Sunday, 10th April 2022
STOP PRESS It was a double for John Minta in the 2022 National Veterans Championships. John won the Singles for the third time by beating defending champion Matt Cavanagh in the final, then went on to defend the Doubles title with partner Dave Fox in a final against Harvey Bishop & Tom Kiggell. Derby Moor’s Richard Christie also did the double in the Plate by first winning the Singles and then the Doubles, with Stuart Kirby.
Organiser John Hawke reports: A week before the event was due to take place the entry for both singles and doubles was minute, certainly not worth the drive for the organiser from Anglesey to Marlborough, however beautiful Snowdonia is at this time of year. Stalwart efforts by Messrs Dolby, Kirk and Blakeley, and the reduction of the tournament to a single day, prompted the usual flurry of late entries, some as late as Saturday morning. In the end we had seven singles players and seven doubles pairs.
As always with Fives tournaments, play started promptly, 30 minutes late. All those present were previous entrants, while those youngsters who had reached qualifying age during the pandemic had seemingly opted to holiday abroad rather than play Fives. Shame on them.
Some tournament rustiness was demonstrated in the first round — not surprising after the long lay-off, but the only slight surprise was the defeat of Bhaswar Baral by Nick Geere, although Bhas was getting better as the match progressed, only losing the second game 15-16. As cup holder, Matt Cavanagh was given a bye in the first round, then played Nick in the semi-finals, so had only limited opportunity to shake off the cobwebs before, in the final, coming up against John Minta, a man to whom cobwebs don’t stick and who had had ample practice in a hard semi-final against his doubles partner Dave Fox. Matt appeared to be uncharacteristically error prone as he went down to 5 and 4, John thereby claiming his third Veterans Singles title.
In the plate, a round robin, Richard Christie defeated both Bhaswar Baral and Keith Kennerley to claim the trophy.
The stars of the afternoon doubles session were the pairing of Harvey Bishop & Tom Kiggell, even though they lost the final to Fox & Minta. In the first round they looked composed as they saw off Hendry & Kennerley 15-6, and then, in the semi-finals, defeating Baral & Geere 15-3. On the other side of the draw Fox & Minta had a bye in the first round, before a harder than expected semi-final against Tim Hebblethwaite & Morgan Spillane, which they won 15-11.
The tight first game of the final had the organiser wondering whether proceedings would finish before dark. However, the strain of losing 11-12 had taken its toll on the Marlborough Club underdogs, who went from 7-3 up in the second up to lose 7-11, allowing Dave & John to retain the cup.
In the plate Richard Christie was again victorious, ably assisted by partner Stuart Kirby. They defeated both Hendry & Kennerley and Kiteley & Folland.
Along with the Masters’ and Grand Masters’ tournaments, which were run on a single court at the same time, the building was a hive of post-pandemic enthusiasm. Apart from Phil Atkinson, who suffered a Masters-induced wrist fracture, it appeared that everyone enjoyed both the Fives and the conversations with old friends. We are all exceedingly grateful to Marlborough College for the use of the facilities, and wish Phil a speedy recovery.
Quarter-finals: N Geere bt B Baral 15-7, 16-15; D Fox bt K Kennerley 15-9, 15-4; J Minta bt R Christie 15-6,15-3
Semi-finals: M Cavanagh bt Geere 15-5, 15-3; Minta bt Fox 15-12, 15-11
Final: Minta bt Cavanagh 15-5, 15-4
Plate: 1st Christie 30 pts; 2nd Baral 21 pts; 3rd Kennerley 10 pts
Quarter-finals: T Hebblethwaite & M Spillane bt R Christie & S Kirby 15-1; H Bishop & T Kiggell bt Hendry & K Kennerley 15-6; B Baral & N Geere bt P Folland & M Kiteley 15-12
Semi-finals: D Fox & J Minta bt Hebblethwaite & Spillane 15-11; Bishop & Kiggell bt Baral & Geere 15-3
Final: Fox & Minta bt Bishop & Kiggell 12-11, 11-7
3rd Place Play-off: Hebblethwaite & Spillane bt Baral & Geere
Plate: 1st Christie & Kirby 30 pts; 2nd Hendry & Kennerley 27 pts; 3rd Folland & Kiteley 11 pts
The Y Club Double
The Doubles finalists: Manchester v Marlborough
The Derby Moor Plate combo
John’s 3rd title
John on the front foot
Nick G applying the pressure
Early singles action: Bhaswar on the attack