The Men’s Tennis tournament commenced at 10am on the morning of Wednesday 27th March at Nottingham Tennis Centre. Loughborough put forward its 1st team to compete against Stirling University for the BUCS Championship. A total of six matches would be played, two doubles and four singles, with the team who won the most matches taking the cup home.
The doubles event came first with George Foster & Michael Shaw and George Houghton & Alex McNaughton pairing up for the morning. Unfortunately, Foster & Shaw withdrew after a quick loss to Stirling’s confident first pair. Houghton & McNaughton, however, managed to exploit their chemistry on court and put up a good fight. After losing a close first set (7-5), the second set saw a raging game-by-game battle with both sides struggling to break the other’s serve. The Stirling pair couldn’t handle the pressure of the second set’s tie-break, and Houghton & McNaughton swiftly broke even. With momentum carrying the Loughborough pair into the third tie-break set, and the support cheering them on from the gallery, the match was eventually won in the tie-break (10-7), with a display of pure confidence from both boys in the final moments.
The doubles event left Stirling and Loughborough in a stale mate, and all hope was placed on a set of strong singles games in the afternoon. Michael Shaw played hard and fast after a testing Doubles game in the morning. After losing the first set, he showed promise in the second with a string of aces and explosive serves, but eventually fell after 10 games. George Foster had similar problems, and lost in a second set tie-break against Stirling’s Macauley.
Whilst the wind was not blowing in Loughborough’s favour in the Men’s tournament, Joseph “Bill” Newman-Billington steamed ahead in his match. With a consistent serve throughout, only one game was lost in the first set and a second-set-comeback from Stirling was swiftly stamped out in a tie-break.
This left all eyes on George Houghton to bring Loughborough back from the brink. Supporters rushed downstairs from the viewing point and brought chairs to watch from the adjacent court. Both opponents took a set each, and the third full set brought the crowd off their feet as Houghton first broke the Stirling man’s serve, and then had his broken immediately after. Pushing forward, he marked his ground with a series of confident strokes from the bass line to take the match for Loughborough.
This put the two teams into a deadlock, meaning that two singles tie-break style matches would be played, and if these also led to a draw, a doubles match would be played to decide. George Houghton and Joseph Newman-Billington both stepped up to the mark from their previous wins. Houghton took a swift win, with Newman-Billington conceded to a sprightly Stirling player.
The room was tense for the final match of the day, the decider. Some of the players had been on court for over nine hours, but Shaw & McNaughton strode on in a manner of determination. Each point was played without a single lapse in concentration, until a Stirling fault launched the ball into the net and the Loughborough team stormed on court to embrace and celebrate with the finishing pair in their final game of the BUCS season.
The Cup was won, with BUCS taking special notice of George Houghton’s unwavering and consistent performance, awarding him the ‘Man of the Match’ title.