Click on the thumbnail to see photos from this year's Richard Black Cup
Gareth Hoskins reports:
The second ever Richard Black Cup took place at Eton on Sunday, with five teams gracing the courts and producing a veritable feast of Fives. The entry for this ladies Fives team competition was slightly disappointing, a combination of school holidays, university vacations and Mother's Day preventing a number of potential teams from raising enough players to enter. A change of date next year will hopefully produce a larger entry as this exciting competition begins to establish itself in the Fives calendar.
Late withdrawals required some creative tournament organisation and the final format involved a five team round robin, with teams consisting of four or five players. Matches were played over two pairs and with two games per pair. This meant that before the start of each match teams of five were required to nominate a substitution to to take place in one of the two pairs between the first and second games. This ensured that no-one was sitting out for too long and introduced a whole new tactical dimension to the tournament, as well as almost certainly creating a first in the history of Fives.
The players were divided into five teams, representing St.Olave's, Ipswich, EFA (1), EFA (2) and Combined Universities. Overall, there were players who had learned their Fives at a huge variety of places, from Westway to Zuoz, Highgate to Shrewsbury, Berkhamsted to Emanuel, North Oxford to Lancing, Cambridge and even a Bath University novice - Lucy Macnaught - who performed with distinction throughout the day, winning six out of her eight games in partnership with fellow Bath student Emily Scoones. The University side was completed by Karen Hird and Michaela Galperti and they finished a highly creditable second, behind the defending champions EFA 1, who dominated the competition, winning all of their matches. The EFA side was led by multiple national champions Kerry White and Dominique Redmond and they were given excellent support throughout by Wendy Carling and Emanuel schoolgirls Lucy Pugh and Gina Vuqitrna. The EFA second team - Ashley Lumbard, Fiona Barnes, Ellie Casey and Kate Hodkinson from Berkhamsted and Mandie Barnes - were locked in a tight battle for second place, eventually losing out by one point to the Universities team.
Despite finishing in fourth and fifth place, great credit should be given to the St.Olave's and Ipswich teams. Thanks to the excellent leadership and organisational skills of Anita Ganguly and Annabel Griffiths respectively, they were able to provide full teams to represent their schools, both containing a mixture of current and former pupils, and they produced some excellent Fives throughout the day.
My thanks go to Seb Cooley and Mark Williams at Eton, to all the team captains for their organisational efforts and especially to Richard Black, who was present alongside Krystyna Vargas - a legend of the Ladies game - to present the individual prizes along with what has to be the most beautiful trophy on the Fives circuit.
Richard Black Cup 2011 results
1. EFA 1 16 points
2. Combined Universities 10 points
3. EFA 2 9 points
4. Ipswich 3 points
5. St.Olave's 2 points
Round 1: EFA 1 beat St.Olave's 4-0; EFA 2 drew with Combined Universities 2-2
Round 2: EFA 1 beat Combined Universities 4-0; EFA 2 beat Ipswich 3-1
Round 3: EFA 2 beat St.Olave's 4-0; Combined Universities beat Ipswich 4-0
Round 4: EFA 1 beat Ipswich 4-0; Combined Universities beat St.Olave's 4-0
Round 5: EFA 1 beat EFA 2 4-0; Ipswich drew with St.Olave's 2-2