St.Olave's Extend Their Richard Barber Cup Run
20/01/20: St.Olave's maintained their record of being the only name on the Richard Barber Cup in association with Advanta Wealth with a ninth consecutive win in the competition at Eton yesterday.
Despite some schools opting to play a fixture against each other on the same day and others unable to either raise sufficient adults or sufficient school pupils to get a full team together, a strong field of nine teams made it to the start line at Eton, representing St.Olave's, Highgate, Eton, Charterhouse, Ipswich, Cranleigh and Holyport.
The Richard Barber Cup is the team version of the longstanding Turnbull Trophy, with teams of three pairs representing a school or centre and each pair consisting of one current and one former pupil. As with the Turnbull Trophy, it produces some fascinating pairings and matches and is of huge benefit for the school players, who get to experience being on court with a wide variety of partners and opponents and also begin to forge links with their alumni clubs.
The two top-seeded teams - St.Olave's 1 and Highgate - progressed comfortably through the group stages but competition was fierce for the two runners-up slots and a place in the semis. In Group A, Charterhouse got off to a great start with a 2-1 win over St.Olave's 2 including a 15-14 second pair win, before the Olavian second string put themselves back in the mix with a tight 2-1 win over Ipswich. Going into the final round, St.Olave's either needed to get something out of their game against Highgate or hope that the outcome of the Charterhouse v Ipswich match went in their favour. A 2-1 win for Ipswich would open up the possibility of a three way tie and a points difference countback. Unsurprisingly it was close; the Olavians did go down 3-0 to Highgate but came mighty close at second pair, which ended 15-14 to the Cholmeleians. Charterhouse put themselves within one point of the semis with a 15-7 win at third pair and then made it through with a 15-13 second pair win, despite first pair going 15-12 to Ipswich.
In Group B, a young Holyport team showed lots of promise without quite being able to convert it into points and St.Olave's 1 took the top spot without losing a game. Again, though, there was a three way battle for second place with Eton finishing one point ahead of St.Olave's 3 and two ahead of the combined Charterhouse/Cranleigh team, both of whom came close to winning a couple of key pairs that would have made all the difference.
The main tournament semi-finals saw Charterhouse and Eton unable to make much of an impression against St.Olave's and Highgate respectively, although the second pair game between Eton & Highgate did go all the way to 15-14.
The two top teams had pursued different strategies en route to the final, with St.Olave's sticking to the same pairs all day and Highgate constantly chopping and changing to try and find their most effective combinations. The Olavian second pair of Howard Wiseman & Isaac Jochim had looked powerful all day and they made short work of Jack Ledigo & Joel Robb, leaving Highgate needing to win both of the other two pairs to get their hands on the trophy. Both fought hard, but the Olavians claimed the first game in both, Tony Barker & Prajeeth Sathiyamoorthy beating Jonny Ho & Wyn Bliss to 8 and Harry Ravi & Yoann Bleunven sneaking past Emily Scoones & George Everitt 14-11. Emily & George fought back in the second game to level at 1-1, but Jonny & Wyn were unable to do the same at first pair and Tony & Prajeeth closed the match out 12-9 in the second to retain the trophy.
The plate competition was producing some spectacular contests with the six matches in the two semi-finals - Ipswich v St.Olave's 3 and Charterhouse/Cranleigh v St.Olave's 3 - resulting in scores of 15-10, 15-11, 15-9, 15-14, 15-10 and 15-11. Ipswich & St.Olave's 2 both made it through 2-1 to set up a fascinating final. St.Olave's 2 had won the group match between the two teams 2-1, but only just, and with plate specialist Tony Stubbs in their ranks Ipswich were confident of gaining revenge. Ipswich took the first pair comfortably, with Isaac Weaver & Charlotta Cooley in fine form, but the strength in depth of the St.Olave's team gave them victory in the second and third pairs with not even the mighty Stubbs able to turn things around.
My thanks go to Eton for hosting the tournament, to Advanta Wealth for their sponsorship and to all those who made the effort to put teams together and take part in what was an excellent day's Fives.
Highgate beat Eton 3-0 (15-1, 15-14, 15-4)
St.Olave's 1 beat Charterhouse 3-0 (15-0, 15-3, 15-1)
St.Olave's 1 beat Highgate 2-1
T.Barker & P.Sathiyamoorthy beat J.Ho & W.Bliss 2-0 (12-8, 12-9)
H.Wiseman & I.Jochim beat J.Ledigo & J.Robb 2-0 (12-2, 12-0)
H.Ravi & Y.Bleunven lost to E.Scoones & G.Everitt 1-2 (14-11, 8-12 ret)
St.Olave's 2 beat Charterhouse/Cranleigh 3-0 (15-11, 15-10, 15-14)
Ipswich beat St.Olave's 3 2-1 (15-10, 11-15, 15-9)
St.Olave's 2 beat Ipswich 2-1 (7-15, 15-10, 15-6)