Kinnaird Cup 2008
The entire Kinnaird was set to be played at Eton College, having seen the later stages brilliantly hosted at the Westway Sports Centre for the past four years.
Recruitment was pursued very thoroughly by REFCA and in the end there was a healthy line-up of some forty pairs. Mark Williams was present throughout the preliminary weekend to run the event. Everything, therefore, ran very smoothly!
This year there were several qualifying matches prior to achieving a place in the Main section. As usual, the Kinnaird aimed to cater for everyone’s needs: it was to consist of straight knock-out rounds, immediately followed by a knock-out Plate for the “Pepper-pot Trophy”. A one-day “Festival” section (with pools matches) on the Sunday would be ideal for those wishing to play just on the second day, or in addition to having been knocked out on Saturday.
All 16 courts were in use throughout the weekend (additional pairs joined the line-up for the Festival on the Sunday), while spectators enjoyed the snacks and refreshments that were laid on in the marquee.
There were plenty of very close matches in the first couple of rounds. Whilst the seeds had a fairly comfortable ride through, there was a notably strong performance from the Fletcher brothers, who managed to take the first game from the second seeds, Howard Wiseman and James Toop. A well-earnt 9-1 lead seemed to be rapidly disappearing, but at 11-11, the Fletchers finally converted the elusive game-point. The second seeds managed to get back on top of the match shortly afterwards.
There were no surprises in the quarter-finals, all top four seeded pairs made it through to the semi-finals, winning in straight games. However, Seb Cooley and Anthony Walters performed as a particularly strong scratch pairing and very nearly took a game from the second seeds.
This year the semi-finals were brought back to Eton College. The semi-finals were played on the 16th of March and again the seedings were spot on. Very few people were present to witness the two matches. Both matches were played to the highest level, however both the Dunbar Brothers and Toop and Wiseman had all the answers and lost relatively few points.
On a surprisingly sunny afternoon a thirty strong crowd gathered to watch the 2008 Kinnaird Cup final between defending champions Peter and Tom Dunbar and James Toop and Howard Wiseman.
Peter and Tom got off to a flying start going 5-0 up on the first hand of the match. They never let James and Howard into the game, cutting effectively and returning virtually every cut, and won the game 12-4.
The second game followed a similar pattern with Peter and Tom's volleying and all round game forcing some uncharacteristic errors from James and Howard. The Dunbars won the game 12-5.
The third game was a much tighter affair. The ability of both pairs to retrieve the ball when it looked like they were beaten was quite outstanding and created numerous long rallies. There was even confusion over a couple of rallies in the game conversation that led to the game being back tracked several steps before it could continue. During this time Peter and Tom had built a slight advantage and led 7-4 before Howard's appetite started kicking in. Several more long and nervy rallies followed but James and Howard pulled through to win 12-7.
James and Howard were now in the ascendency and, after a close start to the game, raced away to win the fourth 12-4 and level the match.
James and Howard's superior fitness was starting to show and they stormed into a 9-0 lead. The Dunbars had not given up though as Peter demonstrated by retrieving a ball from well off the back left of the court that looked to have beaten him. James and Howard were unable to close out the match for several minutes but eventually after two and a half hours of epic fives James played the winning shot to claim his third title and Howard's first.
T G Dunbar & P R Dunbar beat E O Taylor & A H Illingworth 3-0 (12-3, 12-3, 12-6)
J P Toop & H M E Wiseman beat R C Tyler & C W Sorrell 3-0 (12-6, 12-3, 12-5)
J P Toop & H M E Wiseman beat T G Dunbar & P R Dunbar 3-2 (4-12, 5-12, 12-7, 12-4, 12-1)
M Goldman & S Eglund-Newby beat S Brooke & R Black 2-0 (12-3, 12-8)
Winners S Basu & J Ware
Report by Howard Wiseman and Peter White