2009 Varsity Match

Rodney Knight reports:

The Battle of Wills

Oxford 2, Cambridge 1

The slightly later date of this time-honoured encounter produced the mildest weather for some years and ensured that natural light could be enjoyed throughout by players and spectators alike.

Although both Will Betts and Will Illingworth, the captains of the two Blues sides, lost their rubbers, their leadership did produce the closest contest for many years, with Oxford coming out on top in both the Blues and the second team matches.

In the first court, the Highgate pair of Max Little and Robert Desmond for Cambridge proved too strong for Rex Worth and Will Betts and won in three games. But the score belied a fine match, decided by the superior cutting and cut retrieval by the Light Blues.

The Oxford third pair of Balrik Kailey and James Batting started strongly against David Elliot and Chris Lewis for Cambridge, going 2 games up with good all-court play. The Light Blues tightened up their game to take the third and reach 9 points in the fourth before Oxford reasserted themselves to win the rubber in another good match.

This left the outcome depending upon the second pair rubber, where fortunes were alternating between Tom Greene and Peter Stewart for Oxford and Laurie Brock and Will Illingworth for Cambridge. After 3 games Cambridge led 2-1. Oxford had started strongly but then made a series of unforced errors giving the advantage to their opponents. After what must have been an inspiring team talk, they returned to take a closely contested fourth game to 9. Spectators' nails were down to the quicks as the fifth game progressed evenly until the rubber and the Varsity result was finally clinched by a last burst of concentration by the Oxford pair.

Each Blues side had won 15 games and, although Cambridge had won 25% more points, Oxford had produced the results when they really mattered.

Oxford Peppers 2, Cambridge Penguins 1

Some wayward pairing in the second team match between Oxford Peppers and Cambridge Penguins resulted in unsatisfactory 3-0 wins at both second and third pairs. The first pair rubber and the decider was a much more entertaining affair. Watts and Jackson for Cambridge were swamped in the first two games and then transformed themselves to take the next two. There was nothing to separate the two pairs as they fought towards 14 all in the fifth, but credit to von Guinneau and Peterson who snatched the final point to win the match for the Peppers.

The Ladies match was declared drawn.

Now in its third year, the Ladies match has become a significant and pleasant part of this occasion. The all-conquering Lancing pair of Rosie Scott and Juliet Browning achieved their second win for Oxford at first pair, making fewer errors and playing more decisively on the step. Annabel Griffiths was partnered this year for Cambridge by Karen Hird, a fine court games player, which evened the contest. The ball was hit lower on the front wall and the cutting and retrieval of cut was accomplished.

At second pair Emmalina Thompsell was partnered by another Westminster girl Lucie Bishop and they won a hard-fought rubber 3-1 against the determined Oxford pairing of Hannah Cutmore-Scott, also ex-Westminster and Emma Cernis.The Cambridge third pair of Elizabeth Burgess and Natalie Lilienthal were provided with no opposition but enjoyed a game with Rosie Scott and Emma Cernis.

All participants in this event were delighted that James Simpson a Director of Pol Roger was present at the champagne Reception to present the prizes to the winning Oxford teams and to the Ladies' captains. As is customary, the captains completed an enjoyable evening by thanking our hosts, the Provost and Fellows of Eton College and Mark Williams, who had expertly organised an excellent dinner and gave a tribute to Mike Fenn (EFA Secretary), for whom this was the last attendance as an official at the Varsity match.

(Cambridge names first)


Oxford won 2-1

Max Little (Trinity College & Highgate) and Robert Desmond (Corpus Christi & Highgate) beat Rex Worth (Lady Margaret Hall & Shrewsbury) and Will Betts (University & Lancing) 12-5, 12-4, 12-2 

Laurie Brock (Girton & Westminster) and William Illingworth (Queens' & Westminster) lost to Tom Greene (Worcester & Highgate) and Peter Stewart (Someville and Shrewsbury) 13-14, 12-3, 12-7, 9-12, 9-12 

David Elliot (Pembroke & Shrewsbury) and Christopher Lewis (Jesus & Highgate) lost to Balrik Kailey (Brasenose & St Olave's) and James Batting (Exeter & Harrow) 9-12, 8-12, 12-4, 13-15


Oxford won 2-1

Oliver Watts (Trinity Hall & Ipswich) and Alfred Jackson (Jesus & Westminster) lost to Friedrich von-Guionneau (St. Hilda's & Eton) and Theo Peterson (Corpus Christi & Westminster) 6-12, 3-12, 12-10, 12-7, 14-15

Edward Winfield (Peterhouse & Mill Hill) and Kevin Loke (St.Johns & Westminster) lost to Henry Mostyn (Pembroke & Eton) and Frederick Krespi (Pembroke & Westminster) 4-12, 2-12, 9-12

James Westrip (Churchill & Ipswich) and Max Kirchhoff (Downing & Stowe) beat Majid Mostafavi (Christ Church & Westminster) and Chris Sykes (Brasenose & Westminster) 12-6, 12-5, 12-1


Drawn 1-1

Annabel Griffiths (Gonville & Caius & Ipswich) and Karen Hird (St. Catharine's & Wycombe HS) lost to Rosie Scott (Magdalen & Lancing) and Juliet Browning (St. Peter's & Lancing) 8-12, 14-15, 12-7, 11-12

Emmalina Thompsell (Gonville & Caius & Westminster) and Lucie Bishop (Magdalene & Westminster) beat Hannah Cutmore-Scott (Christ Church & Westminster) and Emma Cernis (St. Edmund Hall & Westminster) 12-5, 10-12, 12-8, 12-4

Elizabeth Burgess (Gonville & Caius & St. Nicholas Catholic HS) and Natalie Lilienthal (Gonville & Caius Chelmsford County HS)

Oxford were unable to field a third pair

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