Bradfield College, 11th May 2014
The Winchester Fives Mixed Doubles Championship produced its usual mix of fun, banter and high-quality Fives, with defending champions Alex Steel and Andy Pringle eventually retaining their title against the Christ’s Hospital pair of teacher Ed Hatton and pupil Coralie Strong.
Truth be told, Andy and Alex had looked the pair to beat right from the word go, with their experience and balance as a pair telling, as they won all their round-robin matches – most by substantial margins – to claim a place in the final. It was perhaps only to be expected that their opponents would be the pair that had pushed them hardest in these initial matches, Ed and Coralie.
As was only to be expected, Ed was the dominant player in the latter partnership, but Coralie (a quarter-finalist in the recent School Girls’ Championships) was not overawed and provided invaluable back-up. They lost just the one game in the round-robin, but showed their strength and determination to overcome a couple of stern challenges. In the final, though, the match was a repeat of the round-robin encounter between the two pairs: Andy and Alex had the better balance, giving their opponents fewer opportunities to find winners, and both were able to hit the buttress more frequently than their opponents; indeed, Alex hit a couple of crucial service winners into the buttress just when a comeback seemed on the cards. It was a hard-fought game, but Andy and Alex deservedly finished as winners and wrote their names into the record books as the first pair ever to successfully defend the title.
Throughout the event the matches were extremely hard fought, and there’s no better proof of that than the final two matches of the day – the 3rd/4th place play-off and the plate final. In the former, the Eton Fives pairing of Gareth Hoskins and Karen Hird just edged out Dick Warner and Sarah Greasley, while in the Plate final, the Rossall pair of Maddy Raynor and Lee Hodgetts won through against another Eton Fives pairing, Harriet Asquith and Ralph Morgan.
Round-robin: Pringle & Steel bt Warner & Greasley 15-3, bt Hatton & Strong 15-10, bt Asquith & Morgan15-3, bt Raynor & Hodgetts 15-1, bt Hoskins & Hird 15-4; Warner & Greasley lost to Hatton & Strong 14-16, bt Asquith & Morgan 15-8, bt Raynor & Hodgetts 15-11, lost to Hoskins & Hird 2-15; Hatton & Strong bt Asquith & Morgan 15-4, bt Raynor & Hodgetts 15-4, bt Hoskins & Hird 15-8; Asquith & Morgan lost to Raynor & Hodgetts 10-15, lost to Hoskins & Hird 8-15; Raynor & Hodgetts lost to Hoskins & Hird 6-15
Final: Pringle & Steel bt Hatton & Strong 15-8, 15-4
3rd/4th place play-off: Hoskins & Hird bt Warner & Greasley 11-9, 11-5
Plate final: Raynor & Hodgetts bt Asquith & Morgan 11-8, 11-3