Cholms Retain The Boughton Bowl
10/10/23: The Mixed Team Tournament for the Boughton Bowl was won for the second year in succession by the Old Cholmeleians on their home courts on Sunday.
Six teams took part in this year's competition, playing each other in a round robin format across three mixed pairs. Competition stalwarts Highgate (a 100% Old Cholmeleian team this year), North Oxford (with two teams) and Ipswich were joined this year by a strong Westway team and a first competitive outing for the new Old Cantabs club.
Mixed Fives played well is a combination of quality rallies, smart tactics and enormous fun and this was all on display right from the start. The Cantabs team were something of an unknown quantity with Riki Houlden, Nick Choustikov and Viral Gudiwala playing with their repsective girlfriends, all of whom were virtual newcomers to Fives. Naturally Riki had summoned them all to Highgate an hour before the start time for an intensive training session and they settled in well from the start, scoring plenty of points in their first match against North Oxford B, without quite being able to get over the line for a win (which rather turned into their theme for their day). The North Oxford B team also had an inexperienced look on the female side but plenty of talent, with Annalise Whitehead, Grace Day and Sophie Clifford-King all learning quickly, thanks partly to the combined expertise of playing partners Nick Shaw, Edwin Gosnell and Stefan Nowinski. North Oxford's first string featured four of the team that won the trophy in 2022, with Karen Hird & Noah Caplin reprising their winning partnership, Alex Abrahams & Harry Asquith looking like a strong combination at second pair and the Turnbull siblings Nathan & Francesca teaming up at third. They got off to a strong start against Westway with a 3-0 win, but not without Westway showing that they would be a competitive outfit with a sextet of Natalie Lilienthal, Jessye Tu, Lucy Craughwell-Franks, Pete Griffiths, Abilash Sivathasan and Matteo Millership (replaced later on by Kacper Mikowski) offering a good blend of youth and experience.
The other first round match turned out in retrospect to be one of the key matches of the day as the home team took on Ipswich. Last year's winning Highgate team had a slightly cobbled together feel with a couple of late guest players ensuring they had a full complement. This year it was the full Old Cholmeleian mean machine with Emily Scoones, Marj Briscoe and Carolina Valensise teaming up with the infamous Bhattacharya brothers and Vatche Kassardjian and the Ipswich team didn't quite hit their stride straight away, losing 3-0 to get the Cholms off to a flyer. Ipswich dusted themselves down and hit back strongly in the second round, however, as they took on the more fancied North Oxford A team. Ipswich have a really strong crop of senior school players at the moment and with Charlotta Cooley leading the way alongside Natasha Gregory, Kezia Lower, Elliot Caldwell, Henry Gardner and Alex Phillips, they brought themselves back into contention with a fine 2-1 win, which included a pickpocketing come from behind first pair win for Charlotta & Elliot and a 15-14 sudden death victory for Henry & Kezia over Nathan & Francesca. Westway and North Oxford B also played out one of the closest matches of the day in Round 2, with a couple of 15-13 scorelines and Westway just coming out 2-1 winners.
The next couple of rounds went to form, leaving the unbeaten Old Cholmeleians heading into the final round knowing that they just needed to win one of the three pairs against North Oxford A to take the title, while the Oxford outfit knew that they needed a 3-0 clean sweep to turn the tables. Harry & Alex had been the strongest second pair all day and finished in style with a convincing win over Aroop & Caro, inflicting a first defeat of the day on the Cholms. The third pairs were waiting for a free court; if North Oxford could win the first pair match it would all come down to them...
It wasn't to be however, with Karen & Noah never quite managing to recapture their 2022 form and Emily & Abs flying out to a big early lead. Karen & Noah fought back but the damage had been done and the winning point was put on the board by the Highgate first pair, Marj & Vatche then finishing the job with one final victory at third pair.
Peter Boughton was on hand to present the Boughton Bowl to the winning team. This competition has only been around for a short time but already feels like an established part of the calendar. There are certainly some other clubs and schools who would benefit from getting a team together to enter next year and we look forward to seeing more teams taking part and the competition continuing to grow and go from strength to strength.
Thanks go to Advanta for their continued sponsorship, to Highgate for hosting the tournament, to Elana Garfield-Osen for her organisational work and to all those who came and took part and made it such an enjoyable day.
1. Old Cholmeleians (E.Scoones, M.Briscoe, C.Valensise, Ar.Bhattacharya, Ab.Bhattacharya, V.Kassardjian) 14 points
2. Ipswich (C.Cooley, N.Gregory, K.Lower, E.Caldwell, A.Phillips, H.Gardner) 11 points
3. North Oxford A (K.Hird, H.Asquith, F.Turnbull, N.Caplin, A.Abrahams, N.Turnbull) 11 points
4. Westway (J.Tu, N.Lilienthal, L.Craughwell-Franks, P.Griffiths, A.Sivathasan, M.Millership, K.Mikowski) 5 points
5. North Oxford B (A.Whitehead, G.Day, S.Clifford-King, N.Shaw, E.Gosnell, S.Nowinski) 4 points
6. Old Cantabs (M.Yukawa, K.Best, N.Gandhi, R.Houlden, N.Choustikov, V.Gudiwala) 0 points
North Oxford B beat Old Cantabs 3-0 (15-10, 15-3, 15-5)
North Oxford A beat Westway 3-0 (15-4, 15-4, 15-5)
Old Cholmeleians beat Ipswich 3-0 (15-4, 15-9, 15-9)
Westway beat North Oxford B 2-1 (15-13, 15-6, 13-15)
Old Cholmeleians beat Old Cantabs 3-0 (15-7, 15-2, 15-3)
Ipswich beat North Oxford A 2-1 (15-12, 7-15, 15-14)
Old Cholmeleians beat Westway 3-0 (15-1, 15-7, 15-5)
North Oxford A beat North Oxford B 3-0 (15-4, 15-2, 15-5)
Ipswich beat Old Cantabs 3-0 (15-9, 15-5, 15-5)
Old Cholmeleians beat North Oxford B 3-0 (15-4, 15-2, 15-6)
North Oxford A beat Old Cantabs 3-0 (15-7, 15-2, 15-8)
Ipswich beat Westway 3-0 (15-4, 15-7, 15-9)
Old Cholmeleians beat North Oxford A 2-1 (15-7, 5-15, 15-4)
Ipswich beat North Oxford B 3-0 (15-4, 15-10, 15-10)
Westway beat Old Cantabs 3-0 (15-9, 15-9, 15-10)