Oxbridge Tennis defeated by AELTC

Sven Sylvester 8 March 2013

Four of the Cambridge Blues travelled to the All England Lawn Tennis Club for the highlight friendly fixture of the tennis calendar. Cambridge paired with the top four players from Oxford to take on a formidable AELTC team consisting of Miles Maclagan, Andy Murray’s former coach before Ivan Lendl, Barry Cowan, who had taken Pete Sampras to 5 sets in 2001 and Jim May, another former professional who competed at several Wimbledon Championships in the 1990s.

The matches were played on the hallowed courts of Wimbledon, however, on green clay as opposed to the famed grass. James Shacklock and Charlie Cohen played at no. 1 doubles for the Oxbridge team against the formidable Cowan and Maclagan in the first round. After serving well and volleying with great precision, Shacklock and Cohen managed to win the first set 6-4. However, their fortunes turned in the second set and the Cambridge pair lost serve at 5-5 game to lose the set 5-7. The Cambridge pair remained competitive in the third set match tiebreak until 6-6, but the experience of their opponents came through and AELTC pair won the match tiebreak 10-6.

Shacklock and Cohen then faced a former Cambridge captain and another former professional. The Cambridge pair were taken apart by the quick hands of the AELTC pair and lost 1-6 2-6. After the match, Cohen remarked, “We didn’t play badly, but that is the worst I have been beaten for 3 years.” Looking for revenge in the last round, the Cambridge pair played the AELTC no. 3 pair and through some impressive play managed to win 6-2 7-5.

Captain Sven Sylvester and Constantine Markides paired up together as the other Cambridge pair. They got off to a flying start in their first match against the AELTC no. 3 pair and raced to a 4-1 lead. However, as the balls got older and the courts got slower they struggled to generate any pace and this playing into the hands of their crafty opponents. The first set ended up in a tie-break which the Cambridge pair lost 4-7. The second set followed a similar script, with the Cambridge pair struggling on return and another tiebreak was required. Unfortunately, due to two costly double faults they lost the tiebreak 5-7.

The Cambridge no. 2 pair then fell apart in the second round against some classy doubles players and suffered a 3-6 1-6 loss. The Cambridge pair then played Cowan and Maclagan in the final round. They played much better in this match as the pace of their opponents suited them. After some great forehand rallies and solid serving, the pair put up an impressive performance against the AELTC no. 1 pair but lost 4-6 4-6.

Overall, the Oxbridge team put up a great fight and the 10-2 score-line in favour AELTC did not reflect how close some of the matches were. The Blues now look ahead to a busy Easter term with friendly matches and the Varsity match looming.

Sven Sylvester