This summer saw some remarkable ten- nis as the men and women of Oxford University Tennis Club (OUTC) experi- enced continued success in both the national league and Varsity.
In the build up to the summer season, both Blues squads travelled to the Kiwi Tennis Club in Melbourne, Florida; five days of clay-court tennis that provided twelve of the club’s best players with a fantastic opportunity for some intensive training in the Florida heat. Even after this sun-drenched excursion, however, the training regime refused to relent, with preparation for Varsity involving the training regimes of all squads being intensified, with both the courts at the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre in Abingdon and the grass courts at Iffley being put to near-constant use. Upon returning to Oxford, fixtures against sides including the Army, Cumberland, Hurlingham and North Oxford as well as the biannual Old Blues match all served as important preparation for the Varsity match.
Such intense preparation paid dividends. Though the men’s Blues team approached the courts at Moor Park with nine consecutive previous defeats in the fixture, a great effort on the first day took the team to a 9-3 lead, with club champion Matt Morrow sealing the 11th and winning rubber for the Dark Blues after winning all of his matches. Captain Zeb Nicholls lifted the trophy after an impressive overall 13-8 win which capped off an unde- feated season for the team. The hard work on the court paid off for the women’s team as well, pulling away as the pressure rose to win 13–8 after a tie of 8–8.
The women’s success was continued by their thirds (‘Swifts’) as they stormed towards a 13–8 victory. The 2nds (‘Robins’) played well but were undone ultimately by some brilliant tennis by their Light Blue counterparts, slid- ing to a 7–14 loss. The men’s group ultimately went one better, the 2nds taking no prisoners and winning 17–4, with a special mention to first years Angus Nicholson and Shunta Takino who each took an impressive five out of five rubbers on their Varsity debuts. The success was followed by the 3rds’ 12–9 triumph and the 4ths (contesting their very first Varsity) taking a strong 7–2 win, leading to a clean sweep of four out of four Varsity matches for the teams in Dark Blue.
Such impressive performances were not consigned just to Cambridge, however. Under the inspirational leadership of captain Mal- lika Sood, the women’s Blues team achieved promotion from the Midlands 1A into the Premier South Division, with Sood solidifying their victory by winning the final match 7–6 in the final set. On the men’s side, the 1st team consolidated their position in the Pre- mier by taking fourth in the division, whilst making the quarterfinals of the cup compe- tition and losing out to a strong Durham side. The men’s second team had an outstanding year topping their division and winning promotion to Division 1 where they will be one of the highest ranked university second teams. They also won the Midlands Cup after a nail-biting final against Birmingham’s first team.