MEN'S B - MATCH REPORT
Won - 6-4
The fixture didn’t start well. We chose to play on grass, but Blewbury were unhappy with this, and ultimately one of their pairs refused to play on grass. In the spirit of getting a good match we agreed to have mixed surfaces, but this presented quite a challenge for the home team, who had to switch surface for each rubber.
Jie and Peter, playing as No. 1 pair took on Blewbury’s No. 2 pair who were happy to give the grass courts a go. Despite some good serves from Blewbury, Jie & Peter were pretty much untroubled and won 6-0 & 6-2. In the second rubber Peter and Jie had to move to the hard courts to Play Blewberry’s No. 1 pair. Trying to get used to the change in surface mid match coupled with a very consistent opposition resulted in Peter and Jie always being behind in the first set. Then staring at their first loss at 4-5 down, Pete and Jie steadied and took the set 7-5. You could feel the relief between Peter & Jie. The second set was tight and again Peter & Jie were down 4-5, but this time they could not claw back and lost 4-6. Onto the Championship tie break. Peter served first and they won the very important first point – RELIEF! They then followed up with a mini break after the first 3 points thus leading 2-1 on Jie’s service. Peter & Jie controlled the championship tie break and took it 10-4. Overall it wasn’t the best Peter and Jie had played but given the change of surface halfway through and the consistent nature of the No. 1 pair we were happy to walk away with the rubber. With hindsight Peter & Jie could have played as No. 2 pair so as to avoid having to get used to a different surface against the strongest pair.
For the second pair, the last-minute change of surface proved disadvantageous to the home side, as we struggled to find consistency and form, while the Blewbury pair - it has to be said - were rock solidly consistent. They also defended well, and were proficient at putting away easy volleys. Nick and Kwok would eventually re-discover some range in their shots, but peppered with far too many cheap mistakes, the match ultimately ran away too quickly to make any impression. Blewbury won this 1st rubber comfortably, 6-0 6-1. The second rubber, switched back to the grass, would turn out to be much more competitive. Maintaining their fighting spirit, Nick & Kwok fought hard. But a slow start gave way to falling a break of serve behind, and soon this gap would widen to two breaks. Some better play recovered one of the breaks, but eventually Blewbury took it 6-4. As would be the theme of the day for Nick & Kwok, yet another poor start to the second set meant they were once again playing catch up. Soon though, they gathered some momentum and in turn, some confidence. A love-hold of serve for Nick was swiftly followed by a love-hold for Kwok. Blewbury’s lead in the second set was relinquished, and by this point the tide was beginning to turn - their 1st player’s powerful 1st serve was now getting read, while their 2nd player’s serves faltered. Finally, Nick & Kwok broke to capture the second set 6-4, thereby forcing a championship tiebreak decider. In the tiebreak, Nick & Kwok again made the worst start possible. Kwok served two consecutive double faults to gift Blewbury yet another early lead. But some gritty, determined play coupled with some Blewbury mistakes of their own ensured this encounter would be decided on knife-edge. By some strange twist of fate, Nick & Kwok found themselves in the lead for the first time that day at 9-8 in the tiebreak. Undeterred by his first two service points of the breaker, on this match point Kwok went for broke on first serve. It found the net. The second found the mark. Blewbury returned it easily, but Nick was there for the volley. It bounced twice, just beyond Blewbury’s reach! And so after trailing behind for the entire rubber no less, we won it by the tightest of margins. Final score 4-6 6-4 “7-6” (10-8).
Those results gave Norham the match 3-1, and mean that we keep our spot as second team in the division, with only Oxford Sports ahead of us. Onward to the next match, away at Kingston Bagpuize B on Sunday 23rd July!