2010: James Toop and Matthew Wiseman regain the Kinnaird Cup
The Kinnaird Cup final took place at Eton on Sunday March 28th and was won by James Toop and Matthew Wiseman, who defeated holders Tom Dunbar and Peter Dunbar 3-1 (12-7, 15-12, 9-12, 12-8) in a hard-fought and fantastically high quality match.
The early stages of the 2010 Kinnaird Cup took place at Eton on the last weekend of February. After the large entry for the 2009 tournament, hopes were high of an even larger turnout this time round. A great deal of effort went into the recruitment from Dominique Redmond and Howard Wiseman, assisted by Gareth Hoskins and Ronald Pattison, and a few days before the start of the tournament it looked like the magic figure of 64 pairs for the main draw was going to be reached. A handful of late drop outs prevented this, but nevertheless 58 pairs was the highest entry for many years and a further 22 pairs played in the Festival Tournament on the Sunday.
None of the seeds were overly troubled in the first round, but elsewhere in the draw there were some cracking encounters, with Mike Skjott and Jonny Saunders beating the Bhattacharya brothers 14-13 in the fifth game and Nick Bunyan and Merlin Goldman cunningly taking the strategic decision to concentrate on the plate by losing 13-10 in the fifth game to young Cholmeleians Joe Marks and Charlie Noble.
14 of the 16 seeded pairs made it through the second round. The two to fall were the Ipswichian Fletcher brothers, who lost a gruelling five game match to the promising Shrewsbury School pair of George Thomason and Jack Hudson-Williams and the scratch pairing of Stewart Fautly and Andrew Joyce, who had the misfortune to be drawn up against Old Westminsters Giles Coren and Ed Rose, out to prove that they should have been seeded in the first place. This they did, but not without a fight as a scoreline of 12-9, 12-13, 15-13, 15-13 demonstrates. Any suggestion that Stewart and Andrew were distracted at key moments by the Union Jack vest sported by Giles is, of course, completely unfounded.
A pleasing consequence of the large entry was that the Last 16 had more strength in depth than in any Eton Fives tournament of recent years. The top seven seeds all made it through in straight games; some of the spectators had their eye on the Richard Tyler/Dave Mew versus Anthony Theodossi/Ryan Perrie match as a possible upset, but the Tyler and Mew combination had too much quality and nous for the younger pair and they won in three games. The only upset to the seedings was the defeat of eighth-seeded Cholmeleians Guy Chapman and Niifio Addy by Will Sorrell and Rob Beenstock. Mention should also be made of the Cambridge pair, Robert Desmond and Laurie Brock, who gave an excellent account of themselves despite losing to top seeds and defending champions Tom and Peter Dunbar.
The generally held view of those present was that the top three seeds would continue to cruise through the draw at the quarter-final stage. This proved to be the case for the Dunbars and also for their main challengers James Toop and Matthew Wiseman, although the Tyler/Mew combination did push the Olavians close in their third game. All seemed to be going to plan initially for third seeds Howard Wiseman and Seb Cooley as they went 2-0 up in their quarter-final against fellow Olavians Peter Cohen and Peter White. An awkward fall then left Howard struggling to cut or hit the ball with his right hand with any power at all and the Peters sensed that their moment may have come. They had reckoned without the determination and speed of Seb, however, who put in a bravura performance in the third game to close out the match and spare his partner any further agonies. The fourth quarter-final looked close on paper and so it proved on court. John Reynolds and Doug Foster had been playing regular league Fives together for the Old Westminsters this season and it showed as they took on fourth seeded Salopians Ed Taylor and T Walters. With John playing possibly his best Fives since his multi-Kinnaird winning heyday, and with Doug lightning fast around the court, they quickly established a two game lead. The Salopians fought back to claim the third; all then seemed to hinge on an incredibly tight fourth game, which Reynolds and Foster eventually edged 15-13.
The semi-finals took place at Eton two weeks later in front of a good-sized crowd. Unfortunately two weeks was not enough for Howard Wiseman to recover from his quarter-final injury and he and Seb Cooley were powerless to prevent James Toop and Matthew Wiseman racing to an easy three game win. In the other half of the draw, John Reynolds was appearing in his 17th Kinnaird Cup semi-final, a quite remarkable record, but he and Doug Foster had their work cut out as they tried to defeat the Dunbar brothers. Tom and Peter demonstrated their class to win in relative comfort 12-5, 12-3, 12-6.
The final was held at Eton on March 28th and a large crowd were treated to a magnificent spectacle. Opinion was divided at the start of the match as to who the favourites actually were: Tom and Peter were the defending champions and had had the better of the recent Northern Tournament final until injury struck; James and Matthew had won the London Tournament and also beaten the Dunbars earlier in the season in the League at Orpington. The match that followed was every bit as close as expected and also of a quality that at times simply took the breath away. The sportsmanship of all four players was also first class. The Olavians drew first blood, taking the first game 12-7; the second was a nail-biter which could have gone either way before James and Matthew took it 15-12. At this stage, down by two games to nil when it could so easily have been one-all, the Dunbars could have been forgiven for losing heart; instead, to their credit, they attacked with renewed vigour in the third game to win 12-9 and reduce the deficit to 2-1. It was now the Olavians’ turn to have to dig deep and attempt to reverse the momentum of the match. Edging ahead, they reached game ball first with the Dunbars stuck on 8; the Harrovian pair were not going to relinquish their title easily, however, and it took several hands of magnificent cutting and precision finishing before Matthew and James eventually found a way to clinch the winning point.
This was Matthew and James’s third Kinnaird win as a pair and James’s fourth in all. This final also marks something of the end of an era, with work commitments taking Peter Dunbar away to the Middle East next year.
T.Dunbar & P.Dunbar (1) beat W.Sorrell & R.Beenstock (9) 3-0 (12-7, 12-7, 12-5)
J.Reynolds & D.Foster (5) beat E.Taylor & A.Walters (4) 3-1 (12-7, 12-9, 8-12, 15-13)
H.Wiseman & S.Cooley (3) beat P.Cohen & P.White (3) 3-0 (12-1, 12-8, 12-11)
J.Toop & M.Wiseman (2) beat R.Tyler & D.Mew (6) 3-0 (12-2, 12-4, 13-12)
T.Dunbar & P.Dunbar (1) beat J.Reynolds & D.Foster (5) 3-0 (12-5, 12-3, 12-6)
J.Toop & M.Wiseman (2) beat H.Wiseman & S.Cooley 3-0 (12-0, 12-0, 12-1)
J.Toop & M.Wiseman (2) beat T.Dunbar & P.Dunbar (1) 3-1 (12-7, 15-12, 9-12, 12-8)
As always, the Pepperpot Trophy produced some excellent Fives and some close contests. To reach the final requires playing a lot of Fives over the course of the weekend, and the two pairs who made it through provided a classic contest of youth versus experience. Nick Bunyan and Merlin Goldman got off to a slow start, losing the first game against St.Olave’s Under 16 pair Tony Barker and Harry Ravi. Nick and Merlin then gained a toehold in the match by claiming the second 13-12 before the Olavians won the next game 12-6. A combination of experience and sheer bloody-mindedness then gradually turned the match the way of Nick and Merlin; they won the fourth 12-8 and the fifth 12-1 as Harry and Tony’s excellent challenge finally faded.
Plate B was won by Old Carthusians Alex Burrows and Justyn Comer, who beat Olavian pair Luke Stradwick and Sam Eglund-Newby in the final.
Plate A – Pepperpot Trophy
N.Bunyan & M.Goldman beat T.Barker & H.Ravi 3-2 (6-12, 13-12, 6-12, 12-8, 12-1)
A.Burrows & J.Comer beat L.Stradwick & S.Eglund-Newby 3-0 (12-5, 12-9, 12-9)
The Sunday Festival attracted the usual eclectic mix of entrants and provided an enjoyable day’s Fives for all concerned. The final was between the Aldenham pair of coach Josh Rose and schoolboy Carl Rennie and Spencer Chapman and Justin Byam Shaw of North Oxford, with the Aldenham pair just coming out on top.
J.Rose & C.Rennie beat S.Chapman & J.Byam Shaw 2-0 (12-6, 15-12)