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BUCS Crossover Match Report

On Wednesday 28th November the Men’s Blues made the long journey up to the Northumberland Club in Newcastle to play in a BUCS crossover match that would decide who would seal their place in the national top four, and compete in the highest division of University Squash in Hilary.
Newcastle Uni had finished second in their Northern Premier League division, coming second to Nottingham Uni, and the Blues had finished third in a comparatively stronger division, meaning the Blues team had to play their fixture away from home.
The match was always going to be a close one, but the Blues got off to a fine start, with Pranav Sharma playing on the show court at no 3 against Newcastle’s David Collins. Pranav was in control throughout much of the match and, despite the usual onset of fatigue (read: melodrama) that caused him to drop a game, one of Tom Paine’s apples saw him secure the 3-1 win and set up Oxford up 3-1.
Meanwhile Tom Trott stepped on the neighbouring court at 5. Tom dominated the early encounters of his match, keeping his opponent behind him and playing some good squash. Although his opponent fought back within the games, narrowing the score lines, Tom was largely in control and managed to see out the games in a composed manner, winning 3-0.
Back on the show court Mandela Patrick had his work cut out against Chris Wiggins, the Newcastle captain and PSL player, at no 1. Chris was ultimately too strong for Mandela, and despite putting up a good fight, Mandela lost the match 3-0.
On the court at no 4 was Joe Sibley, whose recent training regime seemed to fail him (read: too many beers). Despite the players being fairly even within the rallies, it was Joe’s opponent who managed to convert the crucial points, taking the first two. Back on court for the third game, Joe’s opponent capitulated, clearly feeling the effects of the first two. Despite promising signs that this might mean that Joe would take the fourth, his own fitness ensured that this was not the case, losing the fourth after two clear points, and the match 3-1.
Thus club stalwart Tom Paine was the man to decide the match. Thanks to securing new kit, Tom managed to start the game wearing a shirt that wasn’t full of holes or stains, and clearly his opponent was intimidated by this, with Tom taking the first two games. His opponent fought back though, playing some good squash and pushing Tom hard. However Tom was too steady for his opponent, playing solid squash, and pushing him around the court. With the aid of Mandela’s U.S. style support, Tom took his match 3-1, and ensured Oxford’s long journey North was not wasted.
The match was a great result and ensures that Oxford will compete against the best teams in the country in the second stage of the BUCS Premier League in Hilary.