St Paul’s School, Barnes
Saturday/Sunday 24-25 September 2021
STOP PRESS Will Ellison successfully defended his title from 2019, the fifth time he has won the Singles, and then won the Doubles with Dan Tristao for the sixth time together, making it 9 London Doubles titles in all. In the Singles final Will defied the seeding to beat Ed Kay in straight games, while in the Doubles the unfamiliar pair of Charlie Brooks & Theo Parker defeated second seeds Ben Beltrami & Ed Kay at the semi-final stage before going down convincingly to Will & Dan in the final. Theo picked up the Singles Plate at the expense of Ben Jourdan, while, in the Doubles Plate, Julian Aquilina & James Tilston were too experienced for the new pair of Will Edmonds & Emrys Thursfield in a well fought final.
Organiser Will Ellison reports: We were back to St. Paul’s for the 26th London Open, following the absence of a tournament last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were familiar names etched again on both trophies, with several new records set – Will Ellison won the Singles for a record-extending 5th time, and with Dan Tristao won the Doubles title for a record-extending 6th time as a pair. Will now holds a record 9 London Doubles titles overall. Will also moved to third in the all-time list of open titles, with 79, overtaking Dave Hebden, while Dan won his 53rd. Some highly competitive Plate matches saw Theo Parker emerge as victor in the Singles, with Julian Aquilina & James Tilston picking up the Doubles title.
I would like to start by thanking everyone who took part in what has become a busy stretch in the fives calendar. In particular, it was wonderful to see several new faces in the open tournament scene as well as so many schoolboys – in particular, Ben Roberts, Ben Harrison and Aiden Whitham of St. Paul’s, current U16 National Champion Genesis Nsenga, current U18 National Champion Gwydion Wiseman, plus Oscar McIntyre from the City of Durham Club It was fantastic to have a large contingent of past and present Cambridge University players participating in the doubles and I hope they will return to many more events. Andrew Boyd and Ben Jourdan deserve a specific mention for making the trip down from Scotland – they managed to finish the doubles tournament just in time for their train back!
The tournament commenced on Saturday morning, with the pick of the first round Singles matches being Theo Parker versus Sam Russell. Sam ultimately managed to upset the seedings with an 11-6, 11-2 win to book himself a slot in the quarter-finals.
Onto the next round, and once again Sam Russell was creating headlines, taking a game off top seed Ed Kay, and only losing 11-7 in the decider. It is great to see his fives going in the right direction (maybe all the lockdown running helped somehow!). Other matches of note were between the fourth and fifth seeds – Julian Aquilina and Charlie Brooks, which Julian clinched in two close games, continuing the fine form he showed in the Yorkshire Open. Ben Beltrami and Tom Watkinson had another close two-gamer, with Tom leading 9-6 in the second, but Ben managing to find a way through to take it 11-9. Will Ellison completed the line-up for the semi-finals with a comfortable win over Andrew Boyd.
In the semi-finals, Ed Kay came through against Julian Aquilina more comfortably than in the final in Yorkshire (which had been a 3-gamer), although the second game (11-8) was a close affair. In the other semi Will Ellison beat Ben Beltrami decisively, although Ben was possibly suffering from a long working week and a tough previous match with Tom.
The final was therefore a repeat of 2019, and the result was similar – Will played an extremely consistent game, putting pressure on Ed with relentless side-to-side hitting and retrieving any drop shots with interest. He won it 11-4, 11-3 – very much a reversal of the 11-6, 11-2 win by Ed in the South West Open final. It will be interesting to see how these rivalries play out in the remainder of the season, especially with the return of Dan Tristao now likely for the West of England Open.
The Singles Plate consisted of two groups of 5, with each match a game to 11. After the 20 matches were completed, a final consisting of Theo Parker versus Ben Jourdan ensued. Theo came through 15-9 to clinch the bronze medal.
The doubles tournament commenced on the Sunday morning, with the top four seeds all receiving a bye. The first round had some close and high quality matches, with mentions to Ben Hale and Helena Tunks for their win over Ashwin Ahuja and Holly Nugent by 11-7, 12-11 (a real nail-biting second game!), as well as to Savanna Leboff and Ben Yass for theirs over mother-and-son pair of Julie and Oscar McIntyre by 12-10, 11-6. It was great to see so many mixed pairs taking part, as well as James Toop back playing again, resuming his National Doubles partnership with Gwydion Wiseman.
The quarter-finals followed the seedings, with the exception of Andrew Boyd and Ben Jourdan’s good win over Julian Aquilina and James Tilston (11-8, 11-8).
The semi-finals provided one of the shocks of the tournament, with Charlie Brooks and Theo Parker finding top gear to dispatch second seeds Kay and Beltrami by the incredible scoreline of 1 and 0, marked by an awesome combination of consistency and winners. In the other semi-final, Ellison and Tristao came through against Boyd and Jourdan in two games.
The doubles final was a demonstration of ruthless consistency, retrieval and winners from Ellison and Tristao, who won by the comfortable scoreline of 11-5, 11-2 to take the title. Dan’s drop shots were often paired with follow-up shots from Will to devastating effect.
The Doubles Plate was another great contest, with 4th seeds from the original tournament Julian Aquilina and James Tilston living up to their billing as top seeds to win and defend the plate title they won in 2019, coming through 11-9, 11-4 against the Cambridge pairing of Will Edmonds and Emrys Thursfield. This was only after a long group stage, with two groups of three playing individual matches best of three games to eleven. Well done to everyone who took part in what was a lot of fives for the day!
1st round: A Whitham bt W Hanley 11-4, 11-2; O McIntyre bt G Nsenga 11-6, 11-0;
2nd round: E Kay (1) bt Whitham 11-2, 11-3; S Russell bt T Parker (8) 11-6, 11-2; C Brooks (5) bt J Sumner 11-2, 11-4; J Aquilina (4) bt C Blackaby 11-0, 11-0; B Beltrami (3) bt B Roberts 11-3, 11-0; T Watkinson (6) bt B Harrison 11-4, 11-0; A Boyd (7) bt B Jourdan 11-4, 11-3; W Ellison (2) bt McIntyre 11-2, 11-2
Quarter-finals: Kay bt Russell 11-8, 10-12, 11-7; Aquilina bt Brooks 11-9, 11-6; Beltrami bt Watkinson 11-6, 11-9; Ellison bt Boyd 11-1, 11-4
Semi-finals: Kay bt Aquilina 11-5, 11-8; Ellison bt Beltrami 11-2, 11-1
Final: Ellison bt Kay 11-4, 11-3
Plate: Parker bt Jourdan 15-9
1st round: B Hale & H Tunks bt A Ahuja & H Nugent 11-7, 12-11; A Boyd & B Jourdan bt W Edmonds & E Thursfield 11-0, 11-6; J Toop & G Wiseman bt B Roberts & A Whitham 11-0, 11-2 ; S Leboff & B Yass bt J McIntyre & O McIntyre 12-10, 11-6
Quarter-finals: W Ellison & D Tristao (1) bt Hale & Tunks 11-1, 11-5; Boyd & Jourdan bt J Aquilina & J Tilston (4) 11-8, 11-8; C Brooks & T Parker (3) bt Toop & Wiseman 11-0, 11-2; B Beltrami & E Kay (2) bt Leboff & Yass 11-1,11-1
Semi-finals: Ellison & Tristao bt Boyd & Jourdan 11-8, 11-2; Brooks & Parker bt Beltrami & Kay 11-1, 11-0
Final: Ellison & Tristao bt Brooks & Parker 11-5, 11-2
Plate: Aquilina & Tilston bt Edmonds & Thursfield 11-9, 11-4
Will wins the Singles for the 5th time
The Doubles finalists
James & Julian win the Doubles Plate