Report by Katie Scott
With the start of September heralds the arrival of a brand spanking new season, full of promise; and this year’s mixed matches have kicked off earlier than usual in September rather than October. This season seems to be bursting with all things new, as this year, we only have one mixed division instead of two, the result of a couple of teams dropping out, meaning that numbers have dwindled slightly. With this in mind, there weren’t quite enough teams to go round, so the two divisions have been merged into one racket wielding bundle.
I don’t know whether to feel cheated or not however – last season Wychelm actually won Division 2 of the mixed doubles, our reward not only the prized silver wear and general bragging rights, but also the promotion into Division 1 and with it, the opportunity to test and push ourselves, develop our shots and stamina , as well as generally improve. Now everyone has been promoted really!
Anyway, I digress. Tonight we had our first mixed match, against the loveable lot from Corinthians, based at Bower Park School this season. Pitted against their first team, we knew it was by no means going to be an easy evening.
Katie and David W:
- 21-17 / 18-21 / 11-21
- 8-21 / 9-21
- 11-21 / 14-21
Kay and Het:
- 11-21 / 14-21
- 11-21 / 19-21
- 21-20 / 19-21 / 16-21
Tracy and Gary:
- 12-21 / 15-21
- 21-15 / 6-21 / 13-21
- 11-21 / 21-13 / 21-15
So, how did we do?
Not well my friends, not well at all. Tracy and Gary were our only overall winners of the evening, although all of us managed to take at least one of our games to a decider, which is something at least. In the case of David and myself for example, our first game was undoubtedly our best, as we reached the most competitive score line of our evening, and the deflation of not being able to snatch at the final win seemed to hover us like an unconfident fog for the remainder of the games. I know I personally threw a few more in the net than usual and also played a few naïve shots right back at the opposing player, and at this level, these simplicities are things you simply cannot afford to do. I’m not going to lie, I am disappointed in how I performed tonight, as I know deep down that I can do better and that I am better. I’m hoping the match hasn’t knackered David’s knees too much either – both were looking suspiciously puffy and he was complaining of pain too.
As a squad, I would say this round of Corinthian players like to play hard and fast, each pair using incredibly similar tactics – but then again, why wouldn’t you if they work? Serves were usually short, trying to encourage that defensive lift, but the favoured shots of the night were most definitely the drive, powering low across the tape, as well as the smash, anything vaguely going overhead falling victim. The pairs also played traditional doubles, with a player covering the front and one covering the back, usually the woman taking the net. Using this style ourselves, David and I tried to put our stamp on the matches, but if I’m honest, we found it difficult to get our foot in the door so to speak. I felt I had neither the time or the opportunity to interpose with my best play, and when I did manage to get a shot it, it merely didn’t work. The guys on the Corinthians side in particular had brilliant movement as well, covering cross court shots as if it were inches away rather than the opposite side from where they were. The play was aggressive, speedy and full of pace – you’d breathe in and five point s were suddenly gone. Corinthians played brilliantly and they fully deserved the win – I just wish I was able to give them my best, rather than my mediocre.
Tracy and Gary played a blinder tonight with Wychelm’s only win. The snippets I saw of their games were enthralling, Tracy cutting in where she could across the net while Gary’s long limbs tackled everywhere else. They also worked really well as a duo, Tracy actually our reserve for the evening, as Janet was unable to attend. Kay and Het also delivered some deadly blows into the Corinthians’ side of the court, their sides style of play no doubt throwing their opponents off track at some points.
It may not be the best result in the world, but at least we have some numbers on the board and the first nerve-wracking match over and done with. You always feel like you are testing the waters for the first game, especially with this being an away match. Luckily, I knew all the ladies playing so it was great to catch up and say hi as well as get down to business. With this experience under our belts, I’m intrigued to see how the rest of the division will go – can it get any better? I’m ready to ride this learning curve – are you?