Varsity Match 2023
Jan 25, 2023 The Queen’s Club E Hyde
2023 POL ROGER VARSITY RACKETS MATCH WED 25TH
This was one of the most enjoyable Varsity Rackets Matches for many years, played in excellent spirit, competitive but with commendable sportsmanship, and producing an abundance of good rackets.
The format was different this year, with a first team match, for 4 players per side, comprising four singles and two doubles. This resulted in a win for Cambridge by 4 rubbers to 2. The second team match, for 2 players per side, consisted of two singles and one doubles, with Oxford winning by 2 rubbers to 1.
2nd Team Match
In the 2nd string singles, Cambridge, Henry Buxtall (St John’s & Eton) defeated Oxford, Tristan Gauthier (Trinity & Winchester) by 3 games to 0, and then in the 1st string singles, Oxford, Charles Inglis (Exeter & Winchester) levelled the match by winning 3 games to 2 against Sacha Groom (St. Catherine’s and Winchester). So this 2nd team match went to a deciding doubles, Oxford (Inglis & Gauthier) getting home against Cambridge (Groom & Buxtall) by 3 games to 1. These matches were being contested on the Bridgeman Court whilst 1st Team matches were taking place on the Championship court next door, so as marker for the 1st Team contest I sadly did not get the opportunity to see any of the play in Oxford’s 2 rubbers to 1 win, with the outcome pretty much determined by the deciding 5th game in the top singles.
1st Team Match
In line with tradition in the Varsity Rackets matches, play began with the singles rubbers, played in reverse order (4th string to 1st string) followed by the doubles, again the top string match being played last. Here are the teams:-
1st String Louis Manson (St Anne’s & Eton) 1st String Patrick Smart (Churchill & Eton)
2nd String Isaac Wighton (Jesus & St. Paul’s) 2nd String Louis Dessalles (Robinson & Marlborough)
3rd String Benedict Yorston (Merton 7 Radley) 3rd String Arthur Adams (Trinity & Winchester)
4th String Jake Probert (Wolfson & Clifton) 4th String Arthur King (Trinity & Winchester)
4th String Singles. King (C) was the first into his stride, building a lead of 7-2 and then 13-5. Probert(O) got back in hand but a double fault gave Cambridge the chance to serve out the two points needed for the first game. As the match progressed, however, Probert (O) was having more and more success from the serving box, amassing 32 points on serve in the 3 games that followed, compared to 16 from King.
Jake Probert (O) beat Arthur King (C) 5/15, 15/9, 15/9, 15/8 Oxford lead 1 rubber to 0
3rd String Singles. Yorston (O) dominated the first game, mainly with good serving, and led 7-2 in the second. Adams (C) levelled at 7-7, and then it was to and fro in many hands with neither player able to have a run of serve till suddenly Adams got in hand at 11-12 and went straight to game. 1 game all. Cambridge was in command in the third game, taking it 15/4, but Oxford came back in the fourth, leading 10-2 and 13-8. Cambridge recovered to 12-13, but Oxford won the game 15/12 to set up a decider in which fortunes oscillated, Oxford having a good run from 4-10 to 11-10, only for Cambridge to get back in hand and win the game 15/11
Benedict Yorston (O) lost to Arthur Adams (C) 15/1, 12/15, 4/15, 15/12, 11/15. I rubber all.
2nd String Singles. The first two games were dominated by the excellent serving of Wighton (O) who was getting the ball to die off the back wall with fine length serves that Dessalles (C) could do little to counter. Oxford led 15/1, 15/1 in double-quick time, with Cambridge only in hand 4 times in these two games. The third game, however, was a well-contested affair all the way to 12 all, then Oxford had another couple of fine service points and finished off the game 15/12.
Isaac Wighton (O) beat Louis Dessalles (C) 15/1, 15/1, 15/12. Oxford lead 2 rubbers to 1
1st String Singles. Smart (C) was imperious in the first game, racing to 15/0 in two hands. Manson (O) then found his form much better and led for most of game two. At 8-13, Cambridge had another good run to level at 13 all, and Oxford chose set 3. Despite getting the serve back 4 times in the set, Oxford could not clinch any more points and Cambridge won the game 16/13. Another couple of good runs in the third game took Cambridge to 15/6. Many of the rallies in this top string contest were of the highest order, and Smart played many glorious, stylish winners that delighted the spectators.
Louis Manson (O) lost to Patrick Smart (C) 0/15, 13/16/ 6/15.
After the 4 singles matches the contest was level at 2 rubbers each.
2nd Doubles. This was the pivotal match in the 1st team contest and proved to be a hugely enjoyable tussle. Yorston & Probert (O) were well in control in the first two games, taking them 15/7, 15/8, and at 4-0 in the third game looked to have the match potentially in their grasp. But Adams & King (C) had other ideas. In just two hands they took the third game 15/4, and levelled the match when the fourth game also went their way, 15/7. So, a deciding game was needed. At 5 points all it was level-pegging, only for Oxford to race to match ball at 14-5 in one hand, including 7 points on serve. Surely Cambridge could not come back from 5-14, but they did, saving match point, and going to 14 all in their first hand. At 14 all, with both Cambridge players still in hand, Oxford would like to have had the option for set 5, but the Rules of Rackets only allow set 3 or no set at 14-14, so they had to settle for set 3. Oxford got Adams out of hand, but King took two more point on serve and then Cambridge won their first match point to seal what had seemed an unlikely result after the opening two games.
Benedict Yorston & Jake Probert (O) lost to Arthur Adams & Arthur King (C) 15/7, 15/8, 4/14, 7/15, 14/17.
Cambridge lead 3 rubbers to 2.
1st Doubles. This concluding match contained many long, exciting rallies and all four players contributed to the high standard of play. But it was Smart (C) who had that extra pace and penetration to finish many of these rallies, hitting the ball hard and low to force errors from the Oxford pair or make delightful outright winners.
L Manson & I Wighton (O) lost to P Smart & L Dessalles 7/15, 10/15, 6/15.
Cambridge wins the 2023 Varsity Match 4 rubbers to 2.
After all the matches had finished, the two teams were entertained by Pol Roger at a Reception in the David Norman Galleries for the presentation of prizes by Laurence Bialy from Champagne Pol Roger.
|Jan 25, 2023 - 12:00 AM||Jake Probert bt Arthur King||5/15 15/9 15/9 15/8|
|Jan 25, 2023 - 12:00 AM||Benedict Yorston lost to Arthur Adams||15/1 12/15 4/15 15/12 11/15|
|Jan 25, 2023 - 12:00 AM||Isaac Wighton bt Louis Dessalles||15/1 15/1 15/12|
|Jan 25, 2023 - 12:00 AM||Louis Manson lost to Patrick Smart||0/15 13/16 6/15|
|Jan 25, 2023 - 12:00 AM||Benedict Yorston & Jake Probert lost to Arthur Adams & Arthur King||15/7 15/8 2/15 7/15 14/17|
|Jan 25, 2023 - 12:00 AM||Louis Manson & Isaac Wighton lost to Patrick Smart & Louis Dessalles||7/15 10/15 6/15|