NATIONAL VETERANS’ CHAMPIONSHIPS
Marlborough College, April 6/7th
As the dust settles on the Schools’ Championships in London, attention moves to the west and to some rather more, err, seasoned players of our great game. Organiser John Hawke has just published the draws for this weekend’s National Veterans’ (over 45s) Championships, and both the singles and doubles tournaments promise some superb Fives.
The championships are making a return to Marlborough College again this year and John has attracted a field of the highest quality.
Top seeds in both events are the defending champions – Matt Cavanagh in singles, Hamish Buchanan and Andy Pringle in doubles – but it’s far from certain that they will emerge victorious this weekend.
In Saturday’s singles tournament, Matt is joined by two former champions – Hamish and John Minta – as well as Manchester’s Dave Fox and Marlborough’s master-in-charge, Tom Kiggell. In fact, the final two are drawn to play each other in the quarter-finals, which should be a cracking match – and could well decide the destiny of the Plate trophy, if the loser decides to compete for it!
If the seedings are followed, John will face Matt in the final – a repeat of the finals in 2016 and 2017, both of which ended in a win for Matt. However, after John missed last year’s event through injury, this is his chance to make up for those losses.
In a way, it’s the same story in the doubles. John was due to defend the title last year with Andy Pringle, but was unable to. So, this is his chance to reclaim the title…
However, even a quick scan of this year’s draw reveals several pairs who could win the title. Andy and Hamish are top seeds, but their half of the draw also includes new Vintage doubles champion Morgan Spillane, as well as Tom Kiggell (partnered by Tim Hebblethwaite and Keith Kennerley, respectively), while the bottom half includes John Minta pairing up with Dave Fox, and the long-standing pairing of Jim Hughes and Alex Rew, silver medal-winners in 2017.
Those final four are seeded to play out one semi-final, and that match alone could be worth the price of admission…
As ever, though, the organiser is keen to point out that the event is about much more than the star players. The championships are set up to give players as much Fives as they can stand, with numerous plate and other competitions, and the energy used while playing can be replenished by consuming the copious food provided by the organiser and his helpers.
Spectators are also warmly welcomed in this supremely friendly tournament and setting. But, if you can’t make it, do keep an eye on the RFA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed to keep up with events in Wiltshire.