The final fixture for the ladies first division has arrived, and boy did it finish with a bang
By Katie Garner
The heady rush of competitive ladies games has finally petered out. Tuesday saw the close of the Division One in the Ladies Pairs, as we played our last games at Becontree Heath Leisure Centre – the palatial glass home of robust team Hunters. As 7.00pm arrived, we limbered up in anticipation of the end of an incredibly satisfying, challenging and exciting season for the ladies pairs. On the agenda, we had a date with Corinthians B, followed by a dance with Emerson Eagles A – both great pairs to play, full of fun and banter.
Jess and I were the third game to go on, so we had to sit and watch all of the other competitors play before we could even lay a finger on a feather shuttle. It was vaguely unnerving seeing both the couples we were going to face turning up the pressure and performing like they have never done before. Emerson Eagles managed to get a game from Corinthians A, which is as rare as a golden egg, whilst Corinthians B ploughed Hunters into a decider with their trademark grit, determination and valour. With our challengers playing so perfectly, there was nothing for it but to give it some wellie – a classic Wychelm tactic!
Against Corinthians B:
- 21-17 / 21-20
This match reminded me very much of those vastly annoying horror movies – you know the ones that have your fingers curling around the nearest squidgy inanimate object in the hope that it will offer some protection and shield your vision from the nervous scene in front of you. That was very much the case in these two games, as demonstrated by the hairs separating the scores. Both games had the same tempo, moves and styles of tactics, it was literally endurance, stamina and ability on the day to see who could pull through. Corinthians B were adopting a more front and back play which is naturally what we prefer as well, so this added a new dynamic to the game. With a similar standard of play and methodology, it was rather difficult to gain any footing, and we ended up being level pegging for the majority of both games, with that stop-start play common in close match ups. We managed to sneak ahead in the first game to take the win.
The second game, I must confess, felt like two sharks, circling each other whilst eyeing up the bloody body in between them. After their incredibly slim defeat in their match against Hunters, they were gunning for a victory and they were laying down some serious moves for me and Jess to chase after. Despite their excellent movement, they did provide some gaps in the court and for us it was important to play to these to keep them on their toes. Our headless chicken mentality serves us well, and we just hoped that our plucky flights were more frequent and consistent than theirs. We used solid rotation and a mix of shots and in the end this saw us through the second game – although it was nail bitingly close with just one measly point between us. A close call, but such a relief to finish it off in the two games, without the additional drama and tension of a decider (which often results in our downfall).
It felt good to pull through this battle, especially with our recent streak of wins, and it felt great to further be able to tally up the total.
Against Emerson Eagles A:
- 21-18 / 21-14
Another match that kick started with an impossibly close game, the closing stages of the ladies proving to be just as feisty and unpredictable as the rest of the season. Emerson Eagles are a lovely pair to play, and we always enjoy it. Against them, our greatest advantage is probably our mixed doubles experience, as our front and back play can usually win out, if we use an aggressive style peppered with little dinks and net shots to vary the pace and tempo. Both of these games though seemed to have a lot of drives and smashes, mostly consisting of very rapid and powerful play that to be honest, is a nice variety from all of the mixed matches we usually play on our club nights.
We stuck to our guns though, and delivered on our net play. I reckon they must have got in some sneaky practice though, as they were keener to take on the net and drive from the front, using interceptive shots like we try to do. It added an extra dynamic to the game, and this too also provided good popcorn eating viewing with some of the lengthy rallies. In the end though, we again managed to take the win in two games, avoiding the dreaded decider.
Two matches, two games apiece, two wins by two twins. It was the perfect way to conclude our season, and I must confess, it felt rather sad and dreary thinking that I now have to wait all summer before I can unsheathe my racket once more to commence a new battle with the ladies of Division One. In total, we have won ten matches this season out of a possible twenty (as you play two matches per evening, and we had ten fixtures in the season), which works out as exactly half. There are five pairs in this division and in an ideal world, we would be ecstatic to have third place. We don’t think we’ll be last, and since our usual remit is around fourth, it would be incredibly refreshing and rewarding if we could bump this up a place and make the top three. We’ll be keeping everything crossed that all the points add up in our favour. I’ll let you know as soon as I do!
In the meantime, I still have the mixed doubles to keep me on my toes…