Another dynamic British pairing carrying our hopes for gold this July
By Katie Garner
Once again, I was catching up with the All England Badminton Championships with the trusty V+ box, when I managed to catch Jenny Wallwork and Nathan Robertson’s quarter final game against a challenging Indonesian pair. I’ve got to say, what they lack in graceful style and court movement, they more than make up for in brute force, sheer determination and an angry, competitive power that seems to radiate off them.
As a pairing, they are definitely more communicative then other professional pairs, shouting at each other during rallies, which is encouraging to watch, as most professional seem to communicate through telepathy. Interestingly enough, Wallwork also barks at the beginning of every rally – a feature I noticed Imogen Bankier doing as well. Whether it helps psych the opposition out, or gears them up for the next rally, I’m not really sure, but the Indonesians also picked it up through the match.
I’ve always thought of Nathan Robertson as a bit of a character, having that big, slightly temperamental personality that can be mercurial in nature. He spent many years partnered with the quietly determined and endearing Gail Emms, a personal hero of mine, so there was a distinct balance in the pairing, where Emms tamed Robertson’s occasional outbursts, and he fired up her competitiveness. However, since working with Wallwork, they share many of the same traits, so them together on court, almost feels like an explosion – and I’m sure it feels that way for the opposition too with the constant hammering of smashes and drives.
Probably one of the things I enjoyed most about watching this match was actually understanding the coaches in the intervals. I know, not really that exciting, but I have always wondered what comments and advice the coaches pass on to their players. In the first game interval, they were told to keep up their trademark control and speed, yet encouraged to mix up the shots more. Unfortunately they went on to lose this game a close 19-21. The second game interval saw them being advised to switch up their defence (not the strongest part of their game – they much prefer the attack) and also that control of the tape is vital. They managed to win the second game 21-14. And basically the last game didn’t really last long, with the British duo getting 6 points and an overall loss.
Wallwork and Robertson have a distinct playing style that sees them focus on a strong, aggressive and attacking stance, with good front and back play, as Wallwork leaps for every return. They also rotate a lot, with Wallwork often staying at the back, although I believe she is better playing at the net. I feel that as a partnership, they haven’t really gelled yet, as they often both jumped for the same shots at the same time, so perhaps more practice at who is going for what shot is called for. A definite fiery pairing and I would be shaking in my trainers if I were the other side of the net.