2011: Brock/Joyce and Hird/Scoones claim the Under 25s
The first trophies of the 2011/12 season were won at Eton on Sunday 18th September at the Under 25 championships.
Now established in its season-opening slot, the tournament attracted a good size entry from a wide range of schools and clubs. The group stages in the men's tournament mainly went to form with the top three seeds winning their groups comfortably despite good showings from the Olavian pair of Tony Barker and Harry Ravi and the Cholmeleian Bhattacharya brothers. The fourth group was wide open and the opportunity was seized by the young Millhillian pair of Matthew Jackson and Oliver John who pipped Etonians Jeremy Hindle and Adrian Love to the top spot.
The first quarter-final saw an impressive win for number one seeds Ryan Perrie and Jeremy O'Neill over the hard-cutting Eton schoolboy pair of Jamie Abbott and James Tugwell. The other match in that half of the draw saw the Bhattacharya brothers overcome Jackson and John in fine style to progress into the last four. In the bottom half of the draw both of the seeded pairs got off to slow starts in their matches. Second seeds Andrew Joyce and Laurie Brock lost the first game 12-8 to Hindle and Love before finding their form to win the next two 12-3, 12-1. Third seeded Salopians Rory Griffiths and Tom Welti also lost their first game to Barker and Ravi before bouncing back to win the second 12-6. The third game was nip and tuck from start to finish before the more experienced pair eventually edged through 14-12.
O'Neill and Perrie continued their comfortable passage through to the final with a convincing 12-2, 12-3 win over Abhishek and Aroop Bhattacharya in the first semi. On the next door court Griffiths and Welti were making Brock and Joyce work much harder; the first game eventually went to the Berkhamsted/Westminster pair 12-10 before tiredness and cramp got to the Salopian duo, who went down 12-1 in the second game.
The final was therefore the one that most pundits had predicted at the start of the day and produced an intriguing match up, with Joyce in his third successive final in this competition with three different partners. This time Joyce was playing with Laurie Brock, who beat him in the final of the 2009 tournament, up against Ryan Perrie, with whom he won the title in 2010 and his schoolboy partner Jeremy O'Neill, producing a court containing four quality players who all know each others' games very well indeed.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, the first game was a very close affair with lots of reflex volleying, athletic retrieving and fast movement around the court. Brock and Joyce just managed to edge it 15-14 and this seemed to be the catalyst for a definitive momentum swing at the start of the second game. Brock and Joyce began to get on top in the set piece and force more errors from Perrie and O'Neill. There were still plenty of frenetic and high quality rallies, but Brock and Joyce were always in control of the match from that point onwards and went on to win the second and third games to 8 and 6 to claim the title.
Plate A produced some terrific matches including both semi-finals. Old Cranleighans Archie Cameron-Blackie and Phil Roper beat the Old Wycombensian pair of Robert Wilson and Matthew Noyes 12-8, 12-9 and Old Westminsters Will and George Illingworth just about held their nerve to see off young Olavians Sam Rix and Sudhir Balaji 12-5, 15-14. The final was another great contest with the Illingworth brothers taking the first game before the Cranleighan pair came back strongly to win the next two and win the Plate.
Plate B saw a victory for the Cambridge past and present pairing of Ralph Morgan and Ed Winfield who overcame young Ipswichians Chris Lavelle and Dmitri Seymour-Howell and Bath University newcomers David Jordan and Jonty Suenson-Taylor.
The Ladies tournament, ably organised by Annabel Griffiths, took place at the same time and produced some excellent matches. The final was, as expected, between the top two seeds with Emily Scoones and Karen Hird taking on Ashley Lumbard and Annabel Griffiths, but this was preceded by some impressive performances elsewhere, notably by Ipswich youngsters Sarah Frost and Stephanie Smith, who took a game off Ashley and Annabel in the semi-final, and the promising Berkhamsted pair of Marguerite Boyle and Emily Mann who also reached the last four and then defeated the Ipswich pair in the 3rd/4th place play-off. The Plate was won by Cambridge pair Elana Osen and Olivia Prankerd-Smith ahead of the ex-Cambridge pairing of Natalie Lilienthal and James Diviney (masquerading as one of the ladies for the day!) and Bath University newcomers Izzy Macmillan and Lucy Macnaught.
The final was a high quality match and a great advert for the rapidly improving ladies game. It looked too close to call at the start but the volleying, reflexes and movement of Karen and Emily enabled them to take control of the match and win in straight games.
Thanks to Annabel Griffiths for her organisational help, to Mike Hughes and Eton for their help hosting the event and to everyone who participated, See you all next year!
R.Perrie & J.O'Neill beat J.Abbott & J.Tugwell 2-0 (12-6, 12-0)
A.Bhattacharya & A.Bhattacharya beat O.John & M.Jackson 2-0 (12-3, 12-9)
R.Griffiths & T.Welti beat T.Barker & H.Ravi 2-1 (9-12, 12-6, 14-12)
A.Joyce & L.Brock beat J.Hindle & A.Love 2-1 (8-12, 12-3, 12-1)
R.Perrie & J.O'Neill beat A.Bhattacharya & A.Bhattacharya 2-0 (12-2, 12-3)
A.Joyce & L.Brock beat R.Griffiths & T.Welti 2-0 (12-10, 12-1)
A.Joyce & L.Brock beat R.Perrie & J.O'Neill 3-0 (15-14, 12-8, 12-6)
A.Cameron-Blackie & P.Roper beat R.Wilson & M.Noyes 2-0 (12-8, 12-9)
W.Illingworth & G.Illingworth beat S.Rix & S.Balaji 2-0 (12-5, 15-14)
A.Cameron-Blackie & P.Roper beat W.Illingworth & G.Illingworth 2-1 (7-12, 12-3, 12-1)
1. E.Winfield & R.Morgan
2. C.Lavelle & D.Seymour-Howell
3. D.Jordan & J.Suenson-Taylor
A.Lumbard & A.Griffiths beat S.Frost & S.Smith 2-1
K.Hird & E.Scoones beat M.Boyle & E.Mann 2-0
K.Hird & E.Scoones beat A.Lumbard & A.Griffiths 2-0
Plate winners: E.Osen & O.Prankerd-Smith