Seb Kay reports as the men’s tennis team enter the UEL history books.
The University of East London men’s tennis team made a piece of UEL history at the weekend, becoming the first tennis team to win the cup on a National Level after winning the Men’s Trophy in Nottingham on Sunday.
After two challenging away victories in Exeter, they faced another tough match against Leeds Becket 2nds, who are currently one division higher than the UEL team, who had a near enough full-strength side, despite missing the usual number-one doubles pairing of Mikey Suleau and Seb Kay.
For this match Jared Linzell partnered Suleau in a bid to get the tie off to a strong start for UEL, but it didn’t go to plan as the pair found themselves 5-4 down against a very determined Leeds pair. After the change of ends, Suleau and Linzell found themselves 6-5 to the good and Linzell serving, but was broken to love. In the tie-break the previous game lingered as they lost 7-2.
The second set was more routine, and good returning from Suleau got the break that was needed, as this time Linzell was able to serve out the set 6-4 to take it to a championship tie-break. The UEL pair raced to a 7-2 lead, but were clawed back to 8-6 by the resilient Leeds Becket duo, before a cool-headed Suleau crashed two first serves in and then saw two un-returnable shots to take the match, 6-7 6-4 10-6.
At the same time, masters students Julian Belair and Patrick Eichler put on a brutal display. The BUCS quarter finalists were on fine form as they brushed aside the number-two pairing from Leeds. The first set saw them break each of the pairing from Leeds and take the set 6-3. In the second set, vintage returns from Eicher and a flurry of reaction volleys from Belair ensured the quick win for UEL as they ran away, 6-3 6-1.
First up in the singles was the German Eichler, who looked confident in his performance after a routine doubles performance. He looked for the break in both sets, with it coming quite easily in the first set as he broke at the first opportunity of the match. The second set was different however, as the Leeds player got a boost in confidence after Eichler relaxed and was holding serve with ease, until the German set up the match by breaking at 4-4 and served out to 15, to take UEL within one rubber of the win, 6-3 6-4.
To seal the deal, men’s captain Lewis Thompson battled through a shoulder injury to play a very well executed first set, giving his opponent no chances to find rhythm in the match at all. In the second set Thompson showed nerves of steel to close out the tie and cup win however, as he found himself going from a break up, to a break down and returning to stay in the set, but he rallied through and won the next three games to clinch the title for the team, 6-2 7-5.
Due to UEL’s unassailable lead, Leeds Becket conceded the last two singles due to them being dead rubbers, as it finished UEL 12 – 0 Leeds Becket.