TABLE TENNIS 2012 / 2013
Captain: Matthew Guinness
The Table Tennis Table is located in Back Quad
2011 / 2012
Officers: Captain Euan Campbell
Table tennis is far more than just a minor sport at Queen’s College. In fact, it means lots of different things to lots of different people. For some, it provides an opportunity to unwind and gain some respite after a long revision session in the library, and for others it represents a possibility of pitting their mental strength and physical fitness against other like-minded athletes. Whatever the reason for playing, it is undeniable that the table tennis room, rightfully taking pride of place in Queen’s College back quad, has been the venue for much competition and relaxation this year.
Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication between the MCR and the JCR, Queen’s did not have the chance to display its table tennis ability on a university-wide level in Cuppers. As a result, table tennis has been a rather internal affair. The year began optimistically, as many tried to peer into the windows of the table tennis room and pressed their noses against the door in Freshers’ Week, eager to play again after the long summer. Alas, they were confronted by curtains and a firm lock, until finally in 1st week the room was opened and table tennis could begin. To say that there has been competition to use the table would be an understatement as anyone seeing the race between Parav Pandya and Fred Woodcock to the Lodge for the table tennis room key will attest.
Such enthusiasm to play has been encouraging and the standard of play of numerous players has improved immensely. The awards for best improvers have to go to Milo Comerford and Samuel Poppleton, who have honed their unorthodox styles over the course of the year with the result that they can now trouble even the most seasoned players. In addition to vast improvement, the table has also witnessed some outrageous rallies, from hard-hitting engagements steeped in heavy topspin to dinky, angled and sliced touches. Outstanding in these areas have been the regular trio of Euan Lawson, Matthew Guinness and Thomas Parker, often drawing in sizeable crowds to watch their matches, and making table tennis the College’s number one, post-lunch spectator sport. Lawson deserves particular mention. A lawn tennis player by trade, he has proved that there are transferrable skills between the two sports, finding great success with his ferocious double-handed backhand. Furthermore, his ability to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat time after time has justifiably earned him the spot of best player in the College. But above all, it is his gentlemanly behaviour and delightful demeanour around the table that makes him such an ambassador for the sport. In fact, all the players this year have shown a great respect for the table and for the privilege it is to have a room dedicated solely to table tennis. A table tennis report would not be complete without a second mention of Parav Pandya. When pounding the gym in order to improve his game did not produce the desired effects, he turned his game towards subtlety and craftsmanship, the spin which he now gets on his forehand sends opponents to the walls begging for a larger room. In all, the year has yielded a fine table tennis season, full of athleticism, mental strength and most importantly, enjoyment.
2010 / 2011
Captain: Max Tilly
2009 / 2010
Officers: Captains Max Tilley and Richard Bosworth
Things were looking grim for table tennis at the start of the year. The College had lost four of the six who made up the top two teams last year, and the remaining two were spending much less time on court. Although there was no shortage of enthusiasm, there was a distinct lack of quality compared to previous years. The captains looked nervously into the window of BQ 4/1 throughout Michaelmas Term to see only wild swinging and post beer-cellar games of “around the world”. Crisis meeting followed crisis meeting, but there did not appear to be any solution. Max Tilley was drafted in as the third member of the 1st III, and the team just had to hope that opponents would not notice his shaky backhand, or be real sticklers about the no second serve rules. It was still a concern that there were no other obvious teams.
With the long periods of cold and snow, and corresponding loss of enthusiasm for the traditional outdoor sports, the table tennis room was more popular than ever. Long queues would form, and after dinner it really was standing room only. A new set of table tennis bats were purchased, along with a big tub of balls, in the hope of drawing some talent from the woodwork. Yet it was not until a chance encounter in the Moffatt room that things started to look up. A quick game with a first-year mathematician, and the air was alive with tentative excitement. Was William Higham the solution to all our problems? He was very modest when telling of his junior career in the county leagues of Yorkshire. He played a strange cackhanded style, but his consistent defensive play was the unravelling of most who played him. It turned out that Will played often as one of a trio of players. Why they had not been seen before was something of a mystery. So, as soon as the e-mails about Cuppers started to come in, the College produced two teams, the original team (nominally the firsts) and a second team led by Will Higham, including Mark Tomlinson and Andrew Robertson.
The opening matches were encouraging for both sides. The 1sts stunned an underprepared New College side, taking the match 9-0, and carried that momentum into the second game against a team from Hertford, who might as well not have been there. It all went wrong against Wadham though. Their university chopper tore through the Queensmen he played, exposing Tilley’s backhand and overwhelming an out of practice Tom Dalton. A couple of consolation points were taken from their third man, an unknown quantity, creating a 7-2 loss. The two 9-0 thrashings guaranteed the team’s place in the play-offs. The second team was equally successful. Somerville and the other Hertford team proved no real obstacle, but it came unstuck against a Balliol MCR team. When it turned up in tracksuits and specialist shoes, the first years knew they were in for a fight. The captain used all thirty-five years of table tennis experience to defeat Will in a gripping match. The victories from Mark and Andrew were not enough to win the match. Despite losing this match, the team’s points made them the highest placed runners-up, and gave them fourth spot in the semi-finals, making this the fourth year in a row that two Queen’s teams reached this stage.
Balliol were drawn against Queen’s 1sts, while the seconds would deal with New. The other teams’ tardiness led to the finals stage being postponed until Trinity Term, by which stage bats were gathering dust as pens had become the dominant right-hand implement. Nevertheless the 1sts took the time off to meet Balliol at Iffley, which has traditionally hosted all the major games in the tournament. Although the Queensmen had not played properly for a few weeks, they were hassled to keep their warm-up brief and in the end that could have been crucial. Although the opening matches went to Mark Tomlinson (who had replaced Richard Bosworth for the day), it was known that the tricky captain would be the real test. After a great effort, Queen’s failed. Try as they might there was no way round the big man, and he scythed through the experienced David Murgia and Max Tilley in record time. The smug grin reappeared and the 1sts were removed from the competition. The 2nds, however, played scintillating table tennis. The New College first team proved no obstacle to them, and their 8-1 victory seemed almost too easy, leading some to question the seeding of the groups. Therefore the Queen’s freshmen were to meet their nemesis Balliol MCR in the final.
Balliol did everything they could in the weeks leading up to the match to catch Queen’s out, trying to organise it at awkward times, rejecting all the dates requested, and generally being difficult. When he received an e-mail telling him that he was on course to forfeit, their captain replied that his team would come over in two hours time. It was the week before their exams, but the team was quickly organised and all this just strengthened the resolve to win. When Mark and Andrew won their first games, more trickery was employed. The captain rang his other players to try and replace the out-of-form third man. Queen’s put their foot down and explained that it was against the rules. The substitute eventually appeared anyway and lent his voice to the argument. A telephone call to the organising board resulted and Balliol were instructed to carry on with the original player. He did not disappoint, losing spectacularly to Andrew Robertson, who was playing some of the finest table tennis of his career. When the captain just squeezed out the points from his games, only the doubles remained to be played. It is often a nail-biting affair when the match comes down to doubles, and this time was no exception. Things did not start well and Queen’s were 2-0 down. Tomlinson called a time-out, and after a quick huddle the pair returned to the table with renewed vigour. The aggressive table tennis that followed is not something that will be forgotten by spectators in a hurry. Ducking and weaving everywhere, there seemed to be nothing that the duo could not return. As frustration mounted for Balliol, unforced errors started to creep into their game and Queen’s took advantage of every one. Even a dubious let in the final few points did not stop the freshers winning 3-2 in the doubles. The final result was 4 games Queen’s, 3 games Balliol. After many years the Cuppers trophy is finally returning to The Queen’s College. Congratulations to the three who won it, and it is hoped that another few years of similar success will follow.
2008 / 2009
Officers: Captain Matthew Pickles
A study published in 2009 showed that playing table tennis can improve your IQ. For this reason, Queen’s table tennis team launched into the 2008-09 season with renewed vigour, producing the best year in recent Queen’s table tennis history.
Possibly the excitement of an Olympic year explains the entry of a record four teams into Cuppers. The third and fourth teams consisted almost entirely of an enthusiastic contingent of freshers. The fourths were led by Nathan Roberts, Alan Hayward, and the nerveless Ellen Pilsworth who won all her matches against a useful Balliol side. The thirds boasted Ben Willis, Tom Dalton, and captain Max Tilley who imposed a punishing training regime that began at 7am twice per week to allow an uninterrupted hour before breakfast. Both teams played some good table tennis and were unlucky to come one place outside the qualifying spots in their groups. On this showing the future of table tennis at Queen’s appears to be very bright. The second team was captained by Richard Bosworth and starred last year’s captain David Murgia. They were drawn in the “group of death” which included the eventual runners-up, Balliol’s all-German first team, and last year’s runners-up, Oriel firsts. In the opening game against Balliol, David Murgia came back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 with some stunning aggressive play. Richard Bosworth then took advantage of his opponent’s weak defence to defeat the Balliol number two by 3-0, but, sadly, Queen’s lost by 4-3. A victory over Worcester seconds, in which the dream team of Murgia and Bosworth scored the first of many doubles victories, left Queen’s needing to beat Oriel 6-3 to make it past the group stages. At 5-3 up Matt Pickles battered the Oriel number one 3-0 to take Queen’s through to the quarter-finals. Sadly, Wadham firsts, whose star player had won the individual tournament earlier in the week and whose number two had a mental edge over Pickles, proved too strong for Queen’s, narrowly winning by 4-3. Murgia and Bosworth will form the core of Queen’s first team next year and will join the University squad.
The Queen’s firsts featuring Kamel El Omari, Matt Pickles, Andrew Rubins, and the College’s best racket sports all-rounder of recent years, Thomas Bowden were the joint pre-tournament favourites. All were in their final year at Queen’s and had reached the final twice before. Rubins, who had played for the University in his first year, was tempted from the golf course for a last assault on Cuppers. It quickly became apparent that no other college team in Oxford was in their league as they sauntered through the group stages 9-0, 8-1, 9-0. In the next round Bowden and Pickles beat both the blues men’s and women’s captains on their dodgy home table in an 8-1 victory over Worcester. Another blues player was humbled by Rubins and Bowden in the quarter-finals at Iffley Road as Queen’s triumphed 8-1 over Corpus, and they looked odds-on for the title until the semi-final draw was announced. Queen’s firsts were against the Chinese Society, which has two thousand members and whose team contained three blues and the blues’ coach. Queen’s breathtaking defensive play helped Kamel stun the Chinese number one to take the match to a decider in the doubles at 3-3. In the best match ever seen in the newly refurbished Queen’s table tennis room, Bowden and Kamel twice came from behind to take the match into a fifth game tie-breaker. At 13-14 down a rare foul serve gave the Chinese victory. It was a valiant effort from the Queensmen to cap a glorious if ultimately trophy-less few years. News that the Chinese Society, who won the final by 9-0, are now no longer allowed to compete as a society in Cuppers will prove some consolation.
Table tennis has increasingly become the hobby of choice throughout the College at large and this year brought the inaugural intra-college tournament. In the doubles final, Lizzie Burrowes and Matt Pickles’ unexpected chemistry helped them triumph over James Kelly and James Thompson. Alfie Enoch and Ronan Ferguson reached the singles final which has yet to be played.
The club would like to thank the College for providing a new state-of-the-art floor in the table tennis room that has given Queen’s the best arena in Oxford.
2007 / 2008
Captain: Matthew Pickles
Officers: Captain Matthew Pickles
The 2007/2008 season produced strong interest in table tennis in Queen’s, and two teams were entered into Cuppers. The first team of Thomas Bowden, Dylan Grainger and Matt Pickles reached the finals day at the Iffley Road sports ground where they were beaten in the semi-finals by a very strong Mansfield side. The second team, ably captained by David Murgia, progressed to the quarter finals of Cuppers. Within the College, the table tennis table was used more than ever, and this is expected to continue as new flooring was installed in Trinity Term.
2006 / 2007
Captain: Andrew Rubins
2005 / 2006
Captain: John Colgan
The season began with great hopes since the College had a stronger team than that which finished fourth in the previous year’s Cuppers competition. This year four teams were entered in Cuppers. The two inexperienced teams were knocked out in the group stages, but the other two teams which had competition veterans in their ranks were both narrowly defeated in the quarter-final stages.
The first team lost to a Balliol side that contained the fourth best player in the university, and were the eventual runners-up. Both Thomas Bowden and John Colgan had chances to defeat Balliol’s number one, but were eventually undone by his prodigious forehand topspin, and the speed with which he moved across the table to unleash this weapon. Indeed, his tactics were uncannily reminiscent of the 2004 Olympic champion Ryu Seung Min. With Queen’s number three, Andrew Rubins, suffering the severe handicap of playing without his customary blade or rubbers, he slipped to defeat in both his singles matches. Queen’s was thus 4-2 down, and the doubles became irrelevant.
The second team, which had no university players, failed to overcome an unspectacular Mansfield side in the quarter-final. A gruelling encounter ended the prospects of Nick Fosh, Mark Carpenter and Dylan ‘Ace’ Grainger.
Despite the season’s disappointments, it is encouraging to be able to report that the table tennis table is in almost constant use throughout every day, thereby helping to provide relaxation for many students during breaks from the Library. In fact, according to those who have been in the College since its inception in the early seventies, the table tennis room has never been so well used as at the present time.
2004 / 2005
Captain: John Colgan
In 2005 Queen’s desperately sought to reclaim the Cuppers crown they historically have had some degree of dominance over. Their tactics initially consisted of entering as many teams as they could muster, but sadly three of the four sides were eliminated in the group stages. Only the ‘A’ team of John Colgan, Nick Fosh and Will Lander progressed into the knock-out phase. They did so easily, having beaten the likes of Corpus and Somerville in the process.
Another comfortable win left them up against St. Catz finest in the quarter-finals. Catz boasted the uni women’s no. 2 and a blues tennis player in their ranks: a nail-biting affair beckoned. Colgan twice recovered from behind to defeat both Catz’s nos. 1 & 2, and with Fosh and Lander both edging out the unorthodox Catz no.3 the tie was won. So, off to Iffley Road Queen’s went for finals day, but were very much the underdogs against strong teams from Jesus, Lincoln and St. Hughs.
A semi against Jesus meant Colgan had to win both his games against Jesus’s Varsity players for Queen’s to stand any chance. Sadly, he was unable to produce his ‘A’ game and was defeated in both his singles matches. Fosh and Lander were unable to adapt to the quantity of spin on show from Jesus and they too slipped to defeat in both their games. Jesus went on to defeat Hugh’s in the final and Queen’s lost a perfunctory third-place play-off to Lincoln. Nonetheless, this was an excellent effort from an inexperienced side, and, with the addition of one or two freshers, they could be challenging for the title again next year.
Casual table tennis also took off during exam season in Trinity term, with an unofficial ladder springing up and gaining the participation of no fewer than thirty finalists seeking solace from hours spent in the library. This degree of enthusiasm for the game bodes well for its progress in college, and the continued maintenance of the table within Back Quad.
2003 / 2004
Captain: Nick Fosh
After several years of dominance in cuppers, last year Queen’s entered a team entirely consisting of freshers. Although little was expected in terms of silverware the team pushed aside the other teams in their group with easy victories in all their games. However, coming up against a strong side from St. Peter’s in the knockout stages, Queen’s bowed out 5-2. They left with their heads held high and expectations exceeded, looking forward to revenge this year. Thanks must go to all who made contributions: Ahmet Feridun (captain), Nick Fosh, Mark Gray, Kurosh Nikbin and Will Lander
With an abundance of keen freshers coming in this year, the new season looks set to herald the beginning of a recovery of Queen’s dominance on the table tennis tables of Oxford!
2001 / 2002
Captain: Brian Taylor
This year the College reclaimed its position as cuppers champions. Helped no doubt by Queen’s recent success in cuppers, and by the acquisition of a new table, made possible by the generosity of the Amalgamated Sports Club and the JCR, enthusiasm for table tennis was at an all-time high this year. Several Queen’s teams entered this year’s cuppers tournament, although only Queen’s I was involved after the group stages. With university player Georges Sokol due to leave this year, the team was determined to do well and allow Sokol to bow out on a high note.
The second round was against St. Anthony’s, who posed no threat whatsoever to Sokol, Rob Lawton and Brian Taylor. Jesus, our opponents in the quarter finals had two university players, and Queen’s was fortunate that the ‘discovery’ of Richard Stuckey strengthened the team. It was important that Sokol won his two matches to give Queen’s the chance of progressing further and he duly obliged, making light of the difference in ranking between him and the Jesus No.1. With Stuckey and Lawton each beating the Jesus No. 3, the team had won the necessary four out of seven games and marched relentlessly on. St. Hugh’s were brushed aside in the semi-finals. The final, however, was a more daunting prospect. Exeter, the reigning champions, had two Blues players in their side and had every reason to expect a victory. But the Queen’s team was made of stern stuff. Although Exeter’s No.1 beat both Sokol and Lawton, and Stuckey lost to their No.2, Queen’s kept pace with their opponents, Sokol and Stuckey each winning their other singles game and then, crucially, winning the doubles to keep hopes alive. Lawton then held his nerve in a tense decider to give Queen’s an exciting victory.