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News > Alumni News > An exciting weekend at the Ipswich Fives Graves Cup!

An exciting weekend at the Ipswich Fives Graves Cup!

The 9th and 10th July saw the glorious, long-awaited, return of the OIs' Ipswich Fives Tournament, last seen in January 2020.
18 Aug 2022
Written by Nikki Brown
Alumni News

Holding the tournament in July rather than January meant that there were a couple of subtle differences - at least 20 degrees on the thermometer for a start. That and the beer from guest brewer Peter Scholey in bottles in the fridge rather than in barrel. There were fewer School pupils than usual, too, with many families heading off on holiday as soon as term ended, no doubt trying to avoid the blistering temperatures of Ipswich in July.

Eleven pairs made the starting line having been put together by the seeding committee’s assessment of each player’s ability, stamina, likelihood of injury and facility for seeing the ball on Sunday morning.  They were split into three groups with a court each. Inevitably they all proceeded at wildly different speeds with the Gareth Hoskins / Will Carron v Peter Boughton / Oscar Taylor match causing something of a backlog early on in Group A. All resolved itself, however, and there was even time to get the quarter-finals in on the Saturday afternoon. It was hard work in the hot conditions and Hoskins & Carron and Isaac Weaver & John Levick (who were unavailable on Sunday anyway) never made it on to court, giving their opponents a walkover to the Sunday semis. Mark Graves & School pupil Henry Gardner looked impressive in seeing off the tricky pairing of UK Champion Seb Cooley & Jana Scholey, while the closest match came between Steve Burnell & Pete Forrest and Tom Hoskins & Charlotta Cooley. Steve & Pete got off to a strong start before finding themselves pegged back to 10-10 in an exciting first game. It went all the way to 13-13 before Burnell & Forrest finally closed it out, a crucial point as it turned out, as they then raced away with the second game to complete the semi-final line-up.

The Saturday night dinner was a slightly smaller affair than usual, but certainly no worse for that and the lower number allowed it to be held in the pavilion, which was a nice bonus. The food for this year's dinner, as has become the norm, was superb.  Many thanks to Justin and the School catering team for doing us proud once again.

There was a minor wobble on Sunday morning with the realisation that the Greyhound was no longer opening early to do breakfast, so with the local Spoons standing in as an emergency venue (needs must), play resumed on day two at the usual leisurely pace. Alex Yusaf - back on court for the first time in a while - & partner Elliot Caldwell got off to a great start against Burnell & Forrest, taking the first game to 8, but experience again told as Steve & Pete bided their time before taking control of the match in the second and third games. Their final opponents were hard to predict: Simon Cass & James Gray had looked impressively untroubled during the course of Saturday's play, but Mark Graves was on a mission, aiming to break the curse of having your name on the cup, which he last won in 1986. With partner Henry Gardner offering some excellent support, they looked poised to take the match into a deciding game, having lost the first 12-9. James & Simon had other ideas, however, and came from behind to take the second game 14-11 and with it the match, setting up a rare all OI final. Even rarer in that all four players sported beards.

Once the players had got their heads round playing a best of five game final, they quickly started to produce some Fives to match the occasion. James Gray's dynamism and power were more than making up for the occasional wild shot out of court and were proving a good blend with the courtcraft and "delicate-touch-for-a-big-man" of Simon Cass. The first game was a mini classic, finally going James & Simon's way 15-14 and when they took the second 15-11 it looked like the match was theirs for the taking. Steve & Pete had other ideas, though, winning the third to 6 and beginning to build up a head of steam; steam that they then sadly ran out of in the fourth, with Simon & James retaking control of the match and closing it out to 8.

Poor old Mark Graves had to present the Graves Cup again instead of winning it, and the day was completed with a win in the Anthony Stubbs Memorial Plate competition for a revitalised Gareth Hoskins & Will Carron, who beat nearest rivals Tom Hoskins & Charlotta Cooley, twice, (once in their group and again in the final) to carry the day.

Thanks to the School for hosting the tournament, to the OI Club and Peter Scholey for their invaluable sponsorship, John Caudle for his important work setting up the dinner, as mentioned to our fabulous School caterers,

Next instalment, January 2023.  If you missed this one, get in early and put your name down for then by contacting pvb@ipswich.school  and remember, the worse you are, the better the partner you get.

Peter Boughton (OI 1958-69)

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