Varsity Squash-3344 (L-R): Anna Gibson, Mabel Li, Alysia Garmulewicz, Emily Peach (Captain), Lauren Crichton, Laura Gemmell, Eleanor Law
image courtesy of Matt Henderson Photography

Women’s Varsity Report 2014

Team: Laura Gemmell, Emily Peach (Captain), Mabel Li, Anna Gibson, Alysia Garmulewicz, Lauren Crichton (reserve)

In the sweltering hot surrounds of the Royal Automobile Club, the Women’s Blues were out for revenge after a disappointing loss in the 2013 Squash Varsity Match. Early momentum was provided through a confident 3-1 win in the reserve match by Lauren Crichton (Kellogg), but the tables were quickly turned by the hard-hitting Cambridge fifth string, as Blues debutant Alysia Garmulewicz (Green Templeton) fell two games down early in her match. A change in strategy saw Alysia exploit her opponent’s weak backhand, and growing in confidence throughout, Alysia fought back to claim an epic win and put Oxford 1-0 ahead.

The Tabs were quick to counter, as fresher Anna Gibson (Exeter) battled both a crafty opponent and injury before eventually falling in the fourth string match, levelling the scores at 1-1. Thankfully, 2013 Blues Captain Mabel Li (Queen’s) was enjoying better fortune on the other court, absolutely dominating her opponent in an incredibly clinical display of squash, and her 3-0 win at third string restored Oxford’s lead, 2-1.

It was fitting that it was 2014 Blues Captain Emily Peach (Magdalen) who then sealed the women’s Blues’ seventh title in the last eight years, with a comfortable 3-0 win in the second string match. Star player Laura Gemmell (St Cross) dazzled the crowd in the first string match with an emphatic 3-0 win over the Cambridge Blues Captain, who could do nothing to stop the devastating onslaught, including second and third game bagels.

Final score: Oxford 4-1 Cambridge

2014 Men's Blues Standing (L-R): Tom Paine, Owen Riddall, Ross Haines, Jon Carter, Andrew Lindsay
Kneeling (L-R): Nelson Fung, Dev Bhatty, Alex Roberts

Men’s Varsity Report 2014

Team: Nelson Fung, Owen Riddall (Captain), Alex Roberts, Dev Bhatty, Andrew Lindsay, Tom Paine (reserve)

It was with high spirits that the Men’s Blues took the court in the 83rd Men’s Varsity Match, following the women’s team’s brilliant performance.

Fresher Tom Paine (Oriel) put Oxford off to a strong start in the reserve match, with his slow-paced style frustrating an opponent clearly preferring a faster game. Tom exerted control over the match, wrapping up a bagel and a 3-0 win.

Earning his first Blue, Andrew Lindsay (Jesus) played a high-tempo fifth string game. Over almost an hour, Andrew and his opponent treated a large crowd to a see-sawing match, but Andrew’s opponent’s powerful length game paid dividends to take the match 3-1 and claim an early 1-0 lead.

Renowned for dazzling strokeplay, Dev Bhatty (Wolfson) was pitted against a very athletic Cambridge fresher in the fourth string match. Taking advantage of the healthy RAC court nicks, Dev got off to a cracking start, claiming the first game and taking an early lead in the second. Battling cramps and his speedy opponent, Dev then found himself locked at 7-7 in a deciding fifth game, but unable to seal the deal, Cambridge took a 2-0 lead.

Alex Roberts’ (St John’s) speed is almost as blistering as the heat in the RAC courts, and early in the first game of the third string match, his opponent tried an innovative tactic to try neutralise this advantage, as Alex’s nose and the Tab’s racquet made friends. Alex’s nose came out on top as it was the racquet of the two that broke, but a lengthy injury break followed waiting for the gushing bloodflow to abate.

2014 Blues Captain Owen Riddall faced an opponent billed as “one of the top-ranked squash players in [America]” in the second string match. The first game was extremely fast-paced, so after falling 1-0 down, Riddall played a much slower and more accurate game, pulling off a number of stunning drop shots to draw the game level at 1-1. Piling on immense pressure, the Cambridge player took the third, and a nail-biting end to the fourth ensued. Unfortunately Riddall could not seal the tie-break and the match was lost 3-1, sealing the Varsity Match for Cambridge.

Resuming after the injury break, Alex fell in the first two games, and the match looked set to finish quickly as Cambridge pulled away to a 8-4 lead. However, 75 minutes in the scorching heat and Alex’s almost sadistic love of fitness training paid dividends as he came back to take the third 10-8. Unfortunately, unable to sustain his momentum, Alex fell 9-5 to a four game defeat.

Earning his seventh Blue, Nelson Fung (Hertford) was up against his old foe, the Scottish international and ten-time Blue Harry Leitch. After some strokeplay that beggared belief, Nelson had game-ball in the first, but was unable to clinch the game and fell 10-8 in the tiebreak. The marathon first game and Harry’s powerful shots took their toll, and Nelson succumbed in straight games. Overall the Varsity Match then was a tight defeat not justly reflected by the 5-0 scoreline. With almost the entire squad returning next year, however, the men will be eager to turn the tables in the 2015 Varsity Match.

Thanks to our coach Ross Gore as well as Jonah Barrington and Ian Thomas at Millfield School for their continued help this season – we remain very grateful and fortunate to have the benefit of your assistance. Thanks also to Senior Treasurer Mike Sauvage, Senior Member Ken Reid, and Alumnus Bill Johnson for their contributions both towards the Varsity Match and throughout the year. Last but not least, thanks again to the club sponsor Dave Sherriffs and Varsity Match sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management, as without their continued support we could not make the Varsity Match the terrific spectacle that it is today.

Final score: Oxford 0-5 Cambridge