By Matt Styles
It has been a stellar couple of weeks for Durham tennis. Last Wednesday the Men’s 2s won the Northern Premier League, which came off the back of the M1s securing the title in the National League.
Speaking to tennis co-ordinator Paul Midgley, Palatinate heard him reflect on the strength of the men’s teams this year.
He notes how six out of eight of DULTC’s top two teams have recently graduated from college tennis in the United States, with all of these squad members having achieved high national and international rankings.
The club’s top men’s and women’s players are all exceedingly well seasoned and also compete professionally outside of BUCS matches.
Their credentials are undisputed, as seen by club member Henry Patten reaching the quarter final of a professional $25,000 tournament this week.
Durham are also top of the National Premier League, a separate LTA event, which helps to “create widespread publicity and further enhances the image of the programme.”
It comes as no surprise, then, to learn of the 1s and 2s indomitable form so far this campaign. They completely whitewashed the National League and have managed to stay unbeaten throughout the entirety of the season.
In the process they have made it a one-horse race and totally dominated Nottingham, who have acted as their only competition.
Each player in the top four won key matches and, to top it all off, were placed fourth out of the top six in the BUCS individuals’ rankings.
The Men’s 2s’s season was not so clear-cut, with the race for the title going down to the last day where they were able to pull off a miraculous final day league clincher.
Under pressurising circumstances, they blew Leeds Beckett out of the water with a 12-0 victory. Nottingham, who were two points ahead going into the final match, drew with Loughborough to allow Durham to bring home the title.
Achieving this feat came by no accident, which is evident in their rigorous training schedule. “It is very intense,” says Midgley, “with three 7am practices a week and a minimum of five tennis sessions each, along with weights and track sessions.”
“The boys are extremely motivated this year to compete outside of university matches, which has made a big difference to the level of the team.”
Beyond practice and sheer quality, Midgley recognised the role that team morale played in the men’s respective successes.
“Both the M1s and 2s had incredible team morale this year, and that has definitely made a big contribution to such a successful season.”
“The central factor to success this year was great team chemistry and motivated players who love tennis.”
When talking about the strategies for maintaining this form and atmosphere in the club, he believes that it boils down to “maintaining the high standards of the programme in both training and matches.
Next year the aim is to maintain and go beyond these core principles. There is no reason why DULTC cannot meet and indeed exceed the standards they have set next year. Midgley believes the benefits to this are manifold. He expects to see greater participation in tennis next year.
“Inevitably, such a successful year creates a snowball effect which has already allowed us to recruit an extremely strong line-up for next year.”
The club has six men’s and five women’s teams, and hopefully the men’s 1s and 2s dominance can be spread across the club in years to come.
DULTC will be looking forward to their second of two ‘super weekends’ in Roehampton this weekend, and we wish them the very best.