Titles for Tristao, Beltrami and Watkinson at the North of England Championships

News  Tournaments

Durham University Courts
Saturday/Sunday, 2-3 March 2024

STOP PRESS Dan Tristao won a sixth North of England Open Singles title at the expense of Ben Beltrami. Ben won the Doubles once more, this time with a new partner, Tom Watkinson. The Singles Plate was won by a resurgent Dave Butler, the Doubles Plate by home pairing, Camille Beattie and Oscar McIntyre.

With thanks to Julie McIntyre and her team at the City of Durham Fives Club and to organiser Julian Aquilina.

Julian reports: Dan Tristao won his sixth North of England singles title, lifting the Ferens Trophy for the first time since 2018 by beating Ben Beltrami in an epic 3-game final. Ben still got his hands on some silverware though, pairing up with Tom Watkinson to win the Fuller Cup. It was Ben’s third doubles trophy in Durham, and Tom’s first.

The Singles on the Saturday featured 19 players, with nine of the current top 20 in the rankings, as well as a solid turnout of Durham University alumni, with five ex-captains.

Progress through the first two rounds was relatively straightforward, with the only 3-gamer contested between seventh seed Oscar McIntyre and underdog James Tilston. After a closely fought first game going James’ way, Oscar managed to string together more winners with his remarkable power to level the match. However, James ultimately had the edge with his superior touch game, coming through 11-8 in the third. Meanwhile, the highly anticipated clash between doubles specialist Theo Parker and recent U25s champion Isaac Weaver didn’t live up to the hype, as unfortunately Theo was ill and barely himself.

In the quarter-finals, top seeds Tristao and Beltrami progressed in straight sets. Third seed Watkinson looked to be on the ropes against Tilston, dropping the first game 10-12 before recovering to take the decider to love. The 4 v 5 matchup was Julian Aquilina v Richie Murby, a repeat from the previous year, which Richie had won in straight sets. This time, Julian made the faster start, racing away with the first game, but Richie steadily turned things around and eked out a couple of close games to 7 and 8. Richie then went on to push Dan, at least in the second game of their semi-final, but Dan edged that 12-10 to set up the final against Ben, who had eased passed Tom, 5 and love.

Ben was riding off the back of his first two open singles titles – the National Singles, in which he had beaten Dan in the semi-final, and the North West – which gave many in the gallery reason to put Ben as their favourite for the title here. The first game made this look like a solid bet, with Ben at the peak of his powers to take it 11-4. Dan regrouped though, hitting nick after nick to strike back 11-1. The third was a tense affair, with long, cagey rallies, but in the end, an hour after the start of the match, Dan emerged victorious 11-6.

In the Singles Plate, Anthony Goodwin and Dave Butler topped their groups, with Dave going on to win the final in two games.

Nine pairs contested the Doubles on the Sunday. The only 3-gamer came in the quarter-finals, which saw a reunited Aquilina & Tilston fend off a spirited performance from the all-Derby pairing of Goodwin & Keates, withstanding countless winners from Ant’s left and Lewis’ right. Meanwhile, Camille Beattie & Oscar McIntyre displayed some fantastic fives to make for a highly entertaining match against the top seeds and pre-tournament favourites Beltrami & Watkinson.

Beltrami & Watkinson then won through their semi-final comfortably, as did second seeds and scratch pairing Murby & Tristao. The final was a high quality affair, but Ben and Tom just managed to edge both games, wrapping up an impressive 11-8, 11-9 victory.

The Doubles Plate featured four pairs. Anthony and Lewis topped the group with three wins, but in the final Camille & Oscar managed to exact revenge over them, 16-14, in another compelling encounter that had everyone on the gallery gripped.

Special thanks goes to Julie McIntyre and the rest of the City of Durham club for their help throughout the weekend, including all their fantastic catering. And a big thank you to everyone who participated – be sure to come again next year!



1st round: T McGuire bt A Kessel-Holland 15-3; M Suddaby bt D Swinbank 15-1; D Law bt J Stevenson 15-3
2nd round: D Tristao bt McGuire 11-4, 11-0; I Weaver bt T Parker 11-3, 11-3; R Murby bt Suddaby 11-3, 11-1; J Aquilina bt A Goodwin 11-5, 11-8; T Watkinson bt D Butler 11-1, 11-0; J Tilston bt O McIntyre 11-9, 3-11, 11-8; L Keates bt S Scott 11-9, 11-3; B Beltrami bt Law 11-1, 11-0
Quarter-finals: Tristao bt Weaver 11-7, 11-7; Murby bt Aquilina 3-11, 11-7, 11-8; Watkinson bt Tilston 10-12, 11-4, 11-0; Beltrami bt Keates 11-5, 11-3
Semi-finals: Tristao bt Murby 11-6, 12-10; Beltrami bt Watkinson 11-5, 11-0
Final: Tristao bt Beltrami 4-11, 11-1, 11-6
Plate: Butler bt Goodwin 11-5, 11-8


1st round: C Beattie & O McIntyre bt A Kessel-Holland & J Stevenson 15-2
Quarter-finals: B Beltrami & T Watkinson bt Beattie & McIntyre 11-6, 12-10; D Butler & T Parker bt S Scott & I Weaver 11-3, 11-5; J Aquilina & J Tilston bt A Goodwin & L Keates 11-8, 5-11, 11-8; R Murby & D Tristao bt D Law & M Suddaby 11-7, 11-1
Semi-finals: Beltrami & Watkinson bt Butler & Parker 11-5, 11-5; Murby & Tristao bt Aquilina & Tilston 11-5, 11-1
Final: Beltrami & Watkinson bt Murby & Tristao 11-8, 11-9
Plate: Beattie & McIntyre bt Goodwin & Keates 16-14

The organiser and the champion

The Singles finalists

Live-streaming the Singles final

The commentary team

Checking the score in a close Plate Singles final

Understandably pleased with the outcome of the Doubles final

The Doubles finalists

Home success in the Doubles Plate

End of play