The ladies games are steadily stacking up in a fast pre-Christmas flurry

By Katie Garner

(l-r) Jess and Katie ready for badminton battle

Still yet to play our first mixed match of the season, we have already completed three fixtures in the Ladies Pairs, swiftly ticking off match dates as if the new year doesn’t exist! The latest games to be battled occurred on Hunters home turf at Becontree Heath Leisure Centre – the snazzy glass building plonked in the centre of Dagenham. Facing last year’s champs Corinthians A and ready rivals Hunters, we knew that it was going to be a long night…

Against Corinthians A

  • 16-21 / 18-21

On reflection, I don’t think we played badly during the game, even though we lost overall. We had some really involved rallies, with all four players working hard for the winners, but it was clear that we had a weak spot and boy did they exploit it. With our net play pretty much unbeatable, it only leaves a bit of a void at the back of the court which Corinthians dedicatedly aimed at – especially at Jess’s left handed backhand.  However, we held our own and made them work for their points and we definitely nowhere near being pushovers, scoring frustratingly close to the finishing line. We even had our sights set on the win in the second game, desperately pushing closer and closer yet the battle was too fierce in the end and they snuck through.

Aggressive net play was definitely our main tactic, and this worked whenever we deployed it, however grabbing an actual opportunity provided more difficult, as they are very good at their shot placement and being where you’re not. On the whole we did play well, despite the odd floaty shot that was deservedly and swiftly punished, Corinthians A just played better. Having come so touchingly near the win though, I couldn’t help but feel that if we had performed a bit better we could have dragged them into a decider.

Against Hunters

  • 16-21 / 17-21

Last season, we were very much on a level playing field with Hunters. We all loved the big shots, we all could run like crazed poultry and we all had that unquenchable fire of competitive spirit that too often leaked, slightly un-sportingly, onto court. However, since then the Hunters duo are regulars on the club circuit, playing for a total of three different local clubs, reeling in the experience and improving in leaps and bounds. All we have to do, is keep up, and that is very often easier said than done.

I like to think we did keep up very well, despite again the lack of a final win or deciding game. Our play seemed to have more creativity and style and once again, the close score lines revealing a bit of the battle on court. At the time, it is incredibly frustrating because you get so close, and it can be difficult to see past that shot you missed after an amazing run, or the one you accidentally threw into the net, or the court next door. But, after looking back, we were stronger. So much so in fact, Hunters were piling on the compliments as we walked off court, amazed by our progress and our ability to improve rapidly (our second compliment of the season!). We watched their short serves like hawks, as this is still the weakest aspect of their game, with many of them falling short of the service line, providing easy points. We rotated well and used our best shots to our advantage, definitely moving Hunters around more than we probably ever have before. The game was intense, quick paced and flighty.

Close, but no cigar…

The Ladies games have always provided an entertaining and ambitious challenge for us, but we are getting closer and closer. Granted, last season was a bit of a whitewash, and let’s not talk about us coming last in the division. However, our current score lines are so much closer, our team work is so much smoother and the other pairs are sitting up and taking notice. We may not be netting the wins just yet, but we are going to get to a point where we progress enough to be considered more of a threat. It’s not smooth sailing for our opponents, and we will continue to make live as difficult as humanly possible for them.