Downing and Churchill battle their way through tennis cuppers towards a top class stand off, reports ROB LEGG.
Easter term has arrived and sunny weather is round the corner (promise), yet the Lawn Tennis cuppers is well underway and has reached the final stage. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happened so far:
At first sight of the top side of the draw, all eyes were on a potential rematch of last year’s final, Trinity vs Emma, at the semi-final stage. However, the underdogs had other ideas, with both of the top seeds falling foul in the second round.
Sidney Sussex conquered a weakened Trinity team, who were lacking some of their top players, 5-4, and continued good form to take their cause all the way to the semi-finals with captain John Hopkins using boisterous crowds as a 7th man to good effect.
The Emma team were a shadow of their former selves, lacking any of the four blues they have been able to call on in previous years, and were taken apart 8-1 by a Downing side with much improved strength lower down the order.
Both Sidney and Downing continued to be the proverbial David’s of the top half, each seeing off another seed in the quarter finals before a blockbuster semi-final. Downing won this clash for the loss of a single match and in doing so, took the coveted place in the final.
The bottom half proved much harder to call. With a more even spread of talent across the colleges, all was to play for, yet the seedings predicted a Churchill-Christ’s semi-final.
The first and second rounds went by without upset, yet in the quarter finals, Jesus made their move, ousting 2nd seeds and 2010 champions Christ’s 5-4 to book a semi-final slot.
Churchill meanwhile continued their inexorable progress with central European-like efficiency, dismissing the challenge of a Catz team possessing some quality top-order players, and became the only top 4 seed that lived up to its billing
In the semi-final itself, the juggernaut of Churchill could not be slowed, and although the weaknesses of its top order were laid bare by the talent and flair of Jesus’ top players, the sheer strength of Churchill’s team proved too great, and they recorded a 6-3 to reach the final.
At Fenners, on the afternoon of Friday 15th June, the Old-Western-style contest will commence. Both teams have undeniably having earned their place in the final. Downing lost only one match in each of their ties, though it could be said that Churchill have had the harder draw.
Yet as the old sports adage says, you can only beat the opposition in front of you, and previous results will count for nought on the hallowed lawns of Fenners. Churchill may be favourites, and with 4 university players to Downing’s 3 they may have the edge. Yet Downing’s team is an experienced (or aged) one by cuppers standards, and this nous may prove pivotal at the clutch.
It’s going to be a showdown of the highest order. The big question is, who’s bringing the bigger guns?