Nine matches over one night – anything can happen!
By Katie Garner
Who doesn’t love the Challenge Cup? Yes, the annual league knockout tournament was back again this year, giving local Barking, Havering and Dagenham clubs the chance to face off against opponents who they may not come across in their usual division allocated games. Luckily for Wychelm BC, the odd number of clubs entered this year meant that we were drawn the golden ticket – a free pass into the semi-final round, a stage we have reached a couple of times on our own merit, but it is always nice to have a helping hand! Unfortunately, we were up against Division One regulars and general high scorers Ramgarhia, based near East Ham. Our squad of three men and three women headed to the Ramgarhia home turf on Friday to see whether we could make a dent in their impressive previous score lines.
In the Challenge Cup, each club puts forward a team of six members, consisting of three men and three women. Each team member will play three games – two ladies or men’s doubles and then a mixed each. For this reason, we usually enter our mixed doubles team, as this is undoubtedly Wychelm’s strongest area and our best chance of scoring points. To create a level playing field, the Challenge Cup also utilises handicaps, with the committee this year tweaking the points so that each club would have to earn a minimum of 21 points to fit in with a normal game. With Ramgarhia having a -15 handicap and us having a -2, this meant that the adjusted handicap saw Ramgarhia start each game on -11 while Wychelm members started on zero.
- Female 1: Janet Lewis
- Female 2: Katie Garner
- Female 3: Tracy Vincent
- Male 4: Hetal Patel
- Male 5: David Welch
- Male 6: Gary Curtis
- Janet and Katie: 21-9 / 21-18
- Tracy and Het: 21-12 / 21-16
- David and Gary: 21-11 / 21-18
- Katie and Tracy: 21-11 / 21-13
- Janet and Gary: 21-16 / 21-16
- Het and David: 21-? / 21-10
- Janet and Tracy: 21-14 / 21-17
- Katie and David: 21-16 / 20-21 / 16-21
- Het and Gary: 21-9 / 21-16
So, needless to say, Ramgarhia starting so far behind didn’t really affect the final result as they won eight of the nine matches of the evening, all in two games. Ramgarhia are a very sophisticated team and playing against them is very much a case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’. On the whole, I would say we played well, despite some of our shots being riddled with nerves, clears flying past the back tram lines and net shots beating into the net, but we were outclassed by the excellent shots of the opposing team. It was getting to the point where we were running out of different tactics to employ, our shots looking immature when they were dealt with so professionally. It was disheartening at times, but all you can do is keep plugging away.
I’m immensely proud that my mixed doubles partner David and I managed to steal away the only Wychelm win of the evening, finally taking the Ramgarhia duo to a decider, with one of our games finishing a tantalising 20-21! We were able to force our opposition to make a few errors, but I also think our team work really came in to affect here as our styles of play really complement each other and have actually made us a rather formidable mixed duo, if I do say so myself. The atmosphere of having the other players watch the game since it was the last one on, and of taking the win was brilliant – so despite a losing evening on the whole, that one win ensured it wasn’t a white wash annihilation and that’s all you can ask for when playing such a superior team. Just holding up your end and flying the flag for your team makes all the difference.
Well done Ramgarhia for the fantastic games, the excellent snack selection and your friendly comments at the conclusion of the evening. We enjoyed the games even if we were being somewhat whooped, but at least we evaded the elusive clean sheet!