London Open Championships
Alleyn’s School, Dulwich, 12/13th September 2015
Alleyn’s hosted the London Open for the first time since 2012, writes organiser Will Ellison, and it was encouraging to see the best turnout since 2008, with many students and players in their early to mid-20s taking part.
The singles tournament kicked off on Saturday morning, and the pick of the first-round games was between Nick Geere and Angus Hanton, with Angus ultimately prevailing in three games. In the second round, a tight battle between the 8th and 9th seeds – Matt Shaw and Julian Aquilina – saw Julian pull through 11-7 in the third.
The quarter-finals all went to seedings, with the exception of a long three-gamer between 2002 champion Matt Cavanagh and current National U25 champion Ed Kay. As in the South West Open, Ed came through, although this time he was pushed all the way by Matt. In addition, Dave Butler pushed Dan Grant hard to take the first game in their quarter-final, although the more experienced Grant ultimately prevailed.
The semi-finals saw 2010 and 2014 champion Ellison take on Kay. This proved to be a classic battle with Ed’s deft touch, reverse-angle drop shots and accurate volleying seeing him claim the first game 11-7. However, Ellison tweaked his strategy and won the following two games for the loss of just three points. In the other semi-final, Tristao took on Grant. This turned out not to be their most classic encounter, although Grant’s lengthy summer break – partly due to qualifying as a doctor and partly to champion UK Wallball’s efforts – may have contributed to this!
The final was played on Saturday morning between Will and Dan, and once again the match was an exciting three-gamer with many turning points. Will came out of the blocks fast, whilst Dan made several uncharacteristic errors in the first game, leading to Will winning this 11-2. In the second game, the momentum of the game kept changing; with Will receiving 8-6, Dan won a rally that video evidence has confirmed included no less than 131 (yes, one hundred and thirty one!!) shots. This was considered by many spectators to be the key turning point in the match. Will couldn’t maintain his level in the third, and with Dan finding some great length on his shots, this led to the 2013 champion reclaiming his title.
The singles plate was well contested with nine entrants. Tony Hamilton and Alan Bowden both came through their groups undefeated and faced off in the final. Alan withstood a late comeback by Tony to win 15-11 and claim his first open singles silverware.
In the doubles tournament, the first round went with the seedings. In the second round the pick of the matches was a three-gamer between 8-time National Doubles champions Hamish Buchanan and Robin Perry (who are also the 2002-2004 London Open doubles champions) against Theo Parker and Ollie Arnold. Ultimately the hard-hitting Bristol University students prevailed in three games to consign Buchanan and Perry to what must be their first open plate tournament in many years (or ever!).
Ollie and Theo then faced off against Grant and Kay in one of the semi-finals; this was a close match, with the second seeds coming through 11-8 in the third, having dropped the first game 11-9. Meanwhile, Ellison and Tristao progressed to the final with a comfortable 11-4, 11-4 win over Charlie Brooks and Matt Shaw.
In the final, National Doubles champions Ellison and Tristao closed out the first game to a fairly comfortable 11-5. The second was a closer affair, with Grant and Kay pulling the game back from 5-0 down. It was nip-and-tuck from then on, with Will and Dan T reaching 10-9 after several long rallies. Dan G and Ed held on to save two match points and pull the game back to 10-10, but this proved to be in vain as Will and Dan T then finished the game off to win their third consecutive London Open doubles title – and preserve their unbeaten record when playing together.
In the plate final, Hamish and Robin came through against Ed Hatton and Dave Butler in a tense three-gamer.
Special mentions for the weekend go to Dan Grant, for the best pun (“Lemon was squeezed out of the draw”); to Ed Hatton, for the best all-red outfit (leading to the moniker “Red Ed”); to Gareth Price, for making the trip down despite not playing (and despite him being under the age of 60!); to Will Ellison, for organising his first fives tournament, and providing many sandwiches for the players (despite Grant’s feedback on these); to Dan Tristao’s engraver, for (temporarily) losing the doubles trophy; and to all supporters for making the effort to come along.
We hope to see many of you down next year – let’s try for an even bigger entry!
1st Round: P Hanton bt A Hamilton 11-0, 11-4; J Aquilina bt J Hanton 11-6, 11-0; M Shaw bt B Chua 11-0, 11-6; E Hatton bt F Thomas 11-9, 11-7; C Waller bt O Even 11-2, 11-4; A Hanton bt N Geere 7-11, 11-8, 11-0; A George bt J Smith 11-1, 11-3; T Parker bt A Bowden 12-11, 11-0; O Arnold bt J Malde 11-6, 11-1
2nd Round: W Ellison bt P Hanton 11-0, 11-4; J Aquilina bt M Shaw 6-11, 11-2, 11-7 E Kay bt E Hatton 11-8, 11-1; M Cavanagh bt C Waller 11-1, 11-2; D Grant bt A Hanton 11-2, 11-5; D Butler bt A George 11-1, 11-3; R Murby bt T Parker 12-11, 11-0; D Tristao bt O Arnold 11-5, 11-3
Quarter-finals: W Ellison bt J Aquilina 11-0, 11-6; E Kay bt M Cavanagh 11-5, 5-11, 11-0; D Grant bt D Butler 9-11, 11-3, 11-3; D Tristao bt R Murby 11-5, 11-9
Semi-finals: W Ellison bt E Kay 7-11, 11-3, 11-0; D Tristao bt D Grant 11-3, 11-6
Final: D Tristao bt W Ellison 2-11, 11-8, 11-1
1st Round: George & P Hanton bt Chua & Smith 11-2, 11-6; Aquilina & Dean bt Geere & Hamilton 11-1, 11-1; Arnold & Parker bt Jefferies & Thomas 11-5, 11-2
Quarter-finals: Ellison & Tristao bt George & Hanton 11-6, 11-8; Brooks & Shaw bt Aquillina & Dean 11-8, 11-4; Arnold & Parker bt Buchanan & Perry 11-5, 8-11, 11-2; Grant & Kay bt Butler & Hatton 11-8, 11-7
Semi-finals: Ellison & Tristao bt Brooks & Shaw 11-4, 11-4; Grant & Kay bt Arnold & Parker 9-11, 11-3, 11-8
Final: Ellison & Tristao bt Grant & Kay 11-5, 12-10
Plate: Buchanan and Perry