The 2/3/4/5/6s Varsity Matches

The 2/3/4/5/6s Varsity Matches

YearM2W2M3W3M4W4M5M6
20218-139-120-1211-212-99-1214-513-8

M2- Grasshoppers

Captain: Krishna Amin (St. Catherine’s)
  • S1 Louis Shaw
  • S2 Dan Bacon
  • S3 Victor Baycroft
  • S4 Krishna Amin (Captain)  
  • S5 Reece Patel
  • S6 Pravin Steele
  • D1 Louis Shaw and Dan Bacon
  • D2 Victor Baycroft and Pravin Steele
  • D3 Joe Wherry and Cameron ‘Cam’ Burnett

After comically being told to warm up on clay, with our Oxford counterparts at a ‘prior engagement’ while we turned our shoes orange, the M2 squad arrived at the grass in University Parks in good spirits and eager to make the most of the upcoming weekend. After a brief warm-up to acclimatise to low nets and a knobbly meadow of a grass court, Cambridge’s 1st, 3rd and 5th singles seeds opened proceedings. Victor Baycroft faced a challenging leftie, with an admittedly adequate grass-court game. Such was the slice on the Oxford man’s serve that the home side drew first blood: 1-6 2-6. Reece Patel showed impressive focus – once he identified that he needed only to be more consistent than his opponent, he dispatched Oxford’s 6th seed 7-5 6-1. Louis Shaw faced a hard-hitting foe, but our man’s beautiful returning and effective counter-punching saw off the challenge 6-4 7-5. After the first round of matches, Cambridge was up 2-1.  

As Louis and Reece wrapped up their matches – basically at the same time – Krishna Amin was already underway against Oxford’s 3rd seed. Theirs was a tightly fought contest, with solid ball-striking on both sides of the net underpinning some very decent tennis. Meanwhile, Dan Bacon faced Oxford’s gritty 1st seed, falling 2-6 1-6. Pravin Steele was bested 3-6 5-7, having been handed the arduous task of playing Oxford’s 5th seed, one who left much of the pace generation to his opponent. As Dan and Pravin joined the spectators, Krishna was still going, having lost the first set 4-6. Breaks of serve were traded back and forth, pushing the second set to a tiebreak. It was not to be, however – the tiring Oxford man constructed a strong tiebreak (credit where credit’s due) and avoided a third set, taking the rubber 4-6 6-7(2). Krishna later said that the match hung on ‘four smashes and a volley’ – all of which he missed.  

The opening game for fresh-faced Joe Wherry and Cameron Burnett could have been an easier one, against Oxford’s 1st pair, but the two jumped on the opportunity, taking the first set to warm up and then producing a strong show of doubles, pushing the opponents far, but not quite far enough: 2-6 4-6. Victor and Pravin fought a tight struggle against an adept Oxford 3rd pair, with the Oxford side clinching the important points to win out 3-6 3-6. The power couple of Louis and Dan took the first set to scout out their opponents – the Oxford 2nd pair – and lull them into a false sense of security by losing the first set 3-6. After plenty of Cambridge shanks, the pair turned the tables with big serving from Dan and big returning from Louis, hitting back with an emphatic 6-2 and a comfortable 6-4: 3-6 6-2 6-4.  

Joe and Cam continued their form into the final round of doubles, but Cam’s strong serving and Joe’s decisive volleying were just edged by Oxford’s 2nd pair in a match that really could have gone either way – 6-7(5) 4-6. Victor and Pravin had another tough session at the office, capitulating 3-6 3-6 once more, this time to the Oxford 1st pair. Once again, however, Louis and Dan gave the crowds yet another blockbuster – Dan’s tweener lob winner was surely the shot of the weekend. Having lost the first set 3-6, the Cambridge pair switched on, saving match points in the tiebreak to clinch a nail-biting second set 7-6(8), showing incredible mental fortitude and tactical clarity, no doubt buoyed by the lively Cambridge support – Louis’ set-winning forehand return earned the loudest crowd roar he’s known. Oxford then went up 2-5 in the third and all looked lost, but as the sky turned red, our men raged against the dying of the light with an incredible comeback, pulling the set level at 6-6. The match continued without a tiebreak, but the killing blow was almost immediate, with Cambridge taking the rubber 3-6 7-6(8) 8-6. It was fortunate Louis and Dan finished the match when they did, for we may have had to source some bicycle lights had it continued any further. I think both sides would agree that the match had been a thrilling end to a great day of tennis, with ended with Oxford up 4-8.  

The good weather of Saturday vanished on Sunday. With the grass too slippery for proper play, and the forecast looking less than great, the match relocated to the Magdalene College all-weather courts, a curious surface that was novel to most of us. In stark contrast to grass, these courts were slow, grippy and loved a topspin ball. The change of conditions did not deter Cambridge (in fact some of us may have enjoyed the switch) as Dan and Pravin opened play against the Oxford 2nd and 6th seeds respectively (there were only two usable courts). Dan, nursing a flaring pre-Varsity injury, put in a valiant display to push the first set to a tiebreak, but ultimately lost 6-7(3) 0-6. Pravin, arguably on his home surface, showed great patience and resilience to best his opponent 7-5 6-4. Krishna came on next against the Oxford 4th seed, dismantling his opponent with strong shot-making to take perhaps the most convincing Cambridge win of the weekend – 6-2 6-2. Reece completed a hattrick of wins for Cambridge – strong cross-court forehands were enough to win our man the rubber 6-3 6-3 in a perfect demonstration of determination and focus, worthy of any playbook.  

Louis and Victor rounded off the weekend’s singles matches with the overall score at 7-9. Victor tussled against the Oxford 3rd seed, who could not seem to put a foot wrong: 2-6 0-6. Louis had yet another marathon match, this time against the Oxford 1st seed, whom he had realised ‘was superior to him in everything except height and university’. After a dominant first 6-2 first set, the Oxford man fought back to take the second set 4-6, as the Cambridge side once again struggled to deal with receiving a lack of pace. Due to the scarcity of courts and time, a match tiebreak to 10 was played, and Louis played some more beautiful tennis to give himself match points at 9-7. At 9-8, our man left an Oxford forehand that we all thought was sailing out, only for it to drop inside the baseline. A further two points meant that Oxford sealed the rubber 6-2 4-6 9-11, and thus won Varsity.  

Having wrapped up the fixture, the Oxford side amusingly suggested that the final round of doubles be ‘a casual set’. This was enthusiastically refused, so with all three courts in operation, the last three matches got underway. Louis and Dan faced the Oxford 1st pair, who, presumably having been relieved of pressure now that the result was decided, played really quite well, taking the rubber 1-6 1-6 while tagging Louis in the temple in the final game. The great team of Joe and Cam, having once again taken the first set to warm up, put up another great fight, with their trademark big serving and surgical volleying, but regrettably, it was enough to force a match tiebreak, with the Oxford 3rd pair winning 2-6 6-7(4). Victor and Pravin put on a convincing performance to take their fixture 6-3 3-6 10-5, giving an overall score of 8-13. 

Many thanks to the whole team for great tennis and great company throughout the weekend, to Oxford for hosting, to the Executive Committee for making it happen, and to all the friends, family and one past captain who came to support.  

Krishna Amin, with contributions from Louis Shaw 

Click here for Louis Shaw’s incredibly written match reports. You will not be disappointed.

W2- Ladybirds

Captain: Elys Healy (Girton)

The weekend started with strong singles performances all round, with many matches going to three sets and the score standing at 3-3 we knew we had met our match. The doubles was just at tight, with some last minute pair changes for us after losing a player to COVID. Unfortunately, more matches went Oxford’s way than they did ours. On the second day, with the scoring standing 7-5 to Oxford and having lost another player to the dreaded track and trace, we moved to the hard courts at the gorgeous Worcester College. Despite some excellent singles rounds and a win in the doubles, taking us to 10-9 Oxford, their last two doubles pairs proved too strong and they took the win 12-9. It was an excellent display of tennis all round, after a year of disrupted trainings and few match opportunities, and I hope all players on both sides are proud of the tennis they produced. I am so proud of Cambridge’s team spirit, having only played together for 3 months of the academic year, and look forward to taking back the trophy next year!

M3

Captain: Josh Dranesas (Homerton)

On a sunny Saturday, Oxford M3 took the best of Cambridge M3 with a harsh 12/0. Far from the one-sided victory assumed by the scoreboard, Cambridge fought well.  70% of the matches went to the 3rd set and some extended beyond 2h30mn. Overall, some great points on both sides of the court but fairplay to Oxford who managed to consistently play better in the important points. No doubt that Cambridge will reverse this scenario next year!

W3

Captain: Catriona Murray (Darwin)

We were off to a flying start on the Saturday, winning the first six matches and all our singles that day. Spirits were high and the Cambridge team charged into the doubles. Here we had to dig a bit deeper, finishing the day with a tense (sadly lost) match between Cambridge’s Mikaela Belsky and captain Catriona Murray against the tactical, net-loving first doubles pair from Oxford. At the end of the first day we were leading 10-2, only one match short of Varsity victory! On Sunday the rain limited us to only one match, so we put forward Gillian Samios who took on Oxford’s captain in a three-set singles showdown, cinching the 11-2 victory for Cambridge.

M4

Captain: Dimitrios Kallifronas (Downing)

Before Varsity, several players ended up having to self-isolate, so there were some significant changes in the M4 squad just a couple of days before the event. However, after some outstanding displays from all the players, M4 managed to beat the Oxford side.

On Saturday, following the first six singles matches, Cambridge showed their quality winning five of them. Some highlights were the emphatic 6-0 6-0 win by Matthew against Oxford number two, a great comeback by George after losing the first set and another three-set thriller win by Johannes. In the doubles, there were some very tight matches and each team managed to get three wins which meant that Cambridge was leading 8-4.

On Sunday morning, due to the adverse weather conditions, all play was moved to clay and normal sets were replaced by mini sets. Despite that, Cambridge managed to get three comfortable wins in the first four rubber matches sealing the varsity win. 

Final score: Cambridge 12 – Oxford 9.

W4

Captain: Surina Fordington (Jesus)

W4 had a fabulous weekend in Oxford playing at Iffley Road Sports Centre. The weekend started with a beautiful sunny Saturday playing on the grass courts overlooking the famed running track where Bannister completed his sub-4 minute mile. We started with a strong set of singles matches with great efforts all round to end the second round 3-3 with Oxford. The doubles matches in the afternoon were equally competitive, and after two forfeits, despite Millie’s really valiant efforts making it through 1 1/2 matches playing on a sprained wrist (!), we ended the first day 7:5 Oxford – all to play for! Sunday saw a spanner in the works as the rain forced us to move to ‘clay’, a surface which many of our girls had never played on before! After a day of close and hard fought singles and doubles, including a second surface switch onto all-weather courts for the final doubles match, the weekend ended with a narrow victory to Oxford of 12:9. Although we didn’t get the win this year, I’m incredibly proud of the team for playing so beautifully despite many obstacles posed by injuries, isolations and that pesky virus! Thank you so much to all the amazing girls who played and to the Oxford team for hosting.

M5

Captain: Ran Zmigrod (Fitzwilliam)

The M5 varsity kicked off with a solid round of singles. Gradon made quick work of his match to hand Cambridge the first match of the day. Wins by Wilkinson, Hickey, and Wood continues the strong singles round which finished 4-2 to Cambridge. With the sun shining and a gloomy forecast for Sunday, all 9 doubles matches took place on the Saturday. Wilkinson/Wood went undefeated while Gradon/Zmigrod and Groeller/de Vulpian won two of their three matches. Both pairs losing to the Oxford first seed, who proved a tricky challenge. The day ended 12-4, giving the Cambridge the win after just one day. Sunday saw three singles matches before play ended, de Vulpian and Wilkinson giving Cambridge a further two points, while Yuan was unlucky to narrowly miss out in a tight three setter. Overall an impressive display from M5, who ended the weekend with a 14-5 victory.

M6

Captain: Ran Zmigrod (Fitzwilliam)

M6 got off to a strong start with solid singles wins from Talks, Mikalauskas, Lai and Goss. With Goss holding off some strong serves to secure a 6-4, 7-6 victory. While Washio was unlucky to narrowly miss out in a tight three set loss. This took the team to a 4-2 lead after the singles rounds. With the sun shining and spirits high we moved on to doubles cementing Cambridge’s lead yet further with 4 decisive wins. This brought the first day to a close with a commanding 8-4 lead to Cambridge. Sunday morning the weather took a turn to the gloomy and we started the day with 3 mammoth hard court singles matches all going the full distance. Lai was particularly unlucky narrowly missing out on the win after two tiebreaks. After a strong effort from Oxford the score was now 8-7 Cambridge, the competition had just heated up. M6 always make it interesting for the crowds after all and now the competition could go either way. Two solid wins from Talks and Mikalauskas steadied the ship bringing Cambridge within one match of victory (10-8) after the second round of singles.  Victory was claimed in the very next match and Cambridge went on to dominate the remaining 3 doubles matches, with Talks/de Belsunce maintaining their undefeated record and Mikalauskas/Lai and John/Billet winning two of their three matches. Overall it was strong performance from M6 ending the weekend with a 13-8 victory.