Under pressure with the penultimate fixture
By Katie Garner
With the ladies season coming to a close, the pressure is on all of the pairs to chalk up some final results for the score board, especially as there is now only one evening of matches remaining. Tonight, Corinthians B were hosting the games at their club night at Bower Park School in Collier Row, where we grazed on chocolate fingers in between games for a boosting sweet hit. With Jess still knee deep in the revision, I was partnered by the trusty Janet who was very up for the challenge as we were due to take on tough teams Corinthians A and Hunters.
Against Corinthians A:
- 17-21 / 12-21
Corinthians A played a slightly different pair this evening, pairing up pocket rocket Sue with net mastermind Jill, who also plays at Harold Hill. This definitely mixed up the dynamic and the tactics of the match, as Jill is a brilliant player at the front of the net, with fantastic reach to kill off any lifts or returns that you happen to try and send cross court. Any that manage to get past Jill’s long, lean limbs are then welcomed by Sue’s super smash from the back of the court.
Corinthians have great movement skills, and Janet and I had big problems trying to place the shuttle where they wouldn’t be or where they couldn’t reach it. No matter what combinations of shots we tried, we just couldn’t get the shuttle past them. I think we were also a bit hesitant in our tactics and teamwork and Corinthians were really able to exploit this when we ended up playing sides instead of our usual front and back style, which works really well for us. They knew how to push our buttons and they played very well to win the match in two games.
- 15-21 / 21-20 / 21-18
This was undoubtedly one of the closest and best matches that we have played against Kellie and Lisa from Hunters. They are a fantastic team so it felt simply amazing to be able to sneak a win from them for this first time this season. Hunters have an incredibly aggressive style of play that is packed to the rafters with pacy power shots, attacking interception and an abundance of drives. Knowing that they play such a full on and confrontational game meant that Janet and I had to mirror that if we were going to be in with any chance of gaining points.
Some of the rallies in these three games were so fast, a spectator could have blinked and missed all of the action. The drives were some of the lowest to the net I have ever seen and performed and the shuttle was literally rocketing from one racket to the next, with none of us knowing how the point would actually end. Janet and I both tried to be more assertive at the net, reaching up for more interceptive play to swap up the pace of the rally and try and catch the Hunters gals off guard, peppering their side of the court with short and sharp smashes.
We have a very similar style of play to Hunters and this is why the games were so difficult, challenging and evenly matched. Kellie has a beautiful short serve while Lisa is very strong with her clears and smashes from the back of the court. Janet and I tried to target the tram lines and the extremities of the court to try and get our opponents moving as much as possible, although they definitely made sure to punish any weak shots we let hover over the net tantalisingly. I felt that my interceptive play and smashes were stronger in these games, which was a great show of improvement, and I felt that Janet delivered some fabulous attacking shots from the front as well as her usual sneaky cross court play. The star of the matches though were unquestionably the driving rallies – I was concentrating so hard as the shots were zooming back at me much quicker than I would have liked! It was fantastically refreshing to get stuck in to such an intense match. Kudos to the Hunters duo; it could easily have gone either way.
On the whole, I feel we really came on leaps and bounds tonight, despite losing out to Corinthians A. I feel that we were both stronger at the back of the court, as well as more dominant with our interceptive play at the front of the court, taking charge of the net with gusto. Janet performed some really deep clears that steered us away from trouble, while I feel my drop shots and tram line smashes also managed to save our bacon a few times. I’m pleased with how we did and I just hope we can try and smuggle another win in the final games of the season come April.