RFA v BUSF REPRESENTATIVE MATCH
Cambridge University Sports Centre, 8th March 2015
David Barnes writes: A British Universities team weakened by the unavailability of three top players was well beaten by a strong RFA VI in the annual Representative Match, held for the second year running at the Cambridge Sports Centre.
In the singles, National Champion Will Ellison only allowed David Butler of Durham a meagre couple of points, while his close rival Dan Tristao, ranked at two in the country, beat Ben Beltrami of Cambridge by the same margin. Matt Shaw (Cambridge) and Sam Russell (Durham) restored some of the arrears by winning their singles matches, but the RFA went further ahead as a result of the bottom two encounters, Gareth Price and Chris Burrows proving too strong respectively for Ollie Arnold (Bristol) and Jack Malde (Cambridge).
It never looked as if the students would be able to recover in the doubles from a 30-point singles deficit, and so it proved. The RFA side won nine of the twelve doubles games, and it might have been more had it not been for a hand injury to Tom Dean, a member of the third RFA pair.
Some of the play in this match was of the very highest class, proving that winners can be played on the very true Cambridge courts; but it takes clean and accurate striking, combined with a modicum of inventiveness, to make the openings. Change of pace and the judicious use of the drop-shot are valuable weapons here. After all, the court is longer than it is wide!
The record books show that the RFA, with its much greater pool of players to choose from, usually prevails in this match. But it was a pity that the Universities didnʼt have their strongest side out for this one, for the match could have been a classic.
Singles: W Ellison (RFA) bt D Butler (Durham) 15-2; D Tristao (RFA) bt B Beltrami (Cambridge) 15-2; H Buchanan (RFA) lost to M Shaw (Cambridge) 7-15; T Dean (RFA) lost to S Russell (Durham) 8-15; G Price (RFA) bt O Arnold (Bristol) 15-6; C Burrows (RFA) bt J Malde (Cambridge) 15-5
Doubles: Ellison & Price bt Beltrami & Shaw 15-8, 15-0; bt Butler & Russell 15-6; bt Arnold & Malde 15-8. Buchanan & Tristao bt Butler & Russell 15-13, 15-5; bt Arnold & Malde 15-7; bt Beltrami & Shaw 15-6. Burrows & Dean lost to Arnold & Malde 3-15, 7-15; lost to Beltrami & Shaw 14-16; bt Butler & Russell 16-14
RESULT: RFA bt BUSF 235 – 158