Another Wednesday another away day and this time we were off to play the Leicester 1st team; the team consisted of Neel Doshi and Tom Wade playing singles, with Ben Roberts partnering Zac Soh and Andrew Sheat with Rory Xiao for the doubles. A very enjoyable road trip for 5 of us was contrasted with Zac on the train - nursing a wine-tasting hangover- and spending half an hour looking lost, wondering around Leicester University campus. Eventually we all arrived at the basement sports hall, with the ceiling so low Andrew was at serious risk of head injury.
Tom was on for the first singles and was greeted by what can only be called a hostile set of home fans, however a dominant start to the match left all of
the fans stupefied – that is, apart from one of them who was adamant that Tom’s opponent was losing early on ‘to get in his head’. This however was an optimistic view as Tom let his badminton do the talking and easily dispatched of his opponent in straight sets. Unfortunately, due to very strong opponents and some severe harassment by the spectators, Andrew and Rory fell just short losing the second end 22-20, just as the Cambridge team were finding their voices - rest assured that for the rest of the match the usual shouts of ‘Huge shot’ and ‘teach me’ could be heard ringing around the hall.
Neel then went on against their first singles player, having won the first battle by swapping out his usual pair of swim shorts for a sportier alternative, but sadly a combination of mistakes and a strong opponent saw him lose in two with a very fiery second set from both players. However, Ben and Zac levelled the scoreboard with a straightforward win against Leicester’s second doubles pair making the overall score 2-2.
Zac & Ben and Andrew & Rory then all went on for their second matches resulting in a significant quietening of the Leicester fans due to confident starts. In similar fashion to Tom in his first game, Neel easily won his second singles in straight sets playing some great badminton. Andrew and Rory followed suit and, despite a slight wobble at the end, really asserted their dominance on a doubles court beating Leicester’s second pair within two ends. As a result, if Zac and Ben beat the opponent’s strongest doubles pair it would secure a deserved win for Cambridge. They struggled slightly more in the second end, after winning the first, but a great performance from Zac saw them come through in straight sets against tough opponents; funnily enough by this stage any vocalisation from the hosts had been extinguished due to three back to back displays of supreme control from the visitors.
The final game, Tom against their first singles player, was therefore for the 6-2 win. After unfortunately losing the first end, a shattered Tom found a second wind and, in a gargantuan effort, took his match in three sets winning 21-18 in the third; this secured an emphatic first league win of the season and earnt him a well-deserved man of the match award.
However, if the badminton was good, it was nothing compared to the post-match meal; being in Leicester we were only ten minutes away from Neel’s parents house so, sending Zac off to get the train back, we went to Neel’s and were greeted by an absolute feast of Indian cuisine. While bonding with Neel’s parents over a bit of light-hearted slating of their son’s medical career, we ate; we certainly wouldn’t have a meal that good for a while- well Andrew might. Afterwards, with everyone having enjoyed at least thirds, or in some cases fifths, of dinner and some amazing hospitality we set off back to Cambridge having opened CUBaC Men’s account for the season and, I’m sure the team would agree more importantly, had an unreal team meal.