The men’s blues badminton team faced off against Imperial College this Wednesday at Iffley Road, playing their third fixture of the season in the BUCS Southern Premier League.
The team this year has had a solid influx of fresh faces entering the squad, with the old guard of Zhu, Milner, and Nyrup now joined by Ho (a product of the club’s extensive scouting programme in Singapore), Wilson (your typical junior county player), and Song (your not-so-typical one year exchange student from John Hopkins).
Having had a successful start to the season, including a victory against Bristol and a moral victory against Bath, the team was keen to try and keep up the momentum against Imperial.
The singles matches were played first, with Zhu and Milner taking centre stage. Both were hotly contested affairs, going to three sets. Milner’s opponent was small in stature, but made up for it by possessing impressive speed and consistency around the
court. The mirrored styles were evidently seen, as both players tried to outlast and outmanoeuvre each other on the court, making for some great badminton for spectators. Whilst Milner imposed himself on the opponent with his faster speed in the first set, the Imperial player ultimately came back to win the second and third sets.
My singles match yet again saw a performance of complementing styles, with me and my opponent both attacking players with powerful smashes. Ultimately, the game boiled down to who made fewer mistakes and I have to admit that, despite my incredible smash and all-round dynamism, my play was a little inconsistent. Fortunately, the Imperial player cracked sooner than I did, and I led a series of unanswered points from 15-13 in the third set to win the game.
Tied at 1-1 in games, the fixture moved on to the doubles matches. The combination of Ho and Song had an impressive start this season. Facing off against the first Imperial pair, the start was promising with Ho attacking from the back of the court, and Song moving in to cut anything off at the front.
This made for some exciting rallies and some excellent rotation play which drew applause from Ho’s substantial fanbase. The crux of the match was securing control of the net and gaining the attack, and simply Imperial were too solid in this respect. Despite playing better in the second set, Song and Ho failed to attack in the rallies enough and lost in two straight sets. Post-match analysis suggested that the Oxford players were a little worse for wear, with both citing heavy workload (*read Plush and Broke Mondays) as the reason for not performing their best.
The second doubles match comprised of the duo of Nyrup and Wilson. Nyrup, whose chronic shoulder issues forced him to narrowly lose to the no. 28 nationally ranked Bath player last year, was hoping for the return of his godly smash following a trip to the physio. Wilson has been a solid addition to the blues, with his outstanding commitment and excellent physical condition making a huge contribution to the squad, second only to all his gap-yah stories. The pair played a pair of twins from Imperial, who had very deft skills and Record numbers turn out for Oxford Half Marathon excellent technique. The match was a contrast of the power of the Oxford pair against the counterattacking and skilful midcourt play of Imperial. The first set started off positively, but gradually the Imperial side gradually adjusted to the smashing of Nyrup and Wilson to win in two straight sets comfortably.
Down 3-1 with half the games played, Oxford needed a strong comeback in the next four in order to win the tie. Sadly, only one additional match was converted, with Milner taking an additional single. The tie thus finished 6-2, and there was realisation that, as a squad, there is much to be improved upon in our training regime. Despite the loss, we still stay positive about our chances of success in the BUCS Southern Premier league, and excited to see how far we can improve throughout the season, when we ultimately play Imperial again.
Oxford University Men’s Blues play Cardiff Metropolitan University Men’s 1st team later next week, on Wednesday 31st October. They currently sit 4th in the BUCS Southern Premier table.