Dec 2014 Just Capital - Dunbar & Cooley Retain the London

08/12/14: Tom Dunbar and Seb Cooley retained their London Tournament title and maintained their unbeaten record together with an emphatic straight games win over main rivals James Toop and Matthew Wiseman at Harrow yesterday.

Eighteen pairs took part in the elite main tournament, which started on Saturday with the group stages and quarter-finals. Top seeds Dunbar & Cooley progressed comfortably to the knockout stages as did second seeds James Toop and Matthew Wiseman but some of the other seeded pairs had a tough battle on their hands. Third seeds Howard Wiseman and Ed Taylor were pushed all the way by Wulfrunians Chris Austin and Sid Simmons and then by young Cholmeleians Jonny Ho and Joe Marks in the traditional "group of death", but eventually managed to top the group, with Marks and Ho taking second spot. Fourth seeds Ant Theodossi and Ryan Perrie were involved in a very tough match in the last group against Vishal Bhimjiyani and Sunil Tailor: the underdogs won the first game before the fourth seeds hit back in the second, but it was Bhimjiyani and Tailor who ended up topping the group on points difference.

The top two seeds continued their serene progress in the afternoon, Cooley and Dunbar easing past Ho and Marks and Toop and Wiseman recovering from a slow start in the first game to win in three against Theodossi and Perrie. Sixth seeds Laurie Brock and Ed Rose managed to put more pressure on third seeds Taylor and Wiseman, without ever quite being able to knock them off their perch, which left the fourth quarter-final, which turned out to be the match of the day and possibly of the tournament. Bhimjiyani and Tailor, full of confidence after their morning results, picked up where they had left off in the first game against fifth seeds Doug Foster and Andrew Joyce, winning 12-8. Foster and Joyce fought back well, however, to take the second 12-9 and then nick a nailbiting third 14-13. The Millhillian pair were not finished yet, though, and came back strongly to win the fourth 12-5. At this point, Vishal and Sunil were sensing a second major scalp of the day, but Foster and Joyce are made of stern stuff and booked their place in the last four with a 12-8 fifth game win.

The Sunday morning semi-finals produced some terrific Fives but two predictable results, with the top two seeded pairs progressing seemingly inevitably to an afternoon showdown. This contest was eagerly anticipated, with some impressive recent form from Toop and Wiseman suggesting they might have a real opportunity to get the upper hand against Dunbar and Cooley. Some of the Fives in the final was spectacular, as you would expect with four of the best players ever to play the game on court together. In truth, though, it never really got going as a contest; Dunbar and Cooley dominated the return of cut in particular right from the start, winning the first game to 2 and hard though Toop and Wiseman tried they were unable to get much closer in the next two games. Tom and Seb were in imperious form throughout, asserting their dominance in all phases of the game and deservedly retaining their title. For James and Matthew, this tournament confirmed that at the moment they are well ahead of the rest of the field, but that they still have a way to go if they wish to break Tom and Seb's current stranglehold on the major titles.

The Main tournament plate competition on the Saturday afternoon was as hard fought as always; Wulfrunians Austin and Simmons beat Olavian youngsters Gallagher and Nwuba in one semi-final, putting them through to play Cambridge's Tony Barker and Riki Houlden, who had seen off Ipswichians Fletcher and Gregory in the other semi. Barker and Houlden have been in good form this term and this, plus their fresher legs, was enough to see off the Wulfrunian pair 12-8, 12-5 in the final.

The entry for the Sunday Festival was an excellent 32 pairs this year, which produced a terrific day's Fives. This was exactly what Festival Fives is all about - young and old, male and female, experienced players and novices all enjoying themselves on court, with competitive, close and yet friendly matches filling the Harrow courts all day long. The morning group stages split the field into a top 16 competing in the A Festival and a bottom 16, competing in the B Festival. The knockout rounds and plate competitions in the afternoon produced a whole series of close matches as each of the pairs began to come up more and more against others of the same standard. The A Festival Plate (for the eight pairs who lost in the first knockout round of the A festival) produced some remarkable games with two 15-14s and a 15-13 in the quarter-finals, a 15-10 and 15-14 semi and then a 15-13 final win for Ipswichians Isaac Wagland and Sam Clark over Berkhamstedians Ben van Vlymen and Jeremy Steed. The final stages of the A Festival itself were equally tense; Jack Weller and Alex Rattan, having squeaked past Salopians Tony and Jake Walters in the quarters, ran out of steam a bit in the first semi-final against Olavians Tom Gallagher and Josh Ravi. In the other semi-final, Andrew Rennie and young Millhillian Charlie Plummer came from a game down to pip Alex Constantine and Noah Caplin in three. The final was an epic, one of those seesaw encounters where either pair could win and the result is in doubt right until the last couple of rallies. The Olavian pair got off to the better start, Gallagher dominating as they won the first 12-9; their level dipped in the second, though, and their error count rose as Rennie and Plummer struck back to level at 1-1. The third game could have gone either way - Rennie and Plummer got ahead 7-3 but were then pegged back to 7-7. The next five minutes was the crucial phase of the match as Andrew and Charlie steadied the ship and overcame their mid-game wobble, going on to win the third 12-7 and claim the title.

The B Festival was won by ladies champions Karen Hird and Charlotta Cooley, who were disappointed not to have made it into the higher competition, having been given a "group of death" for the second successive day (blame the organiser...). Their competitive fire was reignited by the prospect of boxes of chocolate as winners' prizes and with their sights suitably refocused they cut a swathe through the field, eventually beating Westway's Freddie Rowe and James Caplin in the final. Westway honour was restored by Ben Young and Jeremy Wootliff who won the B Festival plate, beating Wolverhampton's Tejas Netke and Beth Parlane in the final.

My thanks go to Mark Williams, for stepping into the breach on Saturday, with invaluable assistance of various types from Mike Hughes, Seb Cooley and Dom Redmond. Thanks, too, to Graham Dunbar and everyone at Harrow for making the London Tournament's return to Harrow such a great success.

Results

Main Tournament

Quarter-Finals

T.Dunbar & S.Cooley beat J.Ho & J.Marks 3-0 (12-4, 12-3, 12-2)

D.Foster & A.Joyce beat V.Bhimjiyani & S.Tailor 3-2 (8-12, 12-9, 14-13, 5-12, 12-8)

H.Wiseman & E.Taylor beat L.Brock & E.Rose 3-0 (12-7, 12-7, 12-9)

J.Toop & M.Wiseman beat A.Theodossi & R.Perrie 3-0 (14-12, 12-3, 12-2)

Semi-Finals

T.Dunbar & S.Cooley beat D.Foster & A.Joyce 3-0 (12-4, 12-3, 12-1)

J.Toop & M.Wiseman beat H.Wiseman & E.Taylor 3-0 (12-3, 12-4, 12-6)

Final

T.Dunbar & S.Cooley beat J.Toop & M.Wiseman 3-0 (12-2, 12-3, 12-5)

Main Tournament Plate

Semi-Finals

C.Austin & A.Simmons beat T.Gallagher & K.Nwuba 12-8

T.Barker & R.Houlden beat T.Fletcher & T.Gregory 12-3

Final

T.Barker & R.Houlden beat C.Austin & A.Simmons 2-0 (12-8, 12-5)

A Festival

Quarter-Finals

A.Rennie & C.Plummer beat J.Tate & C.Stocks 15-6

A.Constantine & N.Caplin beat W.Carew & S.Ujoodia 15-1

J.Weller & A.Rattan beat A.Walters & J.Walters 15-13

T.Gallagher & J.Ravi beat J.Prior & J.Hutko 15-5

Semi-Finals

A.Rennie & C.Plummer beat A.Constantine & N.Caplin 2-1 (11-15, 12-5, 12-9)

T.Gallagher & J.Ravi beat J.Weller & A.Rattan 2-0 (12-3, 12-1)

Final

A.Rennie & C.Plummer beat T.Gallagher & J.Ravi 2-1 (9-12, 12-8, 12-7)

A Festival Plate

Quarter-Finals

E.Osen & O.Prankerd-Smith beat A.Simmons & R.Pye 15-14

I.Wagland & S.Clark beat L.Henderson & H.Russell w/o

C.Rennie & H.Asquith beat C.Nicholls & M.Skelton 15-13

B.van Vlymen & J.Steed beat T.Stubbs & D. Barker 15-14

Semi-Finals

I.Wagland & S.Clark beat E.Osen & O.Prankerd-Smith 15-10

B.van Vlymen & J.Steed beat C.Rennie & H.Asquith 15-14

Final

I.Wagland & S.Clark beat B.van Vlymen & J.Steed 15-13

B Festival

Quarter-Finals

C.Austin & J.Pryce beat S.Patel & E.Sewart 15-4

K.Hird & C.Cooley beat W.Edmonds & B.Belsham 15-2

M.Dight & C.Briggs beat C.Wheeler & J.Navani 15-11

F.Rowe & J.Caplin beat A.Taylor & D.Cadman 15-5

Semi-Finals

K.Hird & C.Cooley beat C.Austin & J.Pryce 15-5

F.Rowe & J.Caplin beat M.Dight & C.Briggs 15-6

Final

K.Hird & C.Cooley beat F.Rowe & J.Caplin 2-0 (12-1, 12-1)

Losing Quarter-Finalists Plate Final

S.Patel & E.Sewart beat A.Taylor & D.Cadman 15-11

B Festival Plate

Quarter-Finals

E.Morgan & E.Carter w/o

B.Young & J.Wootliff beat M.Yates & L.Fraser 15-5

G.Shillam & A.Diaz beat E.Cowan & E.Morley 15-2

T.Netke & B.Parlane beat E.Shillam & L.Tobin 15-1

Semi-Finals

B.Young & J.Wootliff beat E.Morgan & E.Carter 15-6

T.Netke & B.Parlane beat G.Shillam & A.Diaz 15-6

Final

B.Young & J.Wootliff beat T.Netke & B.Parlane 15-7

3rd/4th

E.Morgan & E.Carter beat G.Shillam & A.Diaz 15-5

Plate B

E.Shillam & L.Tobin beat E.Cowan & E.Morley 15-12

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