2009 Ipswich Tournament
Gareth Hoskins reports:
Undaunted by the Arctic conditions, the usual intrepid band of schoolboys, OIs and guests braved the big January freeze to celebrate 30 years of the Ipswich Tournament and compete for the Graves Cup.
With injury preventing John Caudle from defending his title - although John did make his impressively large presence felt at the Saturday night dinner - the draw looked wide open, with the pairings of Courtney Friend and Oli Watts and Peter Forrest and Alex Yusaf establishing themselves as early favourites. Noteworthy, too, was the return to the OI Fives scene of brothers Matthew and Colin Scott, in Matthew's case for the first time since leaving school 24 years before.
The Saturday Fives went according to the form book as the two favourites cut an unbeaten swathe through the field to win their respective groups. Sorting out the winners of the other group would have taxed Messrs Duckworth and Lewis, however, and it was well after close of play that organiser Peter Boughton, with the intervention of the Bunyan laptop, produced a quarter-final draw for the Sunday's play.
The Saturday night dinner at the School provided a welcome distraction from the Fives (or should that be the other way round?) and, as always, was instrumental in influencing the performance of all attendees the following morning. Early pacesetters Friend and Watts made it into the semi-finals but their play had mutated overnight from ruthless Fives machine into port-induced autopilot and in the shock result of the Tournament they were defeated by Nick Bunyan and the age-defying eminence grise of OI Fives, Mike Fenn.
Meanwhile, in the other half of the draw, Forrest and Yusaf were repeating their group stage form, cruising into the final without losing a game. At his pre-final press conference, Mike Fenn informed the assembled throng that he felt he was playing his best Fives since before the War; this provoked considerable debate amongst OI Fives historians, who concluded that in this context he was probably referring to the Boer War. Nevertheless, despite a valiant display, Mike and Nick were unable to complete the fairytale ending as Peter and Alex confirmed themselves as clearly the best pair in the Tournament, winning the final in straight games. There was also a Scholey family double in the Plate, with Peter victorious in Plate A and son George winning Plate B. Thanks, as ever, go to Peter Boughton for his organisational skills and the School catering staff for providing such an excellent dinner.
P Forrest & A Yusaf (Ipswichians) beat N Cox & A Stubbs (Lancing & Repton) 12-6, 12-7
N Bunyan & M Fenn (Windsor & Eton & Ipswichian) beat C Friend & O Watts (Edwardian & Ipswichian) 12-10, 5-12, 12-6
P Forrest & A Yusaf beat N Bunyan & M Fenn 12-9, 12-1, 12-8
Plate A Final
P Scholey & T Thakerar (Edwardian & Ipswich School) beat M Graves & S Rios-Hall 19-4 (Ipswichian & Ipswich School) in an extended game.
Plate B Final
T Gregory & G Scholey (Ipswichian & North Oxford) won on a round robin basis.