The M4 squad came into the Varsity weekend keen to defend their title after last year’s routing of Cambridge. Five of the team travelled from Oxford and hit the road after consuming copious amounts of Christmas pudding with cream and mango. We found our humble abode for the weekend: a Travelodge a twenty-minute drive away from the courts.
After breakfast, we sallied forth to the battlefield for the weekend, otherwise known as the grass courts of Churchill College. The yellow spheres began to fly as we took our first shots on the courts. There may have been some surreptitious glances towards the Cambridge squad, warming up only metres away.
Soon it was time for the matches to begin. The temperature was rising rapidly, so we were keen to prioritise quick matches. David, Max and Mattbegan proceedings. Matt won his first match 6-1, 6-0 against an opponent he had only lost to a few weeks previously. Meanwhile, David’s opponent decided that the first match of Varsity was an excellent opportunity to practice double faults so this match was also quickly wrapped up. Max had a much tighter affair, but ultimately won his match 7-5, 6-3. By this point, the temperature was getting high, but so were our spirits: a 3-0 lead giving us some confidence. Next onto the court were Stanislas, Claas and Adam. Adam and Claas won their matches with Stan losing after a tough battle in the heat.
We now had a short break to allow those who had just played a chance to recover from the heat; we were all very grateful for Mr and Mrs Calow for providing supplementary snacks for the squad. Thus rested and fuelled, it was time for the doubles to begin. David and Stan were quick out of the blocks, making light work of their opponents. It was the only 6-0, 6-0 victory of the M4 campaign, and must have been a bit of a surprise to the Cambridge pair. Both of the other pairs, Claas and Max and Rene and Matt, put on a confident display, easing through against their opponents in two sets.
We were now up 8-1, and the possibility of winning outright on the first day loomed large. Three more doubles matches were sent to court. David and Stan had a more complicated match than before, but still earned a comfortable win. Max had now left for a ball in Oxford, so Peter and Claas played together in the doubles with Rene and Matt the other pair. Both pairs lost and coincidentally lost tie breaks 9-7! We decided that the optimal way to spend the evening would be at a pub, and Matt was put in charge of arranging this. We had an enjoyable evening featuring steak, gravy and tartare sauce (amongst other food) and beer (amongst other drink). Then back to the Travelodge.
It was much cooler on the Sunday, and the slight breeze was also welcome. First out of the blocks on the Sunday were Stan, Matt and Claas. Stan and Matt won their matches, but Class feeling his “epic age” (in his words) succumbed to his opponent.
The final round of singles was played by David, Peter and Adam. David won 6-3, 6-2, Adam battled hard, but unfortunately was defeated 6-2, 6-4. Peter decided that finishing in a timely manner was not necessary and proceeded to play the first three set match of the weekend. After around three hours of play we finally had a victor, Peter, 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3. The last three doubles matches all went Oxford’s way. The longest was played by Matt and Rene. There were many cracking plays in this match. Oxford clinched the final match of the weekend with a score of 7-5, 6-7(3), 4-2 (short set format for the final set).
The final score of the weekend was thus 16-5 to Oxford, a wonderful result after the work the team has put in throughout the year. We arrived promptly at Varsity dinner and after a team photo shoot, we then had the pleasant surprise of being presented with a trophy by our M2 captain. This was a successful and enjoyable weekend for M4. The standard of play was high, and the good spirit and friendliness shown by both Oxford and Cambridge players made it a great weekend for all concerned.