Cattermull Cup 2020
There was another fantastic entry for the Cattermull Cup this year, 19 schools were represented, and 21 pairs arrived at Middlesex University Real Tennis
Club to once again do battle for the coveted trophy. Over the 3 days of superb competition, 41 matches were played in great spirit with handicaps ranging
from high 20s to mid 60s. The teams were placed in 5 groups with only the winner of each group reaching the knockout stage. This meant that only the
best 3 runners up could also qualify â€“ every point and every extra game gained was crucial for survival. This made for fascinating viewing and many
incredible rallies with players pushing themselves to the edge for the honour of their schools. Finally, and deep into Saturday evening we had the
8 finalists who would be returning the next day for the title. All a step closer to the grand prize, they headed home for rest and sustenance knowing
victory was now a real possibility.
The first quarter final pitted together Charterthouse and Stonyhurst, they had both topped their respective groups and were in fine form. Would the experienced pair of Dick Cowling and Saverio Campione, two Charterhouse stalwarts be too much for first time entrants Stonyhurst and the newly formed combination of Paul Brennan and Matthew Page. Clearly, Brennan and Page were not going to be overawed by the occasion and they raced to a 3/0 lead. The next game was crucial, and it went to 40 all, Stonyhurst again taking it and going 4/0 ahead. Charterhouse fought back strongly slowly cutting the lead with a more measured approach and some strong volleying. However, it was not to be for the Old Carthusians as they succumbed 8/5 in a very entertaining match.
The second quarter final saw Tonbridge take on Clifton. Cattermull Cup veteran Michael Oâ€™Dwyer had a new partner in Jack Shields for the Old Tonbridgians. The left and right hand combination had proven to be very effective, but could they go further in the competition against the wily Miles Buckinghamshire and effervescent Nick Esses. This was one of the matches of the tournament, high in drama and tense all the way. A fantastic advert for handicap tennis considering that the handicap was Rec h30 Owe 30 in favour of the Old Cliftonians. The match went all the way to 7 games all. At this point Tonbridge took control, Oâ€™Dwyer continuing to serve a nagging slow railroad which had Clifton in all sorts of trouble and Shields mopping up any loose returns with pinpoint accuracy for an 8/7 victory.
The third quarter final saw the mighty Marlborough pairing of Stuart Kerr (MURTC Brodie Cup Captain) and Nick Hewitt take on serial winners of the Cattermull Cup Rugby this time represented by the ever-present Oliver Buckley and former MURTC member Rupert Derham. The Old Marlburians had reached the Semi-Final and Final in their only two previous appearances, could they go one step further. The match started at a steady pace but the Old Rugbians settled down first and took control of most of the points. They slowly extended their lead and found themselves 5/2 up with good sound tennis. Marlborough at this stage could have succumbed to pressure but they showed a fantastically cool head and turned the match around. They were finally able to keep the service end for longer periods of time. This caused Rugby to over try and they eventually started hitting the ball on the roof. The balance of power had now changed and Marlborough held on for the very close 8/6 victory.
In the fourth quarter final another first-time entrant, Winchester took the court in the form of Rufus Parkes and Tom Hemingway. The Old Wykehamists had been in formidable form only dropping 6 games in 4 group stage matches to top their group. They had blended subtle play and superior physicality to steam roller most of their adversaries. However, they were up against former finalists Alex Brodie and Nicola Doble representing Wimbledon High School. In a very high standard match the combination of Brodie and Doble complimented each other beautifully. Doble played with poise and accuracy displaying sharp footwork and impressive consistency and Brodie was deadly at the net with powerful volleys as well as aggressive volley returns of serve. The team of Parkes and Hemingway were certainly unsettled and made uncharacteristic errors to fall behind early. They slowly began to get into the match and pegged the ladies back, however it wasnâ€™t quite enough as Wimbledon sealed a thrilling 8/7 victory.
The Semi Finals were next on. With little respite Stonyhurst and Tonbridge were back on the court having regained some of their energy enjoying the fine lunch delivered by Paul Cattermull himself. Once more, Stonyhurst took the initiative and got out to an imposing start. Paul Brennan was flying around the court retrieving everything that came his way. He looked to be having a fine time out there and played with an air of enjoyment as well as confidence â€“ he was in the zone. Matthew Page followed his example and played crunching volleys at the net and in front of the tambour that kept at bay any possible Riposte from Tonbridge. For once in the tournament Oâ€™Dwyer and Shields did not have an answer to the situation, they battled on gallantly but eventually fell to an 8/4 loss as Stonyhurst strode confidently in to the final. In the second semi-final two former finalists were meeting for the right to once again challenge for the cup. Could Marlborough continue their steady progress and slowly squeeze errors out of their opponents, or would they need to find another gear to triumph. Wimbledon on the other hand were playing some of their best tennis and the question was whether they could sustain the high standard they had reached so far. Wimbledon got off to a good start pinning back Marlborough with effective play from the service end. They were able to reel off several points and take control of the match. As in previous matches Kerr and Hewitt did not panic and carried on trying to play consistently. Eventually, they started to find that good length and cause problems and were back in the game. Doble and Brodie sensing the danger once again regained control with a mix of accurate rallying from the back of the court and commanding volleying at the net. They were not to be denied and finished off the match 8/5.
We now knew the identity of the two finalists. It would be a straight shoot out, a 1 x 10 game set to decide the championship between first time pairing of Brennan and Page representing Stonyhurst against the tried and tested combination of Brodie and Doble for Wimbledon High School. It was going to be a fascinating contest with both teams playing in similar styles. Both teams possessed weapons at the front of the court in Page and Brodie respectively, both packing serious pace especially on their forehand volleys. They had also both served cleverly throughout the tournament, as well as returned serve effectively so there were no obvious gaps in the armoury. Would it come down to the prowess of Brennan and Doble at the back of the court. Could Brennan get on a roll again as he had done in the semi-final or would Doble be able to control the match with her accurate racquet skills. Would the handicap of Rec Half 30 Owe 15 in favour of Stonyhurst be one match too many for Wimbledon who had conceded a handicap in each match of their campaign so far. Both teams were highly motivated and ready for the fight. With all the players playing well at the same time it made for some scintillating tennis, the crowd was drawn in by the spectacle. In the dedans Paul Cattermull looked on with pride and quiet satisfaction at the riotous fun that was being had on court. This was a match truly worthy of a tournament final. The match was close all the way until Stonyhurst finally made a decisive push and got ahead 8/6 and then 9/7 up. With incredible grit and bravery Wimbledon fought back once more to take the next game and make it 8/9. The final and conclusive blow was finally delivered by Stonyhurst as they pinned Doble back into her backhand corner, her fine footwork not as spritely as it had been. At 40/0 and 9/8 up the Old Stonyhursts sealed a well-deserved victory and with it the championship and the end of a fantastic tournament.
Many thanks to all the participants for making the effort to play in one of our favourite tournaments of the season at MURTC. A special thank you to Paul Cattermull for his passion and work in getting so many teams old and new involved and for supplying delicious lunches throughot the tournament. We look forward to seeing all of you next year!
Will Burns & Chris Bray
Stonyhurst beat Charterhouse 8/5
Tonbridge beat Clifton 8/7
Marlborough beat Rugby 8/6
Wimbledon High School beat Winchester 8/7
Stonyhurst beat Tonbridge 8/4
Wimbledon High School beat Marlborough 8/5
Stonyhurst beat Wimbledon High School 10/8