2012 Aberconway Cup: Hughes family win the Generation Game

Mike Fenn reports:

The Aberconway Cup was retained at Eton yesterday by Mike and Chris Hughes, who narrowly beat Grant and Guy Williams in the final.

A sunny but cold day heralded the twenty-second Fathers and Sons Tournament held yesterday at Eton College. An entry of sixteen pairs for the second season running provided four groups of four for the morning session with each pair playing the best of three games, foot at eleven, with group winners playing in the finals in the afternoon.

This year the Aberconway was missing five of the regular pairings but with two first time pairs and three returning to the competition an entry of sixteen pairs was maintained. We welcomed for the first time Marcus and Jack Capstick-Dale and Henry and Freddie Wickham as well as the return of Guy and Richard Chapman, James and Noah Caplin, George and Jonathan Nosworthy and David and Paul Martin.

The group matches went with the top four seeds progressing to the afternoon finals. Mike and Chris Hughes comfortably won Group A albeit tested by Andrew Husselbee and son Tom who ended in second place in the group. Group B, won by seasoned campaigners Tony and Anthony Walters, became a battle between the other three relatively well matched pairs each securing one win. Newcomers Marcus Capstick-Dale did well to beat David and Robert Cooper in a long opening match 11-12, 12-11, 12-4. Group C produced an exceptional match with Jonathan and Matt Asquith holding off a fine challenge from group runners-up John and Seb Cooley. The Asquiths took the first game to 6 but a strong comeback in the second by the Cooleys, when some 5 points down, won it 12-9 with Jonathan and Tom eventually holding out against inspired individual play by Seb to take the third 12-8. In Group D Grant and Guy Williams powered through dropping only 6 points in their three matches. Philip and Robert Wilson came a creditable second comfortably winning two matches.

In the first best of three game semi-final top seeds Mike and Chris Hughes powered to an early lead against Jonathan and Matt Asquith and within two hands had established a 5-0 lead. A small comeback to 7-3 indicated that the Asquiths had overcome initial nerves but with two successive cuts out of court by father and the loss of four points in the one hand the game was lost to 4. A similar pattern occurred in the second with the Hughes establishing an early lead and with another run of 4 points in the one hand took the second game and the match 12-4, 12-4. In the second semi-final second seeds Grant and Guy Williams, having comfortably taken the first game against the seasoned Walters 12-3, found themselves struggling against the attacking game of Anthony Walters and with too many unforced errors went down 12-9. However the tide soon turned and with the tightening up of their play combined with a tiring Walters senior the Williams took the third convincingly 12-3 and the match 12-3, 9-12, 12-3.

The best of three final had the makings of an absorbing match between two experienced pairs. The small band of some dozen or so spectators were not to be disappointed as the first game was nip and tuck throughout with Mike and Chris Hughes establishing an early slender lead only to be pegged back to 6-6 by Grant and Guy Williams. A further 2 point lead by the Hughes was again pegged back by the Williams who eventually took the game 12-9. The second was more of the same the score reaching 6-6 before Guy Williams, who was suffering with severe cramp, became more and more incapacitated and although he valiantly continued to play the Williams, within two points of winning the match, lost the second to 10 and sadly had to withdraw. Thus the Hughes retained the trophy 9-12, 12-10. Play throughout the match was of a very high quality with sons at times outshining their fathers and with both pairs playing an attacking game kept the spectators enthralled throughout.

In presenting the Aberconway Cup, Christopher Horne commiserated with the losers and congratulated the winners Mike and Chris Hughes in winning the cup for a record fifth time. He pointed out that the Walters combined age exceeded 100 years possibly the first in the history of the championship and thanked Eton College for their hospitality and the organiser Mike Fenn.

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