March 27, 2019, by mzydh4

BUCS Big Wednesday | Men’s Tennis hit the target in BUCS Trophy shootout

After a highly successful league campaign, University of Nottingham Men’s 2nd Team aimed to extend their fourteen-match unbeaten run for the 2018/19 BUCS Sport Season and with it, capture the Men’s Trophy title!

On their home courts at the Nottingham Tennis Centre, the #GreenandGold faced the University of Bath’s 2nd Team who had also experienced recent league success, winning their respective league. The full-strength Nottingham side was fresh from a semi-final thrashing over Durham, and a best-ever BUCS Individuals performance just three days prior, so it came as no surprise that they played in front of an electric home crowd on #BUCSBigWednesday 2019.

Edward Gibbs (capt.)
William Matthews
Seb Darke
Daniel Connell

First on court were both doubles matches, as Nottingham looked to get a strong foothold in the tie, ahead of the four singles.

Nottingham’s first-pairing, Gibbs and Matthews, played a tight duel against Bath’s respective pairing. After a cagey start, Bath continued to dominate their service games and apply heavy pressure on the UoN serve, finding two breaks in set one to take it 6-2. The visitors‘ good start continued into set two, as they captured the set and the match (6-3), making it advantage Bath.

The other doubles game featured Darke and Connell, whose left-hand-right-hand pairing made for formidable coverage at the net. With nothing to separate the sides in the Set 1, it came down to a crucial tie-break. Nottingham held their nerve to win it, then carried the positivity into the second set which saw them storm through, winning the rubber 7-6 6-2.

After the two doubles games, the tie was even!

Daniel Connell aimed to put the hosts into the lead and, despite a slow start which saw hime lose the first set 6-4, rallied back into contention as he raced to a 4-0 second set lead. Despite an attempt by Bath’s Ruari Patterson to thwart the revival, Connell snatched set two 7-5. The final set also went to the wire, but a late service break by Patterson was enough to ensure Bath regained a lead in the tie at the halfway point.

All eyes then fell upon Seb Darke, whose elegant tennis aimed to darken Bath’s #BUCSBigWednesday. With the match tensely poised, University of Nottingham’s Darke looked to continue his impeccable singles record this season and, despite a slow start, was able to provide the crowd with exactly what they wanted! His counterpart Callum Findlay started was able to capitalise on two of his three break points in the opening set, which he won 6-3. The second set was dominated by serve, and just the lone break point was played, which fell to the Nottingham-man, who held his nerve to capture set two 6-3. The decisive set ebbed and flowed, but to the home contingences delight, Darke closed it out, again 6-3 to level the match once again.

Building on the positivity radiating from Darke’s adjacent court, William Matthews recovered from a 5-3 deficit in the first set, to win 10 of the following 12 games and thus the match, 7-5 6-2. Matthew’s victory meant that at 6-4 up, the side’s captain Ed Gibbs could capture the Men’s Trophy title, if he could get the better of Bath’s Freddie Davies.

Commanding play from Davies was suffice to take the first set 6-2, before the lively home support moved court-side, helping energize Gibbs and lift him back into contention. His classic style of play and flawless net approaches were enough to disrupt his opponent’s rhythm, and earn Gibbs a decisive break of service. A spectacular overhead smash won Gibbs a second break of serve and with it, the set. Unfortunately for Nottingham, Davies pulled out some of his best tennis to win the third set, pushing the match into a shoot-out!

Two singles and one doubles tie-breaks to 10 points would decide the outcome of the match, over eight hours since it began.

BUCS Man of the Match, Seb Darke, faced Findlay of Bath once again, however, this time he fell just short of victory, succumbing to a 10-8 loss.

It was now William Matthews job to keep Nottingham in the match, as he squared up with Bath’s Number 1 seed with a manic crowd either side of the tramlines. Matthews was quick out of the blocks, moving to a 5-1 lead at the first change-over, with a string of sensational backhand winners. As the players switched sides, the tides also changed, with Davies dominating from the baseline off both flanks. Two match, and Men’s Trophy, points came up for Bath, but from the jaws of defeat, the #GreenandGold pulled off an incredible comeback courtesy of a trademark Matthews slice backhand and a fierce first serve, levelling the tie-break at 10-10. With momentum now firmly in Nottingham’s favour, Matthews never looked back, winning the final four points of his match and with it, putting the tie into an all-or-nothing doubles tie-break!

After a convincing start to the tie-break, Nottingham’s Connell and Gibbs, who were aiming to avenge their singles losses, faced a battle to keep their side’s hopes alive as Bath’s pairing began to take control. They managed to stop rot with an exquisite overhead from Gibbs, bringing up a UoN match point. Gibbs viciously attacked a nervous Bath second serve, and the ball never came back, meaning a still undefeated University of Nottingham’s Men’s 2nd Team were crowned 2018/19 Men’s Trophy champions!

A nearly speechless Captain Gibbs stated “It’s great that the entire team can feel part of the victory, we all contributed wins, and we really deserved it after a year of incredible dedication from all the team and the hard work from Matt Wildt and all of the coaches.”

After 9 hours of tennis, University of Nottingham Men’s Tennis team make it 15 matches undefeated and clinch the Men’s Trophy title, much to the delight of their fabulous support!


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