Blundell’s School, Tiverton
Sat/Sun, 7-8 July 2018
Will Ellison won his 70th open title in his 11th consecutive appearance in the Singles final in the South West Open, his opponent, Ed Kay, having had to withdraw with an ankle injury incurred the previous day in the semi-final against Dan Grant. It was Will’s 7th time of winning this title.
Will and Dan Grant proceeded to win the Doubles against Ollie Arnold & Charlie Brooks. It was Dan’s 13th open title — all doubles — and it was Will’s 8th time of winning this title, his 4th time with Dan.
Organiser Wayne Enstone reports: With temperatures above 30 degrees at this year’s South West Open we spectators were mesmerised by so many marvellous performances from all the competitors.
In the Singles the two first round matches set the standard, with newcomer to the tournament Louise Mathias playing well against Old Blundellian Richard Dyke, Richard winning in two games. In the other match, Nick Geere, who now plays regularly at Blundell’s, managed to hold off Old Blundellian Damian Rivett in a hard fought second game and go through to the second round. In the second round there were no upsets to the seeded players; however, Alex Rew took James Tilston to three games, after Alex won the first and was 9-3 up in the second game. One thought James had little chance, but how wrong we were. Again in the quarter-finals, some of the seeds were having to produce top performances to win through to the semi-finals. Julian Aquilina won the first game with Dan Grant, only to see Dan produce some phenomenal shots to win in three. One of the hardest hitting matches was between Ollie Arnold and Charlie Brooks, with Charlie eventually using his experience and tremendous defensive skills to win. Andrew Boyd couldn’t quite get to grips with the variety of shots Will Ellison displayed; however, there were lots of signs he will eventually be a contender. Equally in the top half, Ed Kay produced a clinical display to control the big hitting of James Tilston. Fortunately for us spectators, the semi-finals were played at different times due to an England soccer match. Thanks must go to Brian Kirk for bringing the TV. Will and Charlie’s was the first and whilst Charlie’s performance was of an extremely high quality Will seemed to be capable of not only returning many fine shots from Charlie but producing so many unpredictable winners, reducing Charlie’s opportunity to score more than his two points — quite remarkable. In the Ed and Dan match it looked after the first game that Dan may be upsetting the seeding, Dan winning a battle royal first game. Ed’s retrieving and wonderful variation of shot then began to drain the strength from Dan and whilst even at the start of the third game Dan was still producing winning serves and shots, Ed slowly took control and won the third comfortably.
In the Doubles, which began at midday, again there were some fine and entertaining performances in the first round. Tim Lewis & Stuart Watson showed the mixed pairing of Alexandra Steel & Richard Dyke how the game used to be played, with super volleys and many angle shots — brilliant to watch; however, the fire power of the younger pair eventually proved too great. Father and son pairing of Paul & Damian Rivett rallied in their second game to give Addie Chai & Ed Hatton a great second game. This took us to the quarters, where the seeds all proved far too strong for their opponents and set up the expected semi-finals. The semi’s were far from predictable, as proven by Julian Aquilina & James Tilston coming back against favourites Ellison & Grant to take the second game. Unfortunately, for Julian & James normal service was resumed in the third and no matter how hard they tried Will & Dan found the winners to go through to another final — a wonderful match to watch.
In the lower half, whilst the combination of Kay & Boyd looked solid, they didn’t quite have the ammunition of an in-form Ollie Arnold & Charlie Brooks partnership.
During the main competition, the football and trying to keep up the fluid levels, the Singles and Doubles Plates were being contested. The Singles Plate was eventually won by one of the four and most experienced Old Blundellians, Alex Rew, who beat a very tired Addie Chai in the final. In the Doubles, after many pool games the trophies went to another Old Blundellian pairing of Alexandra Steel and Richard Dyke.
At 7pmish it was time to retire for the main social part of the weekend to our usual Butterleigh Inn and replenish the fluids as well as have an excellent meal.
Sunday morning initially proved disappointing due to the fact that Ed Kay had sprained his ankle during his semi-final and was unable to walk properly on the Sunday morning. Understandably he had to withdraw. Will therefore had won his easiest and seventh South West Singles title.
Fortunately, the spectators’ disappointment was short-lived as the Doubles final produced many thunderous and thrilling rallies, The power and variation of shots all four players produced was remarkable; it was truly a spectacular match in all aspects. Ollie & Charlie started the first game well, moving to a 4-2 lead only then for Dan & Will to come back and move in front 5-4, Ollie & Charlie then hit back to level at 5 all. Each player had their moments of special dominance over his opponents but slowly Dan & Will moved away for what began to have the look of a conclusive overall championship win in two games. Ollie & Charlie had other ideas and, within what seemed seconds, had moved into a 5-0 lead which proved decisive in the second. In the third the score and score pattern was virtually identical in favour of Will & Dan, giving them eventually a 4th South West Doubles win together, and eight in all for Will.
It was a magnificent performance by all four players, who continually congratulated opponents’ wonder shots throughout the match — fairness and sportsmanship personified. How lucky we are to have so many great role models in our sport.
To conclude proceedings the usual trophies were awarded to the winners and a prize-giving of the local Devon Dartington Glassware took place.
Additional thanks go to: Blundell’s School and the school’s continuing support of fives in general; to Tim Lewis for booking the Saturday meal and his on-the-day support in general; and to Lesley on the catering side.
Lastly, a thought too for the late Nigel Gordon, for his generous and continued sponsorship of his G6 balls which made for some great performances and wonderful play yet again this weekend.
Do think about joining us next year, same weekend, for a fun weekend of fives.
PS Andrew Boyd & Kevin Brice won the traditional American Doubles on Sunday.
1st round: R.Dyke bt L.Mathias 11-0, 11-3; N.Geere bt D.Rivett 11-0, 11-7
2nd round: E.Kay bt Dyke 11-2, 11-1; J.Tilston bt A.Rew 7-11, 11-9, 11-0; J.Aquilina bt A.Chai 11-4, 11-2; D.Grant bt S.Watson 11-9, 12-10; C.Brooks bt K.Brice 11-2, 11-0; O.Arnold bt J.Hughes 11-7, rtd; A.Boyd bt E.Hatton 11-1, 11-3; W.Ellison bt Geere 11-1, 11-0
Quarter-finals: Kay bt Tilston 11-0, 11-2; Grant bt Aquilina 9-11, 11-2, 11-5; Brooks bt Arnold 11-7, 11-2; Ellison bt Boyd 11-0, 11-2
Semi-finals: Kay bt Grant 7-11 11-6, 11-1; Ellison bt Brooks 11-1, 11-1
Final: Ellison w/o Kay rtd.
Plate: Rew bt Chai
1st round: N.Geere & D.Hill bt K.Brice & L.Mathias 11-4, 11-3; A.Chai & E.Hatton bt D.Rivett & P.Rivett 11-2, 11-9; J.Aquilina & J.Tilston bt R.Christie & L.Keates 11-1, 11-4; J.Hughes & A.Rew bt B.Kirk & V.Singh 11-4, 11-5; R.Dyke & A.Steel bt T.Lewis & S.Watson 11-6, 11-4
Quarter-finals: W.Ellison & D.Grant bt Geere & Hill 11-5, 11-9; Aquilina & Tilston bt Chai & Hatton 11-4, 11-9; A.Boyd & E.Kay bt Hughes & Rew 11-4, 11-5; O.Arnold & C.Brooks bt Dyke & Steel 11-2, 11-2
Semi-finals: Ellison & Grant bt Aquilina & Tilston 11-5, 9-11, 11-3; Arnold & Brooks bt Boyd & Kay 11-4, 11-4
Final: Ellison & Grant bt Arnold & Brooks 11-5, 4-11, 11-5
Plate: Dyke & Steel bt Christie & Keates