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Cass & Gray Dig The Summer Graves

26/07/22: Last seen in January 2020 and with two successive editions falling victim to the pandemic, the Ipswich Tournament for the Graves Cup finally returned last weekend.

Holding the tournament in July rather than January meant that there were a couple of subtle differences - at least 20 degrees on the thermometer for a start. That and the Scholey beer going into the fridge not arriving in a barrel, some unusually efficient running of the tournament thanks to the injured Karen Hird taking on the organiser's role and Stubbsy not being there to burn a plate trophy (cricket called and won). There were fewer school pupils than usual, too, with many familes heading off on holiday as soon as term ended.

Thankfully for those who were there, Peter Boughton arrrived bang on half an hour after his stated start time, everyone suddenly felt instantly back in the Graves Cup comfort zone and the tournament was off and running. The reduced number of school players meant eleven pairs in total to start with and three groups with a court each. Inevitably they all proceeded at wildly different speeds with the Hoskins (G) & Carron v Boughton & Taylor match causing something of a backlog early on in Group A. All resolved itself, however, and there was even time to get the quarter-finals in on the Saturday afternoon. It was hard work in the hot conditions and Hoskins & Carron and Isaac Weaver & John Levick (who were unavailable on Sunday anyway) never made it on to court, giving their opponents a walkover to the Sunday semis. Mark Graves & Henry Gardner looked impressive in seeing off the tricky pairing of Seb Cooley & Jana Scholey, while the closest match came between Steve Burnell & Pete Forrest and Tom Hoskins & Charlotta Cooley. Steve & Pete got off to a strong start before finding themselves pegged back to 10-10 in an exciting first game. It went all the way to 13-13 before Burnell & Forrest finally closed it out, a crucial point as it turned out, as they then raced away with the second game to complete the semi-final line-up.

The Saturday night dinner was a slightly smaller affair than usual, but certainly no worse for that and the lower number allowed it to be held in the pavilion, which was a nice bonus. This year's dinner started by following the usual pattern before the innovation this year of late night karaoke, although your correspondent was comfortably tucked up in bed by this stage and therefore unable to comment on the quality or otherwise of some of the offerings.

There was a minor wobble on Sunday morning with the realisation that the Greyhound was no longer opening early to do breakfast, so with the local Spoons standing in as an emergency venue (needs must), play resumed on day two at the usual leisurely pace. Alex Yusaf - back on court for the first time in a while - & partner Elliot Caldwell got off to a great start against Burnell & Forrest, taking the first game to 8, but experience again told as Steve & Pete bided their time before taking control of the match in the second and third games. Their final opponents were hard to predict: Simon Cass & James Gray had looked impressively untroubled during the course of Saturday's play, but Mark Graves was on a mission, aiming to break the curse of having your name on the cup, which he last won in 1986 (alongside a certain Mr Reynolds). With school partner Henry Gardner offering some excellent support, they looked poised to take the match into a deciding game, having lost the first 12-9. James & Simon had other ideas, however, and came from behind to take the second game 14-11 and with it the match, setting up a rare all OI final.

Once the players had got their heads round playing a best of five game final, they quickly started to produce some Fives to match the occasion. James Gray's dynamism and power were more than making up for the occasional wild shot out of court and were proving a good blend with the courtcraft and "delicate-touch-for-a-big-man" of Simon Cass. The first game was a mini classic, finally going James & Simon's way 15-14 and when they took the second 15-11 it looked like the match was theirs for the taking. Steve & Pete had other ideas, though, winning the third to 6 and beginning to build up a head of steam; steam that they then sadly ran out of in the fourth, with Simon & James retaking control of the match and closing it out to 8.

Poor old Mark Graves had to present the Graves Cup again instead of winning it, and the day was completed with a win in the Anthony Stubbs Memorial Plate competition for a revitalised Gareth Hoskins & Will Carron, who beat nearest rivals Tom Hoskins & Charlotta Cooley twice (once in their group and again in the final) to carry the day.

Thanks go to Peter Boughton and John Caudle for their work setting up the tournament and the dinner, to the school caterers for doing us proud on the Saturday evening, to Karen Hird for making everything run with an unaccustomed level of efficiency and transparency and to all those who got the tournament back up and running after the two and a half year break.




S.Cass & J.Gray beat I.Weaver & J.Levick w/o

M.Graves & H.Gardner beat S.Cooley & J.Scholey 2-0 (12-5, 12-8)

A.Yusaf & E.Caldwell beat G.Hoskins & W.Carron w/o

S.Burnell & P.Forrest beat C.Cooley & T.Hoskins 2-0 (14-13, 12-5)



S.Cass & J.Gray beat M.Graves & H.Gardner 2-0 (12-9, 14-11)

S.Burnell & P.Forrest beat A.Yusaf & E.Caldwell 2-1 (8-12, 12-4, 12-4)



S.Cass & J.Gray beat S.Burnell & P.Forrest 3-1 (15-14, 15-11, 6-12, 12-8)


The Anthony Stubbs Plate


Group A

1. S.Clark & A.Whitehead

2. P.Scholey & N.Mason

3. S.Cooley & J.Scholey

4. P.Boughton & O.Taylor


Group B

1. G.Hoskins & W.Carron

2. C.Cooley & T.Hoskins

3. N.Choustikov & M.Barnes



G.Hoskins & W.Carron beat P.Scholey & N.Mason 15-4

C.Cooley & T.Hoskins beat S.Clark & A.Whitehead 15-9



G.Hoskins & W.Carron beat C.Cooley & T.Hoskins 15-9


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