Last weekend saw Imperial Squash return victorious from the Roehampton University Cup. This highly prestigious tournament, held at the classy Roehampton Club, is a highlight of the squash calendar, and featured teams from 16 universities.

On Saturday morning we arrived fresh and raring to go. Imperial had entered both their 1st and 2nd teams. The 1st team, made up of Puven Subramaniam, James McCouat, Patrick Brandl, Pamela Hathway, and Dave Newman stormed through their group, prevailing 5-0 over Bristol 2s, Southampton 2s, and Leicester 2s. The 2nd team, comprising of Tom Readshaw, Sam Horne, Andre Bharath, David Anderle, and Francesca Lim lost to Durham, but a convincing win against the Kings 2s saw them progress, along with the 1st team, to the quarter-finals – the only university 2nd team to do so.

“There was an all Imperial affair in the quarter-final”

Later that day there was an exhibition match between Daryl Selby (former world no. 9) and Robbie Temple, famous for his two-handed ambidextrous style- he actually swaps his racket hand during rallies. Our very own Patrick Brandl volunteered to referee the match (former chair Tom Readshaw took him by surprise seconds before the game started) , and brought with him a charisma never seen before in officiating. At a contentious point, Patrick stamped his authority on the match by accusing the world no. 9 of ‘acting suspiciously’ (Selby appeared to concede his own pick-up and after not hearing a call from the referee, changed his mind) and awarded the point to the other player. The players were both confused and somewhat reluctantly appreciative of this unorthodox but entertaining refereeing style. The match proved to be a hit with the players and the crowd. It was a fantastically entertaining way to mark the half way point of the tournament. There was a formal dinner provided after the match and Daryl thanked Patrick in his after dinner speech, admitting he “very much enjoyed his suspicious refereeing” , but not without mentioning that he “got the ball in question”. After indulging in a few group photos with Daryl, and once Pamela Hathway had finished catching up with her former colleague on the PSA world tour, the Imperial teams retreated for the night to rest up for the following day’s big matches.

The first fixture on Sunday was an intriguing one: an all Imperial affair in the quarter-final. The 1s progressed through to the semi-finals, but not without the 2s putting up a tough fight, providing the sternest test so far of the 1st team’s fitness and technique. Imperial 2s then faced the play-offs for places 5-8. They pushed LSE and King’s 1s right to the wire and finished the tournament comfortably the highest placed 2nd team in the competition – a superb achievement.

In the semi-final, the Imperial 1s team faced defending champions Leicester, who had brought the same winning team as last year. Imperial had lost to them at the semi-final stage in the 2017 edition of the tournament, but this time they stormed to a convincing 4-1 win. Everyone played out of their skin, especially our number 1, Puven Subramaniam, who beat the Leicester number 1 (a PSA world ranked player), in a match many said was more exciting than the exhibition match the previous evening. Revenge tasted almost as good as the club sandwiches on offer in the members’ bar.

“From 2-10 Imperial claw their way back to a 15-14 win, winning the cup”

In the final, Imperial would come up against a Surrey team brimming with confidence after cruising through the rounds on their side of the draw. Surrey’s team were extremely tough competition and despite exceptionally brave performances at 2nd and 4th string, Imperial found themselves 2-0 down and staring down the barrel after two closely contested matches. Captain Puven Subramaniam then stepped on court and truly showed what Imperial was made of. He won his match by playing some fearlessly attacking squash. Both his opponent and the crowd were left completely stunned. At this point, still 1-2 down, Imperial’s 3rd and 5th strings, Patrick Brandl and Dave Newman, took to the court, each knowing nothing short of a win would suffice. It was a tense affair: after drawing level in his match, Dave found himself 2-10 down in the final game. What followed was a truly nail-biting comeback that saw him win on a tense sudden death point with 15-14 – nothing short of a miracle.

That’s why we call him the iceman. Spurred on by the cheers from the crowd, now flocking to see the conclusion of his title deciding encounter, Patrick found some exceptional form in the final game to win in style against a very solid opponent. Against all the odds, it meant victory for Imperial! As a prize for winning the tournament, Imperial received a large glass trophy, VIP tickets to the Canary Wharf Squash Classic, and a year’s squash membership to Roehampton Club. Fancy getting involved with the teams and maybe helping us defend our title in 2019? Email us at squash@imperial.ac.uk or find us on social media!