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Inter-Universities Weekend: The Report

Posted on March 10, 2020 | in Giraffe, NewsTicker, Tournament | by

Inter-Universities 2020

Cambridge and Newmarket once again hosted the annual Inter-Universities Cup & Tournament last weekend. Players came in representing Exeter, Bristol, Middlesex, UCL, Coventry, St Andrews by car, train, minibus and even one player flying in from Dubai. Play began on Friday, with the first rounds of the Inter-University Cup. As the stronger teams would enter in the second round, it was a chance for the higher-handicapped players to get some game time. There were a couple of close matches. Fresh from their doubles victory at the Varsity Match the weekend before, India Blaksely and Sophia Lewis (Cambridge) had a good battle against the better-ranked Exeter pair of Felix Delaforce and Toby Calder, with a live doubles after the singles went one match each way. Similarly, Bristol’s Louis Richards held strong against the Middlesex 2 pair of Ana Rainea and Jack Carter, winning both the singles and the doubles without dropping a game, although Carter did manage to beat Richard’s teammate Arthur Guy. Elsewhere, Middlesex 1 and Cambridge 3 cruised through to the second round.

Friday also saw the first matches of the handicap singles competition. This year, the draw was divided into two divisions. In the second division, the Middlesex players adapted to the Cambridge Green court well, with their pros Chris Bray and Will Burns dropping in to lend some support. Across the day, Amirreza Khorsandi and Kenny Chiang looked strong from Group F, both enthusiastically taking to the marking as well. Meanwhile, Thomas Gray from Exeter was cruising through Group E until he came unstuck to Ruben Roque from Middlesex, making the mathematics of the group interesting. Ultimately, Roque would lose a place in the final to his teammate Carter.

In the first division, the matches from the premier group took place across both courts in the evening. There was some fantastic tennis played, especially by the UCL pair of Tom Carew Hunt and Hugh Pemberton. But there wasn’t anything any of them could do against Charlie Wells (Coventry), fresh from a victory in the Boomerang earlier in the year. He could serve very consitently and found the targets seemingly on command to win through into the knockout round. Meanwhile, groups C and D saw lots of close matches featuring a lot of players from Cambridge, but also Calder, Rainea, Samuel Asgedom (Middlesex) and Jack Collingwood (Bristol). Every match was a roller coaster ride, with momentum swinging violently. Both groups were incredibly close, and every game mattered.

Saturday morning saw the second round of the Inter-University Cup. Richards form for Bristol 1 carried forward from the previous day, besting Jack Drew from Cambridge 2. However, Ashwin Ahuja was too strong despite the very early hour and took Cambridge 2 to victory. Out at Newmarket, Ben Geytenbeek (Cambridge 3) very nearly got the better of Charles Stevens (St Andrews 1), but couldn’t convert several chances to close out the match. In the doubles however, Geytenbeek and Bobby Bruce were successful in picking of the weaker player in Sebastian Flame, taking a nailbiting upset victory. Back in Cambridge, Carew Hunt and Pemberton from UCL cruised past Middlesex 1, and the Cambridge 1 pair of Ivo Macdonald and Marc Bonaventura had a rusty time against Exeter 1, coming off their big Varsity matches.

The final group stage matches were on Saturday afternoon. In group B, Geytenbeek narrowly qualified through ahead of Richards, thanks to the latter’s defeat to Bruce. Delaforce cruised through the group to win comfortably. Guy D’Oyly (Exeter) breezed through Group H out at Newmarket, though Sean Cummins (Bristol) was not far behind. Play stopped early on the Blue Court to set up for the evening, while Cambridge 1 annihilated Cambridge 3 over on the Green Court to reach the Inter-University Cup Final.

By the time everybody returned that evening, the Blue Court had been transformed into a dance hall thanks to some great work by Vix Harvey and Andrew Barker. Lights were draped from the penthouses and a ceilidh band played music. A roast dinner was served, followed by dancing at the hazard end late into the night.

By the time the players returned the next morning, the court was back to its usual playable condition. The second semifinal of the Inter-University Cup was that morning. Drew and Ahuja couldn’t quite get the better of Carew Hunt and Pemberton from UCL in the singles, though won a close dead-rubber doubles match. Then followed the knockout stages of the Handicap Singles. In Division 1, there were some large handicap odds being played, with Thomas Whitworth (Cambridge) winning through against both group A qualifiers. Meanwhile, India Blaksley fought through to the final only playing against other Cambridge players in Ed Furst and Miles Kempton. The star players from the group stage, Wells and Delaforce, both came unstuck early on. The final was a repeat of an earlier group stage match. Blaksley hung on well against Whitworth as it was clear both of them were better than their handicaps. But ultimately, Whitworth got the break and held strong to victory.

In division 2, one half of the draw was dominated by Middlesex players, while the other half was dominated by Exeter players. Yet Arthur Guy from Bristol, improving with every match played, made his way past two Middlesex players to meet Tom Gray from Exeter in the final. Gray had made it through in bittersweet fashion, as his opponent in the semifinal, Sean Cummins, rolled an ankle and could not continue his match. In the final, Gray was clearly the stronger player, racing to a quick lead and holding on to win. Finally, in the Inter-University Cup, Cambridge 1 would take victory over UCL 1. Despite showing some fight, the Cambridge pair were clearly too strong and were getting better and better with each game played.

Huge thanks to the sponsorship of Pol Roger, the Tennis and Rackets Association and the Dedanists Foundation. Thanks to the Cambridge Pros for their organising and marking. Further thanks to Christie and Paul for their wonderful streaming*, to Vix Harvey and Andrew Barker for organising the ceilidh and to Ben Geytenbeek for managing the draws.

Ben Geytenbeek

* Special mention to Ben for the amazing scoring/stats addition to the stream, Ed

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