2013 Jesters Universities Tournament

The 2013 Jesters Universities tournament took place at Eton last weekend and featured 29 pairs representing 16 different universities, with first time appearances this year from Liverpool, Edinburgh, De Montfort and the University of East London.

Once again the tournament benefited hugely from the grant provided by the Jesters club, enabling all players to have their travel costs reimbursed – a vital factor in enabling the likes of Edinburgh, Durham and Exeter to take part. The tournament featured players who had learned their Fives at a wide range of Fives-playing schools but perhaps the most heartening statistic is that around 25% of the players on show didn’t play at school and have learned since arriving at university.

The men’s competition started with 4 groups of 5 pairs. Defending champions Cambridge 1 (Robert Wilson and Jamie Abbott) stood out as number one seeds but there were a posse of useful looking pairs jostling for position behind them and aiming to knock them off their perch. Early impressions were made by Jamie Betts and Tom Weston of Bath, who defeated Oxford 1 in their first match and Rory Mucklow and James Lawson Baker of Edinburgh, who saw off the double London threat of UCL1 and Queen Mary in Group C. Next to show were York, semi-finalists last year, as Callum Brock and Tom Witherow pushed Abbott and Wilson to 12-8 in the highest quality match of the group stages, both pairs making it through to the last eight.

Elsewhere, QM (Westminsters Sam Williams and Adam Robinow) won the internal London battle over UCL’s James Tugwell and Davin Chandra to qualify behind Edinburghin their group. Another London pair, Imperial’s Darshan Patel and Chris Self, came through strongly to win Group D ahead of Cambridge 2 (Jack Weller and Riki Houlden) who beat their Oxford second pair counterparts (Sacha Mehta and Dan Paul) to take the second qualifying slot.

The tightest group was turning out to be Group B. After their fine start, Bath looked to be in a strong position to win the group. Oxford 1 (Jack Flowers and Max Wintle) had beaten the other main contenders, the hybrid De Montfort/East London pair of Ben Hart and Carl Rennie 12-7 before the final round of games turned everything on its head. Ben Hart won the battle of the Old Wulfrunians against Tom Weston as the Bath pair never got going. A 12-3 win for Hart and Rennie meant that all three pairs were level on 3 wins and 1 defeat each. It was settled by points difference, and that 12-3 victory margin turned out to be crucial, catapulting DMU/UEL to the top of the group with Oxford 1 in second place and Bath left to play in the Plate.

The quarter-finals were played as one game up to 15; Cambridge 1 were again made to work hard, but came through 15-8 against QM, Sam Williams finally leaving behind his reputation as a plate specialist after making it through to the knockout stages. Imperial again looked strong as they won 15-9 against Oxford 1 and York reached a second successive semi-final with a tough 15-12 win over the fancied Edinburgh pair. The other quarter-final was the closest of the day with DMU/UEL once again featuring in a nail-biting climax, reaching 14 first before being pipped 15-14 by Cambridge 2.

Riki Houlden and Jack Weller then took the confidence gained from that win and took it into the semi-final as they tore into the Cambridge first pair. Abbott and Wilson were not quite reproducing their form of last year that saw them win several trophies and reach the quarter-finals of the Kinnaird Cup and found themselves taken to a third game by the Cambridge second pair. They came through the decider to reach the final once again but the match clearly took a lot out of them, Wilson in particular struggling for energy.

In the other semi-final, Self and Patel from Imperial felt quietly confident going up against Brock and Witherow from York but came away disappointed after a 12-4, 12-8 defeat. The York pair produced their best Fives of the day in this match, combining well and making light of their lack of recent match practice.

The respective semi-final performances looked like setting up a close final, with Cambridge – serial winners of this tournament in recent years – potentially in danger of losing their crown. Sadly for York, it didn’t work out that way as with Wilson rejuvenated and Abbott in impressive form, the York pair were blown away in a whirlwind first game, going down 12-0. Brock and Witherow rallied in the second game, keeping it close until about half way through, but the Cambridge pair had refound their confidence and were able to close out the second game 12-6 and retain their title.

After the disappointment of not qualifying for the last eight, Bath were the side to avoid in the Plate and they duly swept all before them, defeating UCL2 (Penn Chai and Andrew Ibbetson) in the quarter-final, UCL1 in the semi-final and Liverpool in the final. This was a fine effort from the Liverpool pairing of Aroop Bhattacharya and Alice Brett, making it into the top 10 with a semi-final win over Oxford 3 – Felix White-Thomson and the first uberveteran to appear in this tournament, Nigel Cox, redefining the phrase “mature student”.

Plate B was won by the rather cobbled together Cambridge 4 pair of Chang Lee, accompanied by a cast of ringers including Karen Hird and Abs Bhattacharya, who beat Durham 2 (Chris Lavelle and Alex Caplan) in the final and Plate C by Durham 1 (Alex Tansey and Alpesh Mapara) who overcame UCL 3 (Terry Chen and Tim Nixey). The Plate A quarter-final losers’ plate was won by Oxford 2 against Barnaby Kelly and Guy Fountaine of Exeter– winners of the nattiest team kit award – and the main tournament quarter-final losers’ plate was won by Oxford 1.

The Ladies tournament featured 9 pairs and produced some terrific matches. As with the men’s tournament, there was a clear favourite – Oxford1’s Izzy Watts and Alice Walker – with lots of other pairs fighting for the other positions. Oxford 1 duly qualified in first place in Group A, with the second qualifying slot decided by the match between Cambridge 1 (Elana Osen and Olivia Prankerd-Smith) and Oxford 3 (Rosie Parr and Hannah Pritchard). This went down to the wire, with the Old Westminsters from Cambridge just having the experience to edge it 12-10 over the Old Salopian freshers from Oxford, whose time will undoubtedly come in this competition. The other Oxford pair – Scarlett Maguire and Lucy Rands – were involved in another three-way tussle to qualify from the other group; UCL’s Harriet Asquith and Issy Barber and the last minute Imperial/Manchester pairing of Sarah Greasley and Gina Vuqitrna (put together after the late withdrawal of Gina’s bona fide Manchester partner) both managed to defeat the Oxford pair, setting up a gripping group decider which was eventually won 15-14 by the UCL pair.

This meant that Sarah and Gina had to face favourites Oxford 1 in the first semi-final and Alice and Izzy looked in fine form, winning 12-2, 12-6. The second semi-final was a much closer contest; Elana and Olivia were playing some impressive Fives, with Olivia’s steadiness complementing Elana’s volleying and quick reactions. The speed and power of the UCL pair won them the first game 12-9, however, and they looked in control. The second game turned out to be crucial; it could have gone either way but when the Cambridge pair clinched it 12-10, the momentum turned irrevocably in their favour and they ran out comfortable winners in the third game.

Oxford had been looking strong all day, but with Cambridge playing so well and with great determination, they had to work hard to win the final. In the end, though, Alice and Izzy proved themselves to be comfortably the best pair on the day and took the trophy back to Oxford with a 12-6, 12-7 win.

Oxford 2 pipped Oxford 3 to win Plate A and Nottingham – Emily O’Malley and Alex Beever – won Plate B against two inexperienced but rapidly improving Cambridge pairs, led by captain Akanksha Bhat.

We were delighted to welcome Jesters Treasurer Maurice Glover as a guest for part of the day and also had EFA Vice-Chairman and Jesters Board member Ronald Pattison on hand to present the trophies. My thanks go to them, to Etonand Mike Hughes for hosting the tournament and to all those who made such an effort to organise pairs and travel long distances in some cases in order to take part and make it such a successful day.

Results

Men's tournament

Quarter-Finals

Cambridge 1 (R.Wilson & J.Abbott) beat Queen Mary's, London (S.Williams & A.Robinow) 15-8

Cambridge 2 (R.Houlden & J.Weller) beat De Montfort/East London (B.Hart & C.Rennie) 15-14

York (C.Brock & T.Witherow) beat Edinburgh (R.Mucklow & J.Lawson-Baker) 15-12

Imperial (D.Patel & C.Self) beat Oxford 1 (J.Flowers & M.Wintle) 15-9

Semi-Finals

Cambridge 1 beat Cambridge 2 2-1 (12-7, 11-14, 12-6)

York beat Imperial 2-0 (12-4, 12-8)

Final

Cambridge 1 beat York 2-0 (12-0, 12-6)

Plate A

Quarter-Finals

Oxford 3 (N.Cox & F.White-Thomson) beat Cambridge 3 (C.Moore & S.Patel) 15-11

Liverpool (A.Bhattacharya & A.Brett) beat Oxford 2 (S.Mehta & D.Paul) 15-3

UCL 1 (J.Tugwell & D.Chandra) beat Exeter (B.Kelly & G.Fountaine) 15-1

Bath (J.Betts & T.Weston) beat UCL 2 (P.Chai & A.Ibbetson) 15-6

Semi-Finals

Liverpool beat Oxford 3 15-4

Bath beat UCL 1 15-12

Final

Bath beat Liverpool 15-8

Plate B

Cambridge 4 (K.Hird/A.Bhattacharya/C.Lee) beat Durham 2 (C.Lavelle & A.Caplan) 15-4

Plate C

Durham 1 (A.Tansey & A.Mapara) beat UCL 3 (T.Nixey & T.Chen) 15-3

Plate A Q-F Losers Plate

Oxford 2 beat Exeter 15-10

Main Tournament QF Losers' Plate

Oxford 1 beat QM 2-0 (12-4, 12-9)



Ladies tournament

Semi-Finals

Oxford 1 (A.Walker & I.Watts) beat Manchester/Imperial (G.Vuqitrna & S.Greasley) 2-0 (12-2, 12-6)

Cambridge 1 (E.Osen & O.Prankerd-Smith) beat UCL (I.Barber & H.Asquith) 2-1 (9-12, 12-10, 12-3)

Final

Oxford 1 beat Cambridge 1 2-0 (12-6, 12-7)

Plate A

Oxford 2 (S.Maguire & L.Rands) beat Oxford 3 (R.Parr & H.Pritchard)

Plate B

Nottingham (A.Beever & E.O'Malley) beat Cambridge 2 (A.Bhat & S.) and Cambridge 3 (E.Shillam & L.Tobin)

u25 tournament 2013 1 20131122 1008277778
u25 tournament 2013 2 20131122 1601945951
u25 tournament 2013 3 20131122 1785248894
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1109179949
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1268964093
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1269703089
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1327047183
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1332637435
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1353070615
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1360169176
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1400000164
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1484075558
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1514118265
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1569342162
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1635461404
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1886843580
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1923151548
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 1948598270
universities tournament 2013 1 20131122 2040896109
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1012920956
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1092500500
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1125836931
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1298238514
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1313905060
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1349746795
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1355824319
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1505630933
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1572687207
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1591943435
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1779765663
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1904415512
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1962036347
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1983342634
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 1988818093
universities tournament 2013 2 20131122 2014015002
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1190360780
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1245799599
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1273151766
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1273473646
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1398812518
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1410657944
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1430231513
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1496974544
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1560460588
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1632055526
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1715229365
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1719758347
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1806383442
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 1849579540
universities tournament 2013 3 20131122 2090157732