The Seabright Cup 2008 saw the 3rd encounter between a Harvard/Yale and Oxbridge female team, however this was the first time that the Oxbridge girls participated in a full tour in America, during which they contested the Seabright Cup, played alongside the men's Prentice Cup match at the Seabright Club, New Jersey.
The team of 4, comprising Philippa Coates (Somerville) and Julia Lowis (St Edmund Hall) from Oxford, and Victoria Watson and Beth Ashbridge from Cambridge spent a total of 5 weeks stateside, during which they journeyed up and down the East Coast, and also visited Virginia, Kentucky and California.
As has been the Prentice Cup tradition for over 80 years, the players were at each stop hosted by local families, many of whom were Prentice Cup alumni themselves, and in addition to their training and warm-up matches undertook an itinerary including attending a Red Sox game, go-kart racing, surfing in San Francisco, and attending the US Open, where they had the honour of being joined by Virginia Wade as they cheered on Andy Murray en route to the final.
2006 had seen the Oxbridge team defeat the Americans 8-4 at Wimbledon, however 2008 was not to be the first double victory for the Brits, with the more experienced Harvard/Yale team claiming the cup on home ground. Their intensive training schedules and access to fantastic facilities throughout the year had prepared them well, and their well-established doubles pairings proved too experienced for the newly formed Oxbridge teams. Congratulations, however, should go to Philippa Coates who pulled off a resounding victory against the Harvard/Yale number 1, ensuring that the Oxbridge girls did not go away empty-handed. It should also be noted that, over the whole weekend there was, in a true sense, British dominance, as, if the Prentice and Seabright scores are combined, the Oxbridge team emerge the victors!
Whatever the outcome of the actual match, participation in both the Prentice and the Seabright Cups is an unforgettable experience, and above all, a huge privilege. There is a huge sense of camaraderie amongst all involved (from both sides of the Atlantic!), and we are delighted that the Seabright Cup now exists alongside the Prentice Cup, for which we owe our thanks to Tony Billington and Alex Seaver, chairmen of the British and US Prentice Cup committees. We hope that this competition will, in time, become as well established as the Prentice Cup itself.
We now look forward to the next meeting of the teams in 2010, when the matches will be played again at Wimbledon, and have begun preparing for a double Oxbridge victory...