2001 Aberconway Cup

Mike Fenn reports:

The Eleventh Championship was held at Eton on Sunday 22nd April. The absence of the Dunbar family, dominant champions for the last five years, threw the Championship wide open and gave added impetus to the aspirations of the other entrants. Each was determined to take advantage of this unexpected opportunity to become holders of the Aberconway Cup.

Pairings increased to ten and included first-timers Martin and Jonathan Lindsay. Seb Cooley partnered his father for the first time and in so doing became the third member of the Cooley clan to partner dad in successive years. A hidden message from the children, perhaps?

The ten pairs were divided into two groups each playing four games to fifteen points, with the winners and runners-up proceeding to the semi-finals. The Walters (Tony and Anthony), Rodwells (Peter and James), Markkanens (Olli and Pauli) and Knowles (Peter and Jonathan) were seeded 1-4 respectively, with each group arranged to known strengths, age, clubs etc.

Group Matches

There were no major surprises in either group with the four seeds comfortably reaching the semi-finals. In Group 1 all pairs won a match with George and Jonathan Nosworthy narrowly beating John and Seb Cooley 15-14. Jeff and Edward Tolchard (Group 2) were the best of the non-seeds winning two of their three matches.

Semi-finals

The two Walters, Champions in 1995, got off to an excellent start against the Markkanens and had seven points on the board before their opponents scored their first. Scoring then evened with the Walters taking a hard fought first game 12-7. The improved form of the Markkanens continued into the second game but at 4-3 down they were destined not to take a further point. The second semi-final failed to live up to expectations and was all over in under 30 minutes. The Rodwells dominated throughout with the Knowles playing well below par failing to get out of the starting blocks. They never recovered from the loss of seven points in the one hand during the first game and were convincingly beaten 12-2, 12-0.

Final

The Rodwells, playing in their first final, made a nervous start and were not allowed to settle. Anthony Walters went off like a rocket with both father and son returning cut and cutting down their opponents with ease. They soon established a 4-0 lead building to 10-5. However the Rodwells were by no means out and with steady controlled play they fought their way back into the game. Over eagerness to finish the game and two unforced errors by Walters senior saw the score level at 10-10. The Walters went ahead 12-10, the Rodwells levelled at 12-12 but could not sustain their momentum and went down 12-15.

In the second game the Rodwells were two points to the good when a misguided full blooded volley was slammed at point blank range into young Walters nose. This unfortunate occurrence marred to a certain extent what until that point had been a hard fought but good spirited final. Anthony elected to play on with what was clearly a broken nose. To his credit he continued to give his all and once over the initial shock helped his father to claw back from 2-9 down to 9-11 before losing the second 9-12.

In the final game the match was evenly balanced at 4-4 but with Walters senior having difficulty in cutting down young James Rodwell the the scoreline swung dramatically in favour of the Rodwells who took six points in quick succession to lead 10-4 and shortly after to win the third game and final 12-6. So ended one of, if not, the closest final in the eleven years of the Aberconway. In the presentation that followed Mike Fenn congratulated the Rodwells in winning the Championship for the first time and commiserated with the Walters for coming second.

Results

Group 1

A & A Walters won 4 lost 0

P & J Knowles won 3 lost 1

J & S Cooley won 1 lost 3

M & M Marriott won 1 lost 3

G & J Nosworthy won 1 lost 3

Group 2

P & J Rodwell won 4 lost 0

O & P Markkanen won 3 lost 1

J & E Tolchard won 2 lost 2

J & R Pynor won 1 lost 3

M & J Lindsay won 0 lost 4

Semi-finals:

A & A Walters beat O & P Markkanen 12-7, 12-3

P & J Rodwell beat P & J Knowles 12-2, 12-0

Final:

P & J Rodwell beat A & A Walters 12-15, 12-9, 12-6