Jan 2016: Homerton Win Cambridge Cuppers

Riki Houlden reports:

On Sunday 24th January, 15 players came to the Cambridge University Sports Centre Eton Fives courts for Eton Fives Cuppers 2016, the tournament’s second year. The tournament is very informal when compared to Cuppers in many other sports, and focuses mostly on participation and getting a lot of fun games – the top men’s players are not allowed to partner with one another, and mixed pairings and the entry of beginners are strongly encouraged through the use of the “Osen revision of the Wiseman rules”.

However, competition is fierce among the pairs that enter for their chance to win the coveted CUEFC Cuppers Trophy.

The pairs were split into two groups for the morning round-robins:

Group A

Pembroke: Tony Barker + Izhan Khan
Gonville & Caius: Fred Tomlinson + Susanna Xu
Peterhouse 1: Ewan Day-Collins + Julian Sutcliffe
Magdalene: Sophie Kelly + Annie Cave
Group B

Homerton: Nic Walker + Matt Shaw
Peterhouse 2: Xiao Lin + Annie Calderbank
Sidney Sussex/ Selwyn: Rhonda Shiels + Ben Belltrami
[Christ’s/ Magdalene: Riki Houlden + _________…. my partner didn’t show up so had to pull out :( ]
In Group A, Tony and Izhan were a force to be reckoned with and won all their games – unsurprising as Tony is 1st pair for Cambridge, and Izhan (being a cricket Blue) has exceptional hand-eye coordination for a complete beginner. Fred and Susanna got closest to Pembroke with a 12-8 loss, and earned themselves the second spot in the semi-finals with victories against Peterhouse and Magdalene.

In Group B, Nic and Matt displayed a dominant performance winning both of their games 12-4. Rhonda and Ben took second place with a strong win against Xiao and Annie, who joined their Peterhouse teammates in the Plate Competition.

The Plate Competition Final was won by Peterhouse 1, with Peterhouse 2 runners-up. Although initially impressed by such a strong turnout from a single college, this was soon explained by the presence of a “balloting points system” at Peterhouse that takes into account participation in Cuppers (as well as a number of other factors). I also discovered that Julian is rumoured to be the college’s “points KING”… but I’m going to tell myself they came because they genuinely wanted to try out Eton Fives or already do love the game…

The first semi-final was between Pembroke (Group A winners) and Sidney Sussex/ Selwyn (Group B 2ndplace). Despite Tony and Izhan’s march through the earlier group stages, Rhonda and Ben came out on top – Rhonda began to find her game as Cambridge Ladies 3rd pair, and Ben’s strength as one of the best Rugby fives players in the country (Eton fives’ sister sport) shone through.

The second semi-final was between Homerton (Group B winners) and Gonville & Caius (Group A 2ndplace). Susanna also plays at Ladies 3rd pair and has been showing improvement throughout the season, and Fred was returning to the game after a 2 year hiatus since school which made for an interesting mix of clear signs of rustiness with random ridiculously high quality shots. They fought hard, but were no match for Nic and Matt who took their place in the Final.

The Final, between Homerton and Sidney Sussex/Selwyn, had both an Eton fives (Nic and Rhonda) and Rugby fives (Ben and Matt) player in each pair, resulting in an unbiased and keenly watching crowd. However, it was a repeat of a match-up that had already been played in the group stages and the result was never in doubt – Rhonda and Ben held their own and some fantastic rallies were played, but Homerton were always on top with Nic attacking into the buttress and Matt able to retrieve consistently no matter what Rhonda or Ben sent his way. They won 2 games to 0, and were presented with the CUEFC Cuppers Trophy.