Tennis

2016 / 2017

Men’s Captain: Henry Taylor

Women’s Captain: Bianca Gillam


2015 / 2016

Officers: Captains William Stone; Bianca Gillam

After several core members from previous years ended their college tennis careers last summer, the 2016 season was set to be one of rebuilding for the Queen’s mixed tennis team. Unearthing some talent among the many keen sportsmen and women freshers proved more difficult than had been hoped. Only two players appeared at the Hilary Term taster session, which did not bode well for Cuppers in Trinity. However, when the time came Stone was able to call upon the ever reliable Johnny Church and Mark Eastall, in addition to the emerging Queen’s tennis stalwart Jacob Burda, and University players Izzy Watts and Bianca Gillam for the first round against Brasenose. Last year’s quarter-finalists, Queen’s, predictably crushed their local rivals in a near whitewash to progress comfortably to the next round, where St Peter’s 2nds awaited them.

Whilst participation clearly is not a problem in the St Peter’s tennis club (evident in their entering two teams), Queen’s had worryingly little strength in depth should any of the starting six pull out. Recognised tennis prodigy Joe Morgan was drafted in to make his competitive debut for the injured Burda, but it was not until minutes before the start of play that the enigmatic Hoagy Cunningham and fresher Joe Mackenzie came to the rescue and formed the third pair. All three debutants performed admirably, Morgan, guided by the wisdom of Mark Eastall, took to the big stage like a duck to water with his trademark big serve wreaking havoc, whilst Cunningham and Mackenzie exceeded expectations with a swashbuckling win over St Peter’s third pair, with Cunningham wielding one of the new rackets bought by the Amalgamated Sports Clubs and proving that they were money well spent. Stone and Church completed the job and the team found itself in the quarter-finals yet again, with Merton standing in their way.

Merton would provide a sterner test than both Brasenose and St Peter’s combined, with their explosive line-up including a man who had beaten 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro. Morgan retained his spot in the squad after impressing the selectors and was paired with the returning Burda, whilst Jerry Mu He made his debut alongside Eastall. Stone and Church playing at first pair claimed the scalp of the Merton star player to give Queen’s the ideal start in this crunch tie. Results following this were disappointing as Queen’s slipped to 2-1 down after the first round. Stone and Church levelled the match at 2-2, with the other two pairs locked in pivotal battles and fighting for Queen’s survival in the tournament. All four men found within themselves the spirit that this College has needed for a long time, outlasting the Merton players and driving them into the ground with unbreakable resolve. With Queen’s at 4-2 it was left to Stone and Church to crush Mertonian dreams and fire Queen’s into an unlikely semi-final meeting with neighbours and defending champions New College. The inspirational performance had captured the hearts of the neutrals and Queen’s were going from strength to strength.

Away from the Cuppers scene, a college mixed doubles tournament was organised and it was a tremendous success with eight pairings entering and playing round robin matches on the most glorious of June afternoons. The final saw Joe Morgan and Lila Mehta overcome Nils Behling and Tilly Thatcher in an exciting set, with the rest of the participants watching on. Everyone had a good time and hopefully the tournament can be repeated in years to come.

For the Cuppers semi-final clash with New College, in which Stone was unable to take part, Nils Behling, fresh from his mixed doubles runner-up performance, was named in the squad. Queen’s shattered last year’s champions, sending shockwaves throughout the city, and reached their first tennis Cuppers final in recent memory. St John’s, having knocked Queen’s out one year ago at the quarter-final stage would be the opponents.

The final, unfortunately, did not live up to the expectations of the supporters in terms of both quality and spirit. Due to adverse weather, the starting time was changed and neither team was able to assemble their strongest squad. Queen’s opted for the settled pairings of Stone/Church and Morgan/Burda, accompanied by the returning Watts and Mu He. It looked as if the match would be a close 5-4 either way with the title hanging in the balance of a crucial rubber, but this was soon left in tatters. In an infringement of the rules St John’s substituted in a player after the match had started, aggressively ignoring the protests from the Queen’s players and supporter Henry Theakston in a scene that one could reasonably call ugly. They went on to win, but the tournament felt as though it had ended an hour earlier when the altercation took place. In years to come the Queen’s team of Stone, Church, Eastall, Morgan, Burda and Kansangra will remember the summer in which rain, changes of time and composition of squads conspired against a Queen’s team that was so nearly on the cusp of victory. Nevertheless, in a year that was supposed to be fallow, through team spirit and enthusiasm, the Queen’s team produced performances of which the College is proud. The team which retains most of its key members, with only the dogged Burda departing, looks forward to another successful season next year.