First South West championships for Kay and Arnold


South West Open Championships

Blundell’s School, Tiverton, Devon, 6/7th July 2019

Organiser Wayne Enstone writes: This year’s Championship began with the very unfortunate and understandable withdrawal of Will Ellison, whose wife Nicky, had an accident the day of the draw, we all wish her a speedy recovery. Will was the defending Singles and Doubles winner and had won the singles 7 times and doubles 8 times in the last decade — a fantastic record. We look forward to seeing him next year.

This year’s entries contained 12 of the top 15 top ranked men’s singles players and Ladies Singles National Champion Louise Mathias and top-ranked Alexandra Steel, which made for a high quality of play.

In the first round of the Singles one of the young standout players, Cameron Low, beat local John Savery in two games to proceed to give National Singles Champion Dan Tristao an extremely hard first game, eventually losing in two. Alex Rew and Matt Shaw produced the first three-game match, Alex taking the first and Matt eventually using his own attacking shots to great effect to win the next two.

In that lower half of the draw Ollie Arnold beat seeded player Julian Aquilina in two games to move through to the quarters, playing some wonderful left-hand power shots. In the top half, Sam Russell beat seeded Theo Parker in a three-game thriller. The power match of the second round was between Ben Beltrami and Tom Watkinson, with Ben edging the this match. That then set us up for the one seeding upset in the quarters, with Ben Beltrami beating the very experienced and wonderfully deceptive Dan Grant in another gripping three-gamer, Ben just winning the third 11 – 9. In the lower half Dave Butler managed to limit the winning shots of an in-form Ollie Arnold to a minimum, which proved essential in the second game, with Dave just winning 12-10.

These excellent quarters set us up for the enthralling semi-finals, with Ben and Ed setting the scene with a first game 12-11 gladiatorial epic, Ben just winning. As seen in previous tournaments Ed then produced some of his brilliant front-court shots and won the next two games to seal his place in the final, without injury this year. The quality and variety of shot play from both players indicates a definite improvement in each player since last year –- wonderful to watch.

In the other semi-final Dan Tristao dominated the early exchanges with Dave Butler, playing the front-court shots that have made him the exceptional player he is. However, the ever resilient Dave slowly returned more of the fabulous shots and tested Dan with his own to level at 7-all. This recovery from Dave was, unfortunately, short-lived, as Dan took off again to win the first 11-8. In the second Dave’s attacking play paid off and he took an early 5-0 lead, only to see Dan go up the gears and, after several terrific rallies, at 8-all Dan managed to produce the winners again to finish this wonderful match. Dave appears to be reading Dan better than ever, which bodes well to the rest of the season, but this result set up a very interesting final for Sunday morning between Ed and Dan.

As we do at the South West Open the Doubles was also played on the Saturday. The youngsters and Bristol University students Cameron Low and Archie McCreath stormed past locals Nick Geere and Dan Hill. Their reward was to then play the number one seeds, Ollie Arnold and Ed Kay, in the quarter-finals, giving as good as they took, losing in two very energetic games -– just not quite having the guile and ability of their opponents yet, but great experience for the future.

All the other quarters were hard fought due to the high level of play that all pairs produced. This was was seen with Sam Russell & Tom Watkinson pushing number three seeds Theo Parker & Dan Tristao to a three-gamer, the seeds just finding enough winners to win the third to 7. The veterans Jim Hughes & Alex Rew turned the clock back, producing some fine angles and early return shots to put pressure  on Dave Butler & Dan Grant throughout their match. It was most entertaining to watch, with Dave and Dan managing to counter with their array of great shots, and winning in two games. Julian Aquilina & James Tilston raised their performance after losing the first game against Ben Beltrami & Matt Shaw taking the second to 9-all, with Ben and Matt just winning the third 11-9.

So, the semi-final places had gone according to the seeding. They began at 7pm and -– all credit to all the pairs -– the standard of play they produced at that time of night was top notch. Ollie & Ed proved too strong for Ben & Matt in both their games and went through to the Sunday final, while Dave & Dan just concluded their second game win with a series of winners to join Ollie & Ed.

At the same time as the main competition, the Plate singles and doubles were taking place. Louise Mathias & Keith Kennerley had a superb match, Keith going 8-3 up only to see Louise produce her Ladies National Champion form and cover every inch of the court to come out 11-8 winner -– Well done, Ladies National Champion! Both the finals produced really entertaining matches, with young local Addie Chai beating fellow Club player John Savery in the singles final. Addie then partnered local Keith Kennerley to play Jim Hughes & Alex Rew, but the latter pair yet again produced superior fire power and variety of shot to win that final.

An excellent day’s play with much energy expended by all, spectators included. It was now time to retire to The Butterleigh Inn to aid recovery for the Sunday finals.

In the Singles final Dan Tristao, who had won this championship twice before, took an early lead, 3-1 up. However, Ed Kay began to defend Dan’s marvellous front-court shots and match them with his own variety of shots –- wonderful to watch. Ed slowly levelled at 3-all and then, after several changes of serve at 4-3, moved very quickly to an 11-3 win. The quality of the rallies was exceptional. Dan continued to go for his high-risk shots and started the second well, getting the better of the exchanges to go 2 up; and although Ed came back, it appeared Dan had found his touch and raced off to a 7-2 lead, at which point one would have thought this match would go to three games.

Ed obviously had nothing to lose and seemed to relax, which helped him produce a miraculous recovery to level at 7-all. Dan moved ahead to 8-7, but Ed just seemed capable of covering all areas of the court returning anything Dan produced and again matching Dan’s front-court shots. Ed went on to win the last four rallies in a row for a well earned 11-8 win and his first South West Open Singles Championship title.

In the Doubles final both pairs attacked each other from the start, producing some spectacular and breathtaking rallies. Ed & Ollie looked favourites to win at 10-8, but as we had seen throughout the game, both pairs were producing phenomenal play and capable of surprising us. At 10-all, it was difficult for us spectators to know who would win, but Dan’s hand in had started this remarkable recovery and Dave’s hand in concluded it, the pair hitting two winning shots to quickly finish the game 12-10 winners.

At the start of the second game, Dan & Dave kept the momentum going and took a 4-1 lead, however, this seemed to produce another level of power from Ollie Arnold, which helped him to hit more back wall-nick winners and keep both Dave & Dan down. There were many high-level rallies throughout, but Ollie & Ed were on their way to level the match. In the third, a similar pattern emerged, with Ollie eventually finding the power winner, which meant a very emphatic win for Ollie & Ed, their first South West Doubles Championship victory.

At the same time as the finals we had four pairs playing for the American Doubles. All the pairs were evenly matched, with two of the younger players, Addie Chai & Cameron Low, winning by four points.

To conclude proceedings, the usual prize-giving of the local Devon Dartington Glassware and trophies to the winners took place.

Also, our thanks go to: Blundell’s School and the school’s continuing support of Fives in general; to Tim Lewis for booking the Saturday meal and his on-the-day support in general; and to Lesley on the catering side.

Do think about joining us next year, same weekend, for a fun weekend of fives.

1st round: A McCreath bt N Geere 11-3, 11-2; S Russell bt A Chai 11-2, 11-2; T Watkinson bt K Kennerley 11-1, 11-7; J Tilston bt L Mathias 11-4, 11-5; J Hughes bt B Ames 11-7, 11-1; O Arnold bt S Watson 11-2, 11-0; A Rew bt S Johnson w.o; C Low bt J Savery 11-0, 11-5
2nd round: E Kay bt McCreath 11-1, 11-1; Russell bt T Parker 11-3, 5-11, 11-4; B Beltrami bt Watkinson 8-11, 11-4, 11-9; D Grant bt Tilston 11-3, 11-5; D Butler bt Hughes 11-3, 11-0; Arnold bt J Aquilina 11-4, 11-2; M Shaw bt Rew 4-11, 11-4, 11-1; D Tristao bt Low 11-7, 11-1
Quarter-finals: Kay bt Russell 11-2, 11-2; Beltrami bt Grant 8-11, 11-4, 11-9; Butler bt Arnold 11-5, 12-10; Tristao bt Shaw 11-7, 11-8
Semi-finals: Kay bt Beltrami 11-12, 11-4, 11-6; Tristao bt Butler 11-8, 11-8
Final: Kay bt Tristao 11-3, 11-8
Plate: Chai

1st round: Low & McCreath bt Geere & Hill 11-3, 11-0; Aquilina & Tilston bt Ames & Mathias 11-3, 11-3; Beltrami & Shaw bt Lewis & Watson 11-5, 11-2; Parker & Tristao bt Chai & Kennerley 11-5, 11-4; Russell & Watkinson bt Savery & A Steel 11-0, 11-7; Hughes & Rew bt W Enstone & Johnson w/o; Butler & Grant bt
Quarter-finals: Arnold & Kay bt Low & McCreath 11-2, 11-3; Beltrami & Shaw bt Aquilina & Tilston 11-3, 11-9; Parker & Tristao bt Russell & Watkinson 5-11, 11-7, 11-7; Butler & Grant bt Hughes & Rew 11-4, 11-7
Semi-finals: Arnold & Kay bt Beltrami & Shaw 11-4, 11-5; Butler & Grant bt Parker & Tristao 11-5, 11-9
Final: Arnold & Kay bt Butler & Grant 10-12, 11-5, 11-2
Plate: Hughes & Rew