2013 Northern Tournament: Dunbar and Cooley unchallenged

For the second time in three years, the final of the 2013 Northern Tournament at Shrewsbury turned out to be something of an anticlimax. Two years ago an eye injury to James Toop brought an early end to the final; this year the final never got started as Peter Dunbar was forced to withdraw due to an ankle injury sustained towards the end of his and George Campbell's semi-final victory over Toop and Howard Wiseman. It is surely a unique feat for Tom and Seb to have won this competition three years in a row having only had to win three games in the final in three years!

The tournament overall was a huge success with players travelling to Shrewsbury from all points of the Fives compass; a remarkable 70 pairs took part in either the Main Tournament or the Festival over the course of the weekend.

As usual, most of the big name pairs were present, including a new last-minute pairing of Doug Foster and Peter White. The strong field of 26 pairs for the main tournament were split into four groups on the first day with two seeded pairs in each group and a hungry pool of talent snapping at their heels and looking to cause an upset and take one of the two qualifying spots from each group. Noteworthy results from the group stages were seventh seeds Laurie Brock and Ed Rose beating fourth seeded Foster and White to top their group; Ed Taylor and T Walters on home ground pushing second seeds Peter Dunbar and George Campbell all the way in a feisty encounter and young Salopians George Thomason and Henry Lewis edging out Wulfrunians Chris Austin and Sid Simmons to take the eighth seeded slot in the draw.

The quarter-finals all went to form; Brock and Rose were unable to take advantage of their group win, coming up against Taylor and Walters in fine fettle. Number one seeds and defending champions Seb Cooley and Tom Dunbar continued their serene progress, making short work of Thomason and Lewis. Foster and White were no match for Dunbar and Campbell and Toop and Wiseman completed the semi-final line-up with a routine win over sixth seeds Ant Theodossi and Ryan Perrie.

The first semi-final on Sunday morning was over in a flash as the fine run of Taylor and Walters came careering to a halt in the face of the seemingly unstoppable Dunbar and Cooley, 3-0 winners for the loss of only 12 points in total. The other semi was the most anticipated match up of the weekend as London Tournament champions Pete Dunbar and George Campbell took on former Kinnaird Cup winners Howard Wiseman and James Toop. The first game was a nailbiter, with Campbell feeling his way into his first really serious competitive match at this level, his London tournament performance notwithstanding. A game that could easily have gone either way went in the end to Dunbar and Campbell 14-13 and this proved to be crucial as Pete and George grew in confidence and went on to win the next two games 12-6, 12-5 with Howard in particular struggling to find his normally immaculate length into the buttress. It was noticeable that James Toop, after a slight dip in form by his standards last season, was looking sharp and getting close to his formidable best again and that will give the Olavian pair hope going into the Kinnaird in four weeks time.

Unfortunately, Pete Dunbar had gone over on his ankle towards the end of the third game of the semi-final and was unable to start the final, denying the spectators the chance to see the first ever competitive clash between the Dunbar brothers, and handing the trophy over to Tom and Seb, who had hardly had to break sweat all weekend and who look in formidable shape going into the Kinnaird.

The main tournament plate was won by Ipswichians Tim and Tom Fletcher, who took out fellow OIs Will Gibbons and Dave Leach in an epic semi-final before winning the final comfortably against Salopians Adam Morris and Jamie Doran.

The Festival Tournament featured a vast array of pairings of all ages, shapes, sizes and from all parts of planet Fives; it was great to see healthy contingents from Rydal, Ipswich, St.Olave's and St.Bees as well as lots of local Salopian interest and even a bit of international flavour from Zuoz.

Saturday saw eight groups produce two pairs each to go forward to the knockout stages; by the time the quarter-finals took place on Sunday morning, there were some very fine and very close matches, with some very good pairs falling by the wayside. Last two standing were Shrewsbury schoolboys Sansom Yick and Nick Pearce, earlier conquerors of defending champions Alex Yusaf and Ed Leakey, and Berkhamstedian Jeremy O'Neill, who was paired with Old Zuozer and St.Bees coach Katharina Kuenburg. The final followed the pattern set by the majority of the Festival knockout games and was close all the way. O'Neill and Kuenburg had the lead at various points in both games, including leading 9-7 in the second game, but were unable to convert either and the Shrewsbury boys duly took their chances to win 2-0 and claim the title.

Plate A for those who were knocked out in the Last 16 was won by Justin Adie and John Tate; Plate B for those who didn't make it out of their group was won by plate specialist Tony Stubbs and Sam Clark from Ipswich and Plate C, for beginners and girls pairs, was fought for extremely competitively, although precise results are rather harder to pin down!

Overall this was another hugely successful weekend; if you've never been before, a trip to the 2014 tournament comes highly recommended. Thanks are due to Seb Cooley and everyone at Shrewsbury School for hosting us in such fine style and to Andrew Mitchell for his unassuming and good-humoured organisation over the two days of competition.

Main Tournament

Quarter-Finals

T.Dunbar & S.Cooley (1) beat G.Thomason & H.Lewis 3-0

E.Taylor & A.Walters (5) beat L.Brock & E.Rose (7) 2-0

H.Wiseman & J.Toop (3) beat A.Theodossi & R.Perrie (6) 3-0

P.Dunbar & G.Campbell (2) beat D.Foster & P.White (4) 3-0

Semi-Finals

T.Dunbar & S.Cooley (1) beat E.Taylor & A.Walters (5) 3-0

P.Dunbar & G.Campbell (2) beat H.Wiseman & J.Toop (3) 3-0

Final

T.Dunbar & S.Cooley (1) beat P.Dunbar & G.Campbell (2) w/o

Main Tournament Plate

T.Fletcher & T.Fletcher beat A.Morris & J.Doran 2-0



Festival

Quarter-Finals

S.Yick & N.Pearce beat A.Yusaf & E.Leakey

P.Corn & B.Christie beat A.Mitchell & F.Barnes

J.O'Neill & K.Kuenburg beat N.Bunyan & S.Warren-Thomas

A.Peckitt & S.Burnell beat G.Hoskins & R.Scott

Semi-Finals

S.Yick & N.Pearce beat P.Corn & B.Christie

J.O'Neill & K.Kuenburg beat A.Peckitt & S.Burnell

Final

S.Yick & N.Pearce beat J.O'Neill & K.Kuenburg

Plate A:

Winners: J.Adie & J.Tate

Plate B:

Winners: T.Stubbs & S.Clark

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