What does the last fixture before Christmas hold for the mid-point of the season?
By Katie Garner
Friday saw Division One of the Ladies Pairs all head to the home of Harold Hill, for the last set of matches before we take a break over the Christmas period. As the fifth night of games commenced, we had officially arrived at the half way point in the badminton season, meaning that every duo is desperate to tally up as many wins and decent score lines as they can muster. Jess was back in action again as my partner last night as we arrived at the community centre that Harold Hill call home. Whilst not a flashy and newly done sports hall, the centre does the job, despite only boasting room for two courts and having an annoyingly low ceiling. Friday saw us squaring off against Corinthians A, followed by Hunters.
Against Corinthians A:
- 15-21 / 14-21
Corinthians A are a phenomenal pair to play, so for us, it’s all about gaining as many points as we can, and if we’re lucky, maybe nipping in a decider. Despite Paula’s racking chest infection, the team were still incredibly solid in their play, mixing it up between playing front / back tactics and sides with their usual rotating style movements and long reach. I think Jess and I didn’t play too badly in this game, it was just a case that they played better. We had been working on our clears and these definitely seemed to improve over the course of evening which was good news for us as it shows our development, and I felt that our side to side movement was less headless chicken and more suavely scuttling crab, which believe it or not is a good thing. We tried to make as much use of the net as we could, and I was definitely trying to get as many smashes in as I could, but these guys are so strong that they can fling the majority of shots back in your face twice as fast. However, score wise, I don’t think we showed ourselves up too much, and every point gained is better than nothing.
- 10-21 / 14-21
Again no decider, which I am pretty disappointed about, but Hunters kindly said after the game that the score lines in no way reflected the intensely fast paced, attack driven games that we enjoyed. As soon as the rallies began, it was clear how much Hunters wanted to win, and they absolutely lashed out the drives with passion. Luckily, Jess and I are rather nifty at the odd drive ourselves so these rallies became fiercely long and challenging. They tended to play front and back tactics for the majority of the game, with Kellie serving particularly beautifully at the front of the court. I believe we went wrong by not sticking to our guns and standing our ground – all too often we floated into a defensive sides position when we should have stayed with what we know works well for us, our net play. I tried to utilise this more with my short serving, which led to lift after lift for Jess but unfortunately we were unable to cash in on this with regards to points. Usually rather evenly matched with Hunters, I feel they definitely stepped up their game, while I feel we didn’t perform at our best, although we did have some truly amazing rallies which seemed to last forever. Another loss though, so we haven’t actually won an entire game all season so far, which dampens the festive spirits somewhat.
With three Ladies Pairs divisions for the first time this season, there is much more opportunity to move up and down the rankings as well as move between divisions. This is currently my main fear for Jess and I, as being in Division One and holding our own has always been a great source of pride to me, especially since we came second last year. I’m disappointed in our results so far and I must confess its making me nervous about dropping into Division Two next season. I do feel we are of the right level to be in Division One, so I’m just hoping that if we do go down, we’ll soon be able to jump up again. However, we still have half a season to get through, and it’s still all up for grabs, although I feel that Harold Hill will steal the trophy from Corinthians A this year, as they have won more matches in total so far.
I did see some improvements in our game as well though so it wasn’t all bad news for Wychelm. From the back of court, I performed some rather sneaky cross court drop shots that kissed the tram lines nicely, while Jess was putting some serious welly into her well placed clears, which were definitely flying further than usual and putting players out of place. Although our team work needs a bit of a buff after Jess’s absences earlier in the season, I’m hoping we can continue to build and improve in the new year.
Just also want to say a massive thank you to Donna and Jane from Harold Hill who let Jess and I stay on after the matches for their club night. I partnered Jane while Jess joined Donna and we had the most fantastic ladies doubles games – actually the best I had played all evening believe it or not! We won one game apiece so I am looking forward to getting round to playing the decider at some point in the future – especially if they are as full of hilarity and laughter as these two games were! A brilliantly loveable pair, I sincerely hope they win the league as they deserve it.