Despite Christmas season only just being tidied away, there is no rest for the wicked, as the ladies division starts again with gusto…

By Katie Garner

Let’s admit it now – we all over indulged slightly (ahem) over Christmas, so the prospect of the first ladies match of the New Year may not always be a welcoming one. But in our case, we’re always ready to go and get stuck in, this time at Wychelm’s old training ground Emerson Park School, now the home of the aptly named Emerson Eagles.

On the menu tonight was a concoction of shots provided by leaders Corinthians A, as well as a recipe for a fry up with the dynamic Hunters. Raring and ready, we decided to give it our all…

Against Corinthians A:

  • 21-16 / 7-21 / 17-21

I am so pleased with our performance here, and even though the final win evaded us by a mere four points, I believe we still achieved great results. Corinthians A are the reigning champs, smash supremoes and as speedy as Roadrunner when it comes to moving around the court. The first game seemed to be a direct result from our initial burst of energy, and with a seasoning of luck, all of our shots seemed to work, while I feel they were getting into their swing – hitting more out than is usual for them. They still had good rotation with a tactic that was similar to ours on this, with many of our rallies being low, fast drives, the shuttle a simple blur of white. To take the first game was fantastic and even as we came off, Hunters complimented us on our play, which is always an added bonus.

The second game was a stinker, I’ll admit. Everything we seemed to achieve in the first game suddenly went to pot as all our shots seemed to float and hover and simply beg Corinthians to finish them off with flourish. Naturally they did so with their normal levels of skill and aplomb, leaving us playing catch up – never an entirely comfortable position to be in. Nevertheless, at the close of the game we still knew we had the decider to go.

The decider was a great game where we all got more into in. The rallies were intense and long, with such a variety of shots, although they prompted decided that they were rather partial to Jess’s backhand. We put up a good fight and despite our energy levels and enthusiasm we couldn’t quite pull through for the win, which is slightly disappointing. The fact we took them to a decider is fab, but it would have been all the sweeter to take home the win here too.

Against Hunters:

  • 18-21 / 21-10 / 21-17

Please read the above line again. Yes, you are correct we did win! This has got to be one of my favourite games played in a good few months at least. The quality from the get go was astounding and what made the game richer, and that more intense was that it was so level. I have often said that Hunters are incredibly similar to us, in their style and the tactics, and here it all came to magnificent inferno of storming rallies and level pegging.  We mainly used our mixed play here, using plenty of attacking net play, which is probably Hunter’s weaker department. Naturally there was a lot of lofty clears and high powered smashing – always a favourite against this pair – although Jess especially tried to mix it up with drop shots too. I like to think we improved our rotation, and for a change, we actually didn’t miss that many due to being out of position, which is really good.

To be honest, it’s quite hard to comment on each of the individual three games in this instance, as they were all the same. It was so concentrated and exhausting, and with hope on both sides of the net for a win. I don’t think we had ever come this close to Hunters scores before and I knew we were feeling good. At the back of the court, I felt stronger, really laying into the feathers to ensure that my clears and drives totally hit the spot. Personally, I also felt faster, moving to hit the shuttle when being driven side to side is never pleasant but I feel like I made it and kept the rally in progression.

Jess mixed up the serving with some high ones, which surprisingly worked rather well – I would have anticipated them to just smash it back in our faces, but we reacted well to their answers. I would say that all four of us were playing well and as a bystander, I would not have liked to call it at all. We were just longing, with every fibre in our bodies, for this win. It’s been a while since we won an entire match from Hunters and not just the odd game so for us this was a big deal, although we tried to perform like it wasn’t.

A win a day keeps the blues away…

Overall, I would say that tonight has been a roaring success for us. Earlier on today, I wasn’t sure how well we would play after the heavy Christmas season, but it seems we had bundles of energy that clearly aided our play on court. I feel as a pair, we definitely gelled together more solidly to provide a united front against our opponents. Throughout all our games (expect that second one against Corinthians), I would say that we produced useful and successful tactics that we were able to carry out efficiently. I noticed that our play at the back of the court has improved, although the backhand area is still definitely something to fine tune and polish up. We felt strong and it came across in our games, which is fantastic. So pleased…and completely exhausted. Gonna ache in the morning!