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Click on the thumbnail to see photos from the day
Dale Vargas reports:
The first big celebration of the new courts at the sports centre in West Cambridge took place on Saturday 3 May in the form of an informal Past v Present match on the three courts, which were in action from noon through to late afternoon. This is not a good time for current undergraduates with Tripos looming, but they were well represented – even if there was a lot of dashing from, and back to, the library.
The senior player on court was Simon Woolfries (1974) but Nigel Wheeler (1975) was only a year behind; both belied their years. There were some renewed pairings: John Batting (1978-80) played with his 1978 Cambridge partner, Keith Turnbull (1978-79) both immaculately turned out (after a swift call at Ryder & Amies on the way). Hair was being worn noticeably shorter than in the team group of 1978.
A joyous reunion was that of Mark Moore (1981-84) and Gary Baker (1984-86) who had not played together since they won the Kinnaird in 1992. Both showed many flashes of their old flair. Another star or yesteryear, who had lost little of his old skill and competitiveness, was Richard Tyler (1985-87).
It was good too to see some of the ladies in action, especially Karen Hird, fresh from her success with Charlotta Cooley in the Ladies’ Championships. Maybe we shall be able to hold a Past v Present ladies’ match in future years.
In the lunch break players and spectators were able to take advantage of the newly opened café (basic fare but adequate) before a brief address by the President, Rodney Knight, who has done so much to achieve these new courts at Cambridge, twenty years after the demise of the court games centre at Portugal Place. It was an opportunity for him to congratulate Rob Wilson, this year’s captain, on a fine win in the Varsity match and for the event to be recorded in a group photograph..
Fortunately, such was the pressure on the courts that the senior officers present – the President and Vice Presidents, Peter Reynolds and Dale Vargas – were not called upon to display their expertise, and had to rely on knowledgeable discourse, punctuated with cries of “shot”, “cut”, “well back”, “bad luck” at appropriate moments.
A formal Past v Present match will be included in the fixture list in future years and a further ambition is to follow the match with a dinner in one of the college halls, along the lines of the Sparrows Dinner that the rugby fives club has successfully held for many years. For the time being, though, it was enough to enjoy a day of play in the superb Eton fives courts in their magnificent setting.
Matches (scores tactfully omitted)
James Womersley & Karen Hird v Charlie Moore & John Crawford
Nigel Wheeler & Simon Woolfries v Joss Knight & Laurence Gribble
Alex Nice & Ralph Morgan v Elana Osen & Olivia Prankerd Smith
Richard Tyler & Dexter Davis v Robert Wilson & Jamie Abbott
Gareth Hoskins & Julian Black v Jack Weller &Tim Fletcher
John Batting & Keith Turnbull v Alex Rattan & Sudhir Balaji