Welsh Invitational Returns To Rydal
Paul Bowden reports:
18/05/22: It was great to be back in Colwyn Bay for the Welsh Invitational after an enforced gap of two and a half years and we were blessed with two days of near perfect weather.
This encouraged three of the guests, Charlotta, Rachel and Harry to have a dip in the sea after play on Saturday. The water temperature received mixed reviews and for the Sunday morning dip, Harry decided a run was more attractive. The male guests had other things to do.
The school had struggled a bit to maintain any sort of Fives programme during the pandemic and therefore apart from a couple of the old hands, the pupils taking part were mostly young and inexperienced. What they lacked in age and expertise they more than made up for with their enthusiasm, keenness to learn and improve and their impeccable behaviour. It was also interesting to note that the boys were outnumbered by the girls.
The normal programme was adjusted slightly to adapt to this slightly different situation which meant that the guest players were more involved in nearly all of the matches.
The format for the three different competitions over the weekend is based on short, timed matches with ever-changing partners and opponents. On Saturday we eventually make the semi-finals and final all pupil affairs. Anthony, by far the most experienced of the school players, was able to encourage his much less experienced partner, Chloe, to what turned out to be relatively straightforward victories.
On Sunday the pupils were divided into two competitions for the first phases and the visitors were involved across both competitions. Both competitions were extremely closely fought with very few points difference between the highest and lowest player.
The top four pupils in each section were paired with an adult partner to produce four really well matched semi-finals where the greatest winning margin was three points. In the top competition Anthony playing with Matt just scraped through 12-11 against Fflur and Seb after leading 11-6 and then enduring some very heart in mouth moments at 11 all. In the final they met Jonah and Abs who had only one more point to spare when they defeated Josh and Stephen 12-10. The final was neck and neck all the way until Anthony and Matt prevailed 12-10.
In the other competition, two really close semi-finals produced wins for Karen and Gracie and Harry and Pippa and the final was slightly more one sided because Gracie who had been biding her time, played a blinder.
It remains for me to thank Gareth for giving up any chance of playing to arrange all the matches; all our guest players for deciding that they would really like to support the school players throughout and in particular, our champions, Seb, Charlotta and Karen who gave a really helpful ‘three top tips’ session, beautifully demonstrated on court; the pupils who really entered into the spirit of the event and made quite dramatic progress; to Maria and of course the caterers who provided all the superb food with more cake than I have ever seen which was greatly appreciated by everyone but particularly by one of our guest players (who could this be? answers on a postcard please) and lastly Nicky Head for re-establishing the event and getting fives happening in the school again.
Next year, it is probably that there will be two events, one on Founders Day in September when alumni will be encouraged to return to play against the current pupils and guests and then a Spring event corresponding to this one. I very much hope that all those present this weekend will return.
Anthony Bowe & Chloe Tillman Lennon beat Jonah Craddock & Keira Luke 12-5
Fflur Pierce & Charlotte Hourihane beat Gabe Speakman & Pippa Roberts 12-7
Anthony Bowe & Chloe Tillman Lennon beat Fflur Pierce & Charlotte Hourihane 12-3
3rd/4th place play off
Jonah Craddock & Keira Luke beat Gabe Speakman & Pippa Roberts 12-10
Anthony Bowe & Matt Chinery beat Fflur Pierce & Seb Cooley 12-11
Jonah Craddock & Abhishek Bhattacharya beat Josh Stewart & Stephen Thatcher 12-10
Anthony Bowe & Matt Chinery beat Jonah Craddock & Abhishek Bhattacharya 12-10
Gracie Tavernor & Karen Hird beat Charlotte Hourihane & Rachel Woods 12-9
Pippa Roberts & Harry Asquith beat Emily Thomas & Charlotta Cooley 12-10
Gracie Tavernor & Karen Hird beat Pippa Roberts & Harry Asquith 12-4