As our very favourite Dolmio advert states…tonight’s the night!
By Katie Garner
The penultimate fixture of the Ladies Pairs season for Division One had finally arrived and it was time for Jess and I to host our second home match of the year, at our traditional base at Frances Bardsley. With our results on a slow incline, with tentative positive patches, we once again were hopeful that we could fling ourselves into the oncoming games with our usual energetic fervour and maybe snatch ourselves a higher ranking.
Tonight we were squaring up against Emerson Eagles and Corinthians B – both good sides so we knew it was not going to be an easy task. Eagles are incredibly energetic and throw themselves at every shot, while Corinthians B are really good at pushing you around at the back of the court.
Against Emerson Eagles:
- 21-9 / 21-15
A really great start that saw our explosive tactics actually pay off – a fantastic boost for us. We bounced out of the blocks with some fiery net play, and our usual front and back attacking, which really paid off and gained us a nice little chunk of points. Our rotation also worked well, and we really dived for every drop shot they threw our way. We felt raring to go, and it was brilliant for us to be playing back at our home grounds with the support of our fellow squad players and club members all taking an interest. The net play and cross court smashes mixed in with tram line drives and smashes were a winning combination to see us take the first game.
We maintained the momentum into the second game, and we were really keen to try and snatch the win in a duo of games – a rare occurrence so far in the season. We stuck to our guns and managed to see through what we started, despite the excellent determined and fast shots booming at us across the net from Eagles.
Against Corinthians B:
- 21-8 / 17-21 / 21-15
Corinthians B have always been a dangerous team for us to play – I would hazard a guess that we are quite evenly matched, yet whenever we end up in a decider, they normally manage to push through with their trademark stamina and they finish with a flourish to take the win. This is often so disheartening as normally we have a mini lead at some point, and it feels like an incredibly unbalanced see-saw, that tips further and further away from us as the competitive glint in their eyes burns brighter and brighter.
However, having won one game tonight already, we felt good and ready to roll, bursting with positivity and almost an urgency to prove that we could win two matches in one night. The first game was definitely a continuation of our game against Eagles; our tactics had cut their teeth and were vaguely fang like, especially with regards to some serious power smashing at the net, which proved to be very dynamic for us (kudos to Jess for those). The first game very much went our way for a seamless first win.
The second game saw Corinthians develop their trademark last minute burst which is so frustrating as an opponent. You build up a lead and think that you can pull through, yet almost from out of nowhere, suddenly your shots aren’t as effective, their movement is more punctual and they step the whole game up a gear. This happened here to see them overtake us and steal the win right from under our noses. Their player tackling the net is so quick, with snapping arm movements to really drive down any shot that even hints at floating in her direction. The player that was at the back was also so strong, able to merely flick the shuttle where it needed to go, causing us plenty of problems as they scraped the tram lines.
As we approached the decider, a mild case of panic set in, as this is usually where we have lost it before. They are normally able to build on their previous momentum and drive us into submission, however, tonight, we gritted our teeth, and was determined that we wouldn’t let that happen – tonight was our night. We ploughed away, trying to build the points back to how we wanted them, incorporating our tactics instead of being pushed out of play. There was definitely some struggling, as they did the same to us, but in the end we just managed to sneak through with a win.
It feels so nice to be able to say that we won both of our matches tonight, and that all the people who believed in us are now finally justified. The extra practice against the various men of Wychelm has definitely paid off in my eyes, and it really aided us in becoming stronger at the net. Although I still did some very airy, floating shots that were a pale shadow of a drop shot, on the whole, the smashes and clears that we delivered had a lot more direction, purpose and power that previously. On the whole, our most successful night to date, with a well-deserved pat on the back due.