The match season has finally started with the ladies pairs gathering at Wychelm for our first home game

By Katie Garner

Jess and Katie (l-r): A far cry from our usual sweaty, red badders look!

With a highly competitive first division, the Ladies Pairs this season was always going to be tough, and the opening games really demonstrated what an even playing field we have across all the clubs. Tonight we were due to face off against typically aggressive Hunters, defending against a shower of smashes, and last year’s reigning champs Corinthians A, an incredibly sneaky duo who always seem to know where you’re not!

I must admit, Jess and I didn’t do well in our games against Hunters. This is the first season we have played with feather shuttles at our home venue so for us, the initial game always feels like we’re getting used to our shots again, adjusting from our usual plastic play, to fighting with feathers. Hunters are very experienced in the Ladies, with both the women playing at numerous clubs each. We just couldn’t get a grip on the game, or on our tactics so we ended up losing the starting game with a disappointing 9-21.

When the second game began, we gave ourselves a bit of a dusting down and vowed to do better. As the game progressed, I believe our shots improved and we were definitely getting more used to the feathers. We still lost the game but earned a respectable 18 which is loads better. I think the one area we could have improved against this duo was that we didn’t bring enough of our mixed play to the table and undoubtedly, the net was underused. Hunters love big smashes and shots so I think for us, more varied net play would have done us some more favours.  They were returning shots very well, so at the end of the day, they did play better than us and deserved the final win.

Next up were Corinthians A, always daunting opponents but also super fun to play – they don’t take themselves too seriously although they are so awesome, so you can still have a laugh and a bit of banter during play. The first game, we clung with them but they were able to pull ahead at the end and take the first game, with us getting 14. Even though we lost the first game, we were still feeling positive and good – our play had drastically improved and our shots were working well. The rallies were smoother as was our positioning, with Jess taking more of the front while I tackled the back more. We were also rather pumped up which does help – my shouting got louder, and my yes’s more distinct, but it was all worth it as we took the second game 21-18, taking it to a decider. Jess believes that this is the first game we have ever won against this couple as well, so that was a juicy little mini victory amidst the game. The last game continued with the same free flowing momentum, with both us and Corinthians having very level pegging, pulling one way and then the other. Unfortunately, they just managed to steal ahead for the overall win, leaving us with a tantalisingly close 18 points.

So, no complete wins for our first competitive match evening, and we’ll both freely admit that it took that shocking first game to really get into our stride and work out what we wanted to do. As the night continued, our shots were getting gradually better and more on point so it was great to at least smuggle one mid game win to really make Corinthians work for it. A thoroughly enjoyable evening with all the games so close. In the second round of each match this evening, the losing scores range from 18 to 20, just demonstrating how tight the season has started, which is amazing. Fingers crossed for our next bout on the 24th at the zingy lime green of the Emerson Eagles.