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Oxford Fixtures End MT to Wk 3 (HT) 2018

We’re behind on keeping you up to date on our fixtures, but not to worry, here’s a massive update! Our teams have been busy, having competed in the final weeks of Michaelmas, doing a massive training stint over Christmas ( 😉 ) and straight back into termly busy for Hillary.

Thanks to our captains, the reports are found below:

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Women’s Blues

Women’s Blue vs.  Nottingham Trent 1st (Away), Wk7 MT: Loss (1-3)

Women’s Blue vs.  Birmingham 2nds (Home), Wk8 MT: Win (4-0)

Women’s Blue vs.  Nottingham 2nds (Home), Wk3 HT: Result Pending

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Squirrels

Men’s Squirrels vs.  Birmingham 3rds (Home), Wk6: Win (4-1)

The Squirrels had their first taste of a worthy opponent with this week’s home fixture against Birmingham 3rds. You wouldn’t think much of the Brummie boys, given their tied spot in the league table with Warwick 2nds at number 3. But from watching them play in their warm-up session, we knew that this fixture was going to be harder than usual. The Squirrels fielded a strong and familiar team this week – all of whom had been performing exceptionally well in training sessions and matches. First on court were 5th and 4th seeds Amar and Aaron. Amar started off strong winning his first and second sets 11-4 and 11-9. A few unforced errors by Amar, and an increase in pace by his opponent left Amar struggling to keep the momentum going, costing him his 3rd set. A little break was all that was needed for Amar to match his opponent’s pace and to push his shots wider and deeper, ultimately winning his 4th set 11-6. Aaron similarly started strong winning his first 2 sets 11-6 and 11-5. However by the 3rd set, his opponent had realised Aaron’s tendency to keep the rally going; he capitalised on this by attempting more loose, but nonetheless, attacking shots, forcing Aaron to make the mistakes. Aaron eventually lost his match 3-2 in the longest match of the day. 3rd and 2nd seeds Felix and Colin then stepped on court. Felix had a tight first 2 sets, with service handovers happening at almost every rally. Thanks to the observant eyes of his teammates, Felix realised his opponent’s ability to attack only when the ball was in the half court zone. With the score at 1-1, Felix changed his gameplay to hit more length varied shots, which worked wonders – he won his next 2 sets comfortably. Colin’s opponent looked like the only real threat to our team – a tall and lanky player who could comfortably play a range of short and long shots at whim. But this was no challenge for Colin – with his steady and controlled gameplay, he easily blazed through the sets winning 3-0, leaving his initially cheery and quirky opponent, looking lost and confused. Rory (as usual) showed up late due to extended tutorial sessions, but was quick to get on court and start his match. Rory prolonged his rallies in the first set to get into a nice rhythm, but even this soon proved to be too much for his bulky muscular opponent. He won his match comfortably at 3-0, a bit disappointed that it wasn’t much of a challenge. All in all a great performance from the Squirrels!

Men’s Squirrels vs.  Loughborough 2nds (Away), Wk7: Loss (2-3)

The 2nd round of the Midlands Conference Cup saw the Squirrels travel up to Loughborough to play a familiar foe from the previous season’s cup tournament: Loughborough 2nds. Having defeated them in a tough battle last year at home (3-2), we knew we needed a strong team (which was always difficult for away matches). Things looked promising with the line-up of available players (quote Caspar: “Is this a dream team?!”), and so we felt confident and full of spirit on our drive up north. Loughborough’s cheery captain greeted us at their familiar short-ceiling courts, and was kind enough to point things out for us, and to get us going. 4th and 5th seeds Caspar and Sam started their matches after a very brief warm-up session. It seemed like a pretty good match of seeds: both Caspar and Sam had very similar styled opponents. Caspar’s first set was rather tightly contested, with quite a high number of service handovers. However, it seemed as though his opponent was always one step ahead of him, especially in the 2nd and 3rd sets – he eventually lost 3-0. Sam started off his match going all out, zooming from corner to corner. After winning his first set, it was clear that Sam needed to give it his all to win this match. His hard-hitting and uber-fit opponent capitalised on Sam tiring out to win his next 2 sets comfortably. Isaiah and Kharthik took turns to remind Sam of his opponent’s inability to play short shots, and to only want to play deep. This helped Sam comeback in the 4th set, but was unfortunately not enough to win the match – a closely contested 2-3 loss nonetheless. Next on were 3rd and 2nd seeds Kharthik and Isaiah. Kharthik was already feeling lethargic and was hoping for there to be no pressure on his part to perform. His tiredness showed when he lost his first set from a ridiculous number of silly errors. The disappointment of losing knocked some spirit into him, which made him comeback in the next 2 sets, capitalising on his leftie opponent’s tendency to always play a forehand drop off a tight cross-court. The mistakes crept back into Kharthik’s gameplay in the 4th set, levelling the score at 2-2. Thanks to Isaiah’s tactical breakdown, Kharthik came back strong in the final set and let out a roar as he won 3-2. It was all down to Ed to send the Squirrels into the Quarter Finals of the cup. Things looked promising as Ed won his first 2 sets comfortably. Just when things looked to be swaying our way, Ed’s opponent started pulling out tighter shots, forcing Ed to work deeper into the corners of the court. It was a gruelling, nail-biting match which unfortunately ended in a comeback from the Loughborough top seed. Unfortunate as it was, the Squirrels first loss of the season had to be in a cup fixture, spelling our exit from the Midlands Conference Cup. Nonetheless, it was a great display of squash – well played to everyone!

Men’s Squirrels vs.  Nottingham 3rds (Away), Wk8: Loss (1-4)

The Squirrels’ final fixture of the term saw us facing our biggest threat in the league: Nottingham 3rds. Up until this match, our opponents had yet to concede a single game to any team, thus scoring the maximum number of league points possible. While this seemed daunting, the Squirrels knew their strengths, and were confident of at least being able to shake things up! Making the long journey up north to the beautiful David Ross Sports Village in the Nottingham University campus, were both Eds, Isaiah, Caspar and Kharthik. Nottingham’s courts looked as if they were temporary structures, what with their canvassed walls above the side wall out line, and tall warehouse-like ceilings. Nonetheless, everyone agreed that the courts were of excellent quality. After a lengthy warm-up, and gawking at the Nottingham 1st team training session, matches commenced. First on court were 2nd seed Isaiah, and 5th seed Caspar. Isaiah started off at a slow pace, wanting to gradually gain rhythm in his game. His opponent however had other plans and began attacking right from the start. After losing the first set, Isaiah picked up the pace with more volleys and attacking shots, which gave him the next 2 sets. The speed of each rally took a toll on Isaiah in the 4th set making him loose accuracy in his shots. However he came back strong in the final set to win his match 3-2, in what was probably his hardest match all season! Caspar faced a pretty tough opponent who was tall, fit and had great racket control. In the first set, Caspar managed to snag a few points from his opponent’s unforced errors. However, the competitor soon realised that prolonged rallies was all that was needed to force Caspar to make the mistakes. Despite tactical break-downs between sets, Caspar eventually lost his match 0-3. With a 1-1 overall score, things looked promising for the Squirrels as 4th seed Ed C and 3rd seed Kharthik stepped on court for their matches. Ed’s plan to intimidate his opponent from the warm-up session seemed to work well, causing him to win his first set. The 2nd set was any man’s game – each rally was long and filled with tight shots, ending on a 9-11 score.  However, it was downhill from that point for Ed as he struggled to match the Nottingham player’s fitness – the match ended with a 1-3 score. Kharthik began his match in his usual quick-to-kill style, but this did not work well for him. His opponent was very consistent and kept the ball glued to the side wall, making it extremely hard to intercept and to play attackingly. After losing 2 sets, Kharthik heeded Ed B’s advice to choose his shots and to play the rallies out. This led to a gruelling 2-2 comeback from the captain. A small change to a hard-hitting style of gameplay from the Nottingham player proved too much for Kharthik to cope with, unfortunately causing him to lose 2-3, and the Squirrels to lose on overall matches. The final match of the day saw 1st seed Ed B face the captain of the opposition. It was quite clear from the start that Ed’s opponent had a much higher standard of play compared to the rest of his teammates. While Ed tried his best to take control of the court and to apply pressure, his opponent’s shots were far too accurate for him to be able to do anything substantial. The match was short and ended with a 0-3 score, spelling a 1-4 loss for the Squirrels. Nottingham 3rds were worthy opponents and gave us one of our toughest fixtures this term. Despite dropping to 2nd place in the league, things look promising for the upcoming home fixture, where the Squirrels will most probably be able to field their top seeds. We still have a strong chance of ending the year with a promotion to a higher division!

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Ferrets

Women’s Ferrets vs.  Nottingham 3rd (Away), Wk7: Forfeit (4-0)

Oxford unfortunately unable to field a full team for the away match

Women’s Ferrets vs.  Northampton 1sts (Home), Wk8: Win (3-1)

No match report due to student examination/study priorities.

Women’s Ferrets vs.  De Montford 1sts (Away), Wk3: Tied (2-2)

Third week sees the Ferret’s first match of Hilary term: an away game against De Montford’s firsts, who currently top the league. Parking the usual road trip in favour of the National Rail service, Intie, Jess and Alex track North to meet their rivals on their home turf. Despite an initial minor complication of having left half her kit at home, Jess plays seed three and clinches victory in a straight-set win off the bat. A dominating strong overhead serve and some consistent short-court game makes it a quick match for the Oxford Ferrets. Next up is Intie playing seed 2, who comes up against a De Montford player with a strong deep-court serve. Having toussled and won the first set 11-8, Intie ranks up her game with some incredible offensive boasts and short court hits to win the next two sets with ease in another straight-set triumph. Finally, Alex comes up against a very strong De Montford 1st seed, and puts up an incredible fight with impecable squash prowess. The rallies are long and hard-won, with some intense back-court boast short-drop combos, but ultimately De Montford come out to win 3-0, thanks in part to a wicked serve. Having had to forgo a fourth player, the Ferrets leave Leicester tied 2 games to 2, and enjoy a pleasant train ride back to Oxford featuring a packet of ginger biscuits. With a home game in Week 6 and Varsity looming around the corner, its back to the squash court for the Ferrets in preperation for the last of the season’s games.

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BUCS (1)