GUTC continue to smash up critics

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James Lush

Glasgow University Tennis Club enters 2010 with the men’s first team on the verge of a place in the BUCS Premier North division, where they will face the likes of Loughborough, Manchester and Stirling.

Following an unremarkable 08/09 season which was blighted by injuries and the decimation of the previous team following graduation, Captain Tim Campbell has used a blend of first-years and more experienced players to lead the team to a promotion play-off.

Campbell especially praised the new young stars of the team Innes McNicol and the Estonian Marcus Pops, who have played alongside William Leonhardt and the more experienced Andrew Smillie, David Birrell, Brian Wasige and Campbell himself.

After a disappointing opening day defeat to Stirling seconds at home, the team has since gone on to crush that side 8-2 on their own turf and record stunning victories of 9-1 against Aberdeen and 10-0 against St. Andrews on two occasions, as well as beating rivals Edinburgh.

The influx of talent has also allowed the second team to flourish. With four fixtures undefeated and the remaining three all at Garscube, the team look likely to consolidate their current position at the head of Division 3 and win promotion.

The next test is the visit of local rivals Strathclyde in a match Glasgow expect to win comfortably, although the fixture has the potential to throw up a shock result. As in previous seasons, the second team has provided the opportunity for inexperienced players to gain match play experience alongside seasoned campaigners and the competition for places has led to increased turnouts at training in what is a record-breaking year for the club.

GUTC has become one of the few clubs to take over 100 memberships this year and has a thriving community of racket-wielders. There are now four training sessions each week and a professional coach in the shape of third-year student David Knox.

The tennis club has continued its tradition of unearthing the finest international talent, with players from Estonia, Malaysia, Kenya and Australia turning out regularly for the side. Some have dealt with the weather better than others, as has been highlighted by performances at Garscube. There has been discussion about moving team matches to an indoor arena but no deal has been finalised yet.

With the withdrawal of main sponsors PriceWaterhouseCoopers following the financial crisis, the club has struggled to bring in money except through memberships, which have fortunately surged thanks to the strong committee elected this year; mostly inexperienced members who characterise the regeneration of the club.

The success of the club has largely been down to its accommodation of players of all abilities. With a dedicated club, teams and coaching sessions there has been on display rich picking for the teams. GUTC has become a club where players have risen in a short space of time from virtual beginners to candidates for team honours. And an honour it is to play for one of the most successful teams at the University of Glasgow.