Ladies Championships 2019: Top Four Through
11/03/19: The preliminary rounds of the 2019 National Ladies Championships took place at Eton yesterday, with a strong turnout and some excellent Fives.
The main competition this year featured the top sixteen pairs and was run as a straight best of five game knockout competition, with the pairs who lost in the first round going into the plate. As usual, a festival competition was run in parallel with the main tournament.
Right from the start of proceedings it was clear that the top four pairs in the competition were head and shoulders above the rest and all four duly cruised through the last sixteen and quarter-final rounds largely untroubled. Elsewhere, there were lots of very well-matched pairs and there were some outstanding ties in the first round. The top two Shrewsbury school pairs put in strong performances to qualify for the last eight in the face of some tough opposition - Sophia Breese & Emma Graham having just enough power and experience to hold off the exciting triple U15 champions Bethan Miles & Lola Hannah, who are now beginning to make their mark in the senior ranks. Katie Oswald & Lizzie Ware also made it through, but again not without a scare as they recovered from a 14-13 third game loss to Rachel Wood & Emily O'Malley to win in four. A third Shrewsbury pair - Phoebe Wasdell & Ella Windle - pushed veterans Fiona Barnes & Mandie Barnes hard for three long tight games before Fiona & Mandie took charge in the fourth. The match of the round was the game between Faye Kerr & Francesca Turnbull of North Oxford and Highgate School's top pair of Mia Barry & Emma Williets. After a slow start in the first game, Mia & Emma began to dominate, racing through the second game to establish a 2-0 lead. Francesca & Faye settled down in the third and began to up their game, forcing the Highgate pair onto the back foot and into a fourth. The fourth game was a nailbiter and when Faye & Francesca won it 12-11 to level at 2-2 it looked like the momentum was with them going into the fifth. It was therefore greatly to the Highgate girls' credit that they didn't panic and refound their best form to take control of the match once more and win 12-7.
Their reward was a quarter-final against defending champions Karen Hird & Charlotta Cooley with a predictable outcome, a pattern repeated across the last eight as Ashley Lumbard & Emily Scoones eased past Mandie & Fiona and the Shrewsbury challenge hit the rocks, Katie & Lizzie getting no change at all from former champions Dominique & Lia Redmond and Sophia & Emma losing in three to Elana Osen & Marjolaine Briscoe, although not without a spirited third game showing.
One of the strengths of the Kinnaird Cup being a straight knockout event has always been the quality displayed in and importance attached to the Pepperpot plate trophy and this was mirrored in the main competition plate tournament. The eight pairs who didn't make the quarter-finals produced a series of high quality and close matches in two groups of four, with Bethan & Lola winning Group A ahead of Faye & Francesca, Phoebe & Ella and another Shrewsbury pair in Georgie Nicholas & Adelaide Sillar. The other group was even closer with virtually every match finishing 15-13 or 15-12 and was eventually won by the other U15 pair in the competition, Shrewsbury's Lisette Barden & Harriet Shuker, just pipping Berkhamsted pair Freya Butler & Zoe Nicholls to first place, with Rachel & Emily and Highgate's Catherine Vos & Lorenza Valensise just behind.
The final of the plate was one of the highlights of the day, with the two youngest pairs in the main competition showing exciting glimpses of what we can expect to see from them both in future years, the extra experience of the Berkhamsted pair just giving them the edge 15-11 in a fantastic game.
The Festival was a great opportunity for some of the younger and less experienced pairs to enjoy the day and improve their games and featured pairs from Highgate, Shrewsbury, Ipswich, Berkhamsted and Holyport. The final was an all-Salopian affair, won - just - by Morgan Sanford & Ellie Kynaston against Phoebe Watkins & Kate Brunskill.
Thanks to Eton for hosting the tournament, to Advanta Wealth for their sponsorship and to Mandie Barnes and Ian Mitchell for their excellent organisation.
Semi-finals to be played at Eton on Sunday 31st March at 2:30pm
K.Hird & C.Cooley v M.Briscoe & E.Osen
A.Lumbard & E.Scoones v D.Redmond & L.Redmond
K.Hird & C.Cooley beat C.Vos & L.Valensise 3-0 (12-0, 12-0, 12-0)
M.Barry & E.Williets beat F.Kerr & F.Turnbull 3-2 (12-9, 12-0, 5-12, 11-12, 12-7)
S.Breese & E.Graham beat B.Miles & L.Hannah 3-0 (12-9, 12-8, 13-11)
M.Briscoe & E.Osen beat G.Nicholas & A.Sillar 3-0 (12-3, 12-4, 12-1)
D.Redmond & L.Redmond beat L.Barden & H.Shuker 3-0 (12-0, 12-0-, 12-0)
K.Oswald & L.Ware beat R.Wood & E.O'Malley 3-1 (12-5, 12-7, 12-13, 12-7)
F.Barnes & M.Barnes beat P.Wasdell & E.Windle 3-1 (12-10, 12-13, 12-10, 12-4)
E.Scoones & A.Lumbard beat Z.Nicholls & F.Butler 3-0 (12-2, 12-0, 12-0)
K.Hird & C.Cooley beat M.Barry & E.Williets 3-0 (12-2, 12-1, 12-3)
M.Briscoe & E.Osen beat S.Breese & E.Graham 3-0 (12-2, 12-1, 12-8)
D.Redmond & L.Redmond beat K.Oswald & L.Ware 3-0 (12-3, 12-3, 12-4)
E.Scoones & A.Lumbard beat F.Barnes & M.Barnes 3-0 (12-1, 12-1, 12-1)
B.Miles & L.Hannah beat L.Barden & H.Shuker 15-11
M.Sanford & E.Kynaston beat P.Watkins & K.Brunskill 2-0 (12-10, 12-11)
S.Gibson & S.Whittall won on a round robin basis