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Shrewsbury Take The Turnbull

04/12/23: Shrewsbury recorded their first ever win in the Graham Turnbull Trophy in association with Advanta Wealth at Harrow on Sunday, seeing off a strong Eton challenge in both the semis and in the final.

This year's Turnbull Trophy - the competition that puts together past and present players from a particular school or centre - featured 28 pairs from nine different schools, a strong entry even in the absence of one or two familiar names.

It is always a notoriously unpredictable competition, so the competing pairs were divided up into six groups of four or five, with a Last 16 round thrown in as well to give all of the pairs a reasonable chance to try and reach the latter stages. The group stages threw up some unexpected results right from the off - the much fancied Eton 1 pairing of James Piggot & Dan Hurst lost 12-10 to an inspired Ipswich 2 (Steve Burnell & Alex Phillips), putting the Ipswich pair into a favourable position in the draw and condemning Eton 1 to make it through the hard way. Eton 4 (Will Ponsonby & Lochie Turcan) on the other hand were going great guns, taking advantage of a "slow-starting" Mill Hill (Charles Plummer & Charlie Graville) to pip them to top spot in Group D. Some of the groups were proving a bit more straightforwad, Shrewsbury 1 (Seb Cooley & Jack Home) coming first in Group A ahead of Eton 3 (Matt Asquith & Jago Edsberg), Ipswich 1 (Tim Gregory & Elliot Caldwell) looking strong in Group E and Eton 2 (Ryan Perrie & Toby Webster) dominating Group C. Group F, on the other hand, was causing the organiser to reach for the calculator early on: while Harrow 1 (last year's school first pair of Casper Stone & Gus Stanhope) were winning all of their matches to qualify in first place, Ipswich 3 (Jeremy Hughes & Sam Cook), Westminster 1 (Hugo Young & Pranav Shah) and Eton 5 (Rupert Swallow & Hugo Turpin) were all beating each other, with points difference the difference between Ipswich 3 in second place and Eton 5 in fourth.

Eton 5 gained a reprieve and a place in the Last 16 with Harrow 3 having to pull out at the end of the group stages; the two unluckiest pairs at this stage were Ipswich 1 and Harrow 1, whose reward for winning their groups was to find themselves up against Eton 3 and Eton 1 respectively, both of whom might easily have come first rather than second had they found themselves in different groups. Piggot & Hurst were beginning to find their form and made short work of Harrow 1. Gregory & Caldwell v Asquith & Edsberg was easily the tie of the round with the Eton pair just making it through 12-9, leaving the Ipswich pair to set their sights on Plate A. Eton 2 and Eton 4 also continued their winning streaks, against Harrow 2 (Prickett & Shi) and Shrewsbury 4 (Marc Quinn & Freddie Ogilby) respectively, making it four Eton pairs in the quarter-finals. They were joined by two Shrewsbury pairs, with Cooley & Home ensuring Eton 5's reprieve was short-lived and Adam Morris & Michael Draper seeing off Repton 1 (Zac Garner & guest player Tom McCahon). The final two spots in the last eight went to a revived Mill Hill, who cruised past Ipswich 3 and to Burnell & Phillips, who backed up their morning heroics with a solid win over Young & Shah to consign the Westminster pair to the plate.

The losing quarter-finalists (except Harrow 1 who chose to drown their sorrows instead) then fought it out for Plate A. Ipswich 3 faded away a little bit after their bright morning start but every other match was 12-8 or closer, Ipswich 1 defeating Westminster 1 12-11 to win the final. Plate B meanwhile - for the morning non-qualifiers - also produced some nail-biters. City of London (Edwin Gosnell & Indigo Luksch) had looked good in the group matches without quite getting the results that their play deserved but came unstuck at the first hurdle, losing 15-14 in one of the games of the day against Repton 2 (Henry Barton Smith & Bobby Weston). The other Repton pairs decided to focus instead on Plate C, as Repton 5 (Karen Hird & Celia Allen) lost 15-10 to Westminster 2 (James Alster & Kieran Saujani-Lee), Repton 3 (Richard Exley & Bri Hansen-Hoare) went down heavily against Shrewsbury 3 (George Hughes & Yee Lok Mak) and Repton 4 came second in the three-way mini battle with Westminster 4 (Oliver Meredith & Ray Chan) and QE Barnet (Viral Gudiwala & Pratham Bhavsar). QEB lost their second 12-11 match of the day in the semis against Shrewsbury 3, who finished on a high with a convincing 12-4 in the final over Westminster 2. The Repton pairings came into their own in Plate C, as City of London faded away, leaving Repton 3 to defeat Repton 4 and then 5 to end their day's work with a well-earned win.

Meanwhile, the latter stages of the main tournament were producing some fantastic matches. Two of the quarter-finals were all Eton affairs, with unexpected victories and defeats in the morning meaning that Pairs 1 & 2 were up against each other, while Pair 3 played Pair 4. Eton 4's unbeaten run finally came to an end at the hands of Asquith & Edsberg, who earned themselves a shot at Cooley & Home, comfortable 15-2 winners over Mill Hill. Piggot & Hurst had now well and truly recovered from their morning wobble and played some excellent Fives to end the hopes of Perrie & Webster: 15-11 to Eton 1 in a terrific match. Waiting in the semi-finals was the pair who had beaten them in the morning as Burnell & Phillips produced a thrilling comeback from 9-2 down to defeat Shrewsbury 2.

The weather had been poor all day and the courts - which had generally coped quite well with the rain for most of the day - were beginning to get more and more slippery and difficult to play on, adding an extra hazard for the players to have to deal with. It didn't seem to bother Eton 1 too much in their semi-final as Piggot & Hurst banished memories of their morning defeat at the hands of Ipswich 2 by beating them convincingly second time round, making it into the final with a 15-7 win over Burnell & Phillips, who finally began to run out of steam after a series of terrific displays. The assumption was that Cooley & Home would continue their dominant form and join Eton 1 in the final; they did, but it was by the skin of their teeth as Asquith & Edsberg put in an inspired performance to take their semi-final all the way to 14-14. It was the Shrewsbury pair who got over the line, though, taking them through into the final.

The final was played as a best of three match, with the Eton and Shrewsbury contingents watching on. The court was not getting any easier to play on; one of the consequences of the slippery court was that it made it much harder for any of the four players to really take control of proceedings, with movement tricky to control and the path of the ball off the wet walls not always easy to predict. Given the conditions, all four players produced a fantastic match, adapting their game and improvising where necessary but still able to produce some terrific attacking and defensive shots along the way. All three games were close: Eton held sway in the first, finishing strongly to win 12-8. Shrewsbury were ahead for most of the second and just held on at 12-10 as Eton threatened to peg them back. The third was close all the way with neither pair able to make a decisive break. In the end it was Shrewsbury who were able to exert that little bit of extra control around the buttress and at the set piece to get their noses in front and stay there to take the match 2-1. This was Seb's seventh win in the Turnbull Trophy - if you include the shared trophy of 2013 - having been a runner-up as a schoolboy in the first two editions of the tournament in 1996 and 1997 (it is worth noting that he was defeated in the 1996 by a Harrow schoolboy by the name of Tom Dunbar - whatever happened to him?). It was his first victory in Shrewsbury colours, however, and perhaps surprisingly a first ever outright victory for Shrewsbury in the competition. For Eton it was a second final in three years following their 2021 triumph and with four pairs in the quarter-finals they can be extremely pleased with their day's work.

Our thanks go to Ian Hutchinson and Harrow for hosting the event, to Advanta Wealth for their sponsorship and to all those who helped put pairings together and made the effort to come and play in what is always an extremely enjoyable and worthwhile competition. 

 

Last 16

Shrewsbury 1 (S.Cooley & J.Home) beat Eton 5 (R.Swallow & H.Turpin) 12-2

Mill Hill (C.Plummer & C.Graville) beat Ipswich 3 (J.Hughes & S.Cook) 12-3

Eton 3 (M.Asquith & J.Edsberg) beat Ipswich 1 (T.Gregory & E.Caldwell) 12-9

Eton 4 (W.Ponsonby & L.Turcan) beat Shrewsbury 4 (M.Quinn & F.Ogilby) 12-2

Eton 2 (R.Perrie & T.Webster) beat Harrow 2 (F.Prickett & ?.Shi) 12-3

Eton 1 (J.Piggot & D.Hurst) beat Harrow 1 (C.Stone & G.Stanhope) 12-2

Shrewsbury 2 (A.Morris & M.Draper) beat Repton 1 (T.McCahon & Z.Garner) 12-7

Ipswich 2 (S.Burnell & A.Phillips) beat Westminster 1 (H.Young & P.Shah) 12-7

 

Quarter-Finals

Shrewsbury 1 beat Mill Hill 15-2

Eton 3 beat Eton 4 15-9

Eton 1 beat Eton 2 15-11

Ipswich 2 beat Shrewsbury 2 15-13

 

Semi-Finals

Shrewsbury 1 beat Eton 3 15-14

Eton 1 beat Ipswich 2 15-7

 

Final

Shrewsbury 1 beat Eton 1 2-1 (8-12, 12-10, 12-9)

 

5th/6th

Eton 2 beat Eton 4 15-12

 

Plate A

 

Quarter-Finals

Eton 5 beat Ipswich 3 12-2

Ipswich 1 beat Shrewsbury 4 12-9

Harrow 2 beat Harrow 1 scratched

Westminster 1 beat Repton 1 12-10

 

Semi-Finals

Ipswich 1 beat Eton 5 12-8

Westminster 1 beat Harrow 2 12-9

 

Final

Ipswich 1 beat Westminster 1 12-11

 

5th/6th

Repton 1 beat Ipswich 3 12-5

 

Plate B

 

Quarter-Finals

Repton 2 (H.Barton Smith & B.Weston) beat City of London (E.Gosnell & I.Luksch) 15-14

Westminster 2 (J.Alster & K.Saujani-Lee) beat Repton 5 (K.Hird & C.Allen) 15-10

Shrewsbury 3 (G.Hughes & YL Mak) beat Repton 3 (R.Exley & B.Hansen-Hoare) 15-2

QEB (V.Gudiwala & P.Bhavsar) beat Repton 4 (D.Exley & C.Tate) 8-4 and Westminster 4 (O.Meredith & R.Chan); 8-3 Repton 4 beat Westminster 4 8-7

 

Semi-Finals

Westminster 2 beat Repton 2 12-5

Shrewsbury 3 beat QEB 12-11

 

Final

Shrewsbury 3 beat Westminster 2 12-4

 

3rd/4th

QEB beat Repton 2 12-9

 

Plate C

 

Semi-Finals

Repton 5 beat City of London 12-9

Repton 3 beat Repton 4 12-9

 

Final

Repton 3 beat Repton 5 12-6

 

3rd/4th

Repton 4 beat City of London 12-8

 

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