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After an excellent season for the women’s blues, taking second in our BUCS league and demonstrating outstanding commitment and improvement, we were as ready as we’d ever been for a Varsity fixture. The team had been working hard both on and off the squash court, having started early morning strength and conditioning sessions with the Oxford Blues Performance Scheme earlier in the term. We also created a team Instagram and individual player profiles to rally up support for the game.

Our expectations of the day were realistic: Cambridge looked to have fielded an exceptionally strong team this year. Four of their top 5 were returning blues, and many of them had been bumped down a place due to the arrival of a previous US national junior champion and Harvard alum. We were there to enjoy the matches, show off our best squash and soak up the experience of our last (Sam and Katie) or first (Eve, Georgie, Isabel and Charly) Blues varsity.

Charly and Isabel started the proceedings at strings 6 and 5 respectively. Both players had come up from the ferrets squad and made massive improvements over a year of playing Blues. Their opponents were both very experienced players, with it being their 3rd season with the Blues. Charly lost the first game due to a few mistakes and nerves of the day, but dramatically improved in the second to take many more points. Unfortunately, just when it seemed she had taken control of the match, her player upped her game and won 3-0. Isabel performed consistently in her match and was as calm and relaxed as ever, but also went down 3-0. Next up were Georgie (4) and Eve (3). Georgie’s wacky playing style really baffled her opponent and she was able to take the first game after a fight for it. In the following games, her opponent steadily adapted and experience was clearly key. The match was extremely well fought, but Cambridge took it 3-1. Georgie’s performance deservedly won her women of the match for Oxford. Eve was up against a squash varsity veteran who had tallied up 4 Blues before this year. As ever, she demonstrated strong movement and skills and a lot of determination but her opponent took the match 3-0. She managed to keep her cool during the match, but stumbled before it even started with a referee warning during the warm-up! Playing at number 2 was Katie (last year’s number 4) against Anira (previous years number 1!!). Katie looked confident in the warm up, but Anira’s lob serve and drop-kills faulted her on almost every point. The best rally of the match was undoubtedly at match point, but Cambridge took that one 3-0 as well. Finally, Sam was up at number 1. She had a fantastic first game, dominating as her opponent made mistakes. Although the game was close, her experienced opponent won it which gave her the momentum for the next two. Sam fought for every point, and every one of the Oxford team should be extremely proud of their efforts!

The games were followed by a photoshoot (obviously) and all of the girls enjoyed watching the men’s matches and the dinner later, with friends and family joining us to celebrate.

As ever, we’d like to thank the Royal Automobile Club for hosting the match and making the day possible. Congratulations to Cambridge for their victory!

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P.s. if you’re a former US champion reading this, will you consider coming to Oxford next time?