Sheffield Hallam triumphed in the Men’s 1s tennis this afternoon, winning five of the day’s six matches at Hallamshire Tennis Club.
Two doubles matches were followed by four singles, with each match being best of three sets in the singles, with a match tiebreak in the doubles if the sets were level after the second.
The Uni of Sheffield had consistently won this point in recent years, and also sit two divisions above their rivals in their BUCS league.
However, the Black and Golds’ tennis team had undergone a large squad overhaul, losing nine of their 16 squad players from last year, and finished bottom of their BUCS division, while Hallam won theirs.
Honours even in the doubles
In the first of the doubles matches, Hallam’s Luke Naylor and Oliver Gilmore comfortably beat Uni of Sheffield’s Mo Tarner Safwat and Josh Wright in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
Uni of Sheffield ground out a victory in the other, however, with Albert Bru Alvarez and Alex Wood edging past Hallam’s long term doubles partnership Olly Jansen and Ben Jackson after a marathon match.
Despite taking an early 0-4 lead, Alvarez and Wood lost the first set 7-5 following a strong fightback from Jansen and Jackson. However the pair recovered to win the second set 6-7 on a tiebreak, before winning the match on a match tiebreak, 5-10.
Wood, Captain of the University of Sheffield’s tennis club, said: “Nerves were high, we were 4-0 up in the first set. I think it kind of hit us then, when we were playing.
“We came back in the second set and the match tiebreak was just pure adrenaline really. The atmosphere is so much better.”
Revenge for Jansen and Jackson in their singles matches
In the first of the singles matches, Jansen made up for his earlier defeat in the doubles with a confident 6-2, 6-3 win over Alvarez.
His doubles partner Jackson also made up for their loss, beating Safwat 6-2, 6-3.
Jackson said of his performance: “I think I started really well, I was really pleased with the first set. I got a bit tight towards the end of the second set but I had a lead so I was able to hold on.
“We were both disappointed [with the doubles defeat] because me and Olly have been partners for years, so it would have been nice to end on a win. But I didn’t play that well, so it was nice to then win the singles and then make up for it really in the rubber.
Hallam clinch the Varsity point in the second batch of singles matches
In the third singles match Hallam’s Naylor faced Uni of Sheffield’s Wood, with each player having won their earlier doubles matches. Naylor edged the first set 7-6, but Wood’s exhaustion from his lengthy earlier doubles match eventually showed and he succumbed to a 6-0 defeat in the second.
The result meant Hallam had won four matches, which in turn sealed the Tennis Men’s 1s Varsity point for them.
Luke Naylor said: “It feels good. It’s good to get the win after losing previous years. After the first set I was confident.
“Overall a pretty successful day. It’s been a lot of years so it’s probably the biggest moment we’ve seen in a while for the tennis at Hallam so it’s good. And we won the league too so it’s good for the whole. Yeah, big celebrations tonight.”
In the final game of the day, Hallam’s Gilmore quickly took the first set 6-1 against Wright. Despite an admirable fightback in the second set, Wright could not stop the formidable Gilmore, who ground out the set 7-5 to win the match for Hallam and extend their overall lead to 5-1.
Wright was disappointed with his loss, but raved about the spirited atmosphere of the day.
He said: “I’m obviously gutted not to pull through in the end but the support for the Black and Gold was out of this world. I was really pumped at the end but I couldn’t pull it over the line.
“Honestly today was unbelievable in all fairness, 100 plus people here all getting behind us. The support was honestly second to none. I’m gutted I couldn’t pull through to them but that’s the way it goes in tennis. It doesn’t always go your way.”
There was something for the Black and Golds to cheer about, as the Men’s 2s claimed victory in their fixtures, and the Uni of Sheffield’s overall Varsity victory was announced shortly after the conclusion of the tennis.