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Varsity 2nds

Posted on February 24, 2020 | in Giraffe, Match Report | by

Oxford took the honours at the Varsity Seconds match over the weekend.

After months of training and practice, the Cambridge seconds team made their way to the “other place” for their much anticipated fixture against the Oxford Unicorns. The first match saw Cambridge’s Ashwin Ahuja against Oxford’s Frazer MacDiarmid. Despite a ball dropping clean on the top of his scalp from the penthouse in the first game, MacDiarmid was able to cope well with Ahuja’s high-paced forcing game, keeping the rallies going long enough to coerce a mistake. Ahuja fought hard, but ultimately went down 1/6 0/6.

The women’s match didn’t get off to a good start either. Rosie Taylor took on Laura Neill. Initially, Taylor struggled with the Oxford court as Neill raced to the first set 0/6. In the second set, Taylor played a lot better, and looked to settle into the match. She had chances, but couldn’t convert them and ultimately lost the second set 3/6

In the first men’s doubles of the fixture, Ahuja and Ben Geytenbeek were stuck at the hazard end for much of the match against MacDiarmid and James Kempton. MacDiarmid was playing faultlessly, while Kempton kept his left-handed railroad serves very tight, making it difficult to return. By the time the Cambridge pair did make the service end, they couldn’t hold on for very long. Finally, they seemed to settle into the match, but only after they had conceded seven games. They pushed hard for the last few games, winning two, to end up with an 2/8 scoreline.

Cameron Roker then took on Nina Ludekens, in a hard fought match. Both sets had a couple of key games on which the result appeared to hinge, and N. Ludekens did well in both of them. Both players played some excellent tennis, but Oxford took the day 3/6 2/6.

The day ended with both of the Women’s doubles matches. In the firsts doubles, Taylor and Kate Kirk took on Neill and Mary Strevens, with the Oxford pair able to exploit the court and their lawn tennis pedigree to dominate the match. Next, Roker and Kureha Yamaguchi took on N. Ludekens and I. Lewis. It was an entertaining match, as K. Yamaguchi had picked up a real tennis racquet for the first time on Wednesday. Yet, she was able to volley exceptionally well. Roker put up a fight from the back of the court, but it wouldn’t be enough as Oxford sealed the Women’s Varsity victory.

Saturday morning did not start well for Cambridge, despite half the team having left for London for the Rugby Fives Varsity match, with the doubles match between Miles Kempton and Bobby Bruce for Cambridge and Xavier Gonzalez and Quentin Gueroult for Oxford resulting in an 0/8 defeat for the visiting side.

Cambridge’s first success of the weekend came at the hands of our newest recruit. K. Yamaguchi, playing in her first singles match ever, found success against I. Lewis. Every game they played, K. Yamaguchi got better and better after a crash course that morning on playing off the back wall from Kees. Although she still has a lot to learn, her natural lawn tennis talent and success in volleying proved to be enough. As such, her game was unpredictable, pulling of blinding shots and strange choices, but it was enough to win in straight sets.

Unfortunately, Geytenbeek couldn’t replicate the success in his doubles match against J. Kempton. Again, the older brother was very accurate in his tight railroad serves, while Geytenbeek struggled with the size of the court. When he did find the service end, Geytenbeek was able to get a couple of games from a good series of bobble serves, but it wasn’t nearly enough resulting in a 2/6 0/6 loss.

The trend of Oxford getting off to good starts in matches continued through the final two men’s matches. Bruce struggled against Gueroult, the Oxford Unicorn’s captain. Although he had some chances, Gueroult’s game on his home court was too strong. Similarly, M. Kempton lost his first set 0/6 to Gonzalez, but fought back in the second set, and was able to scrape through four games, the most of any of the men’s team players.

The final match of the weekend was perhaps the most thrilling of them all. Kirk and Strevens battled their way through a tight first set, eventually going to Oxford 4/6. In the second set, it looked as though Strevens’ youth would run away with the match, racing to a 2/5 lead. But Kirk had both experience and luck on her side. On one return of serve, she mishit the ball into the main wall, only to have it come off the tambour and lob up to a worse-than-a-yard chase. Then, Kirk found a productive serve with lots of subtle variations that troubled Strevens, clawing back game by game to clinch the second set. In the third set, Strevens was visibly frustrated, allowing Kirk to serve through the remaining games to take the match 4/6 6/5 6/1.

Thanks must be paid to Craig and Andrew for their tireless marking, and for the Oxford girl’s team for their wonderful catering. Congratulations to Oxford on their victory, and best of luck to our Firsts team in action this Friday and Saturday at Lord’s.

Ben Geytenbeek


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