By Katie Scott
With our last ladies fixture being a bit of a no go (the home team never arrived), yesterday signaled the official start of the ladies pairs season for myself and Kay, the duo representing Wychelm BC this season, playing in Division 1 after winning Division 2 last season. Joining us in this competitive division are two Corinthians pairs as well as Harold Hill – the missing home team from the first round of matches.
So, last night we headed to Bower Park School in Collier Row for our second fixture, based at Corinthians’ home turf. Arriving promptly at 7.15pm, we would play each of the other three pairs, attempting to win the best of three games to 21. No easy feat. Luckily already knowing all of the ladies competing this season, we could brush all nerves aside and concentrate on getting stuck into the games ahead.
- Against Harold Hill: 17-21 / 16-21
- Against Corinthians A: 12-21 / 20-21
- Against Corinthians B: 19-21 / 21-10 / 20-21
I have to say, I’m really pleased with how Kay and I played on the whole last night. The games were all intensely close, as you can see by the scorelines, and I found that we got progressively better as the evening went on. The most important factor for us was to stand up for ourselves, and not allow any of the games to be whitewashes – the most acute embarrassment of any match. As a pair, this is only Kay and I’s second season teaming up, so we were both interested to see how we would fair against the big guns of Division 1.
I definitely felt like I learnt a few things over the course of evening. My short serve is usually my primary winner, however I was putting in a lot more long serves – they ended up clipping the back tramlines beautifully managing to catch out my opponents. If I’m honest, I don’t know who was more surprised – me or them! Our first game of the evening was against Harold Hill, as we took on regular Donna and her new partner for the evening Sarah. Such a feature at the top of league tables, we knew this match was going to be tricky, but I feel we put in a solid performance. I made sure our communication was on point with my regular yelling, and I feel our cross court shots – in particular our drops – really served us well here. We tried to include plenty of quick switches in direction to help wrong foot our speedy opposition, also utilising a range of lengths, although I wouldn’t say net play was dominant in any of the games. Despite working hard, we couldn’t quite pull through, but I’m happy we put in a competitive performance.
Our next game was against Corinthians A, with club leader Paula and her partner Jess. Left hander Paula is incredibly dynamic at the net, whilst Jess provides brilliant strength from the back with an array of deceptive shots. Again, Kay and I knew we had to work hard here. I think our communication wavered slightly here so the down the middle shots weren’t dealt with as succinctly as maybe we would have liked, however Kay did fantastically well at reaching for the front drops – over the course of the evening there was definitely lots of forward and back running as opposed to cross court action, maybe due to the fact that the majority of the pairs tended to lean towards playing sides rather than front and back. The rallies here were fast and furious and to lose that second game to 20 was gut wrenching!
Our last game of the evening was against the second Corinthians pair. Jo in particular was a very tough player as she managed to demolish pretty much whatever serve I gave her. As a pair, these guys really had us running, trying to get Kay struggling at the front and myself pushed to the back. Again, more front to back movement that anything else, I certainly put in plenty of lunges. Building our points we managed to take this one to a decider, the final game even coming to 20-20. With the finishing line so near in sight, it is gutting to lose, however it’s a positive signal for the next fixture, as we now know what we are up against.
I don’t think we let Wychelm down last night – Kay played excellently, delivering an array of high clears and interceptive drives and smashes, usually pummeled cross court. Her strength and power of play was great and she was a fantastic team mate to rely upon. For myself, it was nice to back away from my usual mixed doubles zone glued to the net and actually whack the shuttle with some venom. I managed to pull out some rather magical cross court drops and I am also pleased with the improvements in my high serve. Hopefully this can now introduce a different element to my game. We thoroughly enjoyed every single game and it was so lovely to get stuck into some proper ladies games, full of fast, pacey drives, sprints around the court and a whole spectrum of shots to deliver and answer. Everyone played exceptionally, and the close scorelines demonstrate how evenly matched we are too. I have such a good feeling about this division – the games were challenging, exciting and all round fun. I can’t wait for next time!