Welsh Wizards In Action At Rydal
16/05/23: The annual Welsh Invitational Tournament took place in glorious sunshine at Rydal Penrhos school in Colwyn Bay at the weekend.
The usual mixture of Rydal pupils, staff - how encouraging to see four members of the school staff involved on court over the course of the weekend - ex-Rydal gappers and seasoned Fives travellers gathered on Saturday afternoon for the first of two mini tournaments played across the weekend. Both followed similar formats, with twenty minute timed matches between mainly adult/pupil pairings, playing with someone different against different opponents each time.
The Saturday tournament saw the adult players withdraw at the end of the qualifying round stage, leaving the eight most successful pupils to fight it out among themselves for the trophies. The Rydal girls were in the ascendancy both in terms of numbers and results, as Ffleur & Chloe came through two tight matches to win an excellent final 12-9 against Will & Amber.
There were a few personnel changes between the Saturday and Sunday competitions; on Sunday morning, however, the qualifying rounds produced four pairs to contest the semi-finals, each one consisting of one adult and one pupil. Saturday's champions Ffleur and Chloe fell at the semi-final hurdle this time, leaving the final stage to Pippa, playing alongside Seb Cooley and to Charlotte, playing with Aroop Bhattacharya. Charlotte is in her final year at Rydal and is a veteran of the Welsh Invitational; it was fitting then that she was able to get her pair over the line in the final, having impressed with her set piece play in particular throughout the weekend.
It was great to see so many familiar faces, with ORs Tom Cotterell and Shaswath Ganapathi both putting in welcome appearances and the Saturday night meal at Pen Y Bryn was as enjoyable as ever, although the Bhattacharyas are beginning to show their age by not heading into Llandudno/Bangor afterwards. Abs did forget to bring any shoes to play in, though. Rydal Fives legends Mike Leach and Nicky Head performed trophy presentation duties and the only sad note was the absence through ill health of Paul Bowden, Welsh Tournament supremo and indefatigable supporter of Rydal Fives over many years and who was very much in everyone's thoughts.
If you've never played on the only Eton Fives courts in Wales and would like to come along to next year's weekend, do let us know - it's a great weekend and well worth making the effort.
Those of us who made the journey this year would very much like to thank everyone at Rydal for making us feel so welcome and we look forward to coming back next year!
Ffleur & Chloe beat Charlotte & Elsie 12-10
Will & Amber beat Pippa & Gracie 12-9
Ffleur & Chloe beat Will & Amber 12-9
Mark & Maggie beat Harry & Evelyn 12-9
Seb & Pippa beat Abs & Chloe 12-10
Aroop & Charlotte beat Dan & Ffleur 12-4
Aroop & Charlotte beat Seb & Pippa 12-10