Three Bourbon biscuits, a jammy drop shot and too many squats later…
By Katie Garner
The second round of Division One’s Ladies Pairs kicked off this evening at Wychelm’s home ground of Frances Bardsley School in Romford. With my usual team mate Jess still scattered at various hospitals around Essex, it was up to Welsh wonder Janet to step in and give me a hand with the quick-fire racket fencing that is a regular feature of the intensely passionate and drive-laden ladies games. Armed with typical Wychelm weapons of Bourbon biscuits and custard creams, we were due to compete against Harold Wood and Corinthians B in our first home fixture of the Ladies calendar.
Against Harold Wood:
- 21-20 / 11-21 / 12-21
Despite the concluding result being a loss, I am incredibly proud of how we played in this one. Harold Wood are undoubtedly one of the best squads in the league, and with Donna and Jane representing their ladies, we had an exciting slice of what their club has to offer peppered into our division. Although more than comfortable anywhere on court, their speciality is in the big smashes and shots that come booming from the back of the court, their excellent footwork ensuring that every inch of the court sees a slip of their trainer soles. After munching on a pre-match Bourbon, I think the chocolate boosted straight into my blood stream, as our opening rallies were literally on fire with untold speed, agility and ruthless smashing from the front of the court. We simply felt powerful. We moved well and worked our knackered arses as hard as we could to stay in the game. This led to us eventually catching up and stealing the win with a breathtakingly close 21-20. To take a game from such an accomplished duo really was the highlight from the whole evening for me. Everything our end seemed to gel and we really gave them a run for their money by playing aggressively.
Annoyingly, we couldn’t maintain this pace, and Harold Wood gently cranked up their game as the rallies progressed, meaning that we ended up losing the second game with 11 and then the decider with 12. Luckily we hit the communal target of double figures, and I like to think we made them work for their victory, or at least gave them a scare. A few of the other clubs commented on how well we had done to nick a cheeky win, so it’s nice to feel like we achieved something. Definitely one of the most enjoyable ladies games so far.
Against Corinthians B:
- 17-21 / 11-21
I’m a bit disappointed that we couldn’t push more with this one. After playing straight away, we then had to wait for all the other games to finish before we could play our second match so I think we came right off the boil for this one, which is a shame. I knew I personally made some silly mistakes which is incredibly frustrating when you know you have the potential and skills to perform better. Corinthians B are a good couple that work really well together as a team – they knew how to rotate around each other and provided good court coverage as well as punishing any weak shots with a humble violence that was oddly endearing as it reminded me of our own style of play. We did have one particularly long and jammy rally in this face off which seemed endless, and when we on the point, I just couldn’t contain an exclaimed ‘Yes!’ and a fist pump, much to my embarrassment!
I think with games like this where we are of a similar level, I get slightly over-competitive and therefore try too hard. Instead of just playing my game and working my shots with elegant yet clumsy Katie-power, I was attempting to be too smart and sneaky for my own good, just succeeding in getting in my own way, as well as Janet’s! I think that Janet played well and I can see improvements in our team work already which is super encouraging, as I have a feeling that Janet may be a rather regular stand-in for our trainee doctor Jess (this will definitely be the case if she brings more biscuits…).
We took clearly one of the best teams in the league to a decider, when we are a relatively new pairing. We leapt out of the starting gates with an overreaching and exuberant gusto that flooded the court for that first game. Although things may have gone downhill rather after that, I’m still pleased on the whole because of our fire cracker start. I’m annoyed with myself and for letting Janet down against Corinthians B, but I’m hoping I’ll become more relaxed as the season develops and we get some more matches under our belt. Everyone is just so eager to get off to a decent start that it is difficult to just play it cool and relax. I think I also felt a bit under pressure to succeed because it was a home game. I could see members reclining on the benches, taking in the games, and I just wanted to do the club proud as we hosted our first ladies home match.
Fingers crossed we can nab a few more cheeky wins in the next round. Thanks again to Janet for helping a sister out.