Men's 1sts: Neel Doshi, Marcus Liang, Jonny Scott, Ben Roberts, Morten Sode, Ritish Desai
Women’s 1sts: Katie Clark, Catherine Yong, Felicity Coan, Prachi Vaid, Ellie Marsh, Katherine Mu
After a disappointing first outing to the ever-competitive Loughborough and now with a full week’s training behind them, CUBaC men’s and women’s teams were fired up for the first home match of the year against UEA.
The men’s match kicked off with singles players Doshi and Liang on court, the latter for his first competitive game in a long 8 years after playing for Singapore in his younger days – would he still have what it takes? Doshi’s opponent was formidable, quickly getting into his stride, moving quickly around the court to reach anything thrown at him, and all too often unleashing his fearsome smash, shocking Doshi into a defeat in two games. On the neighbouring court Liang was in a tough duel after a slightly rusty-looking start. The fiery hair of his opponent was more than matched by the fire in Liang’s heart, with shouting and fist-pumps aplenty coming from the Cambridge side towards the end of the crucial third set, with Liang coming out victorious 21-19 – our first match win of the season, surely with plenty more to come.
Newcomer Sode and Desai launched into the first doubles match of the day, playing well in a long 3-setter, but narrowly lost out in the final set after their opponents pulled some great shots out of the bag in the closing stages. New pairing (we’re talking mere hours, not weeks or months) Scott and Roberts put in a good showing but were unfortunately taken down in straight sets by UEA’s second doubles pair, leaving the overall score at 3-1 to UEA. Doshi and Liang both fared much better in their second games, with their opponents switched. Doshi eased to a straight-set’s victory against his opponent, who was clearly tired after attempting to overcome Liang who himself was looking as fresh as ever and was poised to clinch the first set in his hotly-contested match. However, it evaded him, and he went on to suffer a straight-sets defeat.
Sode and Desai, undoubtedly getting stronger match by match, outplayed their opponents in a thrilling 3-setter, keeping the hopes of a draw alive. It came down to Scott and Roberts, intrigued at the change of ends about how their teammates had faired, to make it happen. After taking the first set, it was going to be difficult to come back from a 21-14 loss in the second, and despite Robert’s increasingly cheeky defensive shots catching the UEA pairing off-guard it wasn’t to be – UEA took the match 5-3 overall.
The women’s side started positively, with Marsh and Mu debuting their first singles matches for Cambridge. Marsh’s strong smashes to the sides and Mu’s delicate drops had both UEA players stumped. However they both quickly caught on to the Cambridge ladies, then downing both players in straight sets.
The ladies remained positive - a draw was still on the cards! Yong and Clark kicked off the doubles in style, winning their first game. Unfortunately, UEA had had enough of messing around and turned around the match to claim it as their own. The next match for Yong and Clark was a song of ups and downs, with CUBaC coach Daniel Bates coming in at the halfway point to encourage more net play. This nearly worked and the rubber was close, but not close enough as UEA closed yet another game. New CUBaC members Vaid and Coan played as the second doubles pair and were also defeated to a very tough and worthy set of opponents.
It may not have quite been the result we were looking for but a definite improvement on the 8-0 loss last week for the men's. It was a particularly disappointing day for the women’s team as many of the losses were tight games, however the score still remained 8-0 to UEA.
However CUBaC are looking to the future! If this trajectory is continued, a win against Birmingham 2nds is on the cards next Wednesday for the men’s team. As for the ladies… next week it's away to the badminton utopia of Nottingham University!