Thrown in at the deep end, the ladies season starts with smashes, swearing and sliding…
By Katie Garner
With the men already a couple of games in to their season, I was impatient to get the ball rolling for the ladies matches. With a low female to male ratio at Wychelm, it is so refreshing to throw yourself whole heartedly into the women’s game, especially when they are as ambitious, fast paced and full on as the league ladies games notoriously are. Once again in Division One after securing second place last season, Jess and I are once again hogging A team position for Wychelm’s women, although tonight I had recruited the help of our lovely Welsh lass Janet, since Jess was unavailable to play. Swapping one leftie for another, we were joining forces at Corinthians’ home ground of Bower Park School for the first of ten face offs.
Despite the ladies pairs normally involving the same players from each club, there were a lot of new faces tonight, which made the games feel fresh as well as a tad more fierce – the absolute marathon between Corinthians A and Harold Hill is testament enough of that and a sign that the season really has kicked off with a bang (21-19 / 19-21 / 21-13). Back to us though, and we were due to play Corinthians A and Hunters A tonight, both very good pairs. I was a bit worried beforehand, as I have only played a handful of games with Janet since she joined Wychelm this September after visiting over the summer, and I am aware of how crucial teamwork is. I think we managed to pull it off however…
Against Corinthians A:
- 16-21 / 15-21
No doubt about it, Corinthians A are daunting. Reigning supreme for two straight seasons as well as winning every overall match they played last year, they have tons of strength, Mr Fantastic style stretch-ability and they always fill you up with chocolate in between games. Since this was our first game, we had some adjustments to make with regards to getting used to the feathers again, however I felt that this didn’t take ling at all which was a very welcome change. As a partnership, Janet and I were testing the waters slightly and seeing how would be best to play, which meant that Corinthians probably had a few too many spaces and gaps to aim at as we tried to strike the right balance between front and back play and sides. Corinthians really hit the extremities of the court, the shuttle kissing every tramline with a proud pucker as it landed. As well as this annoyingness, they punishing any hazy or floaty shot we produced with a fantastic wallop that sent the shuttle straight to the ground. All four of us made silly mistakes, however I feel that on the whole, Janet and I played well. Our rotation was coming into play nicely, and I was getting more confident remaining at the front of the court and trusting Janet to keep things tidy at the back with her long clears and fast smashes. For a first league match attempt against the best pair in the division, I am very pleased with our opening results of 16 and 15, although it would have been nice to take it to a decider.
Against Hunters A:
- 20-21 / 19-21
I must say I felt so frustrated coming off court for this one. We were literally level pegging the entire way in both of these games and the victory could quite easily have been ours except for the littering of errors that kept peppering our game. Hunters seemed to have a similar style of play to us, and they were also of the same skill level, so we were all very evenly matched. Janet and I didn’t really have an overriding game plan at all, just ‘get the shuttle over the net so they can’t hit it back’ mainly, and we tried to achieve this with plenty of cross court action and I particularly decided to make use of my mixed doubles net experience. I hold my hands up that near the conclusion of each game, I let my desperate want to win interfere, and despite running to be where I needed to be, I would then mistime the shot and end up swinging frantically at thin air much to my disappointment, especially as these were shots that I would usually kill off nicely during a friendly and calm club night. On the plus side, I feel that my backhand was stronger and my net play prominent, although some of my serves came up short as I tried to tweak the length because of the feathers. Janet was smashing like a good’un and also played some incredibly sneaky cross court shots, as well as receiving compliments on her well placed high serve. Again Hunters are a great side, I’m just more disappointed with myself that I couldn’t push through to secure us a win on the score sheet – it would have been a brilliant start to the season.
On the whole, I think we made good progress tonight. Despite not frequently playing together, I think Janet and I have very compatible styles of play, so polishing the partnership when Jess is unavailable shouldn’t be a hardship or overly difficult. I think we had the right ideas and a really good energy and vibe, but we just couldn’t pull it out of the bag for this one. I think we could have beaten Hunters which is going to bug me as I know I made silly mistakes, but on the whole, I really enjoyed the games. I always love playing the ladies matches as the games are so intense and so different from club night, so I’m pleased the season has finally got underway, and got underway to not too terrible a start. We may not have won, but we still amassed an impressive collection of points so it wasn’t a bad evening’s work.
The next ladies match is actually a home one for us, on the 21st October. Jess cannot play in this one either, so Janet will once again be stepping into the helm to help a Katie out.