Wily Waglands Win in Wales
19/09/16: Saturday and Sunday saw the latest edition of the season-opening Welsh Invitational tournament at Rydal Penrhos school in Colwyn Bay. Now a well-established weekend at a thriving Fives centre, this year's tournament featured nearly 40 Rydal schoolboys and girls from Year 7 to Year 13 playing alongside gap year coaches past and present and invited guests.
There are three different competitions to fight for over the course of the two days: Saturday sees everyone in the same competition, with a series of fast and furious timed matches between ever changing pairs, dictated by Paul Bowden in an organisational tour de force. The mathematical genius of current Rydal coach Stephen Thatcher was then called into action to ascertain the semi-finalists, with the four top-scoring senior pupils paired with the four top-scoring junior pupils to fight it out for the silverware. A similar format has been used on the Saturday of the competition for all four years of its existence and remarkably Will Sissons continued his unbeaten run, winning the title for the fourth consecutive year alongside Cal Earle, although Adrian Lewis and Anthony Bowe came within a whisker of causing an upset in a thrilling semi-final.
On Sunday, the field was split into a senior "A" half and a junior "B" half with two parallel competitions running alongside each other on a similar basis to the previous day. The standard in the senior competition gets higher every year and there was some high quality and highly competitive Fives played - the Rydal boys all showed how much they continue to improve and enjoyed the opportunity to play alongside the likes of Kinnaird winner Seb Cooley, coaching guru Mark Yates, EFA secretary Gareth Hoskins and former Rydal coaches Isaac Wagland and Aroop Bhattacharya. It was also great to see Richard Sabsiky - at school locally but a Westway Fives product - and old boy Tom Cotterell taking part and playing to such a high standard.
After his fourth consecutive Saturday title, Will Sissons was looking for a third consecutive Sunday crown (he lost the first ever final 12-11 - incidentally against Rydal Master-in-Charge Mike Leach, not that Mike ever mentions it). Once again, Will made it through to the semi-finals, but he and Tom Cotterell were unable to hold onto their early lead against Wagland and Sibisky and it was they who made it through into the final to take on giant of the game Cooley and Finn Hare. The A final was held at the same time as the B final and meant that there would be a Wagland in both courts, with Flynn Wagland - a Year 7 pupil at Ipswich School - and Zak Speakman up against Anthony Bowe and George Smith Edwards. The large crowd of players and parents were treated to two terrific matches, which provided a fitting climax to a great weekend of Fives. Both finals were nip and tuck right from the start and both made it to 11-11 and almost simultaneous sudden death shoot-outs. To the great delight of the watching Mrs Wagland it was the Suffolk boys who triumphed in both courts, Isaac and Richard winning the A final and Flynn and Zak the B final.
Colwyn Bay is undoubtedly a little off the beaten track in Fives terms, but is always worth making the trip - four splendid courts in a beautiful part of the world, a school with a thriving Fives team and full of enthusiastic and good quality players and a wonderfully warm welcome from all involved. Anyone interested in coming along to play in next year's competition should contact Paul Bowden or Gareth Hoskins - you won't be disappointed!
Will Sissons and Cal Earle beat Adrian Lewis and Anthony Bowe 12-11
Raffa Mortaza and Josh Stewart beat Iestyn Williams and Tom Hughes 12-10
Will Sissons & Cal Earle beat Raffa Mortaza & Josh Stewart 12-9
Seb Cooley & Finn Hare beat Mark Yates & Miles Poller 12-9
Isaac Wagland & Richard Sabisky beat Tom Cotterell & Will Sissons 12-7
Isaac Wagland & Richard Sabisky beat Seb Cooley & Finn Hare 12-11
‘B’ Semi Finals
Zak Speakman & Flynn Wagland beat Jasper Richardson & Tom Hughes 12-6
Anthony Bowe & George Smith Edwards beat Josh Stewart & Cal Earle 12-6
Zak Speakman & Flynn Wagland beat Anthony Bowe & George Smith Edwards 12-11