutchinson & E O Taylor (3) 12-3, 12-9, 12-7
P R Dunbar & T G Dunbar (2) beat J P Toop & H M E Wiseman (1) 12-8, 14-11, 7-12, 12-5
Pepperpot Trophy (Eton)
T L Fletcher & T R Fletcher beat M R Fenn & C Friend 12-3, 12-6, 12-6
Plate B (Eton)
M R Herring & S Ranasinghe beat D Foster & A Theodossi 7-12, 12-7, 12-7
Report by Mark Williams and Ken Hughes