The Light Blues enjoyed a 5-3 victory over the University of Worcestertom wade

Cambridge’s Women’s badminton team have sent an emphatic message to their Oxford counterparts ahead of next month’s Varsity match, qualifying for the BUCS Midlands Conference Cup semi-finals with a 5-3 win over the University of Worcester on Wednesday afternoon.

Their victory was underpinned by a strong performance in the doubles, winning three of the four doubles matches. This was accompanied by two singles wins by forfeit, giving Cambridge five wins out of a possible eight and hence the tie.

Cambridge’s victory came as somewhat of a surprise. Prior to the match, Club President Tom Wade described the opposition as “quite strong”, with Worcester currently sitting in 3rd place in the BUCS Midlands 2A League. Cambridge, by contrast, were very much the underdog, occupying 3rd position in the lower Midlands 2B League. League form does not always translate into cup form though, and this was made evident by the home team’s clinical showing at the University Sports Centre.

Cambridge’s afternoon began fortuitously as Worcester were only able to field five out of a required six players. In a BUCS badminton tie, each of the two singles players plays two matches, as do each of the two doubles pairs. Worcester’s missing singles player therefore gifted Cambridge an automatic two wins from the outset, setting them a target of three wins from the remaining six games to secure victory.

“This will engender hope amongst the light blues, who are seeking this year to win the Badminton Varsity Match against Oxford for the first time since 2011”

Early dominance from Neha Madhotra and Kim Chan furthered Cambridge’s lead in quick order, with the pair ruthlessly dispatching Worcester’s Chloe Machin and Charlotte Davis in a rapid-fire 21-4, 21-4 straight-sets win. The influence of Madhotra in particular was quite clear, with the team captain dominating the court with her strength and mobility.

On the other court, Felicity Coan and Amy Chen recovered after a slow start, taking their game 19-21, 21-15, 21-14. After a series of unforced errors effectively gave Worcester the opening set, the Cambridge pair’s powerful strokes allowed them to comfortably win the next two sets and the match.

Needing only one win from the remaining four games for the overall victory, Malhotra would have favoured her team’s chances at this point. Their path to victory was momentarily blocked, however, by a superlative performance by Worcester singles player Sophie Males. Needing to take both of her matches to keep Worcester in the tie, she seamlessly disposed of Cambridge’s Rowena Duncan 3-21, 4-21 in a clinic of placement and power. This was immediately followed by a 3-21, 5-21 win over Cambridge’s Ursula Shaw, which left the tie finely poised at 4-2 leading into the return doubles’ games.

Cambridge hearts were briefly sent aflutter when Malhotra and Chan lost their return doubles game 12-21, 22-24. With the overall score at 4-3, the prospect of a 4-4 draw and a subsequent countback was briefly in play. Order was restored, however, when Coan and Chan secured the final game of the tie in a 21-9, 21-8 straight-sets triumph.

The women now advance to the semi-finals of the Conference Cup where they will travel to Northampton in a week’s time. Should they win, they will set up a potential finals berth against Oxford, who are still alive in the competition and who will play off against Leicester on Wednesday evening in a bid to join Cambridge in the semis.


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Wednesday’s result is the latest instalment in a recent uptick in form for the Cambridge women’s side, who have won five of their past six matches. This will engender hope amongst the light blues, who are seeking this year to win the Badminton Varsity Match against Oxford for the first time since 2011.

The 2019 Badminton Varsity Match will be held on the 2nd of March in Cambridge.

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