New season, new start, new squad – and we mean business

By Katie Garner

Wychelm’s Ladies Pairs have indulged in a shake up for the new season, meaning that brand new pairings will be standing forth in the arena come September to show Havering, Barking and Dagenham what the Wychelm ladies can deliver. Playing in the ladies pairs for more seasons than I care to remember, it’s natural to say I’ve become commonplace on the circuit, usually partnered by my trusty sidekick sister Jess. However, due to new work commitments in seaside town Southend taking her away from match fixtures, I was on the prowl for a new recruit to step up to the tramlines and help me worm my way back into Division One after being recently relegated down to the second division of three.

Katie and Kay

l-r: Katie and Kay

Luckily for me, Wychelm mummy Kay heartily volunteered to get stuck into the ladies, after just completing the past season with her daughter Nicola, playing for rival club Emerson Eagles. After storming to victory and winning Division Two, Kay and Nicola decided to leave Eagles, meaning Kay too was on the hunt for a Wychelm based partner after becoming a one club woman. As if prompted by fate, it was quickly agreed we would join forces and see what we could rummage up for the coming season.

Definitely one of the most glamorous women occupying a badminton court, you can usually sense Kay coming, whether by the tantalising whiff of a new perfume, or by her eye catching hand painted nail art, or simply by her sunny smile. The clear mummy of the group, kind and caring to boot, you’d be hard pushed to find a lovelier woman, however don’t let appearances fool you – encouraging and supportive though she may be, her competitive streak is just as full bodied as my own as she constantly slugs it out on court to win as many points possible.

Kay is one of our stronger women at the back of the court, preferring to play a sides game rather than front and back, as she has both the leg power and speed to niftily carry this off. Able to whack a drive straight to the bull’s eye and deliver a smash shuddering to the floor, past games against Kay have always been pacey, far flung and generally exhausting, so it’s nice to be on the same side of the net for a change. Over the summer months we have been trying to nab some more match practice together whenever we can to further fine tune our game. Usually a front and back players myself, switching up to sides has been a challenge for me, but I definitely think we can learn from each other and improve each other’s games as well. Kay can hold her own and is a partner you can rely on which is fantastic if you happen to be picking yourself up off the floor, or running back on the court after an energetic pounce, as I often find myself doing. She has the great ability to spot spaces speedily, ensuring she sends the shuttle there as soon as possible, specialising in tramline skimming clears and cross court smash action.

As for myself, it’ll be interesting to see how I can incorporate my net play into a sides game, but then I feel Kay and I can develop some good rotation to improve our court coverage tactics. Our practice games so far have been going well, with an even mix of wins and losses, still hitting a high point range however. I haven’t played in Division Two for a while, so I’m not sure how our standard will pass muster compared to the other girls, but one thing I am sure of is that Kay will try her absolute best and that she won’t let me down. She is consistent in her play which is ideal in a partner so I’m keeping everything crossed we can deliver for you guys! It would be nice to take home some silver wear this season, although we have the Wychelm B pair in the same division as us, so that may get a tad tricky.

Either way, I think Kay and I have the same mentality when it comes to league matches…

Bring. It. On.

Kay’s best shot: The power shots. Give her a high clear, an eye level drive and a succinct smash any day of the week for a clear and focused winner.

Katie’s best shot: Never underestimate the power of a short serve when done well. I’ve won over ten points consecutively before on my short serve, so it’s one we need to utilise as best we can.