The Men’s Varsity Squad was (*denotes Blue):
Constantine Markides* (Wolfson) [Captain]
Tim Prossor* (Girton) [Secretary]
Sam Ashcroft* (Magdalene)
Neil Cordon* (Churchill)
Jamie Muirhead* (Fitzwilliam)
Sam Kemp* (St Edmund’s)
Gerald Wu* (Selwyn)
Alistair Kwan (Churchill)
By Tim Prossor
The 124th annual Varsity tennis match held at the National Tennis Centre, Roehampton, saw a spirited Cambridge team beat Oxford by 12 matches to 9, retaining the Doherty Cup for an 9th consecutive year.
The Lawn Tennis Varsity match took place in the midst of the grass court season at the National Tennis Centre in the first week of July, with the Wimbledon Championships themselves not too far away. After having an intense few weeks of training the Men’s Blues felt sharp and ready for the challenge ahead. The Blues were lacking the height advantage that had been evident in their eighth consecutive Varsity win in 2013, however there was no change in their presence on court as the desire for another victory was clear from the beginning.
The first round of singles proved to be a critical start in the outcome of the match; Constantine Markides (Wolfson), Sam Ashcroft (Magdalene), Neil Cordon (Churchill) and Jamie Muirhead (Fitzwilliam) all claimed an opening victory to put Cambridge 4-2 ahead whilst playing some excellent tennis. Markides managed to come back from a significant deficit in the third set whilst suffering from cramp, to win against the Oxford number 1 and notably with the help of the team Doctor Rob Legg (Downing). Tim Prossor (Girton) narrowly lost after having match points whilst Sam Kemp (St. Edmund’s) put up a fantastic fight losing in the third set in one of the longest matches of the few days. Cambridge were not going to give rubbers up easily, this fighting spirit boosted the team to an 8-4 lead after the singles with further victories from Markides, Ashcroft, Cordon and Muirhead.
The beginning of the doubles saw three very closely contested matches. First pair Ashcroft and Prossor, who had shown strong form going into the Varsity match, managed to use their big serving and clinical volleying to win in three sets. Whilst second pair Cordon and Markides managed to control a huge momentum shift after losing the second set but remained calm under pressure and pulled through a vital match against the Oxford second pair, 6-4 1-6 11-9. Third pair Muirhead and Wu lost a very tight match to the Oxford first pair, coming off second best in two closely fought tiebreaks not without playing some fantastic tennis.
Heading into the next round with a promising lead of 10-5 and needing only one more match to win. The Cambridge doubles pairings knew all too well that it was crucial to secure one of these three; if Oxford were to take all three they would carry the momentum into the last round. Cordon and Markides lost to a strong Oxford first pair, whilst Muirhead and Wu also lost in straight sets. Ashcroft and Prossor had been cruising in their match taking an early 6-2 first set lead. With the results in the neighbouring matches the pair began to waver after an early break. Ashcroft showed his Varsity experience and mental toughness to serve the match out. The pair had secured the vital 11th rubber and the ninth consecutive Lawn Tennis Varsity victory.
In the final round the relief and tiredness, both physically and mentally, had crept in. The medic first pair were unable to win their final doubles in spite of having a strong 5-2 lead in the first set. Alastair Kwan had a brilliant match after being subbed in place of the captain Markides, partnering Cordon to victory. Muirhead and Wu lost in straight sets. The Cambridge Blues had fought hard to defend the Doherty Cup for the ninth year running, it was this team spirit which emanated from the sidelines and the desire to scrap until the last point had finished that had made the Light Blues victorious in London.