2000/01 County Championships
Anthony Crump reports:
Six Counties participated - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Kent, Middlesex, Sussex and Warwickshire.
1st Round: Sunday 19th November at Eton
Semi-finals and Final Sunday 21st January 2001 at Eton
Playing only for pride, Warwickshire's Robin Mason and Jonathan Mole's epic encounter with Kent's Howard and Matthew Wiseman concluded at 6.40pm at the end of a long and enjoyable championship which the weather did its best to influence. Berkshire had the distinction of beating the eventual winners Kent, albeit not at full strength, in the first round but narrowly missed qualification to the semi-finals on points difference to Middlesex. Warwickshire, Kent, Bucks, who all qualified comfortably and Sussex all had three pairs. The field in the 1st round, played on a round robin basis, was depleted owing to the success of the new Universities tournament held the previous day at Birmingham.
A cold, wet and snowy day presaged a leisurely start at the semi-finals. Kent's David Mew was unlucky to be delayed by an hour at Waterloo and his desperate captain imagined that every passing stranger of whatever description was his missing player! David eventually came running into view, but was obliged to start his match at 1st pair with Howard Wiseman against James Woodcock and Richard Wood 2 games in arrears. The Bucks 1st pair nearly took full advantage, but were unable to convert match points in the fourth game, the 2nd actually played. Bucks non-playing captain Martin Lindsay was concerned to find his 2nd and 3rd pairs playing against 2000 Kinnaird Cup winners. His concerns were justified as Kent went on to win 3-0. Warwickshire beat Middlesex 2-1 in the other semi-final, but the match was spoiled by an unfortunate injury to the accomplished Shanu Rashid playing for Middlesex's 2nd pair in his first game for a year. Being a doctor, he was able immediately to rectify his little finger, dislocated in returning the cut, but diagnosed that he was unable to continue, much to the dismay of his partner Shuja Khan. Harrow School's Peter Dunbar and James Wiilis put up a good performance at 1st pair for Middlesex against formidable opponents. Guy Chapman and Chris Davies gained a win at 3rd pair against Peter Knowles and Courtney Friend which proved to be consolation only for Middlesex.
Warwickshire's captain, Richard Tyler was perplexed at Kent's proposed pairings for the final. Howard Wiseman had decided to put his four best players in the first two pairs! Seb Cooley, now at Warwick University, was doubtless battling against his conscience as well as his opponents from his native county. After a close encounter in the 2nd game he and Richard Tyler went down 3-0 to the ever reliable James Toop and the dynamic David Mew, by which time the Kent 1st pair and the Warwickshire 3rd pair were 2-0 up respectively. 'The next drama took place in the 3rd court where the more youthfull Kent pair, P Sarmah. and S Fautly, after losing two gruelling games were able to benefit from their natural advantage and won 3-2. The score had reached 2-2 in the first court, but the outcome of the championship had now been determined and so the Championship Cup and trophies were presented at this juncture because most of the participants wanted to go home! The 1st pairs resolved to complete their match and the quality of fives was of the highest order. The skill and enthusiasm of the Wisemans was not quite enough to prevail against the former Kinnaird Cup winners. Robin Mason, not entirely happy with his game, complimented Jonathan Mole on his performance. "Wet ball!" called Robin Mason to his partner as he was about to serve after the ball had been retrieved from a puddle after a winning shot. "Let ball?" thought Howard. "The ball is wet" Robin re-affirmed. Only a few spectators remained to applaud the players after an absorbing, well-contested match. The Kent team returned home in good spirits, worthy winners. The Championship Cup had not been engraved, nor cleaned by the look of it, since 1993! Howard Wiseman undertook to rectify this omission and send the bill to the EFA on the basis that funds from NatWest, the original sponsor of this championship, should be available.
First Round Results:
1st Warwickshire 14 points
2nd Kent 9 points
3rd Buckinghamshire 8 points
4th Middlesex 5 points
5th Berkshire 5 points
6th Sussex 2 points
Kent beat Buckinghamshire 3-0
H Wiseman & D Mew beat J Woodcock & R Wood 3-0 (12-4, 15-14, 12-8)
M Wiseman & P Sarmah beat J Tolchard & J Rodwell 3-1 (12-15, 12-4, 12-6, 12-9)
J Toop & S Fautly beat G Whitehead & T Pemberton 3-0 (12-5, 12-7, 12-6)
Warwickshire beat Middlesex 2-1
R Mason & J Mole beat P Dunbar & J Willis 3-0 (12-5, 12-4, 12-1)
R Tyler & S Cooley beat S Khan & S Rashid 3-0 (4-4 ret)
P Knowles & C Friend lost to G Chapman & C Davies 0-3 (4-12, 6-12, 3-12)
Kent beat Warwickshire 2-1
H Wiseman & M Wiseman lost to R Mason & J Mole 2-3 (12-9, 12-9, 5-12, 10-12, 9-12)
J Toop & D Mew beat R Tyler & S Cooley 3-0 (12-2, 15-13, 12-6)
S Fautly & P Sarmah beat P Knowles & C Friend 3-2 (11-13, 14-15, 12-3, 12-2, 12-4)