The hardy members of Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club (OULTC) are currently wondering why Federer, Murray et al are living it up in the Melbourne sunshine whilst we are attempting to battle rain, snow and other adverse weather conditions just to get to the indoor tennis courts. However, in contrast to the weather, it is not at all gloomy in Oxford tennis this year. Five out of six of our teams are currently competing in the BUCS leagues, with the Women’s 3rds hopefully the next to join. The Men’s Blues are in the Premier League for our third consecutive year and the women are pushing through Division 1A, looking like they may very well match the boys in tennis achievement.
This Wednesday both the Men’s and Women’s Blues were travelling against the snow to their respective matches, against Bristol 1sts and Warwick 1sts. The matches started with a pro-set (first to 8 games) of doubles, and the Men’s 2nd pair of Gregory Weir (Keble) and Tim Matthewson (Brasenose) quickly showed their dominance by winning a stunning 8-1. The Men’s 1st pair of Marc Baghdadi (Pembroke) and Fred Burgess (Trinity) had a much tighter, see-saw set. After going down an early break of serve, they recovered and managed to go up a break themselves to lead 5-3. However, the lead was lost two games later, and after going down another break, couldn’t recover and lost the set 9-7. This meant the overall match was poised at 1-1, and with four singles to come, everything was still to play for.
With the luxury of having four courts to play on, all four players went on at the same time. The first to come off was Fred, playing at number 4. Matched up against a more experienced opponent, Fred unfortunately went down 6-2 6-2. Next off was Tim, playing at number 2. This time, it was Tim who had the much stronger game, and beat his opponent 6-1 6-1. The overall match was back on level terms. Both remaining singles matches had only just finished the first set by this time.
Greg, playing at 3, got off to a slow start, letting his opponent race into a 4-0 lead. However, he managed to claw his way back, and sneaked the set on a tie-break, 7-6. He then raced through the second set 6-0 with an easy confidence. Marc, playing at 1, let an early break slip at 5-4, and lost his first set on a tie-break 7-6. The second set also went a lot quicker, but unfortunately the wrong way again, as he lost it 6-2. This meant another 5-5 draw for the Men, who remain in 3rd place in a tight and talented group, just a point behind 2nd-placed Bath, who are their next opponents. A victory against Bath would make a second place finish still a distinct possibility.
At the same time the Women’s team, comprised of Anjoli Foster (Keble), Astrid Grindlay (Christ Church), Philippa Coates (Somerville), and Vicky Moffett (Keble), travelled to Warwick. Both the doubles were straightforward affairs, with Philippa and Vicky on top form, winning 8-0 at second pair, and Anjoli and Astrid winning 8-3 at first pair. With both doubles under their belts, they seemed to be cruising to victory with the singles still to be played. The matches were played in reverse order, so Vicky, playing at 4, and Philippa, at 3, were first on. Both came through very comfortably, with Vicky winning 6-3 6-1, and Philippa winning 6-3 6-2. The win already secure, Anjoli went on and came off just as quickly, with a 6-3 6-1 demolition as well. This left Astrid, playing at 1, to finish off a comfortable whitewash.
However, this match proved a little tougher. A tight first set eventually went the way of the Warwick girl, 7-5. The second set was equally tight, but with Astrid leading 5-4, the match unfortunately had to be abandoned as court time had run out. Under BUCS rules, the win was therefore given to Astrid, and the Women came home with their third 10-0 win of the season.
They are now firmly in second place in their Division, just three points behind leaders Birmingham, but with the last match against them. With a much greater rubber difference, a win next week would see them leap into first place, and gain the promotion play-off spot to join the Men in the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history.