By Matt Roberts
Durham’s men’s tennis first team recorded a third consecutive 12-0 victory in the National Premier division, overcoming a strong Leeds Beckett side at Virgin Active, Sunderland on Wednesday.
Victory moves the Palatinates to joint top of the division with the University of Stirling, who they play next week.
As expected, Leeds Beckett provided a stern test but the quartet of Milan Pokrajac, Kirill Sinitsyn, Jonny Binding and Dom Beesley are currently riding a seemingly unstoppable wave and they never looked like being thrown off course.
In the doubles, a single break in each set saw Pokrajac and Sinitsyn win 6-4 7-5 but Binding and Beesley had to work much harder for their victory. Locked at a set all, the match headed to a championship tiebreak. Dom Beesley hit a crisp backhand return winner to set up match point and then sealed the 7-6 4-6 10-7 win with a sumptuous, instinctive volley.
Using that momentum, Durham played well in all four singles matches. Pokrajac won 6-3 6-2, putting on a fine display of serving to out-power his opponent and transitioning well to finish off a number of points at the net.
Sinitsyn, dominating the baseline exchanges and cruising at 6-1 2-0, looked to be on his way to a comfortable win. But the Leeds Beckett second seed responded well and managed to push the second set to a tiebreak. Not to be denied, Sinitsyn took control and sealed victory on his third match point to give the side an unassailable lead.
Beesley then wrapped up a solid 6-2 6-4 win and Binding came through two tiebreaks in a hard-hitting encounter.
Having now beaten Bath, Exeter and Leeds Beckett in the space of five days without losing a single match, the men’s first team is on a remarkable run of form.
Jonny Binding spoke to Palatinate following his singles win:
“Today was always going to be a tough fixture, we knew Leeds Beckett were going to come strong at us following our weekend results in Loughborough. Winning both doubles matches really set the tone and it was then good that all four players could secure straight set wins.
“It is fair to say that we’ve had a perfect start to the season. The team is looking very strong this year and we are arguably the best team Durham has ever had. Although the opposition this year in the National Premier division is perhaps not as strong as it has been in previous years, there are still some really tough matches coming up. We still need to improve if we want to be successful at the end of the season.
“Next week we travel to Stirling which is always a tough place to go. However, we will be well prepared to go there and fight for each other.”
Photograph: Jonny Binding