This year’s tournament was the 25th and 12 pairs entered, including three generations of the Bevan-Thomases, and last year’s winners Charles and Columbus O’Donnell. Groups 1 and 2 played on the Sunday with winners, runners-up and one lucky third place to go through to the quarter finals. Tim and Gus James prevailed in Group 1, with the O’Donnells as runner-up. Lulu and Francis Hutley beat Peter and Isabella Maxton into second place. The third places were between Tim and Harry B-T and Rory and Sebastian Scott, the Scotts got the nod on the basis of a better games count. Lulu Hutley deserves a mention for winning a great rest against David B-T by volley returning a fusillade of balls driven at her corner.
Monday began with Nick and Oliver Harris taking on David and Luke Fortune who prevailed, next up Tim and Oscar Parker edged Tim and Guy B-T, and then the Fortunes and Harrises collectively managed to record a double bagel. Despite this setback the Harrises managed to hold their nerve against Tim and Guy B-T and record a win. The Parkers had already claimed winning position, but the last match (B-Ts vs Fortunes) offered any permutation for runner-up and third place for the other pairs. The Fortunes after a nervous start pulled off a second win to get second place and give third to the Harrises.
The group stage was notable for the success of the pairs with the higher handicaps with three pairs looking like good bets, the Jameses, Hutleys and Parkers. However it is fair to say that the lower handicap pairs had many opportunities to win but seemed to play tentatively at crucial points.
The first QF featured the Jameses vs the Harrises; Nick and Oliver on one serve, bar tambour and owe fifteen and Tim and Gus receive 30, this was a step-up from the earlier tough handicaps and Nick made it tougher by hitting three tambours, the Jameses marched into the next round. The Hutleys trounced the Fortunes; the Parkers had peaked early and lost to the Scotts, and the Maxtons were too much for last year’s winners.
SF1 saw the Hutleys beat the Jameses, with Francis demonstrating that his game is rapidly improving. In SF2 the Scotts, with left hander Sebastian proving a useful foil to his father’s delicate chips took on the Maxtons. Peter was serving well and Isabella has worked hard at her game, and had already beaten their opponents looked favourites, however the Scotts with a 7 point handicap advantage had other ideas and with Sebastian playing much more confidently edged a win.
The 8 game Final was then between the Hutleys and the Scotts’ 5 point advantage giving them owe 15 every game. The Scotts started steadily, with Lulu Hutley looking somewhat shocked at getting to the final, and moved into a 3/0 lead and held their nerve up to 7/1 when a late burst from the Hutleys looked like they might turn it around but the Scotts held on to win 8/3.
It was a very good tournament which all (well nearly all) the competitors seemed to thoroughly enjoy. Tom and Louis’s marking was excellent and the tournament ran very smoothly. If you normally go skiing at this time of the year I suggest that you leave it a bit later next year and get your entry in early, it would be good to see The Bevan-Thomases, the Harrises and an all-female pair amongst the winners in the next 25 years.