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Varsity Match sponsored by Pol Roger: Day 2

Posted on March 1, 2020 | in Giraffe, Match Report | by

Jacqueline Siu lost to Eve Shenkman 0/6 1/6
The first match of the morning went the way of Oxford with a clincial display from Shenkman. She settled into the match quite quickly, as Siu was trapped down the hazard end. Shenkman kept finding the grille or the tambour as she raced away with the first set. Siu settled down at the start of the second, as the rallies got longer Siu started playing better and better. Siu took a game early in the second set, attacking two very short chases to win it. However, it seemed as though no matter how good a shot Siu had, Shenkman always had an answer and went on to win it in straight sets.

Jack Drew lost to Frederick Freeman 3/6 2/6
Drew started well, much like in his doubles match the previous day, taking the first few games against his stronger opponent. However, very quickly Freeman was able to impose himself into the match, making Drew run to all corners of the court. That said, Drew held his own, with some excellent retrieval especially off the tambour and under the grille. By the second set, Drew took another lead, and had chances to extend it, but Freeman was able to beat some relatively short chases to hold on. Despite throwing everything he could at it, there wasn’t much more that Drew could do as Freeman held steady to win comfortably.

Marc Bonaventura lost to James Bates 6/2 4/6 2/6
Bonaventura continued his trend of starting well, pummeling consistent shots into Bates’ backhand corner to race to an early lead in the first set. His play was consistently inches over the net and very accurate with his volleying. Bates never looked in it as Bonaventura raced to take an early lead. However, in the second set, Bates started to find his groove. A close deuce battle in the second game set the tone, with momentum shifting one way to the other. Bonaventura looked to have the edge, but Bates kept asking questions of his game. Bonaventura had the advantage with the score at 4-all, and up in the game. But Bates showed a lot of class across a long series of deuces, just edging out a lead, cheered on by a raucous crowd. Bates took the set and momentum, racing to a lead in the third. But Bonaventura wasn’t out of it yet, fighting back and making an interesting 2-4 game. A bit of fortune and a lot of skill gave the game, and the match, to Bates. With that victory, Oxford sealed the match, with the Cambridge team ruing several missed chances.

Sophia Lewis and India Blaksley defeated Georgie Willis and Charlotte Hoskin 6/1 6/5
Cambridge notched up its first win of the weekend in a surprise but well earned victory in the Women’s first seed doubles. Lewis and Blaksley went out with a solid plan to target Hoskin and it appeared to be paying off. The near-capacity crowd transitioned from stunned disbelief to a loud and boisterous cheer squad as the Cambridge pair kept picking off Hoskin at the net. At the service end, Blaksley demonstrated her deadly net volleys and Lewis stayed solid at the back of the court. The games kept going Cambridge’s way as Willis frustration grew. Blaksley hit a fantastic net volley into the winning gallery to seal the first set. Oxford switched receivers in the second, and it appeared to have paid off, racking up four quick games. But the Cambridge girls held their nerve and returned to their initial strategy of picking off Hoskin. Slowly, they clawed their way back into the set. Their confidence grew, and started hitting shots at Willis that even she couldn’t get back. Towards the end, her frustration boiled over. Despite dropping the game at 4-all, Cambridge finished strong, with Blaksley winning the match with an ace under-arm twist against Willis to the joy of the crowd.

Ivo Macdonald def Benedict Yorston 6/4 5/6 6/3
Following the success of the women’s doubles, Macdonald notched up the first victory for the men’s team. It was a hard fought nearly three hour long match, with the two players barely separated by more than a couple of points or games at any point in the match. A lot of the games went to deuce, which were all narrowly won by the small margins. Both players used the whole court, boasting the ball of any surface they felt like. Yorston pushed Macdonald again and again, but Macdonald was up to the task and was able to get just about everything back. Macdonald took the first set as Yorston celebrated early, assuming he had hit the grille, but Macdonald retrieved it and went on to win a chase and then the set. The second set was even tighter, neither player seemed to get much momentum and both were starting to feel low on energy though they didn’t want to show it. By the time the set went to 5-all, Yorston had the better game and managed to take the set. By the third set, Macdonald started to get the upper hand, serving his tight railroads and finally managing to get a few main-wall boasts into the dedans. As the match approached three hours, Macdonald got the edge in a couple of games to take Cambridge to victory.

Ed Hyde lost to Rory Giddins 1/6 0/6
By comparison, the final match was over rather quickly. Giddins had Hyde running to all the corners of the court, but the shots were far too accurate and too precise. Despite getting an early game, it was all one way traffic. Nevertheless, the crowd were now giddy on their Pol Roger Champagne and ready for the reception and dinner. Many thanks must go to the MCC for hosting a fabulous event and to Pol Roger for their continued sponsorship. Best wishes are sent from all the players, staff and spectators to Chris Swallow with hopes for a speedy recovery. Huge plaudits must go to Lord’s professional Jack Clifton for a sterling effort with the marking and to Peter Patterson and the Oxford pros for their assistance. Congratulations go to Oxford, although plans for revenge are already in the works!

Ben Geytenbeek

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