|July 1, 2011|
|University of Cambridge Women’s 1st||16||Win|
|Oxford University Women’s 1st||5||Loss|
The Women’s Varsity Squad was (*denotes Blue):
Laura Morrill (New Hall)* [Captain]
Emma Kudzin (Newnham)* [Secretary]
Kadi Liis Saar (Trinity)*
Georgia Archer-Clowes (Churchill)*
Sophie Walker (Peterhouse)*
Corina Balaban (Homerton)*
Elizabeth Gorton (New Hall)
Georgie Kilbourn (Trinity Hall)
Light Blue Domination Continues
By Emma Kudzin
Any light blue supporters who found themselves at the National Tennis Centre in late June were certainly not disappointed by the women’s performance. Stellar performances from every player resulted in a 16-5 light blue victory, an impressive result following last year’s 18-3 demolition.
Day 1 dawned bright and humid and proved to be a scorcher. On the tennis court, that is. Fresher Georgia Archer-Clowes (Churchill), playing at #4, put up a valiant effort against the opposition, fighting to the bitter end as she whacked out her un-playable forehand winners, but ultimately losing 6-7 6-7. Corina Balaban (Homerton), playing at #6, brought 2 years’ of victorious Varsity experience to the court and commendably took her nemesis to 3 tough-fought sets, 6-4 2-6 6-1. So far Oxford was 2-0 up. However, the momentum shifted back towards the light blue following the third match. Cambridge’s #2 and Secretary, Emma Kudzin (Newnham), stuck it out in a gritty, three-hour long ordeal to conquer Oxford’s #1, 6-7 7-5 6-1, after being just two points away from defeat. The light blue rampage had begun.
The second round began with characteristic Cantabrigian confidence. Captain Laura Morrill (Murray Edwards) proved exactly why she was #1 and why the sight of her Wilson racket struck terror into the hearts of even the boldest player. She demolished Oxford’s #2, 6-1 6-1,in a match that lasted, at most, an hour. Kadi Saar, Cambridge’s new Estonian recruit playing at #3, followed suit and finished off Oxford’s #4 with little effort, winning in a double bagel, 6-0 6-0. Sophie Walker (Peterhouse), the third fresher and playing at #5, brought the day’s play to a successful end as she whizzed around the court to win 6-1 6-1. Cambridge led 4-2 on a day that should have ended 3-3.
Day 2 was slightly more temperamental and nail-biting. Cambridge awoke refreshed, regenerated and rearing to go. They wanted to nail victory by the end of the day, just like last year. The weather, however, had other ideas. Morrill started in the same manner as she had the previous day- total and utter annihilation of Oxford’s #1, 6-0 6-1. Similarly, Saar calmly strolled through her match (6-4 6-0), in spectacular fashion. However, the weather chose to intervene at this point. Walker was mid-match and Kudzin was just getting her teeth into her match when the sun hid its face and an ominous gloom overshadowed the grass courts. To make matters worse, it soon began to thunder heavily and lightning appeared. In a dramatic move, the referee, Bob Jenkins, quickly pulled all the players off the courts in fear for their safety, and play was resumed indoors. Walker showed plucky determination to battle through a tough final set and win 2-6 7-6 6-2. Kudzin dropped a tight first set but, true to form, refused to give in and grimly persevered to win another three-setter, 4-6 6-3 6-2. As one shrewd observe put it, “That girl hates to lose.” Balaban completed the indoor hat-trick by demolishing her opposition 6-0 6-3 with aplomb, elegance and style. Archer-Clowes was the only unlucky player to lose her second singles but nevertheless showed true Cambridge spirit to keep fighting till the bitter end, losing 3-6 2-6. At this point, the score was 9-3 to Cambridge. The women were just two matches away from winning Varsity in a mere two days. However, they were to be denied this honour. The adverse weather meant there was not enough time to play the first round of doubles on day 2. All three doubles would be played on the final day.
To say that Cambridge were chomping at the bit on the morning of day 3 would be no exaggeration. The #1 Captain- Secretary pairing, Morrill and Kudzin, won the first match of the day. Their strong partnership, virtually undefeated all year, destroyed Oxford’s #3 pair in under an hour, 6-0 6-1. However, the other Cambridge pairs were not to be outdone-#2 pairing Saar and Archer-Clowes played spectacularly to defeat Oxford’s #1 pair 6-7 6-1 6-2. Walker and Balaban, the charismatic #3 pair, too brought home victory due to Balaban’s outstanding net-play and Walker’s unerring aim. Victory! 12-3. The Cambridge team took a few minutes’ respite to celebrate gleefully their third Varsity win in a row. Then it was back to business. The 18-3 record was still in sight. Morrill and Kudzin comfortably won their remaining two doubles matches- a fitting end to a very successful partnership. Both won all their five matches this year, an impressive feat. Walker and Balaban graciously agreed to give our reserves the opportunity to play and so Georgie Kilbourn (Trinity Hall) and Lizzie Gorton (Murray Edwards) stepped in to win two spectacular victories for the team. Unfortunately, Saar and Archer-Clowes lost their final two matches. But no matter. Victory was achieved. The final score 16-5. A wonderful ending to a very successful year and a laurel well-deserved by a young, relatively inexperienced team that improved tremendously over the course of the year and played their light blue socks off.
All that remained was to kiss the trophy, to celebrate (courtesy of Pol Roger) and to exult in our victory. What a feeling.