Catz came into their Cuppers quarter-final fixture against Trinity with a rather weakened side compared to the winning combination that secured Cuppers Victory at the beginning of term.
Not only the no.1 player, Blues’ Tim Weir, but also Matt Brooke-Hitching and Vadim Varvarim were unable to take their place in the 1st VI due to finals.
Outrageous weather conditions and nasty post-Summer Eights hangovers were a tough combination for both teams to deal with, but they braved it out, showing their commitment to Cuppers, making it onto the Catz/Trinity courts at 9.30am.
Play was possible due to the surprisingly good drainage of the courts which meant that the playing surface was not impinged upon too significantly and so conditions for the players were not too dangerous under foot.
Having the advantage of a bye in the first round, Catz had knocked Somerville out of the competition with a convincing win. With two years of Cuppers glory behind them, they approached the match with confidence.
Trinity had not been so lucky, with a tougher road to the quarters, but Oriel and Teddy Hall had both been defeated en route, so the squad were in high spirits and, more importantly, on an excellent run of form.
In the 1st round, Catz’ 2nd pair, comprised of Captain Alex Iltchev and Ryan Taylor, began with a solid victory against Trinity’s 3rds (Horatio Cary and Sian Roberts), only dropping 2 games.
The Catz top two Luke Reeve-Tucker and Lukasz Schachic met their match in Andy Luke and Russ Jackson, the Trinity 1st pair, with strong serving and some great doubles play from both sides.
Catz’ consistency paid off however, resulting in a close 6-4, 7-5 win which put Catz 4-0 up overall.
In the Second Round, Reeve-Tucker and Schlachic overwhelmed Trinity 3rds in little time, whereas for Iltchev and Taylor the game wasn’t so easy. The pair valiantly fought back from being 2-4 down in each set to draw level and eventually produced a shock 2-0 win against Trinity 1sts.
Being 8-0 up meant that only 2 more sets were needed to secure passage into the semi-finals for Catz.
Trinity were not willing to concede without a fight however, and the Trinity 2nd pair, Oli Plant and Captain Matt Johnston, played up to their opposition in the Catz 1sts and managed to halve the match. Catz’ 3rd pair, Jaroslav Broz and Peter Roberts, were under pressure to perform to secure victory for the defending champions, but they lost the vital fixture against the stronger Trinity 3rds.
Returning to the courts, having assumed the win after good play early on, Iltchev and Taylor came up trumps and produced some faultless shotmaking to take the first set against Plant and Johnston, securing Catz a place in the Semi-Finals with a dominant victory.
With finalists coming to the end of exams and the promise of some more tennis-suited sunshine in June, Catz’ prospects look good, with promise of a third Cuppers victoy.
They will face Worcester I in the semi-finals, who have paved their way to the semis in convincing style.
For Trinity, the season looks all but over, but with good young players in their ranks they will be confident of mounting a more serious cuppers challenge next year.