Olavians And Salopians Into The Barber Cup Final
31/01/22: The semi-finals of the Alan Barber Cup took place at Eton yesterday, a repeat of the 2021 competition's final four.
First up was the Salopians v Westminsters match in the morning. The Westminsters had beaten the Salopians last season at this stage to reach their first ever final, and with two evenly-matched sides a tight, tense contest was always on the cards. With Sahil Shah missing due to injury, Harry de Quetteville & Can Koksal stepped up to play at third pair for the Westminsters after some good recent tournamernt and league results. They came up against Chris Hughes & Henry Blofield for the Salopians, and the Shrewsbury pair were in uncompromising form, getting on top early and never letting up to record an impressive straight games win and leave the Westminsters needing to win both of the top two pairs to go through. Both of these matches were much closer, with the first two games shared in both courts. At first pair, Riki Houlden & Laurie Brock were looking to repeat their win from last year over Ed Taylor & Rex Worth but quickly found themselves a game down. A long and tight second game went to the Westminster pair 15-13 to level the match and when Riki & Laurie took the third to 5 it looked as though they were well on the way to victory. Rex & Ed had other ideas, however, and rediscovered their early dominance in the fourth, winning to 6 and taking it to a fifth game; at this point, though, the cut returns began to dry up for the Salopian pair and it was Riki & Laurie who came through strongly to win the fifth game, leaving the match to be decided by what happened at second pair. The Westminsters had Hugo Young back from his year abroad in Germany to partner Issy Salim against George Thomason & Sam Welti. The first two games were complete opposites, the Westminsters dominating the first and the Salopians turning the tables dramatically in the second. The third game was crucial and went all the way to 11-11. With Hugo perhaps just lacking that tiny bit of sharpness he had last year due to being abroad, and George & Sam pushing hard, the Salopian pair seized control of the match just when it mattered, taking the third 14-11 and then continuing to control the match with some fine attacking play in the fourth, exemplified by a flying left-hand mid court shot straight into the hole from Thomason to win the game 12-6 and put the Salopians back into the final.
Unsurprisingly, their opponents there will be the Old Olavians, winners of this competition in 20 of the last 22 years. Three of the team that have formed the backbone of that long period of dominance were in the line-up - Seb Cooley, James Toop and Howard Wiseman - but with no Matthew Wiseman or Tony Barker available, it was up to the younger generation of Olavian talent - Tom Gallagher, Prajeeth Sathiyamoorthy and Issac Jochim - to provide the support necessary to get them past the challenge of the Old Cholmeleians. The Highgate team were pretty much at full strength, with Jonny Ho at the top of the order, Joe Marks and Matt Kovar in support, the old guard of Guy Chapman and Niifio Addy providing experience and the welcome sight of the hugely talented James Hopkins making a return to top level Fives. The Olavians opted to split their experienced players across the three pairs, and the benefit was immediately apparent at third pair as the knowhow of Wiseman, alongside Tom Gallagher, was too much for Chapman & Addy, who fought hard but who never quite managed to get in contention in any of the three games. At first pair, Ho & Marks got off to a great start, winning the first game 12-9 against Jochim & Cooley. The overall chances of the Cholms progressing were not looking too great, though, as Toop & Sathiyamoorthy controlled the first two games against Kovar & Hopkins, winning to 9 and then 4. The young Cholmeleian pair dug deep, though, and raised their game significantly, with Hopkins beginning to adapt to the high level of play and demonstrating why he was so highly regarded as a schoolboy player. They took the third 13-12 to keep the match alive and with the first pair tie poised at 1-1 and close in the third, it was game on for a while. Kovar & Hopkins continued to press hard in the fourth, which was also set to 15. Ho & Marks at first pair just lost the third game 13-12 (had this gone the other way, the Cholmeleians might have started getting very excited), and the Olavians eventually managed to snuff out the threat, Toop & Sathiyamoorthy holding their nerve to win the fourth 15-13 and Cooley & Jochim following up their narrow thir game win with a much more convincing fourth game margin of victory.
The final will be at Eton at 2:30pm on Sunday 20th February.
Old Olavians beat Old Cholmeleians 3-0
S.Cooley & I.Jochim beat J.Ho & J.Marks 3-1 (9-12, 12-9, 13-12, 12-5)
J.Toop & P.Sathiyamoorthy beat M.Kovar & J.Hopkins 3-1 (12-9, 12-4, 12-13, 15-13)
H.Wiseman & T.Gallagher beat G.Chapman & N.Addy 3-0 (12-5, 12-7, 12-7)
Old Salopians beat Old Westminsters 2-1
R.Worth & E.Taylor lost to R.Houlden & L.Brock 2-3 (12-5, 13-15, 5-12, 12-6, 3-12)
G.Thomason & S.Welti beat H.Young & I.Salim 3-1 (5-12, 12-2, 14-11, 12-6)
C.Hughes & H.Blofield beat H.de Quetteville & C.Koksal 3-0 (12-3, 12-3, 12-7)
For full results from this year's competition, CLICK HERE