Leeds women’s 1st team began their BUCS Championship cup campaign in fine style by dispatching Exeter’s 1st team at the Edge on Wednesday. Since this is a knockout competition, the team knew that nothing less than a win would suffice, and they duly delivered with an emphatic 8-0 victory.
Club captain Helena Lewczynska said the team were confident before the game, and it became clear why early on.
First onto court were singles players Serena Midha and Rae Larmour. Midha got the tie rolling, moving her opponent round the court with ease as she triumphed 21-7, 21-8. Larmour also excelled in her match, defeating Exeter’s number one singles player 21-13, 21-19 with a calm and controlled display.
It was now the turn of the two doubles pairings to deliver and they did not disappoint, both recording comfortable wins. Ellie Travers and Vanessa Jill impressed as they forced their adversaries into numerous mistakes through their aggressive attacking play, while committing very few errors of their own. Exeter fought back to a small extent in the second game, but the general pattern of Leeds dominance continued unabated and the hosts eased to a 21-6, 21-8 victory.
Harriet West and Jojo Minihan faced Exeter’s top-ranked doubles duo but were similarly ruthless, using the smash to good effect and giving their opponents minimal time to react as they wrapped up the match 21-12, 21-13.
Leeds’ dominance meant that they needed only one more victory to settle the tie and the singles players returned to finish off the job. Midha, Leeds’ number one singles player, then faced her second opponent, who posed her more of a challenge. Despite this, Midha came through to take the match 21-10, 21-12. Larmour then produced a brilliant display in her second match, utilising her drop shot superbly as she racked up an impressive 22 winners.
With the result now beyond doubt, the Exeter players could relax and play more freely and consequently gave Leeds one of their most difficult matches. Travers and Jill picked up where they left off, constantly putting Exeter on the back foot and taking the first game 21-11. However, Exeter showed a more clinical side to their game and started to hit more winners. Despite the stirring comeback from the visiting pair, it was not enough to blemish Leeds’ perfect winning record. The Leeds whitewash was then complete as West and Minihan swatted aside the Exeter challenge, keeping the points short, as the visitors could not cope with the combination of accuracy and power that they faced, which resulted in sixteen winners for the home team.
Such a comprehensive margin of victory will no doubt boost confidence ahead of their quarter-final clash with Bath, who finished top of the Premier South division. When asked about their aspirations for the rest of the season, Larmour was understandably cautious despite the nature of the result, pointing out that Bath will probably be favourites for the forthcoming tie after their unbeaten season so far. Added to that is the fact that the three teams who finished above them in the Premier Northern division, Loughborough, Birmingham and Leeds Met, are all still in the competition. However, if they keep playing like this, they will give themselves every chance of cup success.
Photos: Alice Greenfield