With the threat of rain and testing winds throughout, the Portsmouth Men’s Tennis team faced more than just the prospect of stiff competition from their Southampton counterparts. However, as the scoreline suggests, their opponents provided far less resistance than the conditions themselves.
The first team were in inspired form, carrying out a ruthless 5-1 rout. As for the second team, they managed to eek out a more modest result, winning 4-2 overall. Still, despite a close overall scoreline in the second team fixtures, the match of focus suggested a much more dominant affair. Second team doubles pairing Robbie Gratton and Ellis Drayton faced seemingly tough opposition in Arthur Hill and Southampton’s second team captain Jack Harvey but they made quick, comfortable work of their rivals, eventually winning the match 6-2, 6-1, without dropping a single service game.
Drayton and Gratton formed a comprehensive partnership throughout, making it very difficult for Hill and Harvey to gain any sort of foothold or momentum during the one-sided match. Drayton’s service was consistent and laid the foundations for solid offense, keeping the Southampton pairing pinned back close to their baseline. Gratton was equally composed at the net, providing a seemingly impenetrable barrier. Even during Southampton’s service games, both Gratton and Drayton were confident moving forward to the net even when Hill and Harvey attempted to apply pressure.
But one of the key elements of the match was in fact a mastery of the elements; Gratton in particular used the wind to his advantage, utilising an elegant backhand slice multiple times to kill any momentum that the Southampton team were gaining. The drag from the wind gave the Portsmouth pairing time to re-position themselves during periods of pressing from Hill and Harvey on serve and it proved vital as Drayton and Gratton went on to break their opponents seven times en route to victory.
Drayton and Gratton’s convincing win would prove to be a microcosm for the Portsmouth Men’s Tennis team’s impressive overall haul. With a 9-3 aggregate across the two teams, the victory was a real highlight of Portsmouth’s Varsity campaign.