Cippenham Junior 4-Star Open - 3-4 December 2022
The eighth running of the prestigious Cippenham Junior 4-Star Open Championships took place at the weekend and the honours were well dispersed. The four main events were won by players from four different counties stretching from Suffolk in the east to Devon in the west. This was a two-day tournament with cadet (under-15) events on the Saturday and junior (under-19) events on the Sunday.
Play got underway early on Saturday morning with the Cadet Boys’ Singles. The preliminary round was played across twenty-four groups with the winners and runners-up in each group going forward into the main championship event and the others progressing into a consolation event. This format was followed for all four events across the two days.
Defending champion Isaac Kingham, from Suffolk, ranked second in England was the top seed and took his position at the top of the draw. Kingham had little trouble during his progress through the rounds and reached the final having dropped only a solitary end, that to fourth seed Jacper Piwowar in the semi-final. Earlier victims of Kingham had included Parsia Ahsani, Will Hopkins and Harry Randall. The bottom half of the draw also followed the seeding plan, that is until the semi-final in which third seed Leo Nguyen defeated second seed Max Radiven. For Nguyen the pathway was relatively easy but Radiven had been made the fight hard in the last sixteen round, coming back from two games to one down against Hugo Nguyen. The other beaten quarter-finalists were Adam Alibhai, Aarif Li and Danal Inchausti.
Saturday’ play was rounded off by the Cadet Girls’ Singles. Top seed Sienna Jetha rode serenely through the rounds until she met third seed Eva Eccles in the semi-final. Jetha won the first two games easily but Eccles hit back to square the match 2-2 only for Jetha to clinch her place in the final, winning at deuce in the fifth game. The local interest was all engaged in the bottom half of the draw where Cippenham’s unseeded Mia Lakhani made it all the way to the final. Mia was easily defeated by Jetha in that final but that did nothing to deflect from the impressive form she had shown through the rounds. After winning her group, Mia ended the progress of Mauli Shaw in the first knock-out round and then beat the second seed Jonabel Tagiobao in the quarter-final and fourth seed Darcey Taylor in the semi-final.
It was the turn of the older junior players on Sunday although many of the better cadets stayed on for the second day. None of the top six England-ranked junior boys were present and so it was Larry Trumpauskas, ranked seven, that took the top seeded place. With a bunch of players ranked just behind Trumpauskas the event was always likely to be a closely fought battle, and so it proved. Trumpauskas moved through the rounds until he met fourth seed Joseph Hunter in the semi-final. This proved to be the end of the road for the Kent player as Hunter won their encounter 3-1. This was not Hunter’s closest match as twice before he had been taken to a fifth and deciding game, firstly by Samuel Cooper in the last sixteen and then by Rhys Hetherton in the quarters.
Isaac Kingham, winner of the cadet event the previous day, made it a tournament to remember by progressing to the junior final despite being seeded only twelfth. Kingham repeated his success from the previous day against Leo Nguyen in the last sixteen round, this time in three easy games, then beat tenth seed Harri Docherty in the quarter-final and Kacper Piiwowar in the semi-final. Piwowar had earlier eliminated third seed Ollie Cornish. Kacper’s brother Jakub Piwowar, the number two seed, had fallen victim to Docherty in the last sixteen.
The final thus became a contest between Hunter and Kingham. A lengthy five-game battle ensued before Hunter prevailed in the final game to deny Kingham the double.
The weekend finished with the Junior Girls’ Singles event in which all the top four England-ranked players took part. As befitting an event of this quality, spectators were treated to many close and exciting matches. The top four seeds all progressed without too much trouble from their preliminary round groups and three of them made it to their allotted positions in the semi-finals. The exception was fourth seed Maliha Baig who fell to England number nine Millie Rogove in the quarter-final. Rogove had won a close battle with Saskia Key one round earlier and had actually been defeated in the group stage by Cippenham’s Mia Lakhani, ranked twenty places below her and adding to Mia's impressive performance from the previous day. Of special interest to the host club was a fantastic match between Cippenham’s two brightest prospects in which Mia defeated Rachael Iles over five games in the second round. Mia then become a victim of Baldwin one round later but not before taking a game off the England number one.
The semi-finals saw Baldwin beat third seed Scarlett Anders while Rogove went two games to one up against second seed Anaya Patel but lost out in the fifth game. The final was another titanic struggle, delaying everyone who wished to watch the England World Cup football match, and was eventually won by Baldwin over Patel 8-11, 8-11, 11-5, 16-14, 12-10
The tournament was organised by Cippenham club chairman Ken Phillips and refereed by newly qualified International Referee Steve Smith. The Club also places on record its grateful thanks to Steve Piercey who acted as Entries Secretary and to the army of qualified umpires and other volunteers who officiated and in many other ways helped each day.