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Kinnaird Cup 2024: Harrow Hosts

12/03/24: A fairly low key, but good quality Kinnaird Cup weekend in association with Advanta Wealth took place at Harrow on Saturday and Sunday.

With Eton unavailable, Harrow stepped in to host this year's Kinnaird Cup. The entry was down from the normal number by a few pairs and this was exacerbated by the late withdrawal on the morning of the tournament of three pairs for various reasons. Some quick phone calls and a rejigged draw later, though, the action got underway with 12 pairs looking to make it through their morning match to take on one of the seeded pairs in the afternoon.

There were no huge shocks in the morning's matches, although there were some good performances: Karen Hird & Charlotta Cooley - perhaps remembering their giant-killing exploits on the same courts in the pre-Christmas London Tornament - took a game off Westminsters Alex Vinen & James Alster; Stephen Thatcher & Lewis Drummond made a good start against the Bhattacharya brothers before fading and Ipswich school pair Elliot Caldwell & Alex Phillips showed some promising signs against Oxford University's Varsity Match first pair of Beau Swallow & Ben Hart. Elsewhere, the Harrow School first pair of Gus Stanhope & Algie Anderson couldn't find a way past Emily Scoones and former semi-finalist Ryan Perrie; Adam Field & Fred Prickett made short work of Aldenham's Frankie Manderson-Harkin & Danny Francis (more of them later...) and Dom Robson & Julian Black looked in fine fettle as they convincingly put away Westminsters Hatam Barma & Oliver Meredith.

With the plate getting underway and the afternoon pairs arriving for the last sixteen, the courts quickly began to fill up from lunchtime onwards. Vinen & Alster did well to get a few early points on the board against defending champions Seb Cooley & Tom Dunbar before the champions kicked into gear while Swallow & Hart fought hard and played well for scant reward against top seeds Riki Houlden & Hugo Young. Howard Wiseman & Archie Cameron-Blackie were unlucky that the late drop outs meant they didn't get a morning match to get themselves in the groove and were never able to get going against Salopians Sam Welti & Chris Hughes whereas Matt Wiseman's afternoon was a lot more comfortable as he and James Toop breezed past the Bhattacharyas. The third Wiseman in the last sixteen - Howard's son and Matt's nephew Gwydion - was playing with Prajeeth Sathiyamoorthy against the scratch pairing of Vish Bhimjiyani & Alex Abrahams in a match that promised much on paper. On court, though, Vish & Alex immediately gelled well and took the first two games fairly comfortably. The younger pair began to find some better form in the third and had their chances to take the match into a fourth game, but Vish & Alex held on for a fine 3-0 win. There were fighting performances from Field & Prickett (a very creditable 5,6 and 6 scoreline against 3rd seeds Jonny Ho & James Hopkins) and Perrie & Scoones (6 and 7 in the first two games against 6th seeds Ed Taylor & Noah Caplin) but the performance of the round came from Robson & Black who were up against 5th seeds Sunil Tailor & Charles Plummer. When Sunil & Charles took the first game to 3, it looked like a regulation win was on the cards but an hour or so later, with the second game a 12-10 win for the underdogs and with them 8-2 and then 9-6 up in the third, there was some real jeopardy for a while before the seeded pair - semi-finalists at both the London and Northern this year - came through to win in four games and complete a clean sweep for the eight seeded pairs.

The reduced entry meant a smaller field for the Pepperpot Trophy, with the losing first round pairs all sensing a real opportunity to get their hands on the much coveted silverware. With the Harrow School pair pulling out because of injury, there were five pairs in the running, reduced to four with an early win for Caldwell & Phillips over Manderson-Harkin & Francis. Two years ago, Stephen Thatcher won the Pepperpot, squeaking his way past Karen & Charlotta in the process. This time both found themselves thwarted by Eliot Caldwell & Alex Phillips, who were no doubt inspired by the presence of plate specialist Tony Stubbs and who defeated Stephen & Lewis 12-10, 12-10 in a tight semi-final before denying Karen & Charlotta a first ever female victory in the Pepperpot with a 12-4, 12-6 win in the final.

Saturday's bright sunshine gave way to a more traditionally Harrovian drizzly backdrop on Sunday as Day Two started off with the Festival getting underway and an early quarter-final taking place, Cooley & Dunbar replicating their last sixteen performance with a slightly untidy first 5 minutes followed by the more traditional dismantling of good quality opposition, this time the Salopian pairing of Hughes & Welti.

The Festival was also on the compact and bijou side this year, but no less enjoyable for that, wih 11 pairs taking part and little to choose between a good half dozen plus of them in terms of trying to pick a winner. The early running in Group B was made by the excellent Aldenham School pair of Frankie Manderson-Harkin & Danny Francis, who won three consecutive tight matches against Peter Boughton & Daniel Ingram, Dom Robson & Edmund Phillips and Oscar Rushton & Aayan Shetty to put themselves in pole position to qualify in first place, which they duly did, Robson & Phillips taking second place and the other qualifying spot with the other two pairs plus Pranav Shah & Sacha Hunter and Anastasia Moore & Carys Bradley heading into the Plate. Group A was a three way fight for the two semi-final spots, with Phil Wilkinson & Vatche Kassardjian coming top and Archie Cameron-Blackie and Ipswich School's Sam Cook joining them after a nail-biting 15-14 decider against Olavian youngsters Luke Whitnall & Krivi Bhavsar, who fought back from well behind to get to 14-14 only to forget to put their foot down (losing two serves) and hit the next cut straight out of court. A tough way to lose...

Vatche's back was beginning to trouble him and he and Phil - who had looked so comfortable up to that point - fell at the semi-final hurdle against Dom & Ed, while Frankie & Danny continued their unbeaten run with a 15-9 win over Archie & Sam, setting up a repeat of the morning group match in the final. This was a terrific match, with little to choose between the pairs and all four giving absolutely everything they had. The Aldenham pair started strongly, winning the first game 12-8, but fatigue was starting to set in and the more experienced Olavian pair dug in and fought hard to win both of the next two games 13-10 and claim the win. Luke & Krivi bounced back from their morning disappointment with a fine win in the Plate A over Boughton & Ingram while the scratch pairing of Natalie Lilienthal & Massimo Melessaccio saved their best until last with Plate B round robin success.

The other three quarter-finals in the main competition were the centre of Sunday afternoon attention, however, and produced some fantastic Fives. With last year's winners already through, last year's runners-up were quick to join them as Houlden & Young ended the run of Bhimjiyani & Abrahams, although 7 points in the second game was evidence that Alex & Vish managed to put up some decent resistance. Plummer & Tailor had impressed at the first two major tournaments of the year, reaching the semi-finals on both occasions and taking some notable scalps on the way. This time, though, they hit a brick wall in the shape of former champions James Toop & Matt Wiseman, who were in control of their match from start to finish, winning 4, 5 and 5 to return to the semi-finals for the first time as a pair since 2021. The last quarter-final saw last year's semi-finalists and this year's London finalists Jonny Ho & James Hopkins take on the other losing 2023 semi-finalists Ed Taylor & Noah Caplin. Ed & Noah have had a slightly frustrating season in the major tournaments with two quarter-final defeats at the hands of Tailor & Plummer but have definitely been an upward curve since the London. Jonny & James have both been a bit short of match practice in the last few weeks but they negoatiated the first game easily enough with a 12-7 win. Ed & Noah hit back hard to take the second game by the same scoreline, but Jonny & James appeared to be asserting themselves with a run from 0-2 down to 9-2 up in the third. Instead of hitting the accelerator at this point, though, the Cholmeleian pair rather let their opponents back into the game with some slightly loose play; Ed & Noah didn't need a second invitation and seized the opportunity with both (left) hands, quickly narrowing the gap and levelling at 10-10. This seemed at the time to be the key phase of the match. The score moved to 12-12 with both pairs getting gameball cuts back into play and having chances to win. It was Ed & Noah who won the crucial point, though, and with the momentum now firmly in their favour, they took control of proceedings and won the fourth to 5 to book their place in the semis.

The semi-finals will be played at Westway: Riki Houlden & Hugo Young v James Toop & Matt Wiseman at 2:30pm on Sunday 24th March and Seb Cooley & Tom Dunbar v Ed Taylor & Noah Caplin at 6:00pm on Thursday 4th April.

Our thanks go to Ian Hutchinson and Harrow for hosting the tournament and to Advanta for their continued sponsorship.


Round One

B.Hart & B.Swallow beat E.Caldwell & A.Phillips 3-0 (12-4, 12-2, 12-8)

D.Robson & J.Black beat H.Barma & O.Meredith 3-0 (12-1, 12-1, 12-2)

A.Bhattacharya & A.Bhattacharya beat S.Thatcher & L.Drummond 3-0 (12-9, 12-1, 12-4)

A.Field & F.Prickett beat F.Manderson-Harkin & D.Francis 3-0 (12-2, 12-1, 12-3)

R.Perrie & E.Scoones beat G.Stanhope & A.Anderson 3-0 (12-6, 12-2, 12-3)

A.Vinen & J.Alster beat K.Hird & C.Cooley 3-1 (12-7, 13-14, 12-6, 12-7)


Round Two

R.Houlden & H.Young (1) beat B.Hart & B.Swallow 3-0 (12-3, 12-3, 12-1)

A.Abrahams & V.Bhimjiyani (8) beat G.Wiseman & P.Sathiyamoorthy 3-0 (12-8, 12-4, 14-11)

S.Tailor & C.Plummer (5) beat D.Robson & J.Black 3-1 (12-3, 10-12, 12-9, 12-2)

J.Toop & M.Wiseman (4) beat A.Bhattacharya & A.Bhattacharya 3-0 (12-0-, 12-2, 12-2)

J.Ho & J.Hopkins (3) beat A.Field & F.Prickett 3-0 (12-5, 12-6, 12-6)

E.Taylor & N.Caplin (6) beat R.Perrie & E.Scoones 3-0 (12-6, 12-7, 12-0)

S.Welti & C.Hughes (7) beat H.Wiseman & A.Cameron-Blackie 3-0 (12-2, 12-3, 12-1)

T.Dunbar & S.Cooley (2) beat A.Vinen & J.Alster 3-0 (12-5, 12-0, 12-0)



R.Houlden & H.Young (1) beat A.Abrahams & V.Bhimjiyani (8) 3-0 (12-2, 12-7, 12-1)

J.Toop & M.Wiseman (4) beat S.Tailor & C.Plummer (5) 3-0 (12-4, 12-5, 12-5)

E.Taylor & N.Caplin (6) beat J.Ho & J.Hopkins (3) 3-1 (7-12, 12-7, 13-12, 12-5)

T.Dunbar & S.Cooley (2) beat S.Welti & C.Hughes (7) 3-0 (12-5, 12-1, 12-4)


Pepperpot Trophy



E.Caldwell & A.Phillips beat F.Manderson-Harkin & D.Francis 2-0 (12-3, 12-3)



E.Caldwell & A.Phillips beat L.Drummond & S.Thatcher 2-0 (12-10, 12-10)

K.Hird & C.Cooley beat H.Barma & O.Meredith 2-0 (12-8, 12-8)



E.Caldwell & A.Phillips beat K.Hird & C.Cooley 2-0 (12-4, 12-6)





D.Robson & E.Phillips beat V.Kassardjian & P.Wilkinson 15-9

F.Manderson-Harkin & D.Francis beat A.Cameron-Blackie & S.Cook 15-9



D.Robson & E.Phillips beat F.Manderson-Harkin & D.Francis 2-1 (8-12, 13-10, 13-10)


Plate A



S.Bloomfield & G.Norfolk beat P.Shah & S.Hunter 12-10

O.Rushton & A.Shetty beat M.Melessaccio & N.Lilienthal 12-4

L.Whitnall & K.Bhavsar beat A.Moore & C.Bradley 12-0



P.Boughton & D.Ingram beat S.Bloomfield & G.Norfolk 15-2

L.Whitnall & K.Bhavsar beat O.Rushton & A.Shetty 15-11



L.Whitnall & K.Bhavsar beat P.Boughton & D.Ingram 15-10


Plate B

1. M.Melessaccio & N.Lilienthal

2. P.Shah & S.Hunter

3. A.Moore & C.Bradley


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