Blundell’s School, Tiverton
Saturday/Sunday 2-3 July 2022
STOP PRESS Will Ellison recorded his 8th South West Singles title and his 10th Doubles title, the fifth he has won with his partner Dan Grant. Ben Hale did the double in the Plate competitions, partnering Helena Tunks in the Doubles. Keith Kennerley paired up with Richard Christie to win the American Doubles.
Report and photos below
1st round: J Tilston bt R Christie 11-4, 11-5; O Arnold bt B Hale 11-6, 11-0; D Grant bt S Watson 11-3, 11-8; J Aquilina bt H Tunks 11-0, 11-0; L Keates bt N Geere 11-0, 11-1; J Sumner bt L Newton-Taylor 11-1, 11-1
Quarter-finals: E Kay bt Tilston 11-1,11-1; Grant bt Arnold 12-10, 11-4; Aquilina bt Keates 11-8, 11-7; W Ellison bt Sumner 11-1; 11-1
Semi-finals: Kay bt Grant 11-3, 11-2; Ellison bt Aquilina 11-5, 11-4
Final: Ellison bt Kay 11-9, 9-11, 11-4
Plate: 1st Hale 41 pts; 2nd Geere 39 pts; 3rd Christie 37 pts; 4th Newton Taylor 14pts
Quarter-finals: O Arnold & E Kay bt B Hale & H Tunks 11-1, 11-2; L Keates & J Sumner bt C Blakeley & R Christie 11-0, 11-3; J Aquilina & J Tilston bt N Geere & L Newton-Taylor 11-0, 11-3; W Ellison & D Grant bt A Steel & S Watson 11-2, 11-2
Semi-finals: Arnold & Kay bt Keates & Sumner 11-0, 11-6; Ellison & Grant bt Aquilina & Tilston 11-2, 11-7
Final: Ellison & Grant bt Arnold & Kay 5-11, 11-9, 11-9
Plate: 1st Hale & Tunks 45 pts; 2nd Blakeley & Christie 36 pts; 3rd Geere & Newton-Taylor 32 pts; A Steel & Watson 25 pts pts
American Doubles: R Christie & K Kennerley
Wayne Enstone reports: Even a wet start to the day didn’t dampen the players’ spirits, as they produced some entertaining first round matches in the singles draw. Stuart Watson at the age of seventy played some of his best angle shots to give Dan Grant a very good warm up match; however, Dan’s mesmeric spin was just too much for Stuart, but most entertaining for us spectators.
In the quarter-finals Ed Kay gave nothing away and whilst James Tilston played some fine power shots Ed’s defence and attacks were just too strong, with Ed winning in two games. Similarly, Joe Sumner was in many of the rallies in his match with Will Ellison; however, Will produced his usual killer shots after many long rallies, the score not representing the quality of the play, so well played, Joe. The closest game of the day was Ollie Arnold and Dan Grant’s first game thriller, where Ollie at 10-9 up just couldn’t quite get over the line. Dan fought back to take it 12-10 after several changes of service and then take the second relatively comfortably by comparison. Lewis Keates and Julian Aquilina had two ‘blasting’ games, with the ball flying around the court. Julian just controlled the ball that little better than Lewis, edging both games to win through to the semis.
The questions to be answered for the semis were: Could an injury-free and revitalised Dan Grant produce his best shots to break through Ed’s defence and hold off his attacks, and would Julian be able to produce his best shots in every rally to defeat Will? Both Ed and Will had obviously saved their best performances of the day; whilst there were many very hard fought rallies, both looked comfortable throughout both matches to set up a repeat of last year’s final for Sunday morning.
The Doubles draw first-round matches were actually quarter-finals and as expected didn’t produce any surprise upsets as all the seeds won through comfortably. The number one seeds, Ed Kay & Ollie Arnold, wasted no time in establishing a very quick first game win, not losing a point against a shell-shocked Lewis Keates & Joe Sumner. Fortunately, in the second Lewis and Joe raised their game and competed in most rallies, unfortunately, Ollie’s power from the left and Ed’s wonderful shot selection won the second and that was one pair through to Sunday’s final. Similarly, Julian & James had their moments in many of the rallies, however, Dan &Will just had to much court craft for them and they won through to the final too.
During these matches in the main draw, the Plate finals were also taking place. In the Singles Plate it was decided to play a round robin to 15 points, which produced many close games. At the end of all the games there were three players having won the same number of games, so it went to a most-points-won situation to decide that Ben Hale won by two points from local player Nick Geere.
In the Doubles Plate, whilst the pairs looked evenly matched during play, Ben Hale & Helena Tunks were the dominant partnership, winning all their matches and winning this year’s Doubles Plate in style.
After play and before leaving the courts, there was a Congratulations to Ed Kay and the singing of Happy Birthday — that’s dedication to fives, turning up on your Birthday Weekend! Well done, Ed. Needless to say it was a significant one too!!
As is tradition at th e South West Championships there was a social meal at the usual local Butterleigh Inn. The Plate prizes were awardedduring the evening to Ben for the Singles and Helena & Ben for the Doubles. A great time was had by all.
Sunday morning finals began with the Singles, where Will went 2 points up; however. such is the quality of Ed’s defence and shots that he quickly recovered to move to 5-3 ahead, then at 6-5 to Ed he injected another of what I will describe as ‘energy’ that took him into a 9-6 lead. As well as Will was playing it looked inevitable that as much as he tried and upped his intensity of hitting power he couldn’t improve his score line. However, after 11 changes of service Will broke through and after another 14 service changes he had game ball; at 10-9 there were another 5 changes of service before Will served out to win the first. Marvellous to watch.
In the second, with Will at 6-0 up no one had their money on Ed; needless to say Ed had other ideas and once again produced that ‘energy surge that changed our minds and at 6-3 down Ed still looked well capable of getting back level. In response Will injected his own ‘energy’ and killer shots to yet again move ahead to 8-3 up and looked good to close this game out; however, with only one change of serve Ed completely took control of the rallies and moved to 9-8 up and after 6 changes of serve won the game 11-9. Talk about fine margins, what a sensational game and still the decider to come.
At the start of the third it was obvious that both players were equally fired up for winning this game. Ed had the early success, which was short lived as Will came straight back with a series of brilliant shots and slowly moved into a 9-2 lead. Even so we spectators had all learned our lesson of trying to predict the outcome and rightly so, as again there were 11 changes of serve and then Ed began his revival, until at 10-4 and 4 changes of serve Will finally found the shot to finish it and win his 8th South West Singles title. A magical final where both players showed us what extraordinary talents they possess. It was a privilege and pleasure to score and watch.
After a brief break Will and Ed were back on court for the Doubles final, Ed partnering Ollie Arnold who was raring to go and Will partnering Dan Grant, the most consistent winning server of the tournament. The first game was over very quickly with Ollie’s left-hand fire power producing many winners and helping to overcome the defences of Will and Dan, Ed and himself winning the first 11-4.
In the second game both partnerships held the lead at various points in the game up to 9-9. Will and Dan, after six changes of serve, went 10-9 up and after another six changes of serve won 11-9. All players produced some exceptional attacking shots, making for one of the best ever games played on these courts.
In the third, Ed & Ollie started well; however, Will & Dan began to increase the pressure and moved into a 6-1 lead It looked ominous for Ed & Ollie; however, they weren’t to be deterred and slowly worked their way back to 6-4. Again, as with the second game, at 9-9 not one spectator knew who would win. Unlike the second Will at first hand in from being 8-9 down kept in and Will & Dan won their 5th South West Doubles Championship together, and Will’s 10th in total.
As usual, Trophy Presentations took place for the winners and runners-up in both finals, plus Plate winners and the American Doubles winners of the Sunday morning fun Doubles, Richard Christie (Derby Moor) and Keith Kennerly (E&TRFC). All players had had plenty of fives over the two days and we spectators were left with no fingernails! Exceptional performances by all the players, so well done to all.
Thanks go to: Alexandra Steel, for her multi-organisational roles and to Lesley Enstone, our Catering Manager supremo; to Blundell’s staff for opening doors, cleaning courts and general administration; to Lewis Keates for his multi-media role which kept those not in attendance informed throughout.
Another great Championships on and off court.
Here’s to next year’s 40th Anniversary South West Championships; do remember — all welcome. Sat/Sun, 1/2 July 2023.
Eighth time for Will
This time glass not silver
It went to seeding
Their 5th time
Ed & Ollie runners-up this time
Singles Plate for Ben
Doubles Plate for Helena & Ben
Traditional Sunday American Doubles