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1999 Aberconway Cup

Mike Fenn reports:

The ninth Championship was held at Eton on Sunday 18th April. Sixteen pairs, ideal for the organiser, entered with newcomers Simon Sherrard (first Fives in twenty-five years) and James, John Cooley and Seb and Jacob Walters all playing in their first Fathers and Sons. The age span again ranged across some forty-five years with players from eleven clubs and six schools participating.

The sixteen pairs were divided into four groups, each playing three matches the best of three games, with the winners of each group proceeding to the semi-finals. The Dunbars (Graham and Tom), the Walters (Tony and Jacob), the Markannens and the Fenns were seeded with the four groups arranged according to known strengths, age, club, school, etc.

There were no surprises in Group 1 with the holders and number one seeds, the Dunbars, running out comfortable winners with the Knowles runners up. Congratulations to Mike and Mark Marriott in winning their first Championship match.

The second Group was marred by an unfortunate accident to young James Sherrard who dislocated a finger necessitating a trip to the local hospital. Particularly unfortunate as the Sherrards had won one and lost won of their two matches played. Group runners up were the Ullmans.

Last year's finalists and fourth seeds, the Fenns, were comprehensively beaten by the Rodwells in the third Group and indeed only just scraped into second place by defeating Teresa and Peter Dunbar two games to one. Unfortunately the McHardys were forced to retire after their first match due to an earlier injury sustained by son Tim.

Group 4 turned out to be the toughest grouping with the Knights narrowly edging out the Wilsons for second place with the match between them remaining unfinished at one game each. The Wilsons won their first Championship match in defeating the Cooleys 2-1. The Walters, winners and second seeds, comfortably won the Group


And so to the semi-finals after an excellent lunch at the Watermans Arms. Two first time pairings in the semi-finals - the Rodwells and the Markkanens with a first also for Jacob Walters. The Markannens had the misfortune to meet the Dunbars. Tom Dunbar, a recent losing semi-finalist in the School’s Open Championship, and Graham still near the top of his game, meant the Markkanens had an uphill struggle to survive. Olli Markkanen and his son Pauli, the latter fresh from his defeat in the semi-finals of the Kinnaird Cup, were unable to overcome the combined strength of the Dunbars losing 12-3, 12-1. A heartening point for the Markkanens was the noticeable improvement since last year in the play of Olli.

The second semi-final between the Rodwells and the Walters could so easily have gone either way. In the first game the Walters got off to a good start 3-0, 6-3, keeping their noses in front to take the first game 13-10. James Rodwell, the most improved player on court, continued to play an exceptional game ably supported by father Peter. Despite leading 9-6 the Rodwells were unable to hold out against the more experienced Shrewsbury pair who clawed their way back to level at 10-10. The Rodwells only managed one more point before losing 13-11, but not before a minor altercation between Walters senior and the spectators - clearly Tony was feeling the strain!

The Final

The wily Walters senior opted for a best of five game final but ultimately to no avail. After a promising 2-1 lead in the first game the Walters were unable to match the attacking flair and error free game of the Dunbars. Despite several excellent rallies when in hand they were unable to score a further point in the game. The pattern in the second was similar with the Dunbars quickly proceeding from 5-3 to 10-3. However casual play on their part enabled the Walters to claw back to 10-6 before the Dunbars ran out winners 12-6. Tight rallies marked the start of the third with the Dunbars continuing to win the important points before romping home 12-1. Jacob played exceptionally well in support of his father as did Tom Dunbar.

Christopher Horne, a regular supporter of the Championship, presented the Lord Aberconway Cup to the winners Graham and Tom Dunbar. This, their fourth consecutive win, equalled the record established by Gerald and Simon Barber.