Manchester, Saturday/Sunday 2-3 December 2017
STOP PRESS: Dan Tristao won the 2017 National Singles title in Manchester this weekend, beating long-time rival Will Ellison in yet another tight final. Dan came through in two games, 15-11, 15-11, to win the Jesters Club Cup for the third time.
Organiser Charlie Brooks reports: Dan Tristao won the 2017 National Singles title in Manchester, beating long-time rival Will Ellison in yet another tight final. Dan came through in two games, 15-11, 15-11, to win the Jesters Club Cup for the third time. The final may not have been a 3-game epic that we have become accustomed to, but the skill level and the shot-making that set these two apart were very much evident.
The finals weekend had started in ominous fashion. All trains out of Euston were cancelled, meaning the organiser and a handful of other London finalists were delayed. Having bundled themselves into cars, a rather speedy trip up north ensued, with remarkably few speeding fines along the way (zero).
As a result, the first round rather stuttered into life, but once it got going, there were some corkers. The obligatory (and sole) 3-gamer duly arrived when Matt Shaw took on Theo Parker: Theo took the first, Matt stormed back in the second, but Theo was resurgent in the third and took the honours for his maiden quarter-final appearance. There were also mature performances from Julian Aquilina and Dave Butler to come through their openers strongly.
Unsurprisingly, the closest quarter-final was between Charlie Brooks (4th seed) and Dave Butler (5th), with Charlie coming through rather more comfortably than in his quarter-final last year.
But it was after the quarters that the drama really started. With all semi-finalists eager to get stuck in, we were informed that the courts would be closing and we had to vacate the Y Club within a few minutes. Not to be deterred, the first semi-final kicked off (Ed Kay v Will Ellison), while the organiser confidently explained the importance of the tournament to the would-be turners-out. It didn’t work. At 7-5 to Ed, play was abandoned, to be resumed on Sunday morning.
Did the unexpected postponement affect the players? Possibly. Will emerged emboldened in the morning and gave up only 10 further points in the contest, turning the 7-5 deficit into a 15-12, 15-5 triumph. Ed has had a breakthrough season, but Will played his best fives of the year when it mattered most. In the other semi, Dan Tristao beat Charlie in a repeat of last year’s match. It was very much closer this time — the first game going to 16-14 — but once again, Dan’s quality carried him through.
Dan continued this form into the final and didn’t give an inch in the face of Will’s usual retrieval and consistency. He managed to find more winners throughout and deservedly took the crown.
The plate, as ever, provided fantastic fives with very close matches. In the groups, Ollie Arnold and Sam Russell won all their games, but honourable mentions must go to Ben Jourdan and Tom Kidner for some great performances. Returning on Sunday, Ollie regained the title he won in 2015, beating Sam in two.
Finally, the tournament was notable for its youth. The average age was 24 — surely the youngest ever — and the draw contained only five taxpayers! Those feeling a little elderly will be happy to hear, however, that experience did tell and the three oldest players made it to the semi finals.
1st round: D.Tristao (1) bt J.Hanton 15-4, 15-2; O.Arnold bt M.Cavanagh (8) w/o; D.Butler (5) bt B.Jourdan 15-9, 15-2; C.Brooks (4) bt A.George 15-1, 15-0; W.Ellison (3) bt T.Kidner 15-6, 15-0; J.Aquilina (6) bt S.Russell 15-8, 15-4; T.Parker bt M.Shaw (7) 15-11, 4-15, 15-11; E.Kay (2) bt J.Smith 15-2, 15-4
Quarter-finals: Tristao bt Arnold 15-11, 15-6; Brooks bt Butler 15-11, 15-8; Ellison bt Aquilina 15-0, 15-7; Kay bt Parker 15-4, 15-0
Semi-finals: Tristao bt Brooks 16-14, 15-4; Ellison bt Kay 15-12, 15-5
Final: D.C. Tristao bt W.A.Ellison 15-11, 15-11
Plate: O.Arnold bt S.Russell 15-11, 15-4