Another tough night at Bower Park sees a far more gymnastic array of shots that usual…

By Katie Garner

As the fifth fixture in the ladies calendar comes around, we once again head to Corinthians for the home night of their A pair. The smell of over-sweaty football players welcomed us into the green painted sports hall hidden around the back of the school, as we once again limbered up for a tough night of play. Tonight was going to be incredibly tricky and we knew we would be up against it when playing Corinthians A and Hunters – currently ranked first and second in our division. After destroying some innocent feathers in an exhausting warm up, it was time to get things under way…

Against Corinthians A:

  • 11-21 / 18-21

You definitely can’t mess around when taking on the reigning champs, and although we had our game faces on, they still proved why they are top of the division. Both players are incredibly strong, with smashes that make the air shudder beside you as you contort into a death defying dodge from the front of the net. For the first game, we tended to be a bit floaty with our shots, tentatively adjusting to the feathers by plain ignoring the tram lines at some points, which is always indecently frustrating.  Needless to say, was a tad shocking and we only managed to clasp 11 points.

The second game however had us fired up and ready to go, and we kicked off the game started a lot better than previously. One thing we had agreed upon that I think really helped us tonight was we agreed to shout at each other… as in proper yell. The most annoying ones to miss are ones that are reachable, yet indecisive between the two of you, so we hoped to eliminate this by constant screaming. It actually proved a rather worthy tactic, even causing comment among the other pairs for my unnecessarily loud yelps of “keep going!” This meant that our general court rotation and front and back stances were more consistent and flowed better, as I screamed “stay”, “go” and sometimes “PANTS!!!”

Not only had we finally found our footing (after two sliding on bum incidents and three highly embarrassing and far too flexible splits) but we had found our decent shots too, and we managed to stay with them point for point up until we hit 18, when they reached a class entirely their own to politely take the win. Always a great learning curve to play these guys, as they have some fantastic shots from the back of the court, which is something that we really still aim to pick up on. However, I am super proud of the fact that no matter how many smashes they rained on us, we returned probably about 98% of them, making it no easy task for them to claim winners. At the end of the game, they even exasperatedly exclaimed how brilliant they found our defence play. There were many headless chicken moments as we flung ourselves around the court and I even surprised myself with some of the ones I managed to reach and get back over, so on the whole, although the first game was a bit of a write off, the second held a great deal of promise and proved that we have what it takes to get stuck into division one level games.

Against Hunters:

  • 21-15 / 21-19

Again, a distinct lack of deciders, which is a shame really but these games were both thoroughly enjoyable. I would say that Hunters are probably on par, or slightly better than us, and since they also have a similar style of play to us, the games are always intriguing, overly competitive, loud and occasionally violent. The first game was still quite close really, and we got the last five points from 10-20, which is always brilliant. They were serving particularly well in this game, so the only viable option really was a lift, so trying to mix up the responses, I think was our main problem, although we threw in both cross court, straight, high and drop shot style too. We just didn’t always pull it off, and this enabled them to get a little lead which can turn a game so vitally. Having that burst at the end off my short serve to get to 15 was a tasty ending though, and gave us extra momentum for the next game.

This last game, I think, was the best of the evening. It was by far the closest and we were level pegging for the entire game, the biggest different I think being two points. The rallies were long and we were all working hard for winners, which is all you can ask for really. Our game plan seemed more in sync and our shots were working nicely, it was just a sprint to see who could get to the finishing line first. Disappointingly for us, it was Hunters and we had the incredibly near score of 19. Again, sincerely frustrating as we feel we can do it. I would say at times that we feel like contenders, but we just can’t reach out and finish the games, or build up enough of a lead that is too much to overcome.  But it is definitely something that we are working on, as our score lines show, we are improving all the time even if we aren’t snatching the wins. I think the main difference in Hunters tonight was the serving – they escalated the skill and were putting in some very nice short serves, kind of nicking our front and back tactics slightly.

On the whole, it was a good night, despite our now regular frustration of ‘close but no cigar’. All we can hope is that we eventually get to a point where we get so close, we actually win the thing.