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40 Years Of Ladies Fives

The Ladies Championships celebrated its 40th anniversary at Harrow on Sunday with the qualifying rounds for this year's tournament.

Nineteen pairs took to the start line, divided up into four groups. The latter stages of the competition have been dominated in recent seasons by Karen Hird & Charlotta Cooley and Ashley Lumbard & Emily Scoones and both of the "Big Two" were back looking to reach yet another final. Injury and travel meant that two of the closest challengers in recent years - Harry Asquith & Marjolaine Briscoe and Dom Redmond & Elana Osen - were unavailable, which provided an opportunity for some of the others in the chasing pack to make it through the day and reach the semi-final stage.

Karen & Charlotta, Ashley & Emily and Rachel Wood & Freya Butler all won their groups comfortably, with the majority of the groups settling down into a clear qualifying hierarchy fairly early on. The one exception was the all-Salopian battle for first and second place in Group 4 where the more fancied pair of Old Salopians Katie Oswald & Emma Graham had to come from behind and save a couple of match points to beat the staff/pupil pairing of Gwenan Davies & Esther Hurford. A second Shrewsbury pair also performed above expectations in the group stages, with Chloe Mainwaring & Janice Wong convincing 15-5 winners over Natalie Lilienthal & Olivia Prankerd Smith to take the second qualifying spot in Group 1. The last eight draw was completed by perennial quarter-finalists Fiona & Mandie Barnes and the scratch pairing of Jessye Tu & Vanda Scholey, who qualified in second place behind Freya & Rachel in Group 3.

The competition then split into three sections for the afternoon knockout stages - best of five quarter-finals for the top eight pairs, the main competition plate for the morning third place group finishers and the Festival for the fourth and fifth placed pairs. Karen & Charlotta and Ashley & Emily were able to continue in about second gear, both conceding just one point in 3-0 wins over Gwenan & Esther and Vanda & Jessye respectively while Freya & Rachel also looked in good form, comfortably defeating Fiona & Mandie. Having overcome their early scare and with the rust now well and truly shaken off, Katie & Emma powered to an impressive win over Chloe & Janice in the Shrewsbury past v present quarter-final. 

With Katie & Emma unavailable on the scheduled semi-final day, Karen & Charlotta agreed to play their semi-final straight after the quarters. The first game was an easy 12-0 win for the defending champions, but Katie & Emma produced a much better display in the second game, managing to control their natural hard-hitting and fast volleying game and cause the champions one or two problems, this time scoring 7 points. They couldn't quite keep it up in the third but can nevertheless be pleased with their performance overall and on reaching a first national semi-final. Karen & Charlotta, meanwhile, can put their feet up until the April final, while Freya & Rachel will take on Ashley & Emily in the other semi-final at Westway on Sunday 24th March.

The four plate pairs went straight into best of three semi-finals, with the all Shrewsbury School match the closer of the two, Charlotte Taylor & Clemmie Sowden squeaking past Alice Beardsmore & Jess Fraser-Andrews. The other semi saw Natalie & Olivia take their frustration at not making the quarter-finals out on Abi Butcher & Morgan Butler, before also defeating Charlotte & Clemmie in the final.

The Festival produced some close and exciting games, including three sudden death finishes. Emily Clark & Charlotte Field from Shrewsbury held their nerve to win a 15-14 semi-final against Sophies Wisa and Clifford-King and then repeated the score in the final against fellow Salopians Milly Parry & Willa Barrett. Abi Gammage & Charlotte Kelly completed the day's winners as they won the three pair festival plate under the watchful eye of plate specialist Tony Stubbs.

Our thanks go to Ian Hutchinson and Harrow for hosting the tournament, to Advanta for their continued sponsorship and to all of the players who came along to celebrate 40 years of the Ladies Championships.



K.Hird & C.Cooley beat G.Davies & E.Hurford 3-0 (12-0, 12-0, 12-1)

K.Oswald & E.Graham beat C.Mainwaring & J.Wong 3-0 (12-2, 12-3, 12-6)

F.Butler & R.Wood beat F.Barnes & M.Barnes 3-0 (12-2, 12-3, 12-5)

A.Lumbard & E.Scoones beat V.Scholey & J.Tu 3-0 (12-1, 12-0, 12-0)



K.Hird & C.Cooley beat K.Oswald & E.Graham 3-0 (12-0, 12-7, 12-2)

A.Lumbard & E.Scoones v R.Wood & F.Butler at Westway on 24/03/24





N.Lilienthal & O.Prankerd-Smith beat M.Butler & A.Butcher 2-0 (12-4, 12-3)

C.Taylor & C.Sowden beat A.Beardsmore & J.Fraser-Andrews 2-0 (12-8, 12-11)



N.Lilienthal & O.Prankerd-Smith beat C.Taylor & C.Sowden 2-0 (12-9, 12-5)



M.Butler & A.Butcher beat A.Beardsmore & J.Fraser-Andrews 15-5





S.Clifford-King & S.Wisa BYE

E.Clark & C.Field beat A.Moore & E.Hodges 12-0

M.Parry & W.Barrett beat A.Gammage & C.Kelly 12-1

M.Geary & S.Earles beat E.Griffiths & A.Marais 12-11



E.Clark & C.Field beat S.Clifford-King & S.Wisa 15-14

M.Parry & W.Barrett beat M.Geary & S.Earles 15-6



E.Clark & C.Field beat M.Parry & W.Barrett 15-14



S.Clifford-King & S.Wisa beat M.Geary & S.Earles 12-3


Festival Plate

1. A.Gammage & C.Kelly

2. E.Griffiths & A.Marais

3. A.Moore & E.Hodges


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