Third time for Kay & Tristao at the National Doubles

News  Tournaments

Alleyn’s School, Dulwich
Saturday/Sunday, 6-7 April 2024

With 12 pairs competing for the Cyriax Cup organiser Hamish Buchanan opted for 4 groups of 3, leading to three competitions for the Cup, the Plate and the ‘Alternative Plate’. Defending champions Kay & Tristao cruised through to the final, while Brooks & Watkinson upset expectations by beating last year’s runners-up Beltrami & Parker in the semi-final. The final was predictably close and long, though it did not go to a third — Ed and Dan won in two straight games. The Plate involved a round robin culminating in a deciding final, the Alternative Plate a straight round robin.

Organiser Hamish Buchanan reports: Ed Kay and Dan Tristao retained the Cyriax Cup in an intense and close two-game final against  Charlie Brooks and Tom Watkinson on the Alleyn’s courts on Sunday morning. Both games lasted a shade over 40 minutes and both followed a similar pattern, with the challengers establishing a lead in the middle of each game only to be pegged back by the defending champions as they cut out the errors and exerted increasing pressure all the way to the title.

The ball was fast and the hitting from all four players was pretty relentless, with Tom Watkinson, in his first national final, particularly brutal in pounding the back wall looking for an unplayable nick.

The tournament began on Saturday with four groups of three teams, each team playing the others in the group best of three to 11. This format, with the winners of the groups going through to the semi-finals, the second places through to the main plate and the thirds playing for an ‘alternative plate’, kept everyone involved. The expected close encounter in group 2 between Aquilina & Tilston and Keates & Russell never really materialised, with the experience of the former pair one of the telling factors in a 7 and 5 win. The real close match in the groups was the second place decider in the top group, where the U18 Champions Hammond Giles & Ferro continued their recent fine form in beating the home court pairing Harrison & Scott in two close games 11-6,12-10.

The first semi-final saw the defending champions smoothly cruising past Aquilina & Tilston 15-2, 15-6, whereas the other semi produced some real fireworks. With a very fast ball the hitting from Beltrami & Parker and Brooks & Watkinson reminded one of the finals between Buchanan & Perry and Bishop & Minta from 2007/8. Subtlety was not the order of the day as pace was answered with more pace, and the players often found themselves hurtling towards the front wall in an effort to catch up with a ball hit from front to back and forwards again like a pinball, all in under half a second. In the end the speed of footwork and exceptional retrieval skills of Brooks and Watkinson saw them through a very tense first game 15-11 and more comfortable second 15-5.

The group of four playing for the Plate was the toughest to predict and proved to be some of the hardest fought games on Saturday. Low & McCreath achieved a clean sweep in the group stage, which booked their place in the final and a chance to regain the plate they won two years previously. Hammond Giles & Ferro continued their fine form in dispatching the much more experienced and higher ranked Keates & Russell, but could not repeat the feat against Toop & Wiseman, who were beginning to find some form with a 15-3 win over the youngsters: a score that they repeated against Keates & Russell, qwhich took them into the best of 3 final with Low & McCreath. There the latter pair started one game to the good as the result of the original group game was carried over. Unfazed by this deficit Toop & Wiseman took the attack to their opponents and squared the match with a 15-11 second game. The decider was impossible to predict, with the former plate winners showing the resilience that took them to the win two years ago over the same opponents, but Toop & Wiseman were not to be denied and eventually matched the second game score to take the Plate.

The Alternative Plate was won by AOBs Harrison and Scott in a truncated group playoff after sixth-formers Goodwin & Negyal were forced to retire after injury. 

On Sunday morning the final began in a similar fashion to the second semi-final with a similarly fast ball and the ferocious hitting not allowing time for any player to develop a more tactical approach. The difference from the semi was that all four players retrieved superbly well. After initially falling behind the defending champions managed to create a few more unusual angles and open up the court, often carrying an attack forward with three, four or five shots pressuring the opposition before winning a rally. The second game could have been interrupted by what was later described as ‘an explosion of poo’ from Kay. Fortunately this was young Oscar Kay on the viewing gallery and not dad, Ed, who was on court and none the wiser as mum, Venetia, completed the necessary clean-up. The defending champions were under extreme pressure in the second game, with Brooks & Watkinson taking an 8-2 lead which they maintained to lead 12-7, but the champs were not done with this game and reeled off 4 winners to only one error, while the challengers managed only 2 winners versus 6 errors, thereby giving the win to Kay & Tristao 15-12. Concentration and experience in tight situations were probably the deciding factor in a very enjoyable final.


Group A
E Kay & D Tristao bt Ferro & Hammond Giles 11-2, 11-8; bt Harrison & Scott 11-3, 11-9
J Ferro & F Hammond Giles bt Harrison & Scott 11-6, 12-10; lost to Kay & Tristao 2-11, 8-11
P Harrison & S Scott lost to Kay & Tristao 3-11, 9-11; lost to Ferro & Hammond Giles 6-11, 10-12

Group B

J Aquilina & J Tilston bt Keates & Russell 11-7, 11-5; bt Garratt & Ion 11-1,11-0 
L Keates & S Russell by Garratt & Ion 11-1, 11-1; lost to Aquilina & Tilston 7-11, 5-11
J Garratt & S Ion lost to Aquilina & Tilston 1-11, 0-11; lost to Keates & Russell 1-11, 1-11

Group C

C Brooks & T Watkinson bt Low & McCreath 11-4, 11-6; bt Carr & Hanley 11-2, 11-0
C Low & A McCreath bt Carr & Hanley 11-5, 11-1; lost to Brooks & Watkinson 4-11, 6-11
E Carr & W Hanley lost to Brooks & Watkinson 2-11, 0-11; lost to Low & McCreath 5-11, 1-11

Group D
B Beltrami & T Parker bt Toop & Wiseman 11-8, 11-3; bt Goodwin & Negyal 11-1, 11-3
J Toop & G Wiseman bt Goodwin & Negyal 11-3, 11-1; lost to Beltrami & Parker 8-11, 3-11
AJ Goodwin & Y Negyal lost to Beltrami & Parker 1-11, 3-11; lost to Toop & Wiseman 3-11, 1-11

Semi-finals: Kay & Tristao bt Aquilina & Tilston 15-2, 15-6; Brooks & Watkinson bt Beltrami & Parker 15-11, 15-5
Final: Kay & Tristao bt Brooks & Watkinson 15-13, 15-12

1st Plate: Toop & Wiseman bt Low & McCreath 3-15, 15-11, 15-11
2nd Plate: 1st Harrison & Scott; 2nd Carr & Hanley; 3rd Garratt & Ion

The three-time champions

The finalists

James & Gwydion win the Plate

Stuart & Patrick win the ‘Alternative Plate’

Hamish’s stats from the final