West of England Championships
Clifton College, Bristol; October 24/25th
There was a strong entry of 29 singles players in the championships, which were held over the weekend of 24/25th October at Clifton College, Bristol. Notable absentees from previous years were James Toop, John Minta and Matt Cavanagh, providing evidence of the march of time.
In the first round, there was a close encounter between Ollie Arnold of Bristol University and Peter Hanton of Alleyn Old Boys, with Ollie’s hard-hitting game finally paying dividends in the third. Another game to catch the eye was the experienced Marcus Bate taking on last year’s National Schools winner, Tom Watkinson, now at Bristol University. Marcus needed all his experience and guile to just get through in the third 12-11.
In the second round, Theo Parker (also of Bristol University, and seeded 9) had a fine victory over eighth seed Matt Shaw of Cambridge University in two very closely contested games. Another game to catch the eye was third seed Dan Grant’s encounter with Giles Munn – best known as Fives Master at Winchester, but now displaying his talents in national tournaments. Giles was always snapping at Dan’s heels, and while Dan came through in two games, there was no doubt that he had to work hard for his victory.
In the quarter-finals, the first and second seeds, Will Ellison and Dan Tristao, overcame the challenges of Theo Parker and Julian Aquilina, and Ed Kay held sway over Richie Murby, although Richie challenged strongly in the second game, only losing 11/12.
The quarter which really caught the eye, however, was the victory by Ben Beltrami of Cambridge University over Dan Grant. Former National Schools winner Beltrami is a force to be seriously reckoned with and, although Dan fought hard to close out the second game, Beltrami – with his long reach and strength on both hands – held the game to 11.
In the semis, Beltrami came up against second seed Tristao and, although Ben pushed hard in the first, Tristao displayed his usual knack of keeping cool to see a game out and proceeded to the final. Meanwhile, Will Ellison looked in sharp and determined fettle and Ed Kay was unable to halt his progress to yet another final.
The final between Will and Dan was inevitably of the highest calibre and almost inevitably went to three games. It appeared that Will was on his way to retaining the trophy when he took the first to 5, but you write off Dan at your peril and he came back coolly and strongly to take the next two games. Will first won this competition in 2010 and since then he and Dan have taken it in turns to be victorious – it will be interesting to monitor the progress of these two fine players who do so much good for the image of the game.
Twelve pairs competed the Doubles competition, which was played on Sunday. The game in the first round that caught the eye was Francis Thomas and Henry Jefferies (Oxford University) just giving way to the talents of Tom Watkinson and Inigo Ackland of Bristol University in a match that seemed to take up half the morning.
After that, the four top-seeded pairs duly made their way to the semi-finals. In the first semi, top seeds Ellison and Kay finally proved too consistent for Arnold and Parker, although the Bristol University pair came close to seeing out the second game. And, in the other semi, Tristao and Grant were pushed hard in the first by Beltrami and Shaw but gradually asserted themselves to take their place in the final.
This was a high-class affair, with the top four players in the country on court at the same time. Almost inevitably, there was very little to choose between the two pairs, and although it appeared that Will and Ed might be on the way to victory after taking the first game, the two Dans dug deep to snatch the second to 10 and then rounded off a pulsating third 11-8 to take the trophy.
Thanks are due to Simon Werkshagen for setting up the draw and arrangements for the competition and to Lionel Lawson for organising the event over the weekend.
1st round: O Arnold bt P Hanton 11-7, 3-11, 11-4; M Shaw bt N Geere 11-2, 11-3; T Parker bt K Kennerley 11-1, 11-4; E Kay bt C Davey 11-4, 11-3; C Waller w/o A Rew; R Murby bt M Hale 11-1, 11-1; M Bate bt T Watkinson 5-11, 11-8, 12-11; F Thomas w/o I Ackland; J Aquilina bt J Sumner 11-1, 11-1; A George bt B Smithson 11-1, 11-2; G Munn bt B Chua 11-1, 11-3; B Beltrami bt S Bhushan 11-2, 11-1; E Hatton bt S Moger 11-6, 11-8
2nd round: W Ellison bt Arnold 11-1, 11-3; Parker bt Shaw 11-8, 12-10; Kay bt Waller 11-4, 11-8; Murby bt Bate 11-7, 11-1; D Tristao bt Thomas 11-9, 11-3; Aquilina bt George 11-4, 11-4; D Grant bt Munn 11-8, 12-10; Beltrami bt Hatton 11-5, 11-4
Quarter-finals: Ellison bt Parker 11-7, 11-2; Kay bt Murby 11-2, 12-11; Tristao bt Aquilina 11-7, 11-7; Beltrami bt Grant 11-4, 12-11
Semi-finals: Ellison bt Kay 11-3, 11-7; Tristao bt Beltrami 11-9, 11-5
Final: Tristao bt Ellison 5-11, 11-8, 11-5
1st round: Ackland & Watkinson bt H Jefferies & Thomas 8-11, 11-7, 11-8; Aquilina & Hanton bt Davey and D George-Carey 11-2, 11-0; H Buchanan & George bt Kennerley and T Lewis 11-4, 11-0; Bate & Hatton bt Smithson & Munn 12-11, 11-4
Quarter-finals: Ellison & Kay bt Ackland & Watkinson 11-1, 11-3; Arnold & Parker bt Aquilina &
Hanton 11-4, 11-5; Beltrami & Shaw bt Buchanan & George 11-5, 11-7; Grant & Tristao bt Bate & Hatton 11-9, 11-5
Semi-finals: Ellison & Kay bt Arnold & Parker 11-3, 11-9; Grant & Tristao bt Beltrami & Shaw 12-10, 11-5
Final: Grant & Tristao bt Ellison & Kay 6-11, 12-10, 11-8
Plate: Jefferies & Thomas