Report from record-breaking mixed doubles championship


Winchester Fives Mixed Doubles Championship

Bradfield College, Berkshire; Sunday May 8th

Two new names will be engraved on the Mixed Doubles trophy this year, after Ben Beltrami and Kathleen Briedenhann emerged as champions from a record-breaking field of 11 pairs – and Kathleen set a record of her own.

Now that she holds this title – which had previously eluded her – it means she has completed a ‘Grand Slam’ of ladies titles this season. As well as mixed doubles champion, she is also singles and doubles champion in both Rugby and Winchester Fives – a feat that has never been achieved before, not even by the great Paula Smith in her prime.

Truth be told, in this year’s Mixed Doubles Ben and Kathleen had looked the pair to beat right from the off, and they raced through their round-robin games in quick time, securing a place in the semi-finals with a 100% record. That meant the race was on for second place – and it was a tough battle, with a huge variety of players and styles in the group.

Ed Kay – recent winner of the open WInchester Fives doubles title – and his fellow Cambridge student partner Georgina Shepherd were a tough pair, while the unfamiliar tactics of Eton Fives pair Gareth Hoskins and Karen Hird posed some real challenges for those more accustomed to Rugby Fives. In the end, though, it was the ex-Malvern pair of Steven Coffey and Shinan Zhang who finished in second place in the group and also secured a semi-final place – their greater experience of the buttress game proving crucial.

Their opponents would be the winners of the second (six-pair) round-robin group, and with just one game to 11 points betwen each pair, it made for some frenetic action. Ed Hatton and schoolgirl champion Louise Mathias had a long, very close game with Alex Rew and Maddy Raynor, with the latter just winning it, and in the end that result proved crucial in settling second place in the group; so, Alex and Maddy earned the dubious delight of facing Ben and Kathleen in one semi. Winners of the group were defending champions Alex Steel and Andy Pringle, who matched Ben and Kathleen by topping the table with a 100% record.

Both semi-finals followed a similar course, with the first game of the best-of-three matches ending 11-9 in the favour of the table-topping pairs, Alex & Andy and Kathleen & Ben. Both pairs then went on score much more comfortable wins in the second games to seal their places in the final.

Meanwhile, the plate competition was being played – and the competition was no less fierce here. In the end, the final was between Ed K/Georgina and Ed H/Louise, and it was the latter pair who ended up as winners, picking up the silverware (well, ceramics) with a 15-10 win.

That left the stage clear for the final, and it was a great game, albeit a masterclass by Ben and Kathleen. They started strongly, and although the defending champions pegged them back to 7-7 in the first game, from then on it was pretty much one-way traffic. The first game finished 15-7, with Alex and Andy having no answer to their opponents’ increasingly accurate use of the buttress and the sheer power in Ben’s shots.

The second game continued where the second one ended, and although Andy and Alex picked up a few points towards the end, that merely made the scoreline look a little more respectable. The outcome of the match was never in doubt and Ben and Kathleen were deserved champions.

Group A

Alex Steel & Andy Pringle bt Louise Mathias & Ed Hatton 11-4; bt Maddy Raynor & Alex Rew 11-4; bt Sasha Haco & Laurence Cook 11-3; bt Lottie Simpson & Tony Barker 11-0; bt Ashley Lumbard & Chris Ballingall 11-1. Louise & Ed lost to Maddy & Alex 8-11; bt Sasha & Laurence 11-4; bt Tony & Lottie 11-2; bt Ashley & Chris 11-1. Maddy & Alex bt Sasha & Laurence 11-5; bt Lottie & Tony 11-1; bt Ashley & Chris 11-8. Sasha & Laurence lost to Lottie & Tony 1-11; lost to Ashley & Chris 10-12. Lottie & Tony lost to Ashley & Chris 9-11
Final standings: 1st Alex/Andy; 2nd Maddy/Alex; 3rd Louise/Ed H; 4th Ashley/Chris; 5th Lottie/Tony; 6th Sasha/Laurence

Group B
Kathleen Briedenhann & Ben Beltrami bt Georgina Shepherd & Ed Kay 15-10; bt Shinan Zhang & Steven Coffey 15-6; bt Karen Hird & Gareth Hoskins 15-5; bt Katie & Joe Sumner 15-0. Georgina & Ed lost to Shinan & Steven 13-15; bt Karen & Gareth 15-9; bt Katie & Joe 16-15. Shinan & Steven bt Karen & Gareth 15-2; bt Katie & Joe 15-11. Karen & Gareth bt Katie & Joe 15-1
Final standings: 1st Kathleen/Ben; 2nd Shinan/Steven; 3rd Georgina/Ed K; 4th Karen/Gareth; 5th Katie/Joe

Knockout section
Alex & Andy bt Shinan & Steven 11-9, 11-1; Kathleen & Ben bt Maddy & Alex 11-9, 11-4
Final: Kathleen & Ben bt Alex & Andy 15-7, 15-4

Louise & Ed H bye; Karen & Gareth bt Lottie & Tony 15-4; Ashley & Chris bt Katie & Joe 15-12; Georgina & Ed K bt Sasha & Laurence 15-7
Semi-finals: Louise & Ed H bt Karen & Gareth 15-4; Georgina & Ed K bt Ashley & Chris 15-13
Final: Louise & Ed H bt Georgina & Ed 15-10