2007 Varsity Match

Rodney Knight reports:

Rain encourages Play

On a very wet but mild day at Eton, a collection of nearly 50 supporters were fortunate to see Fives of a high standard in all courts in this time-honoured encounter, which produced a third successive win for the Light Blues.

Making his final appearance for Oxford in this contest Peter Dunbar, reigning Kinnaird Cup and Northern Championship winner and unbeaten against Cambridge, never looked like being defeated at first pair with Peter Kennedy. They started well, forcing numerous errors from the Cambridge pair of Nick Gill and Alick Varma to take the game to 5, pressing this advantage further in the second with a 12-7 win. In the third, the skill and athleticism of Varma at last combined with the determination of Gill to produce a run of points that took them to game 15-10. Dunbar was especially well supported by Kennedy in the fourth, who cut decisively and returned low and hard from the back giving little away to the spirited Cambridge pair, who yielded 12-5 after a fine match.

There were keenly contested rubbers at second and third pairs too. James O'Callaghan and Aly Patel made fewer unforced errors than the Oxford pairing of Ollie Butler and Akshay Agrawal and so never came under heavy pressure. They both played assertively on and below the step, always a match for the determined Oxford pair when the rallies were extended and ran out winners 12-6 12-7 12-7.

Light Blue Captain Paul Jefferys also combined well with Bobbie Friedman and they did not let Will Betts and Andrew Erskine get a hold on any of the games. There were plenty of good rallies, but the Cambridge pair were harder to get off the step and won comfortably 12-5 12-5 12-6 claiming the Varsity laurels for Cambridge.The Penguins had made a clean sweep in their matches against the Peppers in the last two years and they were again a strong side. But spectators on this occasion were able to enjoy some really good and competitive fives in all three pairs as fortunes swung to and fro.

Ed Paul and James Womersley did manage to win first and in three games, but were taken to 15-14 in the second before asserting their superiority on the step. Mike Birkett and Chris Lewis were next to finish after a 4 game tussle with Frederick Krespi and David Welford. The Peppers first pair were always in the hunt, but allowed the first two games to run away from them before they claimed the third when the Cambridge pair appeared to lose concentration. They could not keep up their resistance however and Cambridge won 12-7 in the fourth. A titanic struggle was unfolding in second pair where Henry Mostyn and Duncan Bloor-Young for Oxford were keeping ahead of Julian Black and William Illingworth one game at a time. As Pol Roger time approached they moved into the end game at 10 all in the fifth, the Light Blues having lost their advantage at 10-7; and then the Oxford pair reasserted themselves and ensured that the second team match was not a clean sweep by winning 13-10.

For the first time in the history of the Varsity Match a Ladies pair was put forward by both Clubs.

Charlotta Cooley had already represented the Cambridge Penguins and won, and this time she was partnered by the very competent Kristina Clarke. They were just too strong for the Oxford pair of Esmay Luck-Hille and Juliet Browning. Cooley plays well on and off the step and had enough power in her strokes to force errors from her less experienced opposition.

The rest of the evening belonged to Pol Roger who through Mark Williams presented magnums of champagne to the winning captains of the Blues and Penguins sides at a Reception and Dinner which honoured the occasion and the efforts of the supporters and partners to make this a very special event in the Fives calendar.

The captains thanked Mark and Eton for entertaining them on their courts and in the staff dining room and hoped I am sure that the invitation would be repeated for future contests.

Another first had taken place in the morning when a 3 pair Old Blues match had been instituted, which Cambridge had also won.

Match Scores

The Blues:

Cambridge Won 2-1

Nicholas Gill (Magdalene & City of London) & Alick Varma (Jesus & Highgate) lost to Peter Dunbar (Balliol & Harrow) & Peter Kennedy (Magdalen & Westminster) 5-12, 7-12, 15-10, 5-12

James O'Callaghan (Christ's & Highgate) & Aly Patel (Trinity & Highgate) beat Oliver Butler (Balliol & Westminster) & Akshay Agrawal (University & Shrewsbury) 12-6, 12-7, 12-7

Robert Friedman (Emmanuel & City of London) & Paul Jefferys (Trinity & Berkhamsted) beat Will Betts (University & Lancing) & Andrew Erskine (Lady Margaret Hall & Shrewsbury) 12-5, 12-5, 12-6

The Penguins/Peppers:

Cambridge Won 2-1

Michael Birkett (Emmanuel & Shrewsbury) & Christopher Lewis (Jesus & Highgate) beat Frederick Krespi (Pembroke & Westminster) & David Welford (Pembroke & Shrewsbury) 12-8, 12-9, 8-12, 12-7

Julian Black (Christ's & Tiffin Boys) & William Illingworth (Queen's & Westminster) lost to Henry Mostyn (Pembroke & Eton) & Duncan Bloor-Young (Merton & Highgate) 9-12, 12-3, 11-14, 12-7, 10-13

Edward Paul (Trinity & Lancing) & James Womersley (Magdalene & Eton) beat Jonathan Nelmes (Oriel & Lancing) & John Owen (St.Johns & Highgate) 12-4, 15-14, 12-5

The Ladies:

Cambridge won 2-0

Kristina Clarke (Downing & Westminster) & Charlotta Cooley (Girton & St. Olave's) beat Esmay Luck-Hille (St Catherines & Westminster) & Juliet Browning (St Peters & Lancing) 12-4, 12-2

Kristina Clarke (Downing & Westminster) & Charlotta Cooley (Girton & St. Olave's) beat Oriel Carew (Magdalene & Westminster) & Juliet Browning (St Peters & Lancing) 12-6, 12-4