Oxford tennis ready for close Varsity

Before most people had even realised that it was in fact happening, the French Open has been wrapped up for another year, as Serena Williams made history yet again in becoming only the third player to reach the landmark of 20 Grand Slam titles. Men’s champion, eighth seed Stan Wawrinka, dogged by off-court issues, shocked the world by defeating tennis robot and world number one Novak Djokovic on the way to picking up his second major title.

In Britain, the Aegon Championships get underway on 15th June, before it hands over to the one of the main events in the summer sporting calendar at the hallowed courts of the All England Club. Wherever you look, there is an absurd amount of tennis to look forward to.

Closer to home, tennis is a year-round sport. Both sets of Blues teams got their BUCS league campaigns underway in Michaelmas, with the men competing in the Premier South division and the women in the Midlands 1A.

Oxford is in its seventh consecutive year play­ing in the top flight of university men’s tennis and is coming off the back of a strong 2013-14 season, in which it finished second. However, the 2014-15 season got off to a rough start with losses against Bournemouth and Exeter, five sets to seven and two sets to ten respectively. In November, it began to right the ship with a 10-2 thumping of Premier South basement dwellers LSE, as well as narrowly defeating an Army team five sets to four in a friendly fixture.

Despite this, the rest of the month brought mixed fortunes for the Dark Blue men, as a tough 2-10 loss against Bath marred two convincing victories over Imperial and Bour­nemouth in the return fixture. Unfortunately, this poor fortune followed the team through­out December and into the new year, seeing it limp home to fourth place in the Premier South. The Oxford men only managed to take one win and a draw from five fixtures, suffer­ing convincing defeats at the hands of Exeter and Bath, before falling to rivals Durham in the quarter-final of the BUCS cup, which knocked the Dark Blues out at the semi-final stage in last year’s tournament.

Related  College football 4th week round-up: Hotting up

The women’s Blues, by contrast, took on and handled all opponents with ease from start to finish in the Midlands 1A group, but were mar­ginally edged out from clinching the division by a similarly skilled and tenacious Warwick 1sts side. From October through to March, the Dark Blues were in unstoppable form as they cruised past the likes of Birmingham, De Montfort, Warwick 2nds and Nottingham 2nds with relative ease. It was Warwick 1sts, however, that were to be the Dark Blues’ undo­ing, as the only team that they were unable to defeat, with each fixture ending in a 6-6 draw.

Despite the disappointment of not claiming top spot in their league, the women’s Blues en­tered the playoffs regardless, with promotion still well within their grasp. Their opponents proved no match for the Dark Blues as they ran rampant, clinching promotion to the Premier Division.

With the BUCS leagues all wrapped up by the end of Hilary Term, OULTC headed to Florida for ten days, where it handily defeated teams put forward by the Florida Institute of Technol­ogy and Kiwi Tennis Club. This warm weather practice and acquisition of decent tans all-round may prove key in their preparation as the OULTC squads prepare for their varsity showdowns. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th teams will take on their Light Blue counterparts in Cam­bridge over the weekend of 20th June, before the Blues take to the grass at the Moor Park Tennis Club in Rickmansworth for the 125th varsity match. After defeat for both the Dark Blue men and women in 2014, both squads will be out for revenge in a Varsity that should not be missed.