Nov 2012: Nothing Amis(s) as Campbell and Dunbar dominate London Field
2012 has been a spectacular year of sport in London and with the Olympic and Paralympic warm-up acts out of the way, all eyes turned to Highgate as the climax of the capital's sporting year was played out over the course of the weekend in the 2012 London Tournament. One of the most open competitions in years produced some fantastic matches with the winners the new partnership of George Campbell - with his first "major" win - and former Kinnaird champion Pete Dunbar, making a triumphant return from his Middle Eastern exile.
A healthy entry of 22 pairs braved the wet weather to compete in the Main Tournament on Saturday; the courts managed to stay dry just long enough to get all matches played and the on court action did not come as a disappointment to those who had seen the entry list for the tournament, with several pairs quietly - or not so quietly in some cases - fancying their chances of getting their names on the London Tournament trophy.
The group stages threw up some intriguing battles: Salopians T Walters and Rex Worth saw off the Millhillian challenge of Vishal Bhimjiyani and Sunil Tailor to qualify in second place in Group D behind second seeds Howard Wiseman and David Mew; The Petes - White and Cohen - just edged Group C with a 12-11 win over Doug Foster and Jeremy O'Neill; George Campbell and Pete Dunbar made a good impression in their first competitive outing together in Group A, qualifying comfortably for the quarter-finals with Old Westminsters Laurie Brock and Ed Rose in second place. In the work-related absence of Tom Dunbar, Seb Cooley was playing with Shrewsbury schoolboy Guy Williams, another intriguing partnership. With Guy slightly hampered by an ankle injury, they ran into an on-form Ant Theodossi and Ryan Perrie in Group B, with the Westway pair getting off to a flyer and holding on to win their match 12-8 and top the group.
The quarter-finals took place on Saturday afternoon and produced some more terrific encounters. Cooley and Williams were unable to cope with the power of the Petes and lost in three games; Campbell and Dunbar continued to cruise through the field in impressive style with a comfortable straight games win over Worth and Walters and Theodossi and Perrie maintained their morning form to see off Foster and O'Neill, despite some edgy moments in the third game. Experienced Wiseman watchers are used to Howard's matches lasting a long time and so it was that their quarter-final against Brock and Rose turned out to be the closest match in the Last Eight. Wiseman and Mew got off to a strong start, winning the first game 12-3, but the Westminster pair are pretty resilient and upped their level in the second despite going down 12-10. They continued to fight and having won the third 15-12 and with a 10-6 lead in the fourth and momentum in their favour, it was beginning to look as though an upset might be on the cards. It will have come as no surprise to the aforementioned Wiseman watchers, however, to see Howard choose this moment to go into overdrive, raising his game and producing a sudden momentum shift that saw the Olavian pair erase the deficit and push on to win the fourth game 15-11 and book a place in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile the rest of the field were battling it out in the Plate competitions. Scratch pairing Sam Williams and Andrew Crawford played some strong Fives throughout the day and were unlucky to be edged out 15-14 by Windsor & Eton duo Nick Bunyan and Robert Wilson in the first semi-final; Nick and Robert then came up against Bhimjiyani and Tailor - still smarting from their earlier defeat against Worth and Walters - in the final and the Millhillian pair won 15-10, having seen off Westminster schoolboys James Alster and Leo Nelson-Jones in the semis.
Further down the leader board, the Plate A quarter-final losers plate was shared by MIke Skjott & Jonny Saunders and James Hutcheson & Oli Sander, with victories over Jeff Lawrence & Dom Redmond and Riki Houlden & Fred Tomlinson respectively. Plate B was won by Ian Mitchell and Ralph Morgan in an epic battle against QEB schoolboys Riken & Niraj Shah and Plate C was claimed by Charlotta Cooley and Karen Hird over another QEB pair Kunal Choksi & Samkit Shah.
With brighter weather on Sunday morning removing the threat of wet courts, the main competition semi-finals took centre stage. Campbell and Dunbar were up against Theodossi and Perrie and once again the Harrovian/Lancing pair looked strong as they dominated the first two games to win 12-3, 12-5. Ant and Ryan found their form in the third game, which was a terrific exhibition of great movement, reflex volleying and scrambling defence. In the end George and Pete just had too much for their opponents and took the game 12-9 to move into the final. The other semi was the all Olavian clash between Wiseman & Mew and Cohen & White. The first game was long and tight as expected with Wiseman and Mew inching to an 11-9 lead; the Petes clawed their way back to level the game at 11-11 and then went to take it 14-11. This proved to be the pivotal moment of the match. Once they had got their noses in front Cohen and White didn't look back and went on to win the next two games to 6 and 2 to make it into their first major final as a pair.
The final in the afternoon produced more terrific Fives - the volleying and dominating top step presence of George Campbell, the power and attacking threat of Pete Cohen, the almost error-free fluidity of Pete Dunbar and the supreme steadiness of Peter White. There were some fantastic rallies and breathtaking shot-making but in the final analysis the main difference between the two pairs was the error count. Dunbar and Campbell were relentless in their pursuit of the win and rarely missed a shot; the Petes played some terrific Fives but were forced into making more errors by the sheer quality of their opponents' play. The final score was 12-1, 12-9, 12-3 and a well-deserved victory for a delighted Campbell and Dunbar. Expect to see more of them as the season progresses.
Sunday also saw the Festival tournament. Speaking of error count, there may have been one or two more mistakes made there than in the semis and final taking place on the adjacent courts, but there was a lot of good Fives played, a lot of close matches and most importantly an enjoyable and sociable day of Fives for all. The group stages saw the expected pairs advance to the quarter-finals, with the possible exception of Ipswich youngsters Isaac Wagland and Sam Christopher, who were a little disappointed to miss out on qualifying from their group at the hands of Darshan and Nirav Patel and Charlotta Cooley and Karen Hird.
The quarter-finals produced some cracking matches. Nick Bunyan and Robert Wilson were looking to make up for their disappointment at missing out on the main tournament plate competition the day before and won 15-7 against Peter Boughton and Henry Patten. Karen and Charlotta performed impressively and pushed Westminster schoolboys Riki Houlden and Fred Tomlinson hard before going down 15-10. The other two matches went right to the wire - the Aldenham Patels sneaked past Olavian youngsters Alex Weeks and Josh Ravi 15-14 and Mike Skjott and Jonny Saunders suffered a shock 15-14 defeat (completely unrelated to their lengthy pub lunch of course) at the hands of Ipswich School U15 pair Cameron Lyle and Arthur Patten. The semi-finals were a bit more straightforward: Lyle and Patten were unable to repeat their heroics against Houlden and Tomlinson and Bunyan and Wilson saw off the Patels in straight games. The final was a terrific match, with Nick and Robert getting off to a strong start in both games. Twice, however, Riki and Fred came back at them hard but on both occasions they left it too late and the Windsor & Eton pair took the title with a 12-9, 12-7 win.
The Festival Plate was no less fiercely contested. Wagland and Christopher were looking to make up for the disappointment of their morning non-qualification and made it through to the final, despite having to come from a game down to win their semi against the promising Latymer School and Westway pair of Daniel Arwas and Noah Caplin. They found themselves in the final against Alex Nice and Ralph Morgan - semi final victors over Ian Mitchell and Mandie Barnes - and it was the more experienced pair who got off to the better start, racing out to a 7-1 lead. At this point, having had to graft all day, Isacc and Sam finally found their form and hit top gear, recovering to win the first game 14-13 and then race though the second 12-0 to claim a well deserved win. The quarter-final losers plate was claimed by fellow Ipswichians Piers Prior and Fergus Mackay with a win over Westway Fives general Freddie Rowe and Andrew Pilkington and the 3rd/4th match won by Abs Bhattacharya and Chloe De Silva against Juliet Browning and Julia Toynton.
Last, but by no means least, the Plate B final produced an absolutely titanic contest between Peter Chen & Chris Wheeler and Wendy Carling & Sarah Greasley. The first game went to Peter and Chris 12-8 , with Chris in particularly fine form as he dominated the top step. Wendy and Sarah are made of stern stuff, however, and managed to turn things around in the second and third games, winning 12-9 and then 12-6 to claim the spoils.
Thanks are due to all those who played and spectated and to everyone at Highgate School - especially Anthony Brunner and Susy Prosser-Harris - for allowing everything to run so smoothly.
G.Campbell & P.Dunbar beat R.Worth & T.Walters 3-0 (12-6, 12-3, 12-2)
A.Theodossi & R.Perrie beat D.Foster & J.O'Neill 3-0 (12-9, 12-0, 15-10)
P.Cohen & P.White beat S.Cooley & G.Williams 3-0 (12-4, 12-7, 12-5)
D.Mew & H.Wiseman beat L.Brock & E.Rose 3-1 (12-3, 12-10, 12-15, 15-11)
G.Campbell & P.Dunbar beat A.Theodossi & R.Perrie 3-0 (12-3, 12-5, 12-9)
P.Cohen & P.White beat D.Mew & H.Wiseman 3-0 (14-11, 12-6, 12-2)
G.Campbell & P.Dunbar beat P.Cohen & P.White 3-0 (12-1, 12-9, 12-3)
V.Bhimjiyani & S.Tailor beat J.Alster & L.Nelson-Jones 15-3
N.Bunyan & R.Wilson beat S.Williams & A.Crawford 15-14
V.Bhimjiyani & S.Tailor beat N.Bunyan & R.Wilson 15-10
Plate A QF Losers Plate
M.Skjott & J.Saunders beat J.Lawrence & D.Redmond 15-13
J.Hutcheson & O.Sander beat R.Houlden & F.Tomlinson 15-9
I.Mitchell & R.Morgan beat R.Shah & N.Shah 2-1 (12-10, 4-12, 12-9)
C.Cooley & K.Hird beat K.Choksi & S.Shah 15-9
N.Bunyan & R.Wilson beat P.Boughton & H.Patten 15-7
D.Patel & N.Patel beat J.Ravi & A.Weeks 15-14
R.Houlden & F.Tomlinson beat C.Cooley & K.Hird 15-10
C.Lyle & A.Patten beat M.Skjott & J.Saunders 15-14
N.Bunyan & R.Wilson beat D.Patel & N.Patel 2-0 (12-6, 12-4)
R.Houlden & F.Tomlinson beat C.Lyle & A.Patten 2-0 (12-6, 12-5)
N.Bunyan & R.Wilson beat R.Houlden & F.Tomlinson 2-0 (12-9, 12-7)
I.Wagland & S.Christopher beat D.Arwas & N.Caplin 2-1 (8-12, 12-10, 12-4)
R.Morgan & A.Nice beat I.Mitchell & M.Barnes 2-0 (12-7, 12-3)
I.Wagland & S.Christopher beat R.Morgan & A.Nice 2-0 (14-13, 12-0)
Plate A QF Losers Plate
P.Prior & F.Mackay beat F.Rowe & A.Pilkington 15-11
A.Bhattacharya & C.De Silva beat J.Browning & J.Toynton 15-10
W.Carling & S.Greasely beat P.Chen & C.Wheeler 2-1 (8-12, 12-9, 12-6)