There was much excitement ahead of this year’s internal handicap doubles tournament, the OP President’s Cup, as word spread that we had achieved double the entry size compared to last year. As such, fans were gearing up for 11 Old and five current Paulines to take to the courts on Sunday 20 May.
Unfortunately, the magical format of two groups of four pairs was disrupted by a no-show (Malone’s whereabouts remain unknown), leaving us at odds. With all the other group matches already on court, the organiser convinced the abandoned Sam Roberts to stay and pair up with schoolboy Tom Liu, at the same time resigning himself to a day of two versus one. (Later it was acknowledged that this is often advantageous for the one, particularly with two receiving hands.)
Following smooth progress through the round robins – the closest match being 15-11 – it was decided that there would be a semifinal round involving the top two pairs from each group. Meanwhile, the remaining three pairs (and the organiser) contested their own playoff.
In the main event, the semifinals were both hard-fought. Despite a slow start to their campaign earlier in the day, Jackson & Russell proceeded to take out the previously unbeaten Group A champions Davies & Dean 15-9, whilst the other runners up Baker & Cheveley edged out Esin & Shaw 16-14, setting up a showdown between the current top two Paulines, each paired with a Thursday night stalwart.
Things started well for the left-right pairing of Baker & Cheveley, quickly racing out to a 10-1 lead. Matt was seemingly on course to become just the second player in the Cup’s history to defend the title. However, with four matches under each player’s belt the day’s efforts looked to be taking their toll – Matt had in fact called the trainer earlier, but failed to receive any attention before taking to court. In the battle of attrition which ensued, involving too many lengthy cross-court rallies to count, Jackson & Russell slowly overturned the deficit to level the scoreline at 10-all. Things were still far from over, and each rally had the crowd (all three of us by the end) on the edge of our seats. A tense match point came and went for the original front-runners, but Harry and Sam held steady and eventually made their breakthrough, clinching the match 16-14. This marks a maiden title for each of them at this event – an impressive feat given the quality and depth of the field this year.
An excellent 2014 tournament saw eight fiendishly competitive OPs, attempt to prise the Cunis Cup away from Dan Tristao who was looking for an ‘n’th consecutive win.
As much as the result was perhaps a shock to all involved, it also came as a shock to some of those entering that they would be playing a singles and not doubles tournament. An Oxford education does not necessarily prepare one for reading the small print!
The 2014 Cunis Cup
An afternoon of high quality Vs ensued with Group A (Tristao, Tilston, Quarry and Malone) being topped by the tournament holder – Dan Tristao. This while managing to serve one opponent out a whopping four times.
Group B involved a five way battle (Parker, Roberts, Jefferies, Russell and Mckelvie) in which a deciding game between Parker and Roberts saw the pupil outmaneuver his old teacher.
This set up a final with potentially the biggest non-playing crowd in the tournament’s history – 3….which included the cup’s eponymous Tim Cunis. The result was expected to be a comfortable win for the holder and even at 8-1 up, most expected Parker to ‘hit the wall’ and Dan to do the usual Tristao fightback. Perhaps buoyed by his victory the previous week over another ex-National Champion, AOB Buchanan, Theo managed to continue his quite superb retrieval, hard hitting and out-dropping-Tristao game to take the match and the Cunis Cup.
Congratulation to all involved!
Parker wins the 2014 Cunis Cup
A date has been set for the 2014 Cunis Cup of Sunday 21st September. The handicap singles tournament will start after lunch c. 3pm and afterwards we will reconvene to The Bridge for a few drinks and our very brief AGM!
An exceptionally strong field of 5 pairs contested a round robin event which as last year came down to the final match, in which Tom Dean and Ollie Quarry defeated the hitherto unbeaten pairing of holder Matt Shaw and Julian Aquilina by sufficient points to overtake them (58 points from 3 wins as against 54). Dan Tristao and Richard Law took third place with 45 points and 2 wins, just ahead of Charlie Brooks and Sam Russell (38 from 2). Although they did not achieve a win, Francis Thomas and Theo Parker also played some memorable fives. An excellent afternoon for all concerned.
Tom Dean won the Cunis Cup 2009, defeating Tim Hoolahan 16-15 in an enthralling final, in which both players had chances. An entry of ten (only one of whom was among the 12 who contested the 2007 event) meant that two groups were able to complete round-robin preliminaries and play a final match against each other. Group I (Dean, Jonny Baker, Luke Rowland, Julian Liban, Tom Risdon) proved to be fractionally stronger throughout than Group II (Hoolahan, Elliott Malone, Niraj Patel, Tim Barlow, Greg Branagan) winning all the ties for a 76-51 overall score.
Newcomer Daniel Tristao won the cup at the first attempt, continuing the tradition of SPS captains’ OP debuts. He beat fellow school-leaver Alqahir Ladak in a very keenly-contested final, where the handicapping made the result in doubt until the very end. A record entry of 12 allowed four group stages to be followed by semi-finals (Adrian Lee falling to Daniel and Nick Warrillow to Alqahir) and final in three appropriate knockouts. In the “plate” final Dan Colton beat Ian Mogford, and in the second plate, Bill Townley beat a very weary Niraj Patel.
Newcomer Chris Hay won the cup at the first attempt, perhaps aided – but not excessively – by a generous handicapper. Defeating Ian Mogford in his key group game, he went on to beat Adrian Lee in the final.
Group stages: Group I:Adrian Lee 3 wins, Tom Dean 2, Matt Hanney 1, Bernard Reed 0; Group II: Chris Hay 3 wins, Ian Mogford 2, Andy Cox 1, Peter King 0
Final: Chris Hay beat Adrian Lee 15-11 (and each Group II player also beat his equivalent from group I, to give a match score between the groups of 48-21)