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Tony Triumphs In Topsy-Turvy Turnbull

05/12/22: Thirty-seven pairs, nine schools, 126 games of Fives - Sunday saw a terrific Graham Turnbull Trophy in association with Advanta Wealth at Eton, with two 15-14 sudden death semi-finals, a 15-12 win for Tony Barker & Genesis Nsenga of St.Olave's and a plethora of plates.

This was one of the largest entries for the Turnbull in recent seasons and several schools were able to put together impressively large contingents, with seven Shrewsbury pairs, six from Eton and most notably ten from Repton, a fantastic effort from their coaching team of David Exley and Karen Hird. The Turnbull is a fun and valuable tournament, pairing past and present players from a particular school or centre and it was pleasing to see pairs also there from Ipswich, St.Olave's, Highgate, QEB, Repton and KES Birmingham. There were more than enough pairs there to fill the Eton courts all day and the only minor quibble would be the non-appearance of a few potential schools/clubs who would undoubtedly benefit from the experience.

With an end of day deadline in mind (apparently there was a football match on in the evening), the games came thick and fast all day, starting with a group stage that divided the field into eight groups. The two top pairs from each group went through into a Round of 16, allowing plenty of opportunities for pairs to get themselves into a favourable position in the draw in what is a notoriously unpredictable tournament. There were no seismic shocks in the group stages but there were certainly some interesting results - Ipswich 1 (Charlotta Cooley & Will Woods) put in a strong performance to qualify ahead of Highgate 3 in Group A, Eton 3 (Ryan Perrie & Daniel Hurst) almost slipped up against Shrewsbury 5 (Marc Quinn & James Crews) before producing a barnstorming win over St.Olave's 2 (Harry Ravi & Ethan Smith) to go from potentially third to first in Group F in the blink of an eye, Repton 1 (Charles Plummer & Harry Barton Smith) pipped Highgate 1 (Niifio Addy & Theo Browne) to top spot in Group G and Ipswich 3 (Peter Boughton & Elliot Caldwell) made it two Suffolk pairs in the Last 16, coming second in a competitive Group E.

With the group stage done, the five fifth-placed finishers embarked on a round robin Plate D, with four Repton pairs doing battle with Buford 2 (Guest player Harry Asquith & Zieger Battle). This produced a cracking competition, with some incredibly close matches and great improvement throughout the day from the largely inexperienced group of school players. In the end it was Repton 5 (Richard Exley & Rob Holdcroft) who took the honours with four wins out of four, including a 12-11 thriller over Repton 10 (David Exley & Serena Derby).

The remaining 32 pairs were now into knockout Fives, with two parallel Last 16 rounds  underway - one for the first and second placed pairs in the groups and one for those who came third and fourth. This became Plate B, with the eight losing Last 16 pairs going into Plate C. With the quarter-final losers in those two competitions going into Plates B2 and C2 respectively, there was something for everyone to aim for and with every pair staying for every single match (only the 3rd/4th play-offs in Plates B and C2 proving a game too far for some) there was non-stop action across the courts and a series of increasingly close and exciting matches. The full scores and roll of honour can be seen below but some highlights would include strong runs to the Plate B final from Eton 5 (Alex Knight & J.Edsberg) and Ipswich 2 (Tim & Natasha Gregory), with the Eton pair winning the final, North Oxford derbies in the C Plate final with Repton 4 (Matt Chinery & Charlie Thompson) just edging out Shrewsbury 7 (Stefan Nowinski & Ed Prideaux) and in the C2 final with Repton 2 (Karen Hird & Claudia Tate) defeating Burford 1 (Steve Gore & Daniel Orrell) and an all Etonian thriller in the B2 final as Will Ponsonby's Eton 6 overturned Tommy Weld's Eton 4 12-11.

Meanwhile, the top pairs from the group stage set their eyes on the big prize. There were a handful of close encounters in the Last 16, with Shrewsbury 3 (Adam Morris & Theo Wylie) coming close to eliminating Eton 1 (James Piggot & Marcel Mauratille), Ipswich 1 (Charlotta Cooley & Will Woods) almost but not quite pulling off a stunning comeback from well behind against KES Birmingham (Richard Tyler & Tom Hoskins) and Highgate 1 having to withdraw through injury to Niifio Addy - not quite at his "rolling back the years" best this time round - when involved in a tight tussle with Shrewsbury 2 (Sam Welti & Jack Home). The pairs who went out at this stage went into Plate A, which suffered from one or two withdrawals but allowed Shrewsbury 3 to prove they were definitely the "best of the rest" with convincing wins over the two Ipswich pairs still in the competition.

The quarter-finals were the stage of the competition at which the favourites began to assert themselves. Shrewsbury 1 (Seb Cooley & George Hughes) ended the challenge of last year's champions James Cobb, playing with Seb Corso as Eton 2, Eton 3 continued their impressive run as they put out a "running out of steam" KES, St.Olave's 1 (Tony Barker & Genesis Nsenga) had too much quality for Repton 1 and Eton 1 looked to have recovered from their previous round scare with a 15-10 win over the dangerous Shrewsbury 2.

The semi-finals were both mini classics, with the tournament's top four pairs showing that there was little to choose between them. It could so easily have been an all-Eton final with both Etonian pairs getting first go at game ball. Neither could convert, though, and it was the Shrewsbury and St.Olave's pairs who won through, both by the skin of their teeth. After a long day's Fives and with that deadline still hovering, it was unanimously agreed to play the final as one game to 15. In some ways a best of three final might have been more satisfactory, but the shoot out nature of the contest meant there was pressure and drama right from the start. Seb has won this competition on six occasions in the past, representing St.Olave's; this time he had his coaching hat on and was wearing his Shrewsbury colours. It was the Olavian pair who started better, though, with Tony's set piece working well and Genesis impressing with his trademark drives into the back corners and into the body of his opponents. They got into an early lead before things settled down and maintained it up to 12-6. At this point, though, Shrewsbury began to find their best form with Seb doing Seb things and George Hughes finding some attacking bite of his own. The lead vanished in no time and at 12-12 there was a chance for Shrewsbury to keep the momentum going and hit the front themselves. They couldn't take it, though, and Tony again found a couple of good returns to get them to 14 first and match point. They converted impressively and nervelessly to win the trophy for St.Olave's for the first time since 2016.

Thanks go to Eton for hosting the event, to Advanta Wealth for their continued sponsorship and to everyone who helped to put pairs together and who came to play.


Main Tournament


Last 16

Shrewsbury 1 (S.Cooley & G.Hughes) beat Ipswich 3 (P.Boughton & E.Caldwell) 12-1

Eton 2 (J.Cobb & S.Corso) beat St.Olave's 2 (H.Ravi & E.Smith) 12-6

Shrewsbury 2 (S.Welti & J.Home) beat Highgate 1 (N.Addy & T.Browne) 8-7 ret

Eton 1 (J.Piggot & M.Mauratille) beat Shrewsbury 3 (A.Morris & T.Wylie) 12-10

KES Birmingham (R.Tyler & T.Hoskins) beat Ipswich 1 (C.Cooley & W.Woods) 12-9

Eton 3 (R.Perrie & D.Hurst) beat Shrewsbury 4 (M.Hughes & G.Bradshaw) 12-3

Repton 1 (C.Plummer & H.Barton-Smith) beat Highgate 2 (Ab.Bhattacharya & F.Lee) 12-0

St.Olave's 1 (T.Barker & G.Nsenga) beat St.Olave's 3 (D.Robson & F.Baron) 12-3



Shrewsbury 1 beat Eton 2 15-5

Eton 1 beat Shrewsbury 2 15-10

Eton 3 beat KES Birmingham 15-4

St.Olave's 1 beat Repton 1 15-5



Shrewsbury 1 beat Eton 1 15-14

St.Olave's 1 beat Eton 3 15-14



St.Olave's 1 beat Shrewsbury 1 15-12


Plate A



Ipswich 1 beat Shrewsbury 4 12-5

Shrewsbury 3 beat Ipswich 3 12-2



Shrewsbury 3 beat Ipswich 1 15-5


Plate B


Last 16

Highgate 3 (V.Kassardjian & B.Womack) beat Repton 2 (K.Hird & C.Tate) 12-0

QEB 1 (A.Sivathasan & P.Bhavsar) beat Repton 3 (T.Stubbs & Weston) 12-3

Eton 4 (T.Weld & L.Turcan) beat QEB 2 (A.Kumararuban & I.Datta) 12-6

Ipswich 2 (T.Gregory & N.Gregory) beat Repton 4 (M.Chinery & C.Thompson) 12-2

Shrewsbury 6 (B.Anwar & H.Webster) beat Repton 7 (Randall & Webster) 12-7

Shrewsbury 5 (M.Quinn & J.Crews) beat Burford 1 (S.Kaaber-Gore & D.Orrell) 12-7

Eton 6 (W.Ponsonby & Webster) beat Repton 6 (A.Mair & Webb) 12-0

Eton 5 (A.Knight & J.Edsberg) beat Shrewsbury 7 (S.Nowinski & E.Prideaux) 12-0



Highgate 3 beat QEB 1 12-5

Ipswich 2 beat Eton 4 12-7

Shrewsbury 5 beat Shrewsbury 6 12-4

Eton 5 beat Eton 6 12-10



Ipswich 2 beat Highgate 3 12-8

Eton 5 beat Shrewsbury 5 12-7



Eton 5 beat Ipswich 2 12-2



Highgate 3 beat Shrewsbury 5 12-8


Plate B2



Eton 4 beat QEB 1 12-4

Eton 6 beat Shrewsbury 6 12-2



Eton 6 beat Eton 4 12-11


Plate C



Repton 3 beat Repton 2 12-9

Repton 4 beat QEB 2 12-3

Repton 7 beat Burford 1 12-7

Shrewsbury 7 beat Repton 6 12-3



Repton 4 beat Repton 3 12-5

Shrewsbury 7 beat Repton 7 12-10



Repton 4 beat Shrewsbury 7 12-9


Plate C2



Repton 2 beat QEB 2 12-4

Burford 1 beat Repton 6 12-9



Repton 2 beat Burford 1 12-8



QEB 2 beat Repton 6 12-6


Plate D


1. Repton 5 (R.Exley & R.Holdcroft)

2. Burford 2 (H.Asquith & Z.Battle)

3. Repton 10 (D.Exley & S.Derby)

4. Repton 9 (R.Wood & T.Gray)

5. Repton 8 (J.Orpin & W.Ikin)


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