Surbiton lost to Letchworth 2-5
Unable to field their strongest line-up, last year's champions lost out on home soil to Letchworth.
After the first two singles matches left things all-square - Don Beck (Surbiton) beating John Skingsley (Letchworth), and David Tutt (Letchworth) beating Alison Jones (Surbiton) - all eyes fell on the deciding game in the doubles match.
Although it didn't prove decisive, this game was definitely the turning point. Nick Mounfield and John Noble (Letchworth) eventually beating Chris Farthing and John Spiers (Surbiton) at the 12th hoop. The game looked destined to go to the 13th, but a wonderful clearance from the South boundary by John Noble left himself in a hoop running position and Chris (next to play) blocked from both oppo balls and the hoop. Surbiton would now need to win three of the four afternoon singles matches to progress.
After lunch - an excellent vegan curry prepared by George Noble (no relation to John) - proceedings resumed.
Chris (weighed down by a second portion of curry) struggled to find his form and quickly lost the first against Nick. The second was a much closer affair, going the all the way to the 13th. Chris looked favourite to take the match into a decider when, from distance, he cleared Nick from just in front of the hoop to the North boundary, retaining his own hoop-running position in the process. The shot didn't receive the reward it deserved though as Nick turned down the chance of a clearance and ran the hoop instead. Chris thought Nick might have found Surbiton's usual number one, Stephen Mulliner, a tougher nut to crack. Nick agreed.
So, 3-1 to Letchworth, with the other three singles matches all going to a third game. Unfortunately for the hosts any flicker of a comeback was soon extinguished when John Skingsley won his decider against Alison. John, who has an excellent record in the Interclub, rarely gets rattled and this proved to be the case again.
The final two matches were then shared, with Don's usual solid play getting the better of David, and John Noble netting himself a hatful of handicap points by beating John Spiers. Final score, 5-2 to Letchworth.
Letchworth will now face Dulwich in the semi-final.
Chris Farthing (-3) & Jon Spiers (-3) lost to Nick Mounfield (-3) & John Noble (-1): 7-5, 2-7, 5-7
Don Beck (-1) beat John Skingsley (2): 7-5, 7-4
Alison Jones (3) lost to David Tutt (0): 6-7, 4-7
Chris Farthing lost to Nick Mounfield: 0-7, 6-7
Alison Jones lost to John Skingsley: 1-7, 7-5, 4-7
John Spiers lost to John Noble: 7-5, 3-7, 5-7
Don Beck beat David Tutt: 7-3, 6-7, 7-6