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The 2005 Varsity Match (16.6.2005)

Oxford beat Cambridge in the 2005 Varsity Match by 8 games to 1.

The match was held yesterday, Thursday 16th June, at the Hurlingham Club in London.

Richard Hilditch kindly agreed to come along to act as a referee, but he and the players were a little disappointed that the promised sunshine didn't materialise - instead it was cloudy with some misty rain and the odd heavier shower. The Hurlingham Club was its usual immaculate self, with the Marsh Classic professional tennis tournament going on as a backdrop to the Varsity Match (or the other way round, depending on your point of view). The rain ensured that the lawns were just on the slow side of easy-paced, but so much flatter and smoother than anything in Oxford or Cambridge that the teams found them a real pleasure to play on.

Oxford were strong favourites to win the match for the third year running, and most of last year's team were back again. In contrast, Cambridge had a team with very little experience of competitive Association Croquet. Four of the singles matches were settled in Oxford's favour by large margins, and at number two Mark Snow established an unassailable lead but was unable to close out a finish before time was called. In the last match, Sam Mooring seemed unusually out of form, and eventually lost by 7 to a good performance by Hugo Bush. Singles score: Oxford 5 Cambridge 1.

This year the traditional lunch at the Eight Bells was turned down in the interests of time. The Oxford team and some of the Cambridge team went to the River Cafe (I think the proprietor thought the Opens had started when we turned up in whites) while the remainder grabbed a sandwich from one of Hurlingham's own eateries. With the match won at lunchtime, the teams made five substitutions between them for the afternoon doubles. This didn't affect the pattern, as Oxford won all three matches, two of them by large margins again.

Cambridge can take a lot of positives out of their performance as they performed better than the gulf between the teams would have suggested. Hugo in particular seemed to have all the strokes, and with a bit more playing could be a good player. If Richard Gibson learned to be more decisive then he could improve very rapidly too, but as it was both his games went to time and it seemed that he couldn't possibly catch up in the three hours available. From the matches I saw, Andrew Cottrell and Roger Cotes played particularly well for Oxford.

Both teams would like to thank the Hurlingham club warmly for hosting the match once more.

Jonathan

Results: (Oxford names first)

Jonathan Kirby bt Asif Arshad (c) +20
Mark Snow bt Richard Gibson +12T (19-7)
Andrew Cottrell bt Mikey Lear +25
Sam Mooring lost to Hugo Bush -7
Chris Hansen (c) bt Michael T +24
Roger Cotes bt Chris Fenwick +24
Snow and Cotes bt Arshad and Alan Mak +23
Cottrell and Michael Solomon bt Bush and Gibson +10T (23-13)
Mooring and Anton Evseev bt Will Seymour and James Ellis +20

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