Click on the thumbnail to see photos from the weekend or HERE to see video footage of the Sunday final
The second ever instalment of the Eton Fives Welsh Tournament took place at Rydal Penrhos School in Colwyn Bay over the weekend of 20/21 September 2014 and provided a terrific couple of days Fives for all those who played.
Fives at Rydal has made huge progress since the game was brought back five or so years ago, and in that short space of time the school has already reached the heights of winning the U13 title at last season's Marsh National Schools' Championships. The high standard and strength in depth was evident at the tournament as the boys (we're looking forward to similar success from teh Rydal girls in due course!) mixed in with Master-in-charge Mike Leach and the group of visitors, who included reigning national champions Seb Cooley and Karen Hird as well as the infamous Bhattacharya brothers, both previous Rydal coaches, plus Gareth Hoskins, Ralph Morgan and EFA Chairman Richard Black, testing out his knee after a lengthy injury layoff.
Three different tournaments took place over the weekend, all involving constant changes of partner and opposition, timed matches and some impeccable tournament direction from organisational maestro Paul Bowden. Saturday saw the field divided into a top and bottom half with random pairings drawn to play each otyher in a series of matches and the two highest scoring schoolboys from the two halves of the draw teaming up to play the final. Interestingly, this saw last year's winning pair Tomus Cotterell and Will Sissons on opposite sides, partnering Max Robinson and Matthew Harrison respectively, with Will and Matthew winning narrowly.
Saturday evening saw the continuation of what is rapidly becoming a tradition with a mean at the Pen y Bryn, although Seb was on rather lacklustre form this year, his pudding consumption only 33% of what it had been in 2013. Are we seeing the start of a decline from the previously all-conquering Cooley? The Bhattacharyas were conspicuous by their absence, due to an urgent need to celebrate their narrow defeat in the exhibition match against Seb and Karen by heading along the coast to Bangor. Exactly what went on is unclear, but they just about managed to make it for the 10am start on Sunday after an evening involving chilli vodka, Bangor University freshers and a 5am return trip. I would suggest that anyone wanting further details should ask Abs or Aroop, but I'm not sure they would able to enlighten you, either.
Sunday saw two mini-tournaments running alongside each other, both alongside similar lines to the previous day, with the top school players joining Seb, Gareth, Karen, Ralph, Abs and Aroop in one competition and the others playing alongside Mike and Richard in the other.
In the first competition, the top four scoring guests were paired with the top scoring boys for the semi-finals. Cooley and Sissons somehow ended up on the same team and were too strong for Karen and Jack Sissons in the first match. The second semi final saw the school senior pair in direct opposition as Tom Cotterell and a surprisingly sharp Aroop Bhattacharya took on Gareth Hoskins and Shaswath Ganapathi in something of a grudge match. Gareth and Shaswath had the edge throughout and went on to take on Seb and Will in the final; unsurprisingly Cooley and Sissons went on to win, but their opponents came off court knowing they had made them work hard. CLICK HERE to see some video footage of the final The other competition was won by Miles Poller and Finlay Hare, who beat Adam Lee-Browne and Max Robinson in the final.
This tournament is a great addition to the Fives calendar - an opportunity for the Rydal players to gain experience and showcase their talent and the chance for Fives players to enjoy some great Welsh hospitality and play some enjoyable Fives on a set of courts that are rather off the beaten track. Anyone wishing to come along and play next year should just let Gareth Hoskins, Paul Bowden or Mike Leach know and we would love to see you there.
Our thanks go to Mike Leach and Patrick Lee-Browne at Rydal, Paul Bowden for running the show and to everyone who played and made it such an enjoyable weekend.