On Saturday 20 February thirty-two players came to St. Paul’s School for the biggest Varsity Fives Match in the history of the event.
The 86th Varsity Match saw an extremely high standard of play with Cambridge winning 284–120 against Oxford.
The top end was dominated by Paulines with a Cambridge top three of Ed Kay (2005–10), Ben Beltrami (2009–14) and Matt Shaw (2008–13), currently ranked 4th, 5th and 12th nationally. On the Oxford side Francis Thomas (2007–12) was a powerful No 1 and fresher Sid Bhushan (2010–15) was catapulted in at No 2. The doubles between the two top pairs featured the last four St Paul’s captains of fives, an excellent game on home ground.
Further down, Will Yates won his half blue for Oxford, and Ollie Quarry (spending a year in the Fens after his undergraduate course at Durham) and Aurelien Guéroult did the same for Cambridge. In the reserves match recent Old Pauline, Ed Benson, played for the Oxford Beavers.
The exceptional strength and achievements of the top Cambridge players has been recognised by the unusual awards of Full Blues to both Ed Kay (British Universities Singles Champion 2015, and three times University Doubles Champion, as well as National Under-25 Singles Champion 2015 and four times Doubles Champion, partnering in turn Dan Tristao and Matt Shaw) and, in the last month, Ben Beltrami (twice Universities Doubles Champion and Under-25 runner-up in 2014 and 2015). Ben’s national ranking and his tremendous School record were also factors in the award. Only four Fives players in the last decade have been awarded Full Blues: Ed, Ben, Alan Beverly and Dan Tristao, all Paulines.
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