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University Student Cup: Part 1

Posted on November 26, 2019 | in Giraffe, Match Report, Tournament | by

With the Inter-University tournament moving to March, the past weekend saw the first running of the University Student Cup; a handicap tournament between all of the current Cambridge students. There were new players and old, burgeoning talents and raw recruits, handicaps ranging from the 20s to the 80s in a singles and doubles draw. After a few matches earlier in the week for scheduling reasons, play started in earnest on Friday morning with a Group A singles match between Ashwin Ahuja (Gonville & Caius) and Ivo MacDonald (Magdalene), which after a few minutes resulted in a force being smacked into the dedan and disrupting the camera feed!

The morning matches, confined to the Blue Court, saw some high quality mid-handicap tennis, including a moment where Miles Kempton (Robinson) went to fetch a ball from under the grille, but lost the grip of his racket which went flying up onto the penthouse above the winning gallery. It took some monkeying work by Jim to fetch it back down again.
In the afternoon, play started on the Green Court and the club was soon a buzz. Notable performances came from William Waldock (Trinity Hall) who won three matches on the trot, and Thomas Whitworth (Robinson) who became the first group winner in the early evening. His closest competitor was our new import from the Hobart Real Tennis Club, Edward Furst (Trinity), who pushed Whitworth into a tight 8/5 match. The doubles matches also started in the afternoon, and it looked like the team to beat in Division 2 was the pairing of Ulla Petti (Trinity) and Jacqueline Siu (Churchill), winning through their group while only conceding 8 total games. Play continued into the evening with Cameron Roker (Robinson) backing up her Cambridge Doubles League Division 5 matches with another win in the singles.

Saturday morning saw the bulk of the Division 1 doubles matches. There were some excellent pairings and even more excellent tennis. MacDonald struggled to recover from his late night celebrating his birthday; he and his partner Sophia Lewis (Clare) struggled against the large handicap differences. There were three especially strong pairs, but only two would qualify for the finals. The crucial match saw Marc Bonaventura (Trinity) and Ben Geytenbeek (Darwin) narrowly edge Jack Drew (Selwyn) and Ed Tillson (Selwyn). The Australian pair had match points in three consecutive games, but the Selwyn pair held on to a final-point thriller, marginally edged by the Australians. They would qualify through alongside Ahuja and India Blaksley (Homerton).

In the meantime, the Green Court saw tennis at the opposite end of the handicaps. Despite losing to Roker, Rosie Taylor (St Edmunds) found the rest of her matches quite comfortable, and the two of them would both easily qualify through. The doubles saw a fight for the right to face Petti and Siu in the Division 2 final, the crucial match was a very tight 8/7 match between Josh Loyd (Sidney Sussex) and Roker against Furst and Taylor, the former going through.
However, the mood soured pretty quickly in the afternoon. The Blue Court began to sweat, and by the time MacDonald was playing Drew, it got so bad that the match had to be stopped and the court declared unsafe for play. This meant that the remainder of the afternoon’s matches had to be squeezed onto the Green Court. Fortunately, the tournament had been running ahead of time, so it looked as if it might just all squeeze in. MacDonald and Drew resumed their match at 2/4, but only MacDonald seemed to adjust to the change in court, racing through the remainder of the match without dropping another game.

As the night went on, the qualification races for the finals started to come into focus. In Division 2, the group winners and runners-up were clear, but the next-best finishers also would qualify. Although at the time they thought they were only playing for pride, the match between Emrys Thursfield (Fitzwilliam) and Loyd was a crucial one, with Thursfield coming out on top in a hard-fought 6/4 match. This meant that the race for the final qualification spot was between Thursfield and Bryony Pehram (Lucy Cavendish). The fate would be decided in a match between Perham and Roker, Perham needing to win 3 games to qualify through. The score was quickly 2-all, and several 40-all games left Thursfield’s heart racing. Fortunately for Thursfield, Roker found the very top of the tambour, only just below the out-of-court line and prevented Perham from winning the game she needed, sending Thursfield through.
The final division 1 matches stretched late into the night and saw some fantastic tennis. Bonaventura was playing brilliantly against Drew and then Ahuja, winning 8/2 and 8/4 respectively. All were able to smack the ball around all over the court for some high-intensity strokeplay. By the end of the night, all of the finalists had been determined, and everybody was keen to see how the courts would hold up.

Ben Geytenbeek

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