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Varsity Match Day 2 Report

Posted on March 6, 2019 | in Giraffe, Match Report, NewsTicker | by



The Cambridge team faced an uphill battle at Lord’s on the second day of the Real Tennis varsity match. The day would see the women’s doubles and men’s singles matches. The first match was the women’s second doubles, which saw Sophia Lewis and Elle Curzon-Green for Cambridge against Natalie Barber and Lucinda Maxwell for Oxford. Maxwell played up at the net for Oxford, while Cambridge sent Curzon-Green forward. Cambridge had a slow start, with a few communication issues between the pair. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t keep it away from Barber, who was clearly the strongest player on court. Oxford served well, and Cambridge couldn’t find a return of serve into the corners. Oxford raced through to take the first set 6-1.

Finding themselves 3-1 down in the second set, Cambridge started to rally. Lewis started moving her feet more, covering more of the court. Curzon-Green’s serves also started to trouble Maxwell. Lewis dominated the service end, punishing any loose shots. Cambridge won four in a row to be up 5-3 and a chance at taking the set. But Maxwell pulled out some of her best serves of the match, and kept Cambridge at the hazard end to bring it back to 5-all. Cambridge had chances in the final game, but couldn’t quite find the dedans, letting Barber steal the match with a fine shot at the grille, 6-5.

The first of the men’s singles saw Cambridge’s rackets import Ivo Macdonald against Oxford’s Harry Lawes. Macdonald benefited from some early poor serving to race ahead to a quick lead, slicing the ball deep into the corners. Lawes changed his serve, hitting a railroad from the centre line of the court. Slowly, he started to gain momentum at 1-4 down, pushing both of the next games to several long deuces. Macdonald needed seven deuces in the final game to take the set 6-1. The game had tightened, and it started to show in the second set. Macdonald had some luck with the help of the net cord, but Lawes was ascendant. He was serving tighter railroads, and Macdonald started overhitting his return of serve. The rallies were often tense, resulting in loud explosions from the crowd after most points. Nonetheless, Lawes was on a roll, winning five games in a row to take the set 6-3.

The final set would provide some of the most exciting tennis of the day. Lawes continued his momentum, punishing every ball into the corners and retreiving well, quickly finding himself with a 4-1 lead. Finally, Macdonald slowly started to get his feet moving well again, with a few tense points ending with a well weighted shot at the base of the tambour. He was scrambling for every point, but held his ground, using the tambour well. Macdonald took four in a row to be up 5-4, the Cambridge crowd going crazy after every point. But Lawes recovered during some long rallies, winning several points by a matter of inches. 5-all, and a Macdonald shot clps the top of the highest part of the net to land at the base of the tambour, helping to bring him to match point. Lawes just missed the dedans, finding the bandeau, bouncing out for a chase better than the door. But the serve was loose and Macdonald chipped it into the galleries to win the chase and the match. The Cambridge crowd erupted, having been biting their fingernails for the last hour.

Jack Drew (Cambridge) and James Bates (Oxford) were on court next, Drew having brought along a large supporter group of friends and family. Bates started by serving demi-piques, followed up by excellent strokeplay along the main wall. When he could, Drew cut-volleyed his return of serve. Although this tactic brought up several points or short chases, enough of them went high or long allowing Bates to dominate the rally. Form the hazard end, Bates targeted Drew’s backhand, with enough cut and accuracy to leave Drew scrambling. A few mistakes and a good serve helped Drew get one game, but for the rest, Bates was cruising to a 6-1 first set. The second set wasn’t much better for Cambridge. Bates was finding the base of the tambour with clinical accuracy and picked off galleries at will. He raced through the second set without dropping a game.

Oxford’s dominance continued into the dead rubber women’s first seed doubles. Alexandra Baranowski and Olivia Chesser for Cambridge had a steep hill to climb against Oxford’s Gerogie Willis and Lottie Hoskin. Cambridge played with Baranowski at the net, while Oxford put Hoskin up. Cambridge tired hard to target Hoskin, but even she wasn’t giving much away. The Cambridge pair volleyed well, including a dramatic effort by Baranowksi which saw her release her racket into the galleries but still won the point. Chesser played well against Willis, but the Oxford captain was far too strong. She showed enough confidence to let Hoskin play back towards the end of the set. Willis brought out the power shots in the second set and raced through to a 6-1 6-0 victory.

Cambridge needed a victory in the men’s second seed match between rivals Jimmy Campbell (Cambridge) and Charlie Defries (Oxford). The galleries were packed with a crowd of around 70 people. Campbell was serving tight underarm twists, trying to keep the ball tight on the back wall and preventing Defries from forcing. Defries responded with his trademark railroads. Campbell had to work hard to cover both sides of the court, as Defries looked in calm comfort at the hazard end. The first set was very tight, each player exchanging games to 4-all. Towards the end of the set, Defries put some crucial balls into the net, including twice in a row on the return of serve, giving it to Campbell 6-4.

Campbell changed shirts to begin the second set, but it too was quickly dosed in sweat. Defries was working him to both sides of the court, eventually finding the errors. Campbell started to get frustrated, and missed a few easier shots to give Defries a 4-1 lead. Not to be deterred, Campbell doubled down on his return of serve, fighting and scraping his way back into the set. But Defries was able to match him shot for shot, punishing every bad ball. Oxford won the set to draw level 6-3.

Defries was fired up, shouting and celebrating after every point won. The adrenaline and momentum helped, but Campbells shots were becoming wayward, Defries racing to 3-0. Campbell didn’t give up, and tried hitting the ball harder at Defries. It worked for a while, finding the centre of the tambour and getting Defries to miss a few, making it back to 3-3. However, Defries outlasted Campbell, who was now struggling in the corners and gava away a few too many shorter chases. Tired, Campbell kept finding the net, allowing Defries to take victory to Oxford, 6-3.

The final match of the year was between Ed Hyde (Cambridge) and Rory Giddins (Oxford). Giddins looked really calm in his retreiving, playing the walls well and made Hyde work for it. Hyde struggled to get into a good rhythm. Giddins seemed to be able to make the ball come off the tambour at any angle. Giddins ran away to a 3-0 early lead. Hyde was having to run to both sides of the court, and several times ended up outstretched sliding across the floor on his stomach. Giddins simply had an answer to everything Hyde threw at him, and could finish the rally as soon as he wanted every time Hyde game him a loose ball. Giddins raced through both sets, denying Cambridge a final victory.

Sophia Lewis and Elle Curzon-Green lt Natalie Barber and Lucinda Maxwell 1/6 5/6
Ivo Macdonald def Harry Lawes 6/1 3/6 6/5
Jack Drew lt James Bates 1/6 0/6
Olivia Chesser and Alexandra Baranowski lt Georgie Willis and Lottie Hoskin 1/6 0/6
Jimmy Campbell lt Charlie Defries 6/4 3/6 3/6
Ed Hyde lt Rory Giddins 1/6 1/6

Ben Geytenbbek

photos Vix Harvey


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