New year, new matches, as the second half of the season starts with a bang

By Katie Garner

So far, the Ladies Pairs has been one of those seasons where you can feel the fibres of feather shuttlecock brushing the very tips of your fingers gently, but you are never quite able to stretch that millimetre more to actually grab hold of the blasted thing. Needless to say our near misses that scattered the entire first half of the season have left some rather disgruntled and frustrated Wychelm ladies.

However, after the indulgence of the Christmas festivities, it was back to business this week, as your Ladies A pair headed on down to Bower Park School in Collier Row, for Corinthians’ home night. Lured by Thorntons chocolates, I had Janet as my accomplice this week since Jess was at a London-bound revision class for her exams in March. We were due to play Harold Hill and Corinthians B and I was determined not to get in the way of myself or put pressure on the games. I just wanted to enjoy it.

Against Harold Hill:

  • 10-21 / 9-21

Harold Hill are just bouncing from strength to strength, and I personally feel they may surpass Corinthians A in the rankings this year. In very attractive matching white and black outfits, Jane and Donna know how to rock the court, and although there is the slight feeling that you are merely being toyed with, it is all done in good fun with banter and jokes galore. Janet and I agreed to just try and hit double figures which I think on the whole we generally succeeded on, despite being a tad short in the second game.

Although net play isn’t a massive part of the Harold Hill game plan, to be honest, it’s not really something they need to use that excessively, as their other shots are so excellently executed. They have fantastic reach and no qualms about getting stuck in, so you can’t perform any shot with the assumption that it is the winner, as odds are it’ll come flying back at you! They are particularly strong with their smashes and their placement, eagerly pushing you to the back of the court as they know that this is probably our weaker area yet their centre stage. The tram lines love them, and sometimes it can be tricky to see how exactly you are going to get one past them. Fast paced and punchy, rallies of drives peppered the games and despite not being able to tally up more points, I still enjoyed the game.

Against Corinthians B:

  • 21-20 / 19-21 / 20-21

This series of games were by far the best, closest and most exciting games we have played so far this season. Each rally seemed to last an eternity, with such a complete range and mix of shots it was an absolute delight to take part in. I’ve always felt that on the whole, we were quite evenly matched with the Corinthian B girls, yet we have never had such competitive rallies or score lines before which is a great boost in confidence for us, even though we guttingly didn’t quite pull through.

We had similar strengths and playing styles to the Corinthians duo, yet they tended to prefer playing side by side, while Janet and I tended to adopt front and back positioning. I feel that I was getting more power at the back of the court, and I was doing my best to run every shot down as I was being sent side to side more than I liked. Janet’s cross court net shots have improved greatly over the course of the season, and she was using these to great effect, even incorporating a sneaky flick quality to see them smooch the tram line. My short serve also came to the rescue at various times in the games, earning us a juicy little run of points to allow us the lead in the first game.

I think our backhand clears left us open to attack unfortunately, and this is where we saw many smashes rain down on our side, although we did our utmost to return them. Every rally we played seemed to be fully charges and explosive, with an almost never ending procession of drives, smashes, drops and clears. I feel that Janet and I improved our court coverage of each other as well as our general court rotation which is always a plus point and also came in handy with the Corinthian tactics of pushing us to the extremities of the court boundaries. A thoroughly enjoyable game with fantastic final scores, so although the win would have been a dream come true, at least we know we made Corinthians work hard for their victory!


Needless to say, we are still bottom of the leader board, with the next ladies game actually being on our home turf in early February. We still have the Challenge Cup to tackle between now and then though, so hopefully us ladies will be able to pull something out of the bag then, with a little bit of help from a friendly handicap.