Inter Universities Rackets 2017
After a brief absence from the Rackets calendar, the Inter University tournament returned to Manchester on the 10th and 11th of February. The draw comprised 18 students, of which 13 had made the journey from various corners of the UK (none further than Exeter!), ensuring that a feast of rackets was on offer for spectators and competitors alike.
The singles tournament began on the Friday evening with Manchester players Henry Stevinson and Alex Hume looking impressive in winning through to the knockout stage. They were to be joined by Rory Hanna (Newcastle) and Birmingham University’s Lewis Symonds and Jamie Jordache – the latter of which defeated the mercurial Rhodri Hande (Manchester) in a thrilling final group match.
The doubles tournament ran concurrently with the singles event and the group stage also produced some excellent rackets. This was evident in Group B where the Old Carthusian pair of Hector Don and Oli Taylor (Durham) narrowly finished runners up in their group to Chris Cooper and Ned Robertson (Manchester), before defeating their Durham team mates Guy Maxwell and George Skinner to claim some personal satisfaction.
The large quantity of matches meant that play was continuous from 7pm until 12.30am, before all of the competitors departed to their respective accommodation in preparation for Day 2 of the tournament. Saturday’s rackets began at 12pm with the conclusion of the doubles group stage – the late start owing to a break for the excellent bacon sandwiches laid on by the MTRC staff.
In the knockout stage, Adrian Montagu (Bath) had one of the matches of the tournament against Lewis Symonds, with the Birmingham player losing the first game 15-0 only to claim the second and squander 3 match points in the decider before finally being defeated. On the other hand, the doubles semi-finals were more routine affairs with Duncliffe-Vines and Loup (Manchester) winning through to meet Shenkman and Hande (Manchester/Birmingham).
In the singles semi-finals, both matches comprised a contest between university team mates. The all-Manchester semi-final between Henry Stevinson and George Loup was surprisingly close in the first game before Loup ran out a comfortable winner in the second. In the other semi-final, the Birmingham clash between Robert Shenkman and Jamie Jordache was also an entertaining affair with Shenkman winning in straight games without being seriously extended.
Rob Shenkman and George Loup
In front of a packed gallery following England’s victory over Wales, George Loup made a characteristically explosive start in the final, claiming the tightest of first games 15/14. However, Shenkman came fighting back in the second to win 15/8 and then overcame a fatigued Loup 15/5 in the third to win the singles championship. Manchester then got revenge in the doubles final, somewhat assisted by the presence of Duncliffe-Vines, to win in straight games and ensure that Manchester won the overall team trophy.
Rhodri Hande, Rob Shenkman, Alex Duncliffe-Vines and George Loup
The end of the Rackets was immediately followed by the tournament dinner (generously provided by the Shenkman family) with an impromptu speech by former MTRC president Brendan Hegarty being a particular highlight! The competitors then proceeded to the skittles alley before being let loose on the Manchester nightlife – perhaps explaining the absence of a finals day on the Sunday!
Thanks must be given to Dave Stevinson for his assistance in finding sponsorship for the event and also to James Lindrup and George Loup for ensuring that the tournament ran smoothly from a non-sporting point of view. All of the competitors were also extremely grateful for the assistance of the T&RA in providing four frames for the tournament. It is hoped that the tournament shall return next year with entries from even more universities!