Cambridge avenged an October 7-1 defeat to Birmingham in the reverse fixture WednesdayTom Wade

The new term brought hope to the Men’s Badminton team, who found themselves in the dark place that is the relegation zone of the Midlands 1A league before the start of play. Though mired in deep trouble, the Blues continued the momentum they had begun to build through a BUCS Cup victory over Kent many moons ago to begin the uphill struggle that might see them avoid dropping down a division. The two sides that met were similar to the reverse fixture last time out in the West Country; on that occasion, the Blues had been on the receiving end of a disappointing 7-1 defeat. The result was to prove encouraging for the Men of CUBaC.

First up were the doubles, and opening the exchanges for Cambridge was the new pairing of Morten Sode and Jonny Scott. The pair began confidently, improved throughout the match, and sealed a fantastic straight-sets victory. For a team that had only won one contest against the opposition before them previously, such an opening provided much needed inspiration and set the tone for the contest.

Following up the opening pair were Marcus Liang and Thomas Sheat. Despite a small period of uncertainty and unforced errors that cost the duo the second set, normal service was resumed in the deciding third. A decisive margin of 21-15 in the final set gave Cambridge a lead that would not be surrendered.

In the singles that followed the opening doubles, Ritish Desai stormed to victory in straight sets. Utilising his now trademark relaxed playing style, Desai moved his opponent to all corners of the court effortlessly. Tom Wade, however, would have no such luck in his singles contest, being outplayed in two straight sets, losing out to a consistent and fitter opponent.

At the halfway point, the realisation that the until-then impossible was possible began to set in for the Cambridge team. With the score at 3-1, two more victories would clinch a first league victory for the troubled side.

Marcus Liang and doubles partner Thomas Sheat set the tone with victory in the first head to head of the contestTom Wade

Liang and Sheat got the second round of doubles underway, attacking from start to finish to win in straight sets. The first of the two necessary victories was not all plain sailing, Liang developing an unnerving tendency to fire the shuttle out of the back of the court having done the hard work left nerves fraying. In the second of the doubles Scott and Sode struggled to deal with the attacking play of their opponents in the first set, succumbing 21-17. The pair, however, returned fire to win both the second and third sets. A first league victory was sealed for the Blues.

Due to the scoring system employed by the BUCS league, the remaining singles games were far from dead-rubbers. Desai upped his game to secure his second singles victory of the day. Tactical play from the Cambridge man narrowed the angles his opponent had available for shot-making, who was made to lose his attacking threat. Desai finished the day not dropping so much as a set.

Wade, who earlier in the match had suffered defeat at the hands of a more athletic opponent, dispatched his second adversary in straight sets. After a lengthy opening point that pushed both players to physical breaking point, Wade scraped through the first set. Fortunate that the opening point had not set the tone, the Light Blue man recovered from 19-17 in the late stages to take the first set. The second set was secured in a rather more straightforward fashion; despite vocal support from the travelling team, Wade underlined the defeat of Birmingham with his straight sets victory to conclude the afternoon’s affairs.

The first league victory for the Light Blue Men should bring much encouragement; the side will hope that defeating Birmingham’s second-string outfit will be the catalyst for a surge up the table over the course of Lent Term. Three League fixtures remain for the Blues to rescue themselves from the precarious position they still occupy.

Next up for the men of CUBaC is a lengthy trip to Bath in the BUCS Cup. With their Varsity Match also on the horizon, it is all hands on deck following this victory for the remainder of the season.

CUBaC: Desai, Liang, Scott, Sheat, Sode, Wade