Fixture: Warwick Tennis Men’s First Team v Bath Men’s Second Team
Date: Wednesday 26th November 2014
Warwick have progressed to the last 16 of the BUCS Tennis Trophy, snatching a dramatic 8-4 win over the Bath 2nd Team.
With the tie delicately poised, Egor Brailovskiy produced a blistering display of power tennis to drag the home team across the line. The third seed secured a 6-4, 6-4 victory in the decisive singles match amidst dramatic circumstances. With the tie delicately poised, defeat would have left the score level at 6-6 and potentially forced Warwick to forfeit due to their failure to finish the tie within the allocated court time. This frenetic finish topped off a wild cup tie that had it all: match points saved, debatable line calls and some cracking tennis.
Warwick started brightly, sweeping the two doubles matches. The pairing of Greg Bacon and William Spencer put the home side into a 2-0 lead, with a straightforward 6-2, 7-5 victory. Brailovskiy and his partner- the side’s top seeded singles player for the day, Marc Baghdadi- had a more difficult outing. They dropped the second set, before squeaking by 10-5 in a final set tie-break. Up against one of the most esteemed tennis playing Universities in the country, the home side looked to be in cruise control. They would begin the four pivotal singles matches with a 4-0 overall lead.
Under pressure, Greg Bacon produced some bold ball-striking to save a pair of match points
The visitors headed into the encounter top of the BUCS Western 1A division and, in the second half of the tie, their quality began to show. Playing his first competitive fixture this season, Baghdadi succumbed to a 6-2, 6-1 defeat at the hands of Bath’s top seeded singles player. Meanwhile, in the battle of the fourth ranked players, Greg Bacon won a claimed a dramatic 6-4, 6-7,(4), 11-9 victory. Under pressure he produced some bold ball-striking to save a pair of match points, before ending the match with a sizzling backhand return.
Warwick now led their opponents 6-2, but there was still more drama to come. 2nd seed William Spencer was also embroiled in an epic; this one however didn’t quite go Warwick’s way. After taking the first set 6-4, he moved within a game of winning the match, up 5-4 up in the second set. His opponent then rallied to force a tie-break which he duly won 7-2 to tie the match at a set apiece. With tensions running high over a few contestable line calls, the match headed into a decisive championship tie-break (First player to 10). Spencer came agonisingly close to putting Warwick into the next round; he failed to convert a match point before falling 12-10, a heart-breaking 3 set defeat.
This tough loss meant the tie was still up in the air. Brailovskiy, who won the first set of his singles 6-4 before being forced off due to insufficient court time, would have to resume his match. Him and his opponent restarted their match to the only available court in the tennis centre, knowing very well the match could potentially be brought to a halt depending on whether the court had been booked or not. If Bath’s third ranked player managed to prolong the match Warwick would have no choice but to forfeit on the grounds they had not allocated enough court time to finish the cup tie.
Brailoskiy wrapped up the match 6-4, 6-4 at the fourth time of asking
Men’s Tennis Team Captain Andrew Smith, advised the fresher with a booming serve and thunderous groundstrokes to play “2 shot tennis”; sound advice that he took to heart. The third seed rushed out to a 2-0 second set, winning 9 consecutive points. With the clock ticking and the rest of the men’s team holding their breath from the bleachers, Brailovskiy cranked up the pressure once more.
The 3rd seed worked his way to 3 match points at 5-3, 40-0 on his opponents serve but agonisingly a slew of errors saw him fail to capitalise. Rather than dwell on his failure to break serve and clinch the tie for Warwick, he went on to serve with the same severity had done all afternoon. He wrapped up the match 6-4, 6-4 at the fourth time of asking.
Hugely relived, Brailovskiy talked to Boar Sport immediately after his heroics. He remarked “I was a little bit nervous headed into the final games; I started to cool down a little bit. The break didn’t help.” Of his aggressive approach to the match that paid dividends the 3rd seed said “I like to play aggressive tennis and get on the front foot, so I just tried to put pressure on him”. Whilst his team mates were quick to dub him “sportsman of week”, Brailovskiy announced with a wry smile “I’m not the hero today- it was a team effort”.