2009/10 County Championships: Kings of Herts
The County Championship title was this year retained by Hertfordshire, narrow winners over Kent in the final.
A total of eight counties entered the qualifying round at Eton this year, allowing for a frenetic all-play-all format of one game matches. There was vast scope for controversy with the scoring system, which gave three points for each pair won, but a point forscoring seven or more points in a losing game, especially as there were time limits imposed for the games – but goodwill triumphed and no 'rulings' were required!
Kent and Hertfordshire had brought strong sides and entered the final round guaranteed qualification, but with a needle match to decide first and second. Both ended up with 55 points, Kent having won one more pair over the competition but Herts 2-1 victory in the meeting between the two sides gave them the top seeding for the finals.
Middlesex were comfortable in third, while Warwickshire and Staffordshire battled it out for fourth – with again the final round meeting between the teams proving decisive. Warwickshire came out on top, edging second and third pairs 12-10, and then wrapping things up with a 12-6 win at first.
Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Berkshire completed the entrants – but by no means just making up the numbers, as each won six pairs. Oxfordshire brought in a 'ringer' for their final game against Berks, which proved enough to settle things in their favour, but any of the bottom four would have overtaken Warwickshire with a more favourable result against them.
All in all, a very successful day's Fives – and hopefully we'll have even more counties taking part this year (Suffolk and Shropshire where were you?!)
The two semis both went the way of the seedings, with Kent and Hertfordshire proving too strong for Middlesex and Warwickshire respectively, though both matches were 2-1. First pair Herts v Warwickshire is worthy of mention, where the organiser was suggesting they stopped for lunch (pairs 2 and 3 having finished, and hence the match decided), but the players keen to battle on.
The final saw Hertfordshire complete their Hat-Trick, successfully re-defending their title. Kent were too strong at first pair, and Herts had too much strength in depth at third, so the crucial pair was always going to be second. Hertfordshire were probably the favourites, and so it proved, their pairing of the two Petes proving comfortable winners in the end.
T third-fourth playoff not only took place this year, but even saw changes to both teams - with John Saunders arriving for Middlesex, and Seb Cooley stepping in for Warwickshire. It would look like the result was hanging on a very tight fifth set at third pair, which could easily have gone either way – but second pair was actually still locked at one set all when third pair had finished all five sets! Middlesex eventually triumphed, edging third pair, and winning second pair after a marathon encounter.
Middlesex lost to Kent 1-2
Guy Chapman & Robert Desmond lost to Howard Wiseman & James Toop 0-3 (6-12, 6-12, 3-12)
Shuja Khan & Ryan Perrie lost to Matt Wiseman & Luke Stradwick 0-3 (9-12, 5-12, 7-12)
Dexter Davis & Saul Albert beat Tony Barker & Harry Ravi 3-0 (12-8, 12-3, 12-3)
Hertfordshire beat Warwickshire 2-1
Dave Mew & Ant Theodossi lost to George Campbell & Richard Tyler 0-3 (9-12, 7-12, 13-14)
Pete Cohen & Pete White beat Merlin Goldman & Tom Cox 3-0 (12-6, 12-9, 12-3)
Mark Herring & Doug Foster beat Pete Scholey & Chris Mellor 3-0 (12-4, 12-6, 12-5)
Kent lost to Hertfordshire 1-2
Howard Wiseman & James Toop beat Dave Mew & Ant Theodossi 3-0 (12-10, 12-9, 12-6)
Matt Wiseman & Luke Stradwick lost to Pete Cohen & Pete White 0-3 (7-12, 13-14, 4-12)
Tony Barker & Harry Ravi lost to Doug Foster & Mark Herring 0-3 (2-12, 4-12, 2-12)
3rd/4th Play Off
Middlesex beat Warwickshire 2-1
Guy Chapman & Robert Desmond lost to Seb Cooley & George Campbell 0-3 (11-12, 7-12, 9-12)
Dexter Davis & Saul Albert beat Richard Tyler & Rez Malik 3-1 (12-4, 10-15, 12-9, 12-10)
Ryan Perrie & John Saunders beat Chris Mellor & Merlin Goldman 3-2 (13-11, 15-11, 9-12, 9-12, 15-13)