Brodie Cup 2022/23
Queen's Club beat Oratory 3-2
This year's Brodie Cup Final was a fine example of the essence of tennis. Although both teams were competitive, they were never anything less than convivial. The onlookers were friendly, supportive and just the right level of rowdy. There was a modest amount of tension in the atmosphere, but there was always some laughter to cut through it.
The first match set the tone. Nathan McGarvey & Joseph Bradley were juniors from the Oratory School. Both of them had some wicked returns and could hit talented winners. However, Gerard Soames & Dominic Geddes of Queens soaked up the pressure and although both teams had the opportunity to win the first set, Gerard and Dominic held their nerve at the crucial points to take it. Some youngsters would have been deflated by narrowly losing the first set, but Nathan and Joseph showed great character and raised their game to win the second set relatively comfortably. Stuck at the hazard end, Gerard and Dominic decided to swap return of serve, and this proved critical. This simple strategic change broke the Oratory’s rhythm, and Queens won convincingly in the final set.
The second match had a similar theme. Mark Candlish, the Oratory captain, really took the fight to Patrick Lawrence of Queens. Mark was fast around the court and had some beautiful shots, but Patrick’s experience was too much for him. Whenever Mark hit a great serve, Patrick would find an improbable route for the ball to return back over. If Mark hit a loose ball, Patrick never failed to punish it. But crucially, when Mark hit a trademark cut shot at a critical point, Patrick found the legs and determination to scrape it back. The score didn’t reflect how well Mark played, however Patrick was brilliant and thoroughly deserved to win in two sets.
The third match was back and forth. Martin McNair won the first set for Oratory, and Ronald Paterson Won the second for Queens, but the momentum was back and forth and either play could have won both sets. Sometimes they were both playing well, sometimes one of them would have a wobble, and both of them had runs where they couldn’t fail to win the point. Ronald was mixing up his severs well, and when he started hitting his railroad to a length he looked like was going to run straight through his opponent. But Martin dug in and found a demi-pique to tie up his opponent. The third set swung back and forth and could have gone either way, but probably the determining factor was Martin’s fitness.
Owen Darbishire got off to a good start in the fourth match, but the Queen’s captain, Astrid Drayson, was fired up, and fought back with some quality returns. Unfortunately for her, she spent too much time at the receiving end, and this proved the determining factor in the first set. In the second set Owen really got into a rhythm with his serve and looked very comfortable. Astrid’s determination to win resulted in her trying too hard and as is often the case in real tennis, this can have a negative effect on one’s strokes. It was a disappointing result for Astrid, but made for a ‘winner takes all’ thriller in the final rubber.
It was great having mixed doubles for the final match. Mikey Hennessy and James Skeggs could both generate decent pace, but Sarah Backhouse and Alex Brodie proved that it takes more than brute strength to be a quality tennis player and were more than happy volleying in the galleries against well struck balls. Mikey and Sarah settled down very quickly and took the first set for the Oratory quite convincingly. Part of this was due to a nervous start from James, but after swapping out his cracked racket for a fresh one, he started to settle down. Part of this was due to the steadying presence of his partner, Alex who hit some cracking volley returns of serve. The second set could have gone either way, but Queens took it to set up a drama filled third set. Owen was fired up for the third set, and there was a huge swing in momentum when he hit a forced return at James that took him by surprise. It tweaked an old finger injury, and James was clearly in a lot of pain whenever he struck the ball. It looked like Owen and Sarah were going to run away with it, but James managed to play through the pain and focused on placement rather than power. This combined with the rock solid presence of his partner, Alex, saw Queens narrowly take the third crucial set and the Brodie Cup with it.
I’d like to thank Jamie Turner and Tony Rose for hosting on behalf of the Hyde Tennis Club. Also a huge thank you to Pol Roger and the Tennis and Rackets Association for their sponsorship. And finally thank you to the two teams for providing some great tennis and such an enjoyable atmosphere.