Midlands Tournament 2012: O'Neill and Theodossi rule at Repton
40 pairs took part in the 2012 Midland Tournament at Repton over the weekend, an event that is always one of the highlights of the Fives calendar. Uberveteran Nigel Cox narrowly failed in his attempt to make a second final in this competition, 42 years after his first, as he and Seb Cooley were beaten at the semi-final stage by Old Westminsters Ed Rose and Laurie Brock. Ed and Laurie then went on to lose narrowly in a terrific final to Berkhamsted coach/old boy pair Anthony Theodossi and Jeremy O'Neill, Ant winning the title for the second time in three years.
In recent years, the revived Midland Tournament has evolved in such a way as to produce a very open competition with a lot of evenly matched pairs at the top end. This year was no exception as every single match bar one (and even the exception included a second game set to 15) from the quarter-final onwards went to a deciding third game; in fact eventual winners Anthony Theodossi and Jeremy O'Neill were 1-0 down and step all in their quarter-final against Peter Cohen and Ed Sanderson, back after his Asian sabbatical, before going on to win. They also lost the first game of their semi-final 12-2 to George Campbell and Nick Woof in the battle of Berkhamsted so by the time they got to the final they were match hardened and ready for anything.
Old Westminsters Laurie Brock and Ed Rose also had a tough path to the final, eventually overcoming strong resistance from Olavians Howard Wiseman and Jeff Lawrence in the quarters before moving on to face the intriguing pairing of Cooley and Cox in the semi-finals. Much interest had centred on Nigel's bid to make the final 42 years after his previous appearance, in the tournament's previous incarnation in Birmingham and he and Seb decided to commit Bunyanesque crimes against Fives fashion in a bid to attract even more attention.
Dazzled either by Cox's socks or Cooley's Fives, Laurie and Ed lost the first game to 9 but began to find their mojo in the second and with Nigel's batteries fading, unlike Duracell Bunny Brock, the Westminster pair took the next two games to make it through to the final.
The two pairs in the final had some previous; earlier in the season they faced each other in an epic league encounter at Berkhamsted, with Laurie and Ed prevailing that day 12-9 in the fifth. With that match in the back of everyone's minds, and in the interest of the chilly spectators, a best of 3 final was agreed. Predictably the match was tight from the start, with both pairs evenly matched and producing a fine and high speed contest. The match unsurprisingly went to a deciding game and the ebb and flow continued right up to 7-7 when finally the deadlock was broken by a run of crucial cut returns and subsequent points from the Berkhamsted pair.
The Midland Tournament is about so much more than the main tournament, however, and the large number of players of all standards and from all points of the Fives compass enjoyed a terrifically fun and sociable weekend of Fives, with a splendid dinner on the Saturday night, all masterminded in their own inimitable style by Howard Wiseman and Dom Redmond.
Plates and plates of plates were still being competed for late into the afternoon on Sunday but the other piece of silverware on offer - for the winners of the Festival competition - was won by former Lancing pupil and ex-Oxford captain Rosie Scott alongside EFA Secretary Gareth Hoskins, who fought off a series of challenges in the knockout rounds on Sunday before beating Jonny Saunders and Simon Warren-Thomas 12-8, 12-8 in a fast and furious final.
S.Cooley & N.Cox beat A.Mitchell & M.Yates 2-1 (12-9, 9-12, 12-3)
L.Brock & E.Rose beat H.Wiseman & J.Lawrence 2-0 (12-4, 15-11)
G.Campbell & N.Woof beat P.White & S.Ranasinghe 2-1 (7-12, 12-9, 12-4)
A.Theodossi & J.O'Neill beat P.Cohen & E.Sanderson 2-1 (4-12, 12-11, 12-8)
L.Brock & E.Rose beat S.Cooley & N.Cox 2-1 (9-12, 12-4, 12-5)
A.Theodossi & J.O'Neill beat G.Campbell & N.Woof 2-1 (2-12, 12-10, 12-5)
A.Theodossi & J.O'Neill beat L.Brock & E.Rose 2-1 (12-7, 8-12, 12-8)
G.Hoskins & R.Scott beat J.Saunders & S.Warren-Thomas 2-0 (12-8, 12-8)
Main Tournament Plate
A.Leighton & J.Hawkes beat D.Foster & O.Green
A.Lumbard & E.Thompsell beat M.Barnes & E.Osen