Leeds fail to topple table-toppers
Durham 8 – 4 Leeds
As the Leeds university tennis side returned from their Christmas vacation, they faced a battle of David and Goliath proportions against a Durham University side yet to lose a match this season.
With rumours of the Durham 1st seed having competed on the ATP tour playing with some of the world’s most talented players, this was not a match to be underestimated.
The Leeds no. 1 James Watts was given the gargantuan task of trying to overcome this 1.2 rated player and his impressive LTA status did not fail to affirm just how talented he was.
Watts tried on many occasions to change the rhythm of the match hitting many slice balls along with audacious drop shot attempts, which did however produce some sublimely successful moments for him.
Generally though he struggled to find any long term weaknesses in his sturdy opponent and the match was soon over with the first 2 rubbers going Durham’s way.
The same could be repeated for the 1st seed doubles encounter, with the astonishingly accurate serving ability of the Durham no.1 and his partner finishing the majority of the points off swiftly from the net, there was little that Henry Courtier and James Watts could do to dent the armour of these two players. The sheer speed of the match proved far too high for the challengers and Durham University was victorious once again rapidly obtaining a 4-0 lead.
The encounter between the 2nd seeds was strangely conceded by the Durham competitor, who had severe blisters on his feet and was barely able to walk. His idea of running through Durham city centre in smart heeled shoes to catch a plane to France, which he did manage to board, had somewhat backfired on him.
Leeds University graciously accepted his donation of four rubbers for the match coming from his singles and 2nd seed doubles encounter.
So to the third seed singles match. This was a contest of who could serve the fastest and who could hit harder ground strokes. The Leeds challenger Mark Boyes seemed unperturbed
by this, returning his opponent’s rapid serves and powerful forehands for a high percentage of the match.
Due to the hard hitting, the points were kept extremely short and many
finished with the Leeds player attempting too much or finding himself just out of position creating ample easy opportunities for the Durham no. 3 which he did not fail to capitalise upon.
Although the Leeds challenger was hitting the ball sweetly for the duration of the match and only produced one double fault his opponent ultimately proved too consistent with another 2 rubbers being added to the Durham tally giving them a 6-4 lead in the match.
The final contest was between the fourth seeds who could easily have been mistaken for being seeded higher than that, as both players were striking the ball ferociously and accurately especially off of the forehand side.
Once again however, the weapon of the serve proved too much for the Leeds player Greg Clowes, as his opponent repeatedly obtained easy points from his impressive serving ability. With regard to the ground stroke element of the game, the Leeds no.4 had no problems at all, taking the ball early and forcing his opponent to make the error on numerous occasions.
At 3-3 in the first set the match was in the balance but from then on it seemed that the Durham fourth seed changed up a gear serving more precisely and powerfully using the exceedingly quick carpet surface to his advantage, eventually giving him the final victory of the day 6-3 6-1.
With a chance of promotion to the top division in the UK to compete with the likes of Loughborough 1sts and Leeds Met 1sts, Durham University were, as expected, far too strong and far too trained for the lower northern challengers. Business as usual for the Leeds players.