St. Paul’s School, Barnes
Saturday/Sunday, 21-22 April 2018
STOP PRESS: The Wessex Club regain the trophy from the Old Paulines in a close final. The West of England IV win the Plate competition.
Organiser Tom Dean reports: For any club member reading this whose club was not involved: Get next year’s date in the diary — when it comes out, of course! In what is the only competition that offers matchplay it was a shame to only have five clubs enter.
Executioners, Old Blues, Old Paulines, Wessex and West of England competed the 2018 National Club Championship (aka the Wood Cup) in great spirit. The competition ended in a particularly close final and a new name on a (soon to be) new plate.
Quarter-final – Executioners v. Old Blues
In the top half of the draw, Executioners opened the day against the Old Blues. Topping the bill a tasty singles between Penn Chai and Ed Hatton. Ed served up the first lesson to young Penn — don’t turn up early to a game of fives. Least of all when it involves a certain school master from Christ’s Hospital. Indeed it would have been better for Penn to have had another 2 hours in bed, with Ed turning up too late for the rubber to be fitted in.
The remaining singles matches gave Executioners a healthy lead, with Ben Hale and Morgan Spillane the pick of the ties. Ben was quick to highlight that what pulled him through 11-6 was his champion diet of pizza and beer.
The doubles was looking like it would take the match further away from the Old Blues before a pumped-up Hatton with partner Louise Mathias stormed to some big wins. Sadly for the Old Blues it was only enough to tie the doubles and lose out overall 96-71.
Semi-final 1 — Old Paulines v. Executioners
Executioners were rewarded with a semi-final on Saturday afternoon against holders, Old Paulines. Fortunately for Penn, his singles opponent was another early bird, Julian Aquilina. Unfortunately for Penn, his opponent was Julian Aquilina. No mercy shown, 11-1 the score.
The rest of the singles was similarly one-sided; however, the doubles was a more competitive affair. Ben Hale & Richard Bridge were close to winning a game against Tom Dean & James Tilston as were Tom Webster & Penn Chai. However, Julian Aquilina & Elliott Malone thundered through their matches, giving the OPs a 132-48 victory. OPs to the final
Semi-final 2 — Wessex v. West of England
The bottom half of the draw was on the thin side. Previous winners Wessex versus semi-finalists of many a year, West of England. Could it be one step further for West of England? Sadly not. Wessex reshuffled their pack when they heard they were in for a morning game and pulled a certain Will Ellison out of a family do — they realise by now that fives takes priority and Will is Wessex to the core.
The match was relatively one-sided, although it was exciting to see Inigo Ackland back on court. His singles match against Dave Butler was particularly tight and when Inigo teamed up with Ollie Arnold it made for the hardest-hitting partnership this tournament has seen for many a year.
A margin of 123-50 took Wessex to the final and West of England to a plate final against Old Blues.
Plate final – West of England v. Old Blues
The plate final took place directly after the semi- and quarter-finals for these teams respectively. West of England were out of the blocks quickly and rushed through the singles, dropping just two points.
The doubles was similarly one-sided and the West of England club romped to victory, only to find there was no physical prize at the end of it. In future years this won’t be the case as the National Club Championship plate will be donated by the winners. We thank you!
Final – Old Paulines v. Wessex
A sunny Sunday morning saw a repeat of what has now been the same final for several years — too many for this organiser to remember. Wessex were looking to regain the trophy, while the Old Paulines were hoping to start another run.
Our organiser can only comment on one game of singles as he was locked at 2-2 when all the other games had finished. Due to starting late? No. Due to other games being quick? No. Singles matches between Dean and Munn will never win any prizes for aesthetics. Munn to Dean’s right, Dean’s right to Munn’s left. And repeat. And repeat.
Wessex got the best of all but one game and took a 40 point to 24 lead after the singles. Into the doubles, and the Old Paulines kept clawing back points only to lose a few again — this seesaw went on right until the last round of matches in which the Old Paulines needed two healthy victories to nick the match.
Credit to both Wessex pairs — Ellison & Munn edged out Aquilina & Tilston as did Bulter & Hawke, who recovered well from their first match bagel to take their game against Brooks & Dean 12-10. With it Wessex regained the National Club Championship. Until next year…
Executioners: Richard Bridge, Penn Chai, Ben Hale, Tom Webster
Old Blues: George Boyle, Ed Hatton, Louise Mathias, Morgan Spillane
Old Paulines: Julian Aquilina, Charlie Brooks, Tom Dean, Elliott Malone, James Tilston
Wessex Club: James Birch, Dave Butler, Will Ellison, Ed Hawke, Giles Munn
West of England Club: Inigo Ackland, Oliver Arnold, Kevin Brice, Andy Lawson
Quarter-final: Executioners beat the Old Blues 96-91
Semi-finals: Wessex beat the West of England 123-50; Old Paulines beat the Executioners 132-48
Final: Wessex beat the Old Paulines 107-95
Plate: West of England beat the Old Blues 133-36