Nov 2011: London Calling for Cooley and Dunbar in Highgate Clash

Seb Cooley and Tom Dunbar won the 2011 London Tournament at Highgate yesterday, beating Howard Wiseman and Peter Cohen 3-1 in the final after an exciting weekend's Fives.

Seb Cooley and Tom Dunbar continued their recent dominance of the Eton Fives majors with what was in the end a convincing win over Howard Wiseman and Peter Cohen in an intriguing tactical battle in the final.

The EFA were delighted to be able to hold the London Tournament back at Highgate School after spells at Harrow and Eton and the pool stages on Saturday morning quickly threw up the first shock of the weekend as Guy Chapman and Nick Shaw took advantage of a slightly underprepared Anthony Theodossi and Ryan Perrie to edge their Group B encounter and move forward into the fourth seeded slot. The other three seeded pairs all progressed as expected as group winners, although none were given an easy ride, with Old Westminsters Laurie Brock and Ed Rose serving notice of their intentions by pushing second seeds Howard Wiseman and Peter Cohen to 12-11 in their first game of two.

The field of sixteen split into two sections for the afternoon's play, with the top two pairs from each pool moving into the quarter-finals and the rest into the Plate. The Plate competition produced two terrific semi-finals, with Tony Barker and Archie Cameron-Blackie squeezing through 15-14 against Sam Newby and the competition organiser (deputising for the injured Alex Cybulski) and Harry Turnbull and Alex Knight 15-11 winners over Joe Marks and Peter Nichols. The final was a high quality affair with the younger Olavian/Cranleighan combination having a bit too much for Harry and Alex, running out 15-7 winners. Meanwhile. the four losing Plate A quarter-finalists were doing battle for Plate B, which ended with Windsor & Eton duo Nick Bunyan and Ian Mitchell beating Jeff Lawrence and Merlin Goldman in two close games. Alex Nice and Ralph Morgan won the Plate B 3rd/4th place play off 15-10 over Old Westminsters Majid Mostafavi and Miheer Chanrai.

The top three seeds continued their expected progress in the main tournament quarter-finals, top seeds Seb Cooley and Tom Dunbar easing past Luke Stradwick and Julian Black and third seeds Doug Foster and George Campbell seeing off the potentially dangerous Millhillian pair of Vishal Bhimjiyani and Justin Lefort. Their morning result against Chapman and Shaw meant that fourth seeds Theodossi and Perrie found themselves pitched against second seeds Howard Wiseman and Peter Cohen in the third quarter-final; a potentially awkward match for Howard and Pete was safely negotiated in four games, whilst Ant and Ryan were left ruing their earlier result.

The fourth quarter-final looked like a close match up on paper and so it proved on court. Back in the mists of time, Guy Chapman and Nick Shaw had been a successful Cambridge University first pair together and they quickly slipped into their old routine, taking the first game 13-11 against Old Westminsters Brock and Rose and reaching game ball first in the second. They couldn't convert that opportunity, however, and Brock and Rose came back to snatch the second game 14-11. With momentum now on their side, the Westminster duo raced through the third game 12-2 and looked set for the semi-finals. Guy and Nick had other ideas, though, and the fourth game turned into an epic encounter with both pairs neck and neck all the way to 13-13 and sudden death before Ed and Laurie gratefully closed out the game and the match 3-1.

Their reward for winning that match was a Sunday morning semi-final against the reigning Kinnaird Cup champions Seb Cooley and Tom Dunbar, and predictably this was a bridge too far for Ed and Laurie, although they put up a strong fight in the first and third games. While Seb and Tom had their feet up with a cup of tea waiting for the final, the other semi was proving to be a much tighter contest. Wiseman and Cohen had the edge early on, taking the first game 12-6. Lancing Old Boys Campbell and Foster began to find their game in the second, however, and established a 10-6 lead. With 1-1 on the cards, though, Howard and Pete refused to give in and fought back with some tenacious Fives to claim the game 15-13 and take a 2-0 lead. This proved to be the crucial phase of the match; despite Doug and George striking back and taking the third game 12-9, overturning a 2-0 lead in a best of 5 contest was always a tough ask and Howard and Peter duly regained the upper hand in the fourth to book their place in the final.

Given the form of Cooley and Dunbar during the course of 2011 there was a concern that the final would turn out to be one-sided. Wiseman and Cohen had other ideas, though. Benefitting from having had a tougher workout in the morning and implementing a typically cunning Wisemanian tactical plan to try and neuter the attacking threat of Cooley and Dunbar, the underdogs got their noses in front in the first game; with Wiseman and Cohen playing with patience, accuracy and great discipline Tom and Seb were unable to find a way to get back on terms and the second seeds eventually took the first game 12-10 after nearly an hour's play. The break between games gave Tom and Seb the opportunity to work out their own response to the tactics of Wiseman and Cohen; from the start of the second game they immediately looked sharper and looked to attack and get on the front foot to a much greater degree. Once Tom and Seb managed to successfully impose this style of play there was little that Howard and Pete could do in reply and with Seb's elaborate facial topiary possibly providing the necessary mo-mentum the top seeds ran away with the next three games, conceding only eight further points to win their first London tournament title as a pair. They are now the holders of all three major titles, while Seb is in the astonishing position of being part of the pair or team that currently holds the Kinnaird, London, Northern, Midland, League, Alan Barber Cup, Richard Barber Cup, Turnbull Trophy, and Ranking Tournament titles - an exceptional achievement.

My thanks go to all who took part in an excellent weekend of Fives and to Highgate School for allowing us to use their facilities.


Main Tournament Results

Quarter-Finals

S.Cooley & T.Dunbar (1) beat L.Stradwick & J.Black 3-0 (12-0, 12-4, 12-2)

L.Brock & E.Rose beat G.Chapman & N.Shaw 3-1 (11-13, 14-11, 12-2, 14-13)

D.Foster & G.Campbell (3) beat V.Bhimjiyani & J.Lefort 3-0 (12-7, 12-8, 12-6)

H.Wiseman & P.Cohen (2) beat A.Theodossi & R.Perrie (4) 3-1 (12-7, 9-12, 12-1, 15-11)

Semi-Finals

S.Cooley & T.Dunbar beat L.Brock & E.Rose 3-0 (12-5, 12-0, 12-6)

H.Wiseman & P.Cohen beat D.Foster & G.Campbell 3-1 (12-6, 15-13, 9-12, 12-6)

Final

S.Cooley & T.Dunbar beat H.Wiseman & P.Cohen 3-1 (10-12, 12-3, 12-3, 12-2)

Plate A

T.Barker & A.Cameron-Blackie beat H.Turnbull & A.Knight 15-7

Plate B

N.Bunyan & I.Mitchell beat J.Lawrence & M.Goldman 2-0 (12-8, 12-10)

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