Noel Bruce 2015

25 Sep 2015

Cheltenham beat Harrow to win the Noel Bruce Cup

Nick James and Ben Snell

Final (sponsored by the T&RA)

Thursday’s final saw a rematch of the Noel Bruce finals of 2012/13 and 2013/14, won 4-3 and 4-1 respectively by the Harrow pair. However, the Cheltenham pair showed a gritty determination from the first game which they won with the loss of four points. Queen's professional, Ben Snell, moved around the court with ease, ably supported by regular doubles partner, Nick James (the Mole). The second game saw the champions dig deep and establish a solid 14-4 lead, with Alex Titchener-Barrett playing his usual power game and partner, Charlie Danby, who has played in every Noel Bruce final for as long as anyone can remember, showing silky skills combined with brilliant anticipation. However, game ball was not secured and the Mole stepped in and served with sublime variation, with BS mopping up anything not won by his partner. Levelling to 14-all, and then a set to three, where Cheltenham retained their momentum to take a two game lead, 15/4 17/14.

The third game was a tense affair, close all the way but Cheltenham reached 14 first, before Harrow inevitably levelled. Both pairs had their chances and served for the game but it was Harrow who took the honours, 17/16, to bring the match back within their reach. The gallery knew there was a match to win, or lose. The fourth games was the decider, with Cheltenham always ahead and this time they didn't relax, winning 15/7, and resume a two game advantage. Harrow were perhaps disheartened and it was Cheltenham who romped through the final game, dropping a single point.

This was Cheltenham's first victory in the Noel Bruce since its inception in 1929 and a fabulous reward for the Cheltenham pair's perseverance, since Ben and Nick first teamed up. Expect to see Harrow resurgent next season; having won the cup seven times in the last ten years is a remarkable achievement. Simon Mansfield presented the prizes and the Pol Roger champagne. Thanks to Al Gourlay for his organisation and patience, never an easy affair!

It is always good to see the Queen's Club gallery packed, especially with some new faces.

The story to reach the final

32 pairs entered, 64 players, which created an exciting qualifying tournament comprised of eight groups of three; group winners joining the eight top pairs in the knock out main draw. Seven of the eight qualifiers met their match in the round of sixteen; although Charterhouse II remarkably overcame Winchester before running into top-seeds Harrow in the quarter-finals. The other quarter-finals went to form, although Eton did reach match point before Will Hopton’s travel arrangements forced them to concede against Wellington. Haileybury/Cheltenham II was the match of the round, with the fourth seeds, Richard Owen and Alex Duncliffe-Vines (CHE II), overcoming fifth seeds Tom Billings and Mark Farmiloe (HAI) in five tight games.

The first semi-final was a titanic struggle which lasted over two and a half hours. Top seeds Alex Titchener-Barrett and Charlie Danby (Harrow), winners for the last three years, took a 2 game lead against Cheltenham II’s Owen and Duncliffe-Vines. Two games later it was 3-1 with Harrow on the brink of another final; but back came Cheltenham, levelling 3-all to take the match into a deciding seventh game. However, they couldn’t maintain the momentum, and the defending champions came through at the death. The second semi final saw establish world-ranked pair Ben Snell and Nick James, Cheltenham, overcome James Coyne and James Fuller, Wellington, in four exciting games. Whilst the result was not in doubt, the Wellington pair put on a fabulous match against their more illustrious opponents and forced them to play their best Rackets. This avenges last season’s defeat at the same point, when Wellington then took the honours in a seven game struggle.



  • Cheltenham bt Harrow 15/4 17/14 16/17 15/7 15/1


  • Harrow bt Cheltenham II 15/3 15/6 8/15 15/11 9/15 6/15 15/6
  • Cheltenham bt Wellington 15/12 15/6 15/10 15/6


  • Cheltenham II bt Haileybury 4/15 15/12 16/13 13/16 15/10
  • Wellington bt Eton 3/15 7/15 9/14 retired
  • Cheltenham bt Tonbridge II 15/2 15/3 15/5
  • Harrow bt Charterhouse II 15/0 15/9 15/7

Round of 16

  • Eton I bt Cheltenham IV 15/4 16/14 15/5
  • Harrow I bt Malvern I 15/2 15/9 15/10
  • Haileybury I bt Radley I 15/3 15/0 15/10
  • Charterhouse II bt Winchester I 5/15 2/15/ 15/9 16/15 15/11
  • Cheltenham II bt Cheltenham V 15/8 15/2 15/7
  • Wellington I bt Charterhouse I 4/15 15/9 15/7 15/3
  • Tonbridge II bt Harrow II 15/12 2/15 15/1 17/15
  • Cheltenham I bt Cheltenham IX w/o

Main Draw


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