On Valentine’s Day, the Men’s Squash Blues reclaimed the Varsity trophy in the 84th meeting between the sides at The RAC, London. The exquisite venue, often billed as “The Home of Squash”, features some of the warmest and most humid courts in the country, which serve to make the already intense matches that little bit tougher. The Oxford and Cambridge players battled it out on the hot courts which show resemblance to “bear pits”, with a strong force of alumni and spectators cheering and hurling abuse from balconies above three sides of the courts.
The Oxford Men entered the day as marginal favourites following the graduation of Cambridge No.1 and 10-time Blue, Dr. Harry Leitch, and four returning Dark Blues. Captain Jon Carter (Jesus) set a strong precedent in the reserve string, defeating Ryan Mullarkey 3-1. At No. 5, Andrew Lindsay (Jesus) fell in straight games to his Cambridge counterpart, James Liley. The first of the three games of their string took an incredible 26 minutes to complete, typifying the intensity of the Varsity Match. Winning his first Blue, Thomas Paine (Oriel) faced his Cambridge opponent from 2014’s reserve string, Tab Captain George Johnson. At 1-2 down, it looked as though the match would head in Cambridge’s direction, but Paine recovered to win in emphatic fashion 3-2 and level the overall tie at 1-1. Alexander Roberts (Merton) used his extreme fitness on the unforgiving RAC courts and win 3-0 against Cavin Wilson. His sportsmanship and on-court attitude alongside his impressive victory earned him the Man of the Match trophy.
At No.2, Owen Riddall (Brasenose) approached the match confidently after winning the British Amateur Championship Plate two weeks previous at The RAC. However, Laurence Bruggemann proved a worthy opponent and took a close victory 3-1, which brought the tie level at 2-2. Oxford’s No. 1 Nelson Fung (Hertford) would thus enter his eighth and final Varsity, not only with recurring back troubles but also the pressure of the match on his slender Hong Kong shoulders. In a thrilling affair with Cambridge’s Alec Greaves-Tunnell, Nelson secured a 3-1 win and the Varsity trophy for Oxford, a fitting way to culminate his love affair with Oxford Squash, on Valentine’s Day no less.
The Women’s Blues entered the Varsity Match following strong performances in the BUCS leagues, narrowly missing out on an immediate return to the Premier Division. Following the graduation of 2014’s No.1 however, the tide would always be against the Dark Blues at Varsity, facing a much-strengthened Cambridge side. The Oxford team did however comprise all other 2014 Blues, and the returning players hoped their Varsity experience could mitigate the fresh talent in the Cambridge side. Oxford welcomed former Harvard player Georgie Brinkley (St. Hugh’s) to the side, whilst Cambridge gained new players at Nos. 2 and 3, including a post-graduate former professional tennis player. Captain Anna Gibson (Exeter) aimed to motivate her side with pre-Varsity homemade lasagna and the team descended on London fresh as a daisy. Unfortunately, the 5-0 winning score line from 2014 was reversed and some valiant performances from Oxford were not enough against a quality Cambridge team. Alysia Garmulewicz (Green Templeton) looked to be heading for a victory in the fourth string before falling 1-3 to Anira Perrera. Emily Peach (Magdalen) showed rays of quality and won the Women’s Player of the Match for her efforts in the No. 1 string. Finalist Mabel Li (Queen’s) lost in straight games, as did Brinkley (St. Hugh’s) and Gibson (Exeter) at Nos. 3 and 5.
The 2014-15 season has been an exciting year for the club. The Blues embarked on a two-week international tour to Boston and New York in January, featuring matches against Harvard, Brown and a number of racquet clubs. The club has reached its highest membership numbers and plans for court redevelopments are in place. Events off the court have been matched by success on it. The Women’s Blues have shown strong performances all year in BUCS, whilst the Men will hope to follow up the Varsity success with a strong showing in their playoff match against Nottingham on Wednesday. The winner will secure a place in the 2015-16 BUCS Premier Division. The Seconds Varsity takes place in Cambridge on Saturday 7th March. For any beginners interested in learning, OUSRC runs the England Squash Big Hit Scheme, along with members’ coaching run by the Blues. Please contact Members’ Officer Thomas Paine (Thomas.Paine@oriel.ox.ac.uk) for more details.
Andrew Lindsay, OUSRC President
Men’s. Oxford 3-2 Cambridge
- Nelson Fung (Hertford) 3-0 Alec Greaves-Tunnell (Emmanuel)
- Owen Riddall (Brasenose) 1-3 Laurence Bruggemann (Homerton)
- Alexander Roberts (Merton) 3-0 Cavin Wilson (Pembroke)
- Thomas Paine (Oriel) 3-2 George Johnson (Magdalene)
- Andrew Lindsay (Jesus) 0-3 James Liley (Darwin)
Res. Jonathan Carter (C) (Jesus) 3-1 Ryan Mullarkey (St. John’s)
Women’s. Oxford 0-5 Cambridge
- Emily Peach (Magdalen) 1-3 Ali Hemingway (Jesus)
- Mabel Li (Queen’s) 0-3 Rina Einy (Emmanuel)
- Georgiana Brinkley (St Hugh’s) 0-3 Isabel Maloney (Magdalene)
- Alysia Garmulewicz (Green Templeton) 1-3 Anira Perrera (Fitzwilliam)
- Anna Gibson (C) (Exeter) 0-3 Laura Mullarkey (Jesus)
Res. Eleanor Law (New) 0-3 Kristen MacAskill (Corpus Christi)