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.
In the last few years we have become accustomed to a small group of our players dominating at tournaments, which was true to some extent this season, with Dan Tristao regaining the National Singles crown and Charlie Brooks defending the National Doubles. But perhaps more notable were the breakout successes of younger OPs, with debut titles for Arnold & Parker in Yorkshire, and then Shaw (with Kay) at the North West.
The Club’s season kicked off with the Cunis Cup – our singles handicap tournament. Brooks emerged as champion in a field of nine, making use of an extra hand against Tristao in the final and gaining his first victory at this event. For the Owers Trophy we fielded two teams. Though one side failed to progress beyond the group stages, losing close matches against the Old Bradfieldians and the AOBs, the Cambridge trio of Kay, Beltrami and Shaw were undeterred, marching on to secure us a seventh successive title in this event. At the Wood Cup we fielded one team, though several OPs played for other clubs. In the semis the team overcame a tough-looking West of England, which set up a repeat of the 2016 final versus Wessex. This time, however, the OP IV (Tristao, Brooks, Aquilina, and Tilston) emerged triumphant, reclaiming the title in emphatic fashion.
Finally we came together for our President’s Cup in May. Just four pairs took to the courts, including three top schoolboys who have become club night regulars. Tom Dean and Matthew Cheveley prevailed in all six of their games to lift the trophy, capping off another enjoyable year for the club.
The 2016 Cunis Cup was won by Charlie Brooks who surprisingly hadn’t won the tournament before.
Nine OPs entered this year’s tournament although sadly only eight finished. The returning Ady Lee, playing for the first time in five years, was struck down with an old calf injury while playing Charlie early on.
Effectively this left two groups of four with Charlie topping Group A with a 100% record. Following Charlie in rank order were Tom Dean, James Tilston and Jack Malde.
Group B saw Dan Tristao, Julian Aquilina, Oli Quarry and Matt Nunes battle it out with the outcome in that order.
As usual first played first, second played second etc to see give a group winner with Group A coming out in top.
In the main final Charlie eased through his match against Dan (with an extra hand) 15-5.
Jack Malde and James Tilston won the 2016 President’s Cup going through the round robin tournament unbeaten.
Their last match against Jonny Baker and Henry Jefferies turned out to be the decider with both having won all games to that point. The video below isn’t from the best angle but gives you a flavour of the match. Scores, full report and more videos to come.
The BUSF Championships this weekend have been dominated by OP players.
Ed Kay won the singles, beating Ben Beltrami in the final. Ed beat Matt Shaw in the semi, while Ben beat Ollie Arnold. The plate winner was Sam Russell who beat Ollie Quarry in the final.
In the doubles Matt and Ben won their semi-final winner against Sam Russell and Dave Butler – (Old Bradfieldian and Durham). Ollie Arnold and Theo Parker beat Kay/Quarry in their semi-final to set up another all-OP final in which Matt and Ben won.
Ben Ashraf and his Durham partner won the plate.
Next weekend sees the finals of the national singles at SPS, with Dan Tristao top seed and seven other OP players in the last 16.
The Old Pauline Vs club secured another Owers Trophy after entering two teams into this year’s newly structured tournament. The 2012 leavers team, captained by Theo Parker (team: Parker, Francis & Russell) were joined by a strong OP team, captained by Cunis Cup champion Julian Aquilina (team: Aquilina, Beltrami & Tristao).
Three man teams with nine teams in total split into three groups of three produced four teams into the semi finals (Confused? Me too!). Both OP teams progressed to the final though giving the club its first one-two in the tournament’s history.
Julian’s team came through in the final with him commenting afterwards:
“The match was played in great spirit, Dan typically produced some moments of flair to excite the crowd and Ben was at his brutal best in cracking returns of serve time after time. I did alright too…
Losing captain, Theo Parker struggled to come to terms with the defeat:
“It was a tough final. Tristao’s left hand smash volley into the floor gave me hope but we weren’t helped by our bagel loss to Aquilina & Beltrami.
The winning team below – Aquilina holding his second trophy in two weeks.
A new name was added today to the Cunis Cup with Julian Aquilina coming through a tough field.
Winning all his games, Julian showed a mix of power, precision and superior fitness over the other entrants.
He finished four points ahead of last year’s champ’ Theo Parker who, was not quite able to pull off back to back tournament wins.
As is usual, the tournament was followed by the annual AGM in which not very much was decided. However in the absence of the tournament winner, Julian was promoted to a position on the committee (position TBC, Julian yet to be told!). The other decision was to leave the now vacant position of President empty for the year – this following the death of Alastair McKenzie in the summer.