2009 Aberconway Cup
Mike Fenn reports:
The nineteenth Championship took place at Eton on a warm sunny Spring day in direct contrast to last years snowy event. Two ladies took part in the sixteen pair entry, one mother and one daughter and much to the relief of the organiser all players turned up at the appointed hour.
Pairs had travelled from as far afield as Shropshire, Suffolk and Kent as well as the Home Counties. Several regular pairs were unable to enter and the promised Reptonian pairings were unable to make the day. Peter and Dominic Robson; Michael and Alex Millership; Richard & Guy Chapman; Neil and Jamie Cawthorn; Fiona Byfield with son Richard; and Rebecca Dunk with father Mike entered for the first time.
The usual format of selecting group pairings of two stronger pairs in each group, avoiding opponents from the previous year and where possible players from the same club was the basis for the morning play and helped to ensure that all pairings had at least one good match. Each match was played the best of three games setting at eleven. Three of the four seeded pairs fell readily in to place with the defending champions the Hughes seeded one, the Walters two and the Bests at three. Seeding in the remaining group was more difficult with the organiser hedging his bets between the Cooleys and Williams.
In Group 1 Mike and Chris Hughes comfortably won their three matches dropping only nine points in the process. Peter Boughton and Edward Boughton were runners up with Mark and Nathan Cousins pipping newcomers Pete and Dominic Robson into third place.
Group 2 turned out to be the most hotly contested with Tim and Jonathan Best scraping into the semi-finals 12-10 in the third game against Richard and Guy Chapman. This was a remarkable achievement by Richard having donned fives gloves for the very first time the week before. Having narrowly lost out to the Chapmans 9-12, 11-12, newcomers Mike and Alex Millership needed a win against Patrick and Rufus Gibbs to take third spot but just failing in a close encounter 10-12, 10-12.
Newcomers Neil and Jamie Cawthorn after a slow start played well to take a game off seeds John and Seb Cooley. The latter pair came second in the group to Grant and Guy Williams who took advantage of John's weak return of cuts to the back court. Trevor and Charlie Bailey, game as ever, came fourth despite Charlie having matured into a most useful player.
As expected Tony and Anthony Walters topped their group dropping ten points with David and Rob Cooper in second position. Not at their best the Coopers were disappointd not to have stretched the Walters beyond five points. In an all Goddington Club mother and son and father and daughter match Fiona and Richard Byfield did well to take eight and nine points off Mike and Rebecca Dunks.
A splendid morning's Fives was rounded off with lunch at the Watermans Arms for those not in the afternoons finals (with the exception of Mike Hughes!)
In the first of the semi-finals the Hughes ran out comfortable winners over the Bests 12-4, 12-2, the latter pair suffering from a lack of regular Fives. In the second semi-final, an all Shropshire contest, the Walters triumphed 12-8, 12-3 against first time semi-finalists Grant and Guy Williams. Grant continues to play a canny game and with Guy improving each year we could be witnessing new champions in the making.
In an all Salopian best of three final the Hughes got off to a quick start and were soon leading 5-1 but in one hand the dominace of Anthony Walter's volleying and three in the box saw them draw level at 5-5. Not to be outdone the Hughes reciprocated and with three points in the one hand took the score to 8-5 and on to a decisive game win 12-5. A similar pattern was repeated in the second game with the Hughes taking a 8-2 lead only for the Walters to climb back to 9-9 before going down 12-9. It is fair to say that the dominant players on court were the two sons with both Chis and Anthony providing many instances of attacking volleys and equally good returns at pace.
Christopher Horne presented the Aberconway Cup to the holders and this years winners Mike and Chris Hughes. He commiserated with the Walters, thanked Mike Fenn for his organisation and vowed to return next year on court with his son Richard.
M & C Hughes beat T & J Best 2-0 (12-4, 12-2)
A & A Walters beat G & G Williams 2-0 (12-8, 12-3)
M & C Hughes beat A & A Walters 2-0 (12-5, 12-9)