London Universities vs Cambridge University

Nathan Turnbull & Sahil Shah report:

20/02/18: The inaugural match between Cambridge University and the combined London Universities took place at the weekend at Highgate with a strong win for London and Cambridge sensibly leaving themselves plenty of room for improvement before their Varsity match in 2 weeks time.

It was wonderful to see so many universities represented on the London side with players from Imperial, LSE, UCL, RADA, and Courtauld Institute of Art, and we look forward to seeing them in their new kit next year, rumoured to be sporting a rainbow pattern with one colour for each institution.

First pair saw a game resembling exhibition fives with plenty of long rallies and Jack Parham’s perennially exuberant style of play treating us to a host of through-the-leg, over-the-head, and round-the-back shots. While both sides could have benefited from some more clinical play, it was the consistency of Darshan Patel and Joe Marks that won out, winning a flurry of points in each game that proved too much for Nathan Turnbull and Jack to get back.

In second pair, one would have thought that Matt Lewin had never been away from the court, despite various injuries having ruled him out for the past three months. A fast start in each of the three sets proved to be instrumental in London winning each of them, with late fightbacks in the first and third sets proving to be too little too late. There was much encouragement from Cambridge’s pair as Jack Capstick-Dale’s highly technical backspin shots were difficult to return and Viral Gudiwala’s retrieval skills kept them in rallies well.

Fast starts seemed the order of the day in third pair as well, as Abs Bhattacharya and Dan Marshall stormed to comfortable victories in each of the three sets. Kai Bilimoria’s rustiness was evident, though there is definitely much more to come from him, with Varsity approaching soon. Akhil Shah’s fast reactions and top step play was highly impressive and a sign that great potential is there to be unlocked.

Cambridge’s only win of the day came courtesy of the not technically Cambridge students, Alex Abrahams and alumnus Ralph Morgan, producing a strong and aggressive performance to win a fairly competitive game. Unfortunately for London, Bogdan Dovgy’s powerful shots and Kotka Lim’s retrieval skills were cancelled out through solid performances from both Alex and Ralph.

The fifth pair ended up being a baptism of fire for Ben Chua, this being his second time on an Eton Fives court. His coordination was evident, being an experienced Winchester and Rugby Fives player and was guided by fellow LSE student Jivan Navani. Jivan, highly experienced himself, was able to help win the somewhat close game with Sam Turner and Anik Roy.

In the ladies match the London and Cambridge pairs were closely matched producing the tightest result of the day. The match started with a tight game that saw Emma Vinen and Susanna Xu holding their nerve defending on step until Sarah Jackman and Erin Leatherbarrow’s superior cut returning gave them the lead. Despite the same score, the second game saw the Cambridge pair playing with greater confidence; however they were again unable to overpower their opponents. Susanna and Emma took an early lead in the third game and were hungry for the win, but the greater experience of the London pair was reflected in their impressive comeback and nail-biting win to secure the match 3-0.

The mixed game was intended to be a learning experience for beginners Lois Galletly (fresh from her participation in her first competitive experience at the Mixed Universities last week) and Maria Wang. The experience of Chris Ballingall and Harshil Kalaiya helped the two girls improve greatly over the course of the day and we look forward to their future participation in more matches and tournaments.

Thanks to Highgate and Dave Mew for hosting the event and we hope the game will continue in the future although with perhaps a more closely fought contest in years to come!


London 1 (S. Jackman & E. Leatherbarrow) beat Cambridge 1 (E. Vinen & S. Xu) 3-0 (12-10, 12-10, 14-11)


London 1 (D. Patel & J. Marks) beat Cambridge 1 (N. Turnbull & J. Parham) 3-0 (12-3, 12-6, 12-5)

London 2 (S. Shah & M. Lewin) beat Cambridge 2 (J. Capstick-Dale & V. Gudiwala) 3-0 (12-8, 12-2, 12-9)

London 3 (A. Bhattacharya & D. Marshall) beat Cambridge 3 (A. Shah & K. Bilimoria) 3-0 (12-3, 12-2, 12-1)

Cambridge 4 (R. Morgan & A. Abrahams) beat London 4 (B. Dovgyy & K. Lim) 3-0 (12-8, 12-5, 12-6)

London 5 (B. Chua & J. Navani) beat Cambridge 5 (A. Roy & S. Turner) 3-0 (12-3, 12-5, 12-8)


L. Galletly, M. Wang, H.Kalaiya, C. Ballingall

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