In the all-Eton, all-RDOC, final of the Incledon-Webber Cup, Rory Giddins beat George Nixon by three games to love 15/6, 15/7, 15/5. This makes it sound like a one-sided affair but that would be unfair on George who played well in all three games, never let his head drop and never took a backward step. Both boys played some good singles and the skill levels on display were high throughout. If there was a difference between the two Eton boys it was that Giddins’ serve was powerful and consistent enough to win him several easy points per game and this allowed him to dominate the match. Giddins looked the best player in this tournament from day one and thoroughly deserved his victory. He took the initiative in all his matches and it will be exciting to see whether he can make the next step up to allow him to compete in the Foster Cup next year.
The Foster Cup final between Toni Morales and Robbie White (Harrow) was an exceptional contest. Morales came out of the blocks fast, winning the first game in quick time: when Morales plays like this there are few adult players, let alone schoolboys, who can live with him, and his combination of strong serving and hitting the ball early, straight and hard to a good length in rallies made him unstoppable. Morales took the second game as well but Robbie White had a good comeback from 2-13 down to get to 11-13 and cracks were starting to show in Morales’ footwork. Morales won the serve back and hit two strong serves to close the game out to take a two-love lead. This might seem a comfortable position to be in but it didn’t feel so in the gallery. The momentum of the match had shifted and White’s incredible movement around the court and retrieving meant that Morales had to hit more good shots to win a point than he is used to. As tension built, errors were creeping in to his game. The flow of aces had dried up too and Morales' serve was being returned well much of the time. So it wasn’t really a shock when White took the third game and kept up his good play in the fourth. Morales was making too many errors to stay in points and White’s calm determination and superb movement around the court were both proving difficult. The match went to two games all and the deciding fifth game was required to separate the two players. This final game had everything: there was a twenty shot rally early in the game that Morales won to get his serve back. Both players were tightening up a little and making unforced errors at times. The game score was close through to around 6-6 when the momentum seemed to go with White and he had a couple of good service runs to take a 12-8 lead.
Sometimes Sport doesn’t come down to skill, talent, technique or fitness even though all four were in abundance today. It comes down to will. It is a battle of one person’s will against another. Morales summoned up the energy and will from somewhere deep within to pick up the quality of his game once again and for a few points at the end he took on the persona we had seen in game one. The ball was hit behind his opponent to a good length, he dominated the centre and front of the court and he served with extreme skill. This ability to show the personality and will to force victory when it seems unlikely was the greatest thing about today. Morales made no errors in the final few points and won the final game 15/12.
The Foster Cup winner for 2013 was Morales (Eton) by three games to two: 15-3, 15-11, 8-15, 7-15, 15-12
Two final points. Firstly mention must go to Robbie White for the quality of his singles play this week. Peter Brake and I knew full well what a good doubles player he can be following his win against us in the 1st pairs final last season at Queens. He has played all three of our Foster cup boys this week (Loup ma, Braham and Morales) and the quality of his play throughout and character has been a credit to his school and to his professional. Robbie didn’t deserve to lose today – he played a great match and gave it absolutely everything he had. Both he and Morales played the match with the highest standards of sportsmanship throughout: Morales called a double bounce on himself in the latter stages of the 5th game when the ball was called up by the marker and then White did the same a few points later. There was no lack of competitive instinct today – far from it, as I think you understand – but both boys knew that they had to also play in the spirit of the game and with proper respect to their opponent too. I was very proud of both.