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Manchester Gold Racquet 2018

Updated Nov 06, 2018 (Results and Report)
Published Oct 24, 2018
Ben Cawston beat Alex Duncliffe-Vines to win the Manchester Gold Racquet. The singles finalists combined forces to win the Doubles

Singles Results

  • Cawston bt Duncliffe-Vines 15/4 15/9


  • Duncliffe-Vines bt Titchener-Barrett 15/7 5/15 15/12 11/15 15/1
  • Cawston bt Hopton 15/14 1/15 16/14 14/15 15/12


  • Titchener-Barrett bt Cipriano 15/11 15/12
  • A Duncliffe-Vines bt Butcher 15/11 5/15 15/8
  • Cawston bt Hopcroft 15/13 15/1
  • W Hopton bt Coulson 15/2 15/1

First Round

  • B Cawston bt C Vleck 15/3 15/0
  • D Coulson bt M Tancer 15/4 15/5
  • O Butcher bt H Foreman 7/15 15/3 15/2
  • P Cipriano bt D Long 15/6 15/1
  • A Titchener-Barrett bt L Symonds 15/2 15/1

Doubles Results


  • Duncliffe-Vines & Cawston bt Cipriano & Portz 9/15 15/6 15/6 15/9


  • Cipriano & Portz bt Titchener-Barrett & Hopcroft 15/9 15/9 8/15 16/13
  • Duncliffe-Vines & Cawston bt Hopton & Tancer 15/6 15/6 15/12


  • Hopton & Tancer bt Butcher & Coulson 16/14 15/10
  • A Titchener-Barrett & Hopcroft bt Foreman & Long 15/7 15/1
  • A Duncliffe-Vines & Cawston bt Symonds & Vleck 15/5 15/7

Plate Singles


  • Butcher bt Foreman 15/14 15/7


  • Foreman bt Coulson 15/6 15/12
  • Butcher v Symonds 15/12 15/12

First Round

  • Symonds bt Tancer 15/4 15/4
  • Foreman bt Vleck 15/11 15/12

Plate Doubles


  • Butcher & Coulson bt Symonds & Vleck 10/15 15/10 15/12


  • Symonds & Vleck bt Foreman & Long 15/11 15/11

Manchester Gold Racquet 2018


This year’s Gold Racquet attracted a small but high quality entry, as befitted its status as a Qualifying Tournament in both Singles and Doubles. Most of the top-ranked players were in attendance, though Tom Billings was unable to defend his title as he and Richard Owen were otherwise engaged in anticipation of their forthcoming World Championship Challenge. The competition saw the welcome return of Will Hopton as well as Peter Cipriano from New York.

The smaller field than usual had the advantage that the Tournament could be completed within a somewhat more civilised timescale than has sometimes been the case in recent years. The Club had acquired a brand new batch of solid-core Thorpe balls for the Tournament which initially displayed some variability and unevenness of pace & bounce. Fortunately, Walter was on hand to make any necessary adjustments; and, as the balls were played in, teething troubles of this kind were soon resolved

The first ball was struck at 12.30 on Friday in the opening match between Manny Tancer, a regular visitor from Detroit and now an overseas member of the Club, & Dominic Coulson, an Old Marlburian, who won the match fairly comfortably, going forward to meet the second seed, Will Hopton, in the Singles Quarter-Finals.

In the first Quarter-Final, the top seed, Alex Duncliffe-Vines, made a slow start against Oscar Butcher, in his final year at Cheltenham, who had seen off Harry Foreman in the first round by two games to one. Oscar took a game off ADV but was unable to prevent him from going through to the Semi-Finals. The second seed, Will Hopton, looked comfortable against Dominic Coulson, easing his into the Semi-Finals by two games to love. The other two Quarter-Finals were more demanding. Sixth seed Peter Cipriano had had a good victory over home professional Darren Long in his first-round match, but then had to face the fourth seed, Alex Titchener-Barrett, in his Quarter Final. That was a tough call: Alex was moving well & striking the ball sweetly and, often enough, with his wonted ferocity. Cipriano went into an early lead in the first game which Alex slowly clawed back. Service alternated for a time until Alex got back in hand and after a splendid rally, with the players trading shot for shot, established an 11/9 lead and went on to take the game. In the second game, it was ATB who established an early lead, which Peter in his turn, clawed back, taking the score to 8 all. But Alex then opened up a lead to 13/9; and service then alternated several times until ATB won a glorious rally to retake service and moved to game ball. But Peter was not yet done, cutting Alex’s lead back to 14/12. But Alex then won the point he needed to win the match 15/11, 15/12.

In the third Quarter-Final, the third seed, Nick Hopcroft, took on young Ben Cawston, the fifth seed. The first game was fairly evenly contested, but, despite taking a couple of tumbles, Cawston won it 15/13. The second game was much more one-sided: Cawston was missing nothing and moving with increasing confidence, whereas Hopcroft seemed to run out of steam as the game progressed, eventually going down 15/1.

The Semi-Finals saw two epic encounters, each of which went to five games and lasted nearly two hours. In his match against Alex Titchener-Barrett, Alex Duncliffe-Vines set a hot pace at the outset, moving quickly into a 5-love lead. ATB began to catch up, but his progress was soon stalled. At 8/5, ATB served a mighty hammer service which his opponent caught up with on the run and put away to regain service, going on to take the game 15/7. But ATB won the second game 15/5, attributable in considerable measure to his service. In the third game, the two men were level pegging for a time. There were some fine rallies but both had some difficulty in putting the ball away. ATB was looking fit and sharp, but ADV eventually opened up a four point lead at 13/9. He then had a bit of difficulty in getting to the finishing line; and ATB started to close the gap. Eventually, however, ADV won the game 15/12 with a reaction shot from mid-court which hit the front wall just above the wood, giving his opponent no chance to respond. In the fourth game, ADV moved into a strong lead, but his opponent fought back remorselessly to win 15/12. The final game was something of an anti-climax. ADV was now looking the stronger player and was able to take the game and the match 15/1. It was a fine exhibition of rackets, with both men displaying the power, precision and athleticism which the game requires at the highest level.

The second Semi-Final started shortly before 8 o’clock on Saturday evening just as dinner was about to be served. Those who chose to dedicate themselves to the pleasures of the table missed yet another wonderful display of rackets. In the first game, Cawston slowly moved ahead to lead 10/6; but Hopton then began to close the gap to level the game at 14 all. Ben elected no set and won the point to get back in hand and finish off the game, winning 15/14. The second game was the sharpest of contrasts: Hoppy dominated the play from start to finish, winning 15/1 in short order. How different again was the third game. Level pegging from the start, neither player was able to establish a lead. Eventually from 9 all, Cawston moved to 12/9, only for Hopton to respond in kind. Eventually, at 13 all and set three Ben was able to take the game 16/14. The next game followed a similar pattern: hard fought & tight, with neither player able to make a decisive move. In the end, Hopton just edged it at 15/14. So, all square and on to the final game. Yet again, there was little to separate the players. Only at the very end was Cawston able to establish a lead and take the game and the match 15/12. This was a remarkable performance by such a young man against such an experienced campaigner and augurs well for his future in the game. Throughout the Tournament, he showed an assurance and maturity that belied his age.

The tournament Dinner was held at the Club on Saturday night, when our new chef, Gareth Lloyd, provided excellent fare, accompanied by wines from the Club cellars concluding with forty year old vintage port. Several impromptu speeches were made at the end of the meal, after which some of the assembled company went off to try their hand at skittles. A good time was had by all. But an extra hour’s sleep and a civilised start-time allowed plenty of time for recovery before the Finals on Sunday.

The Singles Final did not fully live up to the expectations engendered by the quality of the play in the Semi-Finals. Both players must still have been feeling the effects of their previous day’s endeavours and were no doubt contemplating the possibility of yet another five-game match in the Doubles Final. At their joint request, therefore, it was agreed that the Singles Final should be decided by the best of three games, rather than five. In the first game, ADV played some fine strokes in the early stages, levelling the score at 4 all. But Cawston then reclaimed service and soon took the score to 14/4. At game ball, ADV managed to make a return from behind his back despite being wrong-footed, only to see Cawston play a gentle drop shot to win the game whilst he was still out of position. ADV warmed up somewhat in the second game, taking an early lead. But Cawston, making fewer errors & misjudgements, came back to level the scores at 9 all and soon took the points he needed to win the match 15/4, 15/9.

The Doubles title was contested between only seven pairs, with Peter Cipriano & Christian Portz (who did not play in the Singles) receiving a bye directly into the Semi-Finals. They then met the third seeds, Alex Titchener-Barret & Nick Hopcroft who had had a fairly straightforward victory over Harry Foreman & Darren Long in the previous round. ATB played particularly well, not only serving ferociously to a good length but also producing the occasional drop shot. His partner was less consistent and faded somewhat as the match progressed. But Cipriano & Portz had the edge throughout and eventually secured victory 15/9, 15/9, 8/15, 16/13.

In the other half of the draw, Will Hopton & Manny Tancer had overcome some spirited resistance from Oscar Butcher & Dominic Coulson, to go through to the Semi-Final, where they met Alex Duncliffe-Vines & Ben Cawston, who had seen off Lewis Symonds & Charlie Vleck in another well-contested encounter. In the Semi-Final itself, Ben & Alex defeated Manny and Will fairly comfortably, 15/6, 15/6, 15/12. But the winners did not have it all their own way. Manny played his supporting role with conviction and determination, serving tightly and returning well, whilst Hoppy covered every corner of the court, protecting his partner and putting the ball away whenever he got the chance. It was an entertaining match played in the best of spirits.

The Final itself saw Cipriano & Portz get off to a flying start, taking an early lead before a good service run from their opponents closed the gap to 7/9 after a fine, long rally. But some good serving by Christian & Peter then enabled them to take the game 15/9. They continued to serve well at the beginning of the second game, soon moving into a 4/1 lead. But their opponents then got in hand and several long service runs saw them forge ahead to take the game 15/5, albeit with the help of some errors from their opponents who managed to put down several fairly easy returns. So the two sides moved into the third game all square. But ADV & Cawston continued to have the better of the play, moving to a 12/3 lead with a fine display of power, skill and court-craft. However, Peter & Christian were not yet done, fighting back to cut their opponents’ lead to 14/6. There followed some fast & furious play until Alex & Ben were eventually able to secure the point they needed to take the game 15/6 and give themselves a lead of two games to one. The fourth game started with each side trading blow for blow until a good service run from ADV & Ben opened up a 9/6 lead which they soon extended to 11/6. But Portz & Cipriano then regained service and fought back to 9/11 only to see their opponents take their score to game ball and secure the game and the match 15/9. This was a good, hard-fought match in which the winning pair combined well and thoroughly deserved their victory despite some excellent rackets from their opponents.

The Plate matches also saw some spirited and skilful play. The Singles Final was contested between Oscar Butcher & Harry Foreman. Like one or two others, Harry had not found it easy to adjust to the court and the balls during his earlier matches, but was showing more of his true form by the time he reached the Plate Finals. In the first game of the Singles, he moved into a strong lead at 13/6, but was unable to finish it off as Oscar slowly clawed his way back. At 9/13 Harry seemed to lose concentration after the refusal of a let and Oscar moved on to level the score at 14 all. Harry elected for no set and got back in hand after an excellent rally. But he then failed to take the point he needed, allowing Oscar to win the game 15/14. The second & final game was somewhat more error-strewn and Oscar had an easier victory, winning the game and the match 15/7.

The Doubles Final was a spirited and keenly contested affair, pitting Oscar Butcher & Dominic Coulson against Lewis Symonds (playing in his fourth Gold Racquet) & newcomer Charlie Vleck. In the first game, Symonds & Vleck, both playing well, took an early lead which their opponents could not overcome. At one point, Charlie essayed a hammer service which nearly took out the marker; and another shot hit the jackpot, striking the ball container and spilling its contents on to the gallery floor. Despite Manchester’s claim to have the highest back wall in the world of rackets, it was not the safest place to stand during the course of this match. Be that as it may, Symonds & Vleck took the first game comfortably 15/10. But the tables were turned in the second game, with Coulson playing markedly better than he had in his previous matches. This time, it was 15/10 to Butcher & Coulson. The final game was tighter, with both pairs playing some excellent rackets. But in the end, Oscar & Dominic edged it 15/12 to win the match.

So ended yet another successful Tournament. We look forward to another excellent display of rackets at the Manchester Tennis & Racquet Club in October 2019.

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