President’s Cup report – Cavanagh & Hanton win



Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood, 14th December 2014

The 2014 President’s Cup was a classic President’s Cup, full of close matches, played in a great spirit and with some very worthy winners of all ages.

Sadly, though, it also must go down as the first President’s Cup to be held since the death of Joan Wood in August this year. However, her absence was marked in proper President’s Cup style – by the unveiling of a tribute cake, which brought pretty much the only break in play in some 11 hours of fierce competition.

At the end of that play, the worthy winners were Bruce Hanton and Matt Cavanagh, who many had picked out as favourites as soon as the draw was published. Indeed, through their march to the title, no pair managed to get more than eight points off them in one game.

That’s not to say theirs was a comfortable win, though, and the final was packed with high-quality Fives. Remarkably, Matt and Bruce’s opponents in the final included one of the youngest players in the tournament – 17 year-old Rob Whitehorn from Derby, who was partnered by the experienced Tom Maconie. In the end, Matt and Bruce had too much firepower and resilience, but Rob was utterly unfazed by playing in such company, and wise men will now be shuffling off to place bets on him to win this season’s National Schoolboy championship.

Elsewhere in the event, there was the traditional mix of experience, youth and all levels of ability – all managed superbly by Gareth Price to produce many very closely matched pairs. Indeed, three of the eight first-round matches went to three games and ensured that we would again have that President’s Cup tradition – a late finish.

As the day wore on, many players were worn out, but the competitive spirit drove them onwards, seemingly desperate to get some reward for their efforts. However, only three other pairs could come away with prizes…

In fact, only two were able to actually leave Merchant Taylors with their trophies. So, Jay Gravatt, if you’re reading this, please can the RFA Club have its T-Pot back. The RFA Deputy President wants it…

That Deputy President is the evergreen Bernard Atkinson, comfortably the oldest player in the event at 70+ years, yet belying his age with a performance full of experience: allowing his younger partner (David Butler) to dominate in earlier rounds, thereby saving his best for when it mattered – the final! In the absence of the T-Pot, David and Bernard were duly awarded the next best thing – the stainless steel kettle that been in service for almost the entire day.

The two remaining trophies – the Mate’s Plate and Love Mug – went to Will Ellison & Mark Kiteley and Ben Chua & Robin Perry, respectively. The RFA’s statisticians have been sent scurrying to the Archives to find out if this means we have the widest-ever spread of ages among the winners – your correspondent thinks there must be at least 50 years between Messrs Butler and Atkinson…

Finally, our thanks go to Gareth Price for not only organising what must be one of the calendar’s most complicated events, but also supplying the buffet that kept the players and spectators going through the day.

1st round: Buchanan & Bridge bt Quarry & Webster 15-13, 10-15, 15-7; Cavanagh & Hanton bt Burrows & Kennerley 15-3, 15-1; Atkinson B & Butler bt Chua & Perry 10-15, 16-15, 16-14; Ellison & Kiteley bt Esin & Hatton 15-6, 15-13; Goodwin & Passey bt Baral & Price 15-6, 11-15, 15-9; Dean & Smith bt Pringle & Taylor 15-8, 15-7; Maconie & Whitehorn bt Christie & Hawke 15-7, 15-6; Atkinson P & George bt Parker & Stubbs 15-8, 15-8
2nd round: Cavanagh & Hanton bt Buchanan & Bridge 15-3, 15-6; Ellison & Kiteley bt Atkinson B & Butler 16-14, 15-11; Goodwin & Passey bt Dean & Smith 11-15, 15-10, 15-4; Maconie & Whitehorn bt Atkinson P & George 15-13, 15-12
Semi-finals: Cavanagh & Hanton bt Ellison & Kiteley 15-6, 15-8; Maconie & Whitehorn bt Goodwin & Passey 15-7, 15-6
Final: Cavanagh & Hanton bt Maconie & Whitehorn 15-7, 15-3

Love Mug: Chua & Perry
Mate’s Plate: Ellison & Kiteley
T-Pot: Atkinson & Butler

See also: A Brief History of the President’s Cup by David Barnes and The Roll of Honour 1958-2014