2008 London Tournament
Dominique Redmond reports:
The London Tournament took place at Harrow School on the 13/14th December and as usual the rain, cold and windy weather came along for the ride. This year's tournament had a slight change, with the Festival becoming a one day event on the Sunday. We had 22 pairs enter the main competition and 16 pairs enter the festival - a great turnout for a competition so close to Christmas.
In the main competition, two pairs went through to the quarter-finals from pools of five or six pairs. We had several good matches where the lower seeded pairs really challenged the top four pairs including Anthony Theodossi and Ryan Perrie, who came close to beating third seeds Ed Taylor and Will Sorrell, narrowly losing 15-13.
The top four seeds also made it through their quarter-finals as expected, but again there were some high quality encounters. The top two seeds Tom and Peter Dunbar and Howard Wiseman and James Toop progressed comfortably; third seeds Taylor and Sorrell were pushed a bit harder by Doug Foster and George Campbell but won in straight games and, in a repeat of last year's quarter-final, fourth seeds Peter White and Pete Cohen took on Anthony Theodossi and Ryan Perrie. The underdogs were looking for an upset and despite losing the first two games, came back strongly, winning the third and leading in the fourth, before eventually going down three games to one.
Meanwhile 14 pairs took part in the plate where every one played every one else in a one game battle, with the top two pairs then contesting the final. The experienced Windsor and Eton pair of Nick Bunyan and Ian Mitchell took on the Millhillian duo of Sunil Tailor and Jitesh Patel in the final, which produced a very close match, the new faces of Sunil and Jitesh beating Nick and Ian 2-0 in two very close games which could have gone either way.
While the festival pool matches were taking place on the Sunday morning, the semi-finals were about to start in the main competition. Howard Wiseman and James Toop took on the new partnership of Ed Taylor and Will Sorrell in an epic four game match, with the Olavians eventually victorious. The other semi-final saw Peter and Tom Dunbar take on the two Petes. The match started off very well tightly with a stalemate at 4-4 before the Dunbar brothers got on a roll and ran away with the game 12-4. At the beginning of the second game the two Petes again started promisingly but Peter Cohen then sustained an injury and had to withdraw.
In the Festival, Merlin Goldman and John Saunders finished in top position in Pool A, with Dominique Redmond and Kerry White finishing second and qualifying for the knockout stages. In Pool B the top pair was Dan Grant and Jack Furniss (Rugby Fives players both!) followed by the one and only Wellingtonian pair of Hugo Tobias and Jon Staley.
In the semi-finals Dan and Jack beat Dominique and Kerry 15-5, although the match was closer than the score shows. Merlin and John took on Hugo and Jon, beating them15-7. The final of the Festival was therefore a clash between Eton and Rugby Fives, with the Rugby pair taking on the Eton players at their own game and beating them 15-9, a tremendous achievement only slightly tempered by the knowledge that both Jack and Dan had attended Eton Fives-playing prep schools in their youth!
The Final of the main competition was a classic encounter in front of a large and appreciative crowd, with many of the spectators claiming that they were watching some of the highest quality and most exciting Fives they had ever seen. The Dunbar brothers, having lost to Howard and James in the previous season�s Kinnaird final, were keen to reassert their supremacy and with home court advantage working in their favour, they wrapped up the first game 12-7. Howard and James, instead of then bowing to the seemingly inevitable, showed both their class and resilience to fight back in the second game and level the match at one apiece. The third game turned out to be crucial - with the score level at 13-13, the next point would not only decide the game but quite possibly the outcome of the whole tournament. The Dunbars took it and went on to win the fourth game and claim the title for the fourth year in succession.
I would like to thank Harrow school for allowing us use of the courts and every one who entered. I hope to see you all next year!
T Dunbar & P Dunbar beat P White & P Cohen 12-4, 12-4, (White & Cohen withdrew due to injury)
H Wiseman & J Toop beat E Taylor & W Sorrell 15-14, 11-13, 12-6, 12-8
T Dunbar & P Dunbar beat H Wiseman & J Toop 12-7, 12-14, 14-13, 12-6
J Saunders & M Goldman beat H Tobias & J Staley 15-4
D Grant & J Furnis beat D Redmond & K White 15-4
D Grant & J Furnis beat J Saunders & M Goldman 15-8