|June 25, 2017|
|University of Cambridge Men’s 2nd||18||Win|
|Oxford University Men’s 2nd||3||Loss|
Last year, Cambridge men’s teams had their most successful Varsity ever! Here is a recap of all the teams’ performances:
The 2017 Men’s 2s Varsity was held on the beautiful Cambridge Fenners grass. The Cambridge side had been eagerly waiting for this all-important day – buoyed by their BUCS league promotion earlier in the year, they would try to capitalize upon this home advantage.
Backed by a large travelling group of fans, the Cambridge 2s got off to a strong start with Mardinian and Song claiming early victories. Sonthalia, in typical fashion ground out a 3 set win over an unorthodox Oxford player. This strong start was key, and set the tone for the rest of the fixture. Then came the second round of singles. Sharma was as clinical as always, dismantling the Oxford captain in a ‘focused’ display. Then, fresher Bradinoff stepped on court. He was pumped like no one had ever seen before, playing strong serve-volley tennis, and was actually running quicker in between points than during. His opponent could not find any rhythm, and Bradinoff speedily ran away with the win. Kreft faced a strong Oxford opponent who was serving well that weekend, and unfortunately lost a close match.
Then came the doubles’ rounds, which the Cambridge Grasshoppers had been rigorously working on in the past few weeks. The hard work, and tactical preparation had clearly paid off with pairs Mardinian and Kreft, as well as Song and Pilger displaying some very impressive doubles, both claiming 2/2 wins. Newly paired Sharma and Darby got off to a close start, unfortunately losing their first match in 3 tight sets against Oxford’s strongest pair. Following this disappointing result, they quickly found their footing in their next match and powered through the Oxford pair, with calculated serves and clinical volleys. Cambridge finished day one of varsity 10-2 up, just needing to take one more rubber to claim the Doherty Cup.
The team was eager not to become complacent, and wanted to take this opportunity to send a real statement to Oxford. Eager to claim the Varsity winning rubber, Mardinian quickly dispatched his opponent in a speedy, and convincing display. The joy of winning varsity was too much to contain as the spectating members of the team ran on court to congratulate Aleks. All of the months, and weeks, and days of grueling training had more than paid off. But the team were not done there, and looked to stick to the game plan. Captain Song led by example, putting in a determined and focused performance to claim his singles match. Sonthalia, on court 3, was up against Oxford’s captain-elect. Despite putting on an impressively gritty performance and playing some great tennis, he unfortunately lost in a tight third set. Cambridge then finished as strong as they started, claiming all of the six final rubbers in a determined fashion.
Cambridge won the varsity match by a massive 18-3. The quality and depth of the Cambridge side was clear; built through a year’s worth of commitment train hard and continuously improve. Following a hugely successful year in which the Grasshoppers gained both promotion in their BUCS league and secured a convincing varsity win, they will now look to improve their games further and solidify their position in the Midlands 1A division.
On two beautiful days in June, the Cambridge Men’s Third team clashed with their Oxford rivals at the Queens’ and Robinson Sports Ground. Everyone had worked hard throughout the year, and a veteran team entered into the fray. Coming in at no. 1 was Francis Hunt, unfortunately injured for the weekend of tennis, though still putting up a valiant fight against some tough opposition, just losing out in his two singles matches. Fresher Sol Knipe was in at 2, and despite losing his first match against the Oxford no. 1, came through on the second day against the Oxford no. 2 in three sets. Sam Thomas was playing at no. 3, winning his first match with relative ease but just losing his second match. Captain Dan Bulman lost out to the Oxford captain in three sets, but won his second match, also in three sets. It was decided that, to give players playing five matches a bit of respite, the 5th and 6th positions should be alternated on the Cambridge side. Will and Dave played one match each at 5, winning 6-4 6-3 and 6-1 6-1 respectively. At 6, we had Joe Powell and Cam Millar winning their matches 6-1 7-5 and 6-3 6-2 respectively. Unbeknownst to the captain, who was under the impression that the squad was more singles-oriented, the team performed exceptionally well at doubles, winning 8 out of 9 matches. Francis and Dave, Cam and Joe and Sol and Will played some sublime tennis to decimate the pairs from the other place. Perhaps as a gesture symbolic of the handing on of the baton, captain Dan Bulman broke his vow of singles-celibacy and teamed up with Dave Thorp, the new captain, to defeat the last Oxford pair. A great victory for all that took part.
The M4 team had a very successful Varsity weekend this year. Having comprehensively lost a friendly match to Oxford’s M4 only a month before the Varsity match, the team was very keen to reverse the result and give a better account of themselves. For 5 of the 6 players in the Cambridge team, it was also their first Varsity match.
The singles matches were played on Saturday. After what was a very long and tiring day for everyone involved, at the close of play Cambridge were 8-4 up and so were feeling pretty confident going into the doubles matches on Sunday. With only 3 matches needed to be won to win the overall match it became a race to deliver the winning rubber. Cambridge won the doubles matches 7-2, meaning the overall result was a comfortable 15-6 victory for us. Pride was restored, and the Cambridge M4 team remains undefeated in the two years their Varsity match has been played.
This result was particularly pleasing after the hard work that was put in by everyone in training throughout the year, and M4 looks forward to winning by an even greater margin next year.
The team consisted of Kartik Iyer (captain), Dan Blower, Roddy Freeman, Satyajit Das, Dan Davies, and Harry Knill-Jones.
In contrast to other teams, M5 played their doubles matches on Saturday. The Cambridge team dominated their opponents for much of the day, but a few blips in their play allowed Oxford to reduce Cambridge’s lead to 6-3. With a St John’s College groundskeeper threatening to fine the club and wind the nets down, M5 were forced to change surface from grass to hard courts for their Sunday matches. Cambridge, aided by an ex-M3 player in their ranks, won six straight matches to seal a victory by mid-afternoon, and the focus of the match changed to delivering as impressive a result as possible. Despite having a tiring side, Cambridge won 4 of the remaining 6 matches to take a comprehensive 16-5 win. With several of M5’s players not being in a regular squad this season, such a dominant victory was notably satisfying and bodes well for future years.
The Cambridge M5 team was composed of Miles Kekwick (captain), Kerem Ergene, Srimukessh Subramanian, Reece Patel, Elvin Ah, Nick Reyner (Saturday) and Iñigo Martincorena (Sunday).