2011 Kinnaird Cup Final: John Reynolds previews the big game

Eleven-time Kinnaird Cup winner John Reynolds previews this year's clash, which will take place at Eton at 1pm on Sunday April 3rd:

Kinnaird Cup Final Preview 2011_1

A KINNAIRD CLASH TO SAVOUR

This year's Kinnaird final between first seeds and defending champions James Toop and Matt Wiseman and second seeds Tom Dunbar and Seb Cooley promises to be a fascinating clash.

 
It marks the arrival of Seb Cooley to the highest level of the game, after two or three years of playing some of the most scintillating and acrobatic Fives on the circuit.
 
It is six-times-winner Tom Dunbar's chance to win the Kinnaird with a third partner – after titles with his brother Pete and before that with multiple winner Robin Mason –  a feat nobody has ever achieved.
 
If James Toop were to win, it would be for the fifth time out of a dozen appearances in the final as he bids to make good his schoolboy threat (remember he is the only schoolboy to win the national schools' championship three times) to become the outstanding player of his generation. Toop would also extend his time as champion of both Eton Fives and Rugby Fives – he won the other code's national singles championship for the fourth time earlier this season.
 
Matt Wiseman – the third player in this match to have dominated the top of the game this millennium – would make it four wins out of nine appearances in the final.
 
The rivalries and partnerships that will be played out on April 3 have many of their origins at school level, where all four players were champions over a golden four-year period. Wiseman was Toop's partner for the first of his three school titles back in 1997. Dunbar was his opponent for the second of them. Seb Cooley was his partner for the third. Dunbar's time came the season after.
 
This Kinnaird final will be the first time since 1998 that a single school has provided three of the participants, another indication of the strength in depth that St Olave's has developed since the eighties, when Howard Wiseman began rebuilding the club. By the way, back in 1998 it was King Edward's, Birmingham, who supplied the winners, Jon Mole and Robin Mason, as well as runner-up Richard Tyler.
 
So, can the new pairing of Dunbar and Cooley overcome the current champions at their first opportunity? Perhaps Seb Cooley, on what have become his home courts, can seize the day. Or can Toop and Wiseman build on last year's successes when they became only the third pair ever to win all three championships in a season - the London, the Northern and the Kinnaird?
 
All four players are superb returners of the cut and great volleyers so expect lots of rallies and a furious pace. Perhaps the result will depend on fitness.
 
Either way, the game should be a celebration of the renewed vigour that Eton Fives is enjoying  – don't miss the opportunity to witness it. Eton, 1pm, Sunday April 3.

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