Cambridge defeated Birmingham away in a thrilling sudden-death playoff in the BUCS Cup. After securing a confidence boosting victory over Loughborough 2nds last week, the Blues were keen to end the term on a positive note.
At no.1 doubles, Robert Legg (Downing) and Vasya Kusmartsev (Trinity) were up against Birmingham’s Stephen Harlow and Finn McNally. The Cambridge pair lost the first set on the back of a spate of unforced errors. Bouncing back in the second set, they nearly let slip a comfortable second set lead but nonetheless levelled the match. However, Birmingham connected on their service returns to clinch the match tie-break, inflicting a 5-7, 7-5, 5-10 loss on the Blues.
Alex Cole (Downing) and Jamie Muirhead (Fitzwilliam) quickly levelled the tie at no.2 doubles against Birmingham’s Harry Jenkins and Janiv Shah. They were always in control, using their experience to churn out a 6-2, 6-4 win.
The four singles matches still could not decide the tie. At no.1 singles, Legg served well to clinch the first set against Harlow. However, his concentration slipped in the second set. Digging deep, Legg relied on his serve to win 6-2, 7-6. At no.2 singles, Kusmartsev was involved in a high-quality match but used the wrong tactics and consequently could not make any inroads into the match. The Cambridge player lost 2-6, 2-6 to McNally.
Next up, Cole was seemingly in control of the match until he was forced to move to another court. Thereafter, Cole’s concentration and intensity dipped and errors crept into his game. He lost 6-4, 6-7, 6-10 to Jenkins. 4-6 down overall, Cambridge needed to win the fourth singles match to stay in the tie. Muirhead duly saved the tie for the Blues as he grinded out a 7-5, 7-5 win.
With the tie level at 6-6, sudden-death playoffs were needed. Legg accounted for Kusmartsev’s tactical errors in the latter’s earlier singles match to win 10-5 against McNally. However, Muirhead could not seal the tie for the Blues. Although he made a bright start, he lost 9-11 despite saving three match points against Jenkins. In the final match of the tie, Cole and Kusmartsev put on a spectacular performance, showing nerves of steel to close out the tie, winning 10-3 in the doubles.
Heading into Lent, the Blues are placed top of their BUCS division.