Spectacular Varsity at the Other Place sees interesting results...
Updated: Mar 26
It’s that time of the year again. Our Oxford friends start missing us too much (and who can blame them), so on the 4th March 2022 we decided to give them a visit and see what the fuss was about. Without further ado, lets get onto the match reports!
Badminton Varsity took place at Iffley Road, Oxford this year in contrast to the last 3 Varsities which had all been held in Cambridge. Play consisted the facing-off of 3 Men’s teams and 2 Women’s teams, with 6 singles and 9 doubles matches per team, giving an overall ‘best-of-75’ for the entire event. Matches took place across an afternoon and a day: with W2, M3, M2 playing on the Friday, and all teams playing on the Saturday. ‘Singles Substitutes’ (names bracketed) played only the singles, and substituted in for a doubles player who only played the doubles.
This year’s Varsity dinner was at Jamal’s. Photos taken by George Moran, match reports written by respective team captains.
Hope you enjoy the read!
Edited by James Xu
CUBaC Publicity Officer 2021-2
Men's Third Team
Players: Michael Hu, Aarjav Jain, Ruige Kong, (Thomas Williams), Adil Jiwa, Ye Gu, Jonathan Tsoi
Written by Adil Jiwa
There was a lively atmosphere and much excitement from players and spectators alike as M3 opened proceedings for Varsity weekend. Any nerves were soon put to bed as each Cambridge player won their match, putting the squad into an unprecedented 4-0 lead!
Being the oldest on the squad, naturally the years have taken its toll on Adil's back. Tired from carrying the team so often, he now plays drop shots solely from below the waist.
Playing on each end court, both Ruige and Ye displayed attacking masterclasses, out-smashing their respective opponents to achieve solid victories in two sets, the former comfortably winning 21-10 and 21-15, whilst the latter demolished his opponent 21-5 and 21-10, supplemented by shouts of glory between points.
Our M3 singles specialist Ruige showing us how it’s done.
Yet on the middle courts, it was a far less comfortable ride. Adil’s first set was a close encounter with both players forcing mistakes out of the other. Having eked out a narrow 23-21 victory in the first set, he struggled against his opponent’s defence, losing 17-21 in the second. A nervy 3rd set saw him lead 11-10 at the break, before dominating his opponent with consistent attack, winning a hard-fought match (21-13 in the 3rd).
Thomas decided to kick things up a notch, recording a cool 60-minute court time. Having narrowly lost the first set 17-21 versus a skilled opponent, he proceeded to save 6 match points to superbly battle his way to a 28-26 2nd set victory. Drenched in sweat and with almost the entire crowd watching his 3rd set, he produced some spectacular footwork, shot selection and composure to take the 3rd set 21-17, sending the Cambridge support absolutely wild! Truly, an epic victory.
“Is George taking photos of me? Yeah, he better be.”
Not wanting to be outdone by his teammates, Aarjav decided to get in on the 3-set close victory action. Whilst producing some excellent movement and shot execution, he was unlucky to lose the first set 19-21. However, he stepped up to the plate in the second, brilliantly wining the set 24-22, before producing some incredible badminton to win the 3rd set 23-21 – ensuring a 5-0 lead.
Sadly, despite his best efforts, Michael was unable to seal victory in his singles against Oxford’s most annoying player (who shouted at the top of his voice between every single point).
Ok we get it Michael. You took dance classes when you were younger, big deal.
The Friday doubles saw Aarjav and Michael caught on the wrong end of the Oxford revenge mission, losing in 2 sets. However, Adil and Jonathan managed to get their first set off to a flier, winning 21-11. Unfortunately, complacency combined with the Oxford pair raising their level, resulted in a 17-21 loss, which was followed by a nail-biting 21-19 win for the Cambridge pair, capping off a fantastic first day for M3.
Sadly, things didn’t go so well on Saturday. Following his heroic singles efforts, Aarjav sustained a knee injury and thus Thomas replaced him to pair Michael in the doubles. Despite some close rallies and solid badminton all round, they were unable to overcome the Oxford 2ndand 3rd pairs, losing both in straight sets.
One comes to wonder if wearing shorts too small for you causes your knees to be injured Aarjav...
Ye and Ruige commenced their doubles campaign in dominant fashion, replicating their singles attacking shots and executing seamless rotation. Unfortunately, despite a solid showing against the Oxford 3rd pair, they were beaten 17-21 in both sets, whilst the 2nd pair (which were comfortably Oxford’s best M3 pair) also getting the better of them in straight sets.
It was only when the matches were finished and the CUBaC were halfway back to Cambridge, did Oxford realise Ye Gu was left handed.
Adil and Jonathan didn’t receive the straight sets memo and set about working through another 3-set thriller against Oxford’s 3rd pair. Sadly, it didn’t go Cambridge’s way. Despite a phenomenal 25-23 victory in the first set, Oxford reorganised their game plan to win 21-17 in the second and mounted an unexpected comeback to win the 3rd set 21-16. Keen to seek revenge in their final outing, the Cambridge pair produced some excellent badminton to win their first set 21-13, before the Oxford 2nd pair stepped up to snatch a 21-17 victory. The Cambridge pair could not mount the necessary comeback and lost 11-21 in the 3rd, resulting in a narrow 7-8 overall loss for M3.
Score: Cam 7 - 8 Ox
Women's Second Team
Players: Annie Zhu, Anna Thibieroz, Sofie Pultz, Jennifer Hu, (Jenny Yang), (Beth Harris), Alethea Tan, Xuefei Wu
Written by Sofie Pultz
This year’s W2 was a strong mix of brand new CUBaC signings and experienced Varsity players. After months of intense practice, the eight women were ready to put on a show, but it took some time to shake off the Varsity-debut nerves for our single players.
Our 1st singles, Annie, was off to a quite nervous start, but once she remembered that she actually had to cover the backhand, the rest of the game was easy sailing to a 21-11 win in the second set after a narrowly won 24-22 result in the first.
Annie: Backhand? What backhand?
Like Annie, Sofie was also off to a rough beginning. After being down 4-11 at the break, Sofie came out looking much stronger and managed to put on some solid singles play. The second set was off to a good start with the two players being toe-to-toe until halfway through, but sadly it went downhill from there, and Sofie lost in two sets.
Sofie allegedly told an interviewer the reason she wears two knee braces instead of one is for fashion purposes.
From watching the two first games it was clear that Oxford W2 meant business, but our more experienced CUBaC players did not go down without a fight. Bursting out from the gates, Jennifer looked confident as she won several points on well-placed smashes. Keeping up with her opponent most of the way through the second set, it could definitely have gone both ways. However, the luck was against Cambridge, and Jennifer lost second set in the end 16-21.
Last up in the Friday singles round was Anna, who faced a strong-looking Oxford 2nd singles. Struggling for every point, she unfortunately lost the first set 13-21. Anna kept her head cool and her drops even cooler, but in the end her opponent came out on top againby clinching the second set also.
Not to fear, as Friday was not only singles. This gave W2 a shot at redemption in our doubles matches. With trains to catch Friday evening, neither Alethea nor Xuefei had any time to waste. This became evidently clear on court throughout all three of their games as the pair looked steady and cut-throat from start to finish. Oxford could not manage to put a single set past the fast and flat playing CUBaC 2nd double. Three gorgeous wins were much needed to restore hope for W2, as we ended the day being ahead 5-4. Besides marking the end of the Friday games, Alethea and Xuefei’s doubles also marked the end of an era as Alethea claims this was her final Varsity (we will see about that…).
It is commonly known at CUBaC that we pair doubles players not according to their badminton compatibility, but by the length of their hair.
W2 left Friday evening with only a narrow lead having won only one of the singles matches, so we knew that we would have to step up on Saturday. Luckily, we had new players arriving: having been up before sunrise to travel to Oxford, Jenny Yang (Cambs) was ready to face her opponent Jenny Yang (Oxford) in the first W2 game of the day. The battle of the Jenny Yangs ended with a thrilling comeback to our Jenny as she with surgical precision (yes, she is a medic) fought her way back from 15-20 to 23-23. A magnificent comeback was not meant to be, dropping the last two points emphatically and concluding the winner to be of course, Jenny Yang. Following the intense match, the ‘our’ Jenny amicably wished ‘their’ Jenny Yang a happy birthday.
Since coming out of her mother’s womb, Jenny has woken up at 4am everyday to practise her service form. Now she is finally ready.
W2’s track record of singles did not look promising, as our final singles player Beth stepped on court. Beth had a personal vendetta going into her singles after being beaten by her opponent’s sister in the preseason friendly Varsity. The search for redemption fuelled Beth’s play and she won confidently 21-14 in first set. The second set proved to be a tougher clash, but Beth managed to keep calm and win 21-19 after a match-point serve return by her opponent that went about a yard out. With Beth’s much needed win, W2 closed their singles-chapter with a 2-4 loss and turned all their focus onto the doubles, where we had a 4-1 lead from Friday.
Anna and Jennifer somehow hit copy + paste on the double they played on Friday and ended up playing three almost identical games with almost identical scores. After a slow start in the first sets of each game, they managed to pick things up at the end of each encunter and close the margin by a fair bit. Yet despite some cheeky flick serves and great net play, they were not able to turn it around in either of the games.
In her spare time, Anna conducts for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with a badminton racket instead of a conducting baton.
Annie and Sofie’s Varsity nerves from Friday were nowhere to be seen on Saturday, as the W2 1st pair went on to play some nail-biting doubles. In their second game - that most of the time looked more like a mixed doubles! Sofie discovered her ability to dive, leaving Annie’s brick-wall defence to cover the rest, which led to some incredibly long rallies in an intense three set game bringing the W2 score to 7-7. Annie and Sofie had the honour of closing this year’s Varsity, putting on quite the show against the Oxford 1st doubles, which kept everyone at the edge of their seat. Bathing in the pressure, Annie and Sofie won the first set spectacularly 23-21. And after that, this year’s Varsity came to an end to the beautiful sound of air horns and cheers of relief and celebration from the CUBaC stands as the second set ended with a 25-23 victory.
W2 came to prove the CUBaC squad depth this year, and they successfully did so by beating Oxford W2 8-7. Half the team remained unbeaten, and Annie managed to be the only CUBaC player to win 4 out of 4 games, with Sofie following closely behind with 3 out of 4 matches won. All in all, an incredible performance from a strong W2 team.
Score: Cam 8 - 7 Ox
Men's Second Team
Players: Michael Li, Richard Parsons, Pranav Santhosh, Saket Koti, Phol Wehaprasirtsak, Jonny Itcovitz
Written by Pranav Santhosh
With James Pinder's unfortunate positive COVID test affecting all the men’s teams, a heavily modified M2 arrived in Oxford looking to avenge their loss in the friendly varsity. Michael Li (Jesus), Richard Parsons (St. John's), Pranav Santhosh (St. John's) , Saket Koti (Queen's), Jonny Itcovitz (Darwin) and Phol Wehaprasirtsak (St. Catherine's) made up what was on paper quite a strong team. With M3 putting on an smashing showing in their singles taking 5/6 of the games, M2 was inspired to follow in their footsteps.
First up was Michael Li, M2's first seed, who was playing against Oxford's Matthew Cotton. The first game was a bitty affair with Michael still acclimatising to the Oxford hall. A lot of his characteristic steep smashes were straying wide of the line and Matthew's left handed forehand cross drops proved to be too hot to handle in the first game, with Michael losing it 21-16. A third set was not meant to be, and despite caressing two game points in his arms, ultimately the second set was lost 21-23.
Rumour has it that Tom Hadfield (Left) asked for Michael’s number after this rally.
Next up was Saket, our 4th seed for singles who was playing Atithya Maheshwari, brother of CUBaC development squad member Amartya. The first game was extremely close with Saket narrowly losing out 21-19, despite having a lead in the latter stages of the game :((. The second game masterfully won by Saket 21-17 with his deadly straight smashes piercing Ati's solid defence, setting up a nail-biting third end. Unfortunately Saket came up on the wrong side of the result in the third end (which was to be the theme of the 2 days) losing out 21-17.
“Bro, you know Jamal’s are charging us £15 for corkage fee tonight, what a rip-off jeez.”
Then we have Jonny playing Oxford's Hadfield, who was a veteran of the Varsity fixture. Jonny started slow in the first losing 21-7 but immediately bounced back in the second winning it 21-13. Highlights of the second game include deceptive TAXIS (!!!) as well as great pressure which forced Hadfield to make several unforced errors. Unfortunately, Jonny must have run out of steam in the 3rd losing it 21-9.
It was Pranav's turn to try and make an impact as captain by taking his singles match. It was to be no easy feat though as he was playing Oxford's Andrew Huang, a quality player with a big smash. Pranav looked to be extremely nervous in the first making several unforced errors and rather unsurprisingly losing 21-16. Fuelled by Finlay's advice Pranav went on to take the 2nd quite comfortably winning 21-17, but it was at the expense of Richards strings. As was the theme of the day the third game proved to be a difficult hurdle to overcome, with the change in tactics from Andrew to hold the net and wait for the lift bearing fruit and winning him the game 21-13.
That moment you realise you have to do a motivational speech at Varsity.
As it stood, M2 were now 0-4 in the singles and needed something big to change our fortunes. Up stepped Dicky P. Richard was to play Sam Wilson who had played in Oxford's M1 in the 2 prior varsity fixtures, and so on paper at least this was to be a tough contest. The reality on court was a very different story with Richard demolishing him 21-12, 21-15. The game was sublime with Richard playing at a completely different pace to Sam, running him ragged, so ragged in fact that he went to his college bop later that night to drink away his sorrows.
Phol was up next taking on Oxford's Leo Leung in what was to be another 3 set thriller. Phol took the first easily 21-7 but subsequently lost the second just to add to the drama. The third should have been an easy affair with Phol leading 20-15 towards the latter stages of the game. It should have been wrapped up when Leo hit a shot out, but for whatever reason Pranav (a CAMBRIDGE spectator) called it in when Phol was looking for confirmation. This set up what was to be a nail-biting finish with Phol squandering all his match points and even going down 20-21. Luckily it was all just for the excitement as Phol finished the game off 23-21.
We asked 100 surveyors to try spell Phol’s surname. After seeing the attempts, this was his angry response.
This concluded the singles and at the break. Cambridge were down 4-2.
The doubles started with Phol/Jonny taking on Oxford's Hadfield/Wilson. Hadfield and Wilson had both previously played in M1 while Phol/Jonny until about 20 mins before getting on the bus were to play in M3. Nevertheless, Phol and Jonny took them the distance losing in 3 21-13, 15-21, 19-21. Then Richard/Pranav took on Oxford's second pair of Cotton/Ati. Unfortunately the Cambridge pair just never got going losing out 21-17, 21-14. Finally, Michael/Saket played Andrew/Leo and again it was more of the same with lots of good rallies but unfortunately no end result, losing out 21-16,21-14.
As you can see, Pranav suffers from colour-blindness – a condition which confuses Cambridge Blue with a black adidas shirt.
The second round kicked off with Richard/Pranav taking on Andrew/Leo. The game started off well with the away pair winning 21-12, but following expert advice from a returning Andrew Sheet, the pair surprisingly went on to lose the second 21-16. Dominating the serve- return game and maintaining the attack, Richard/Pranav won the other last game 21-19. Saket and Michael then took on Ati/Matthew. Losing the first 21-17, Saket and Michael finally realised Matthew was left handed and played superbly in the 2nd with solid defensive rallies. They won the 2nd 21-19. However, after a poor start to the 3rd the game just ran away from them, losing 21-8. Jonny and Phol also lost their second round game 21-16 21-18 against Matthew/Ati. It was now time for the last round of doubles.
“Please, after you.” “No good Sir, after you.”
After 4 years of playing doubles together, this was to be Richard/Pranav's last doubles game together and so it made it an emotional game. Unfortunately it was to be a final loss for the pair who lost out to Hadfield/Wilson 21-11, 21-19. Saket and Michael also lost out to them in three though, winning the first 19 but losing the next two 21-14, 21-14. Finally, Jonny and Phol took on Leo/Andrew but also lost out 21-19, 21-14.
This concluded a difficult 12-3 loss for M2, with several close games just falling the wrong way. It was a tremendous effort given the difficulty of having to alter the teams last minute, and there were definitely positives to take to the off-season.
Score: Cam 3 - 12 Ox
Women's First Team
Players: Helen Yan, Linling Shen, Anchal Garg, Rosia Li, Sylvia Ma, Cherizza Choi
Written by Helen Yan and Sylvia Ma
Buoyed by the 5-4 lead and spirit given by the W2 team the day before, W1 arrived at Iffley Road Sports Centre with high hopes and expectations. Would a historic win over Oxford Women’s First Team be achieved for the first time in recent memory?
The day would begin with some early morning singles. Whilst both covered more ground than ever seen before in training, they could neither outrun nor out-manoeuvre their opponents, with trouble finding length on clears and the lines with their smashes. Despite their hard running, Sylvia and Cherizza both lost their singles in two sets. Fortunately, their losses would go on to fuel their desire for wins in their later doubles.
Goddamit Cherizza who’s alcohol have you stolen this time.
Next up were our freshers, Rosia and Anchal. Starting off shakily against a much more confident Oxford counterpart, the points were slipping away speedily. At the interval of the first set the score was 11-3 in favour of Oxford. After a stern word with herself: “Come on Anchal!”, she put on her bravest face and started playing like a beast. However, the deficit built up in the first half of the set was too large and the first set was lost. Anchal was not discouraged by this and channelled her energy to win the second set 21-16. The decider was a fierce battle with continuous attack from Anchal’s side countered with sharp drops from Oxford. The game could have gone either way but ended 22-20 to Oxford.
Meanwhile, on the neighbouring court, Rosia was also fighting the first-time Varsity nerves. The tall Samvida from Oxford displayed great reach and steep smashes which Rosia counteracted with her own powerful hits. However, the Oxford defence was like a fire-wall and Rosia’s usual smash winners could not help her take the game. Overall a respectable 21-15, 21-16 loss for Rosia.
Our CUBaC supporters are bound by their part-time modelling agency agreements to only pose out of working hours in extreme circumstances. Varsity is one of those extreme circumstances.
This took CUBaC W1 to a 0-4 deficit after four singles matches and a resurgence was needed. Hoping to repeat the fantastic form from when they each achieved historic Full Blues at the BUCS Individuals inter-university tournament, Helen and Linling went on for the final W1 singles. However, things started rather worryingly as Helen struggled with the slow shuttle speed in the arctic cold Oxford hall. Drop after drop went into the net and the first set was lost 21-9. After re-calibrating her muscle memory to just hit everything much harder, Helen was back in the game. These changes led to a win in the second set 21-18. The third set was a fight that required both physical ability and top-notch tactics as Oxford started changing up their attack. The points were going up evenly but towards the end Oxford was just able to find the line in more winners leading to a 21-17 loss for Cambridge.
The last hope to avoid a white-wash in our singles matches was on Linling’s shoulders. There should have never been any doubt that Linling would crumble under the pressure as she gave a singles masterclass! As she glided over the court with her perfect footwork, she effortlessly dispatched her opponent in two sets winning 21-11, 21-14. Her win took the running total to 5-1 to Oxford, with nine doubles matches for W1 left to play.
Despite Varsity being over, Sofie still makes a last ditched attempt to sneak into W1.
The next two rounds of women’s doubles were played with a point to prove. Fortunately, all three pairs managed to take at least one match each, with losses only to Oxford’s first pair. Things for Cambridge W1 were on the upturn.
In the first round of doubles, everyone (except Linling) was hungry to avenge their singles losses. The “doubles specialists” Sylvia and Cherizza were high on adrenaline and quickly dispatched the more highly ranked Oxford 2nd pair in straight sets. The victory was extra sweet as their opponents were their singles counterparts to which they had lost not too long ago. Anchal and Rosia were on the other hand not able to convert against the very strong Oxford 1st pair. On the far end court, things started shakily as Linling and Helen dropped a set against Oxford’s 3rd pair but some new tactics led to confident wins in both 2nd and 3rd set. The confidence level was overall very high going into the second round of doubles.
Caught in the act - a look of guilt spreads across Helen’s face as her physical contact privileges with Linling was not common knowledge at the time.
Again, the Oxford 1st pair proved too strong for Cambridge, as Sylvia and Cherizza went down 21-8, 21-11. However, Anchal’s fast drops and net play combined with Rosia’s thunder smashes earned them a well-deserved 21-15 21-14 win against the Oxford 3rd pair. Linling was continuing her winning streak as the Oxford 2nd pair had no answer to Linling and Helen’s efficient attack and cement-wall like defence.
Some quick calculations from the Women’s Captain Sylvia showed that despite W1 being 5-7 down, Cambridge could still pip the W1 category if they won the final three women’s doubles matches. Given that the final matches were between matching seeds, all was very much still to play for! Third doubles pair Sylvia and Cherizza were hoping that if they could beat Oxford's second pair convincingly, then the Oxford third pair would be no problem. Of course, things were never going to be that simple. The first end was won by Oxford 10-21. Fortunately, ‘coach’ Linling and Helen were on hand to implement a game plan during the interval. The next two ends saw Sylvia and Cherizza play a much flatter, faster game with Sylvia smashing from the back and Cherizza dominating the net. The match was won in three ends, with the final end being 21-6 to Cambridge!
“Lemme pretend to tie my shoe laces for a sec so the live stream can see how strategic we are.” “Sylv we’re losing 8-14.” “Shush.”
On the adjacent court, Anchal and Rosia were playing the Oxford 2nd pair. Supporters on this court were being extra noisy as they were told to “be louder” by Anchal with a hand to her ear. Some might say the noise from the supporters was unnecessary as Rosia herself would generate ear-splitting roars with every smash she hit! Sadly, the Oxford defence proved to be more solid and Cambridge 2nds lost against Oxford 2nds in two.
Anchal putting in a performance of a lifetime in hopes of finally earning a colab opportunity with Rosia’s youtube channel.
Whilst the W1 category was unfortunately lost, Helen and Linling were still playing to add to the whole tally of CUBaC and importantly, for their pride. The play was very even throughout the first set and could have gone either way, with an unlucky loss for Cambridge 23-21. Oxford then increased their tactical play which proved to be just slightly too good for Cambridge as the second set was lost 21-15. On a brighter note, Linling ended with a strong 75% win percentage, which has not been seen in Cambridge W1 for many years.
With all matches played, the final score for W1 was a very respectable 9-6 win for Oxford. (Although a loss, this is a significant improvement from last Varsity’s 13-2!) The Women’s Captains Sylvia and Helen would like to thank their team for all the commitment and dedication during training which allowed this Varsity to be so closely fought! Congratulations to Oxford on their win - it was well earned!
Score: Cam 6- 9 Ox
Men's First Team
Players: Finlay Smith, James Xu, Simon St-Amant, Zack Schofield, Tom Wade, George Moran.
Written by James Xu
The Saturday morning glow of being 13-11 up overall after Day 1 carried the M1 team in high hopes. Jostling about and keeping warm, eager to step on court by representing the very top of Oxbridge badminton, was new M1 recruit George Moran. Our beloved president had previously given a haughty “should be interesting” to the press conference regarding his singles match-up against Oxford doubles specialist Ian Ho. Perhaps it may be said that the pundits had the odds against George, but little did they know of the “Huzzah!” within him.
He’s a different breed – George looking to utilise his wine-tasting skills to gain an edge over his Oxford opponents. He may have been referring to Varsity dinner.
George kicked things off for M1 that day with a demonstration of his unorthodox singles style. To Ian’s surprise, his Cambridge opponent was matching him blow for blow in the drive game, and even outreached him with that aeroplane of a wingspan. A storming 21-18 win for the George in the first set activated an enraged Ian, who then went onto outmanoeuvre George 17-21 in the second. A third set finale treated the neutrals with lift defence off the smash like it was Men’s doubles training, with ultimately a string of consecutive points taking tabs through the finishing line 21-13!
Tom on the other hand was walking his dog on the side court. It must have been a rainy morning, because his opponent Allen Lee refused to come out of Tom’s back pocket. After a 21-8, 21-7 win, CUBaC couldn’t help by feel a little guilty after witnessing daylight massacre. Our hearts are with you and your family Allen.
"You beat him to single digits in both sets? LMAO.”
That I’m afraid was as far as the tabs’ luck went in the singles matches. Zack, with his first formal Varsity, capped his first game off by giving his opponent (and Oxford’s president) Lucien his first Varsity win – a rather gentleman-like gesture there Zack, perhaps a little too nice! Simon, who ambitiously allowed a self-handicap being 0-11 down in the third and deciding set against Robert, could (only) fight back 16 points and lose graciously 23-21, 14-21, 16-21. James, who had a frustrating 19-21 loss in the first set, couldn’t stop his knees from shaking (literally) in the second and crumbled to a 14-21 second set defeat against Andrew. Finlay, a mere fresher at the top of his game, felt the nerves going against Oxford no.1 James Lin, and was unfortunately outplayed in a 15-21, 14-21 battle of consistency.
The score was left 2-4 in favour of the dark blues after the singles, with Cambridge picking up wins at no.5 and 6. The Oxford elites proved to be too strong at the top end, whilst worryingly their doubles dominance had yet to do the talking.
There may have been talks from the Cambridge camp to disable James’ opponent to one knee to level the playing field. But those plans were foiled when Andrew bribed everybody with pizza the night before.
Ian got his revenge with his doubles partner James Lin, beating all three Cambridge pairs in comfortable two set matches (here at CUBaC we don’t talk about single digit losses). Their practice at national circuit tournaments had paid off I guess, a great showing of the keen-bean attitude of OUBaC (#salty). The same could be said for Andrew and Allen, who charged up their smashes like double A batteries (yes that was a pun on their names thank you). The resistance from Cambridge was yet again too low, producing a current too big for James/Tom, Finlay/Simon, George/Zack to swallow with straight set concessions (spot the Ohm’s law).
Don’t worry Finlay and Simon, you can only debut a win-less Varsity once in a lifetime.
The lottery prize objective bounty fell on Lucien and Robert’s head, begging the question of which of our light blues could record a win against Oxford’s no. 3 pair in the doubles. James and Tom were first on the ropes - and off to a great start they were – bagging a 11-4 lead at the first interval. Somehow, as all bottle-jobs rely, the points gap closed steadily and a choke of 19-21 dropped the heads of Cambridge crowd. A 22-20 win in the second raised hopes after being 4 match points down, but an anti-climatic 13-21 loss in the third sealed James’ fate of a win-less Varsity.
Finlay and Simon fought valiantly also, but couldn’t quite edge things over the fence on both occasions, losing 19-21, 18-21. “It’s okay guys, take out your stresses at dinner tonight,” consoled fellow teammates. Finlay followed this advice a little too strictly...
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Certainly there wasn’t a lot of words coming out of Finlay’s mouth that evening.
The lore of the land fell upon Zack and George’s shoulders in search for a light-blue doubles win. Having never played with each other before this day, our resident M1 scratch pairing underwent what could only be described as a tale of friendship, bonding and character building, as they conquered their way into a 23-21 win in the first set of their last Varsity game together. George’s slick drives and Zack’s finesse at the net not only handed Zack his first taste of Varsity victory, but most importantly shut their opponent’s out to a 21-18 win in the second. A trip to dinner with some promiscuous-looking shades for Zack was avoided, and the ‘MVP’ status for George was secured.
Zack has discovered for the first time a question that all will eventually come across: Am I in love with George Moran?
An overall 3-12 loss for Cambridge nevertheless concluded a disappointing result, as players slowly made their way to Jamal’s for Varsity dinner. A day to forget for M1, but a night to remember ;)
Score: Cam 3 - 12 Ox
A 27-48 loss to Oxford marks a receding of progress from the 32-43 loss two years ago. However, a mighty improvement from the Women’s squad to put in a 14-16 performance contrasting to 5-25! We look to build from this defeat, and come back thirsty for more next year...
To end on a positive note, we have the point of the tournament coming from our W2 pair Sofie and Annie in an epic rally!
Thanks for reading! See you next time!