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BUCS Premier Division – South Tournament

Oxford’s Men’s Blues team made the trip down to Cardiff to play in the first stage of their BUCS premier division 2018/19 campaign, marking this team’s first steps on the international stage. In a repeat of last year’s campaign, Oxford were grouped with University squash titans, UWE and Birmingham, and then also Imperial.

The weekend saw a tough start, with UWE the first to put the Blues through their paces. Despite keeping their world number one, Mohamed Elshorbagy, hidden lest the ball machine that is Alex Roberts cause an upset, UWE were looking as imperious as ever. All 5 players suffered tough 3-0 losses and UWE avoided any shocks.

On the Saturday afternoon the Blues were up against Birmingham, also one of the best sides in the country. Again, a few 3-0 defeats were doled out, albeit with much closer score-lines. Pranav Sharma, making his first appearance for the Blues in BUCS, replacing Tim Delport, after taking the morning off on account of his aging hips, produced the days standout performance, pushing his opponent all the way to 5 games in a match that could have gone either way. Another notable performance came from Tom Paine at number 2, who took a game off his talented opponent.

A night spent at the hotel and a meal at Cardiff bay clearly did wonders for the Blues, who came into their match against Imperial looking to repeat last year’s victory and seal the number three spot that would enable them to challenge Newcastle for the final position in the BUCS national top four. Tom Trott stepped up at 5, taking the match 3-1, despite seemingly forgetting that strokes were a thing in squash. Joe Sibley at number 4 managed to shake off the lactic acid and pull out another 3-1 victory. Pranav took his match at 3 in brutal fashion, dispatching his opponent in record time and sealing the overall win for the Blues. In court at number 2 against his perennial nemesis, Tom Paine managed to take the win in 5 in what was a very strange match, as is often the case between the two clashes of styles. Alex Roberts finished off the day at number one, seeking the fairy-tale ending to his Oxford squash career. Playing a tough opponent Alex fought back to level the match at 2-2 but just lost out after what was a hard weekend, facing some of the country’s best players.

Overall then, Oxford finished in third place, realistically the best they could’ve hoped for, and will make the long trip to Newcastle on 28th November to decide who will find themselves in the top four in the second half of the season. A huge thank you to all those who played for the Blues that weekend, there was some great squash and it bodes well for the rest of the season.

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