Ellison wins Barnes Bridge for seventh time



Malvern College, March 13th

After the concerns of potential leaky roofs, wet courts and a possible late move of the competition to Bradfield we were greeted to a stunning day weather-wise at Malvern for the 35th Winchester Fives Barnes Bridge competition. The draw made a week in advance had 20 pairs entered, but sadly in the run up to the competition we lost the 5th seeds and one half of the top seeds, making the top half of the draw somewhat easier than the bottom half.

There were many good games in the first and second rounds, although no major upsets, but we had a near shock as Thomas & Luk took the first game off the number one seeds Tristao & Fox. Chris Thomas was understandably disappointed by the organiser’s lack of confidence in him when, on walking off court for a breather after his victorious first game, he found himself already drawn into the plate competition!

Coffey & Hale managed to squeeze past the Winchester first pair (Song & Kullavanijaya) 15-13 in the third whilst the Malvern first pair (Tudor & Nelson) only narrowly lost to Buchanan & George 15-12, 15-11. The quarter-finals were all won reasonably comfortably although Watkinson & Arnold, being perhaps harshly seeded, played Ellison & Kay and managed to get nearly as many points as anyone else did on the day.

The first semi-final saw Tristao’s speed and Fox’s steadiness plus his ability to serve into the ‘nick’ hold firm in beating Akerman & Butler, whilst in the second semi-final Ellison & Kay beat the experienced Winchester pair of Munn & Hawke, who as usual spent the majority of the game sliding and diving around the front of the court.

The final was an enjoyable game to watch and whilst not the classic of the last few years, was filled with fast action packed rallies and plenty of buttress play around Malvern’s larger than normal buttress. The power and consistency of Kay & Ellison proved too much for Tristao & Fox (stepping into Dan Grant’s large shoes with less than 24 hours notice – thanks, Dave), giving Will his 7th title (halfway to Dave Hebden’s 14) and Ed Kay his first.

The plate competition was dominated by the Malvern first pair (Tudor & Nelson) and the Winchester first pair (Song & Kullavanijaya). During their school match just 72 hours earlier, after an hour and half of playing the pairs were separated by a single point, so quite why the organiser decided the final should be a best of 3 to 15 was a mystery to all watching! Winchester took the first 15-6 but Malvern sneaked the second 15-13 and came home strongly to win the decider by 15-9 and in doing so got revenge for the school match. Their likely meeting at St Paul’s at the National Schools Championships in a couple of weeks’ time should be a classic.

Thanks very much to Chris Thomas and all at Malvern for hosting us on a busy day for the school when they also hosted the National Prep School cross country championships with more than a 1,000 runners. There is also a special mention also to one of Malvern’s former pupils, Shinan Zhang, who very much held her own whilst being the first lady entrant in the Barnes Bridge.

First Round:
Thomas & Luk bt Lidard & McKinney 15-7, 15-6; Thompson & Lee bt Zhang & Reeves 15-9, 15-4; Tudor & Nelson bt Arnott & Harrison 15-0, 15-0; Thompson-Green & Bentley bt Ward & Ward15-7, 8-15, 15-9;
Second Round: Tristao & Fox bt Thomas & Luk 13-15, 15-2, 15-1; Coffey & Hale bt Song & Kullavanijaya 16-15, 5-15, 15-13; Younger & Kidner bt Goodwin & Davey 15-7, 16-14; Akerman & Butler bt Thompson & Lee 15-1, 15-1; Buchanan & George bt Tudor & Nelson 15-12, 15-11; Hawke & Munn bt Sinton & Neal 15-3, 15-1; Watkinson & Arnold bt Akerman & Passey 15-5, 15-1; Ellison & Kay bt Thompson-Green & Bentley 15-0, 15-0
Quarter-Finals: Tristao & Fox bt Coffey & Hale 15-5, 15-9; Akerman & Butler bt Younger & Kidner 15-1, 15-9; Hawke & Munn bt Buchanan & George15-13, 15-7; Ellison & Kay bt Watkinson & Arnold 15-7, 15-5
Semi-Finals: Tristao & Fox bt Akerman & Butler 15-7, 15-12; Ellison & Kay bt Hawke & Munn 15-8, 15,7
Final: Ellison & Kay bt Fox & Tristao 15-4, 15-6

Plate Competition
First Round:
Thomas & Luk bt Thompson-Green & Bentley 15-6; Lidard & Mckinney bt Sinton & Neal; Arnott & Harrison bt Zhang and Reeves; Goodwin & Davey bt Ward & Ward
Second Round: Song & Kullavanijaya bt Thomas & Luk 15-3; Lidard & Mckinney bt Thompson & Lee 15-13; Akerman & Passey by Arnott & Harrison 15-0; Tudor & Nelson bt Goodwin & Davey 15-6
Semi-Finals: Song & Kullavanijaya bt Lidard & Mckinney 15-6; Tudor & Nelson bt Akerman & Passey 15-13
Final: Tudor & Nelson bt Song & Kullavanijaya 6-15, 15-13, 15-9