Cross club collisions commenced yesterday in annual spring showdown
By Katie Garner
Due to the rip roaring success of the league’s 70th anniversary handicap tournament that was held last May, the event was pipped to be a yearly event, in which pairs from across the league’s clubs could enter and compete in the ladies and men’s doubles throughout the morning session, and then the mixed doubles in the afternoon.
The all day tournament does nothing in half measures, as each category has group stages, where each pair has to play a minimum of three other pairs in a once game face off to 21 points, with the group winners and runners up heading on into the quarter and then semi-finals, before the grand final itself is played. Winners received a gloriously bronzed mini trophy each as well as a cheque to share – and we all wanted our grubby little mitts on the prizes. The competition, which is played across William Edwards School’s eight courts, is handicapped to create an even playing field to cater for all levels of players involved across the clubs, so it is a great opportunity for those who don’t play in league matches to get stuck in and have a go.
Team Wychelm was positively booming compared to last year, where I partnered Gary for the mixed doubles. This year, we had a fantastic squad that showcased all of our new members to perfection, with league old handers eyeing up the brand spanking new competition with wary eyes.
- Katie and Janet – Ladies Doubles (+2 handicap)
- Sarah W and Caroline – Ladies Doubles (+10 handicap)
- Caroline and Guest Player – Mixed Doubles (+6 handicap)
- Janet and Gary – Mixed Doubles (+2 handicap)
- Sarah W and Graham – Mixed Doubles (+8 handicap)
- Katie and David W – Mixed Doubles (+6 handicap)
- David W and Dean – Men’s Doubles (+6 handicap)
How we got on
After registering between 9.15am and 9.30am, the tournament kicked off at 9.40am with the ladies and men’s doubles. Janet and I were due to take on a tough group that featured a tricky Ramgarhia pair, as well as a punchy duo from Hunters and some youngsters from Emerson Eagles. Against Ramgarhia we lost by a whisker, getting an impressive 19 points off these league winners. We also drew a loss against Hunters with a slightly more shameful 15 but we clocked up one win against the Eagles girls, winning 21-19, so at least we didn’t suffer a run of defeats.
On the whole, I think Janet and I played well together on the day, although I think I knackered poor Janet out when I was covering the front with my constant yelps of “You!” The great thing about this tournament is that you get to play pairs who you never usually come up against, so it was definitely a learning curve for us. Sometimes we just didn’t know where to put the shuttle and nothing seemed to be working, although I would say interception at the net by both of us was a key skill in gaining points. We were both run rather ragged, but that all adds to the fun right? Unfortunately, we didn’t make it past the group stage here, and neither did our other ladies consisting of Sarah and Caroline, although they also clocked up a couple of wins. Our men had a bit more success as David and Dean made it through to the quarter finals before they were knocked out.
After munching on our packed lunches and slurping on straws, we were re-fuelled and ready to roll for the mixed doubles. I think David and I actually played brilliantly well together, although I definitely hit far too many shots out of court for my liking. I believe my short serve was an asset here, as were my net shots, as I think these greatly contributed to us winning some of the rallies. David was also phenomenal at the back of the court – despite only just returning from a leg injury we was stonking around like a true trooper, producing powerful smash after smash in an array of directions around the court, confounding our opponents. We had one Harold Hill pair to play – who were the favourites, followed by three pairs from busy club Hunters. We did really well to win out of four games – we beat Harold Hill 21-19 and two of the Hunters pairs 21-8 and 21-10 respectively. One Hunters duo got the better of us as we could only get 17, which was incredibly frustrating as we felt the game could have gone either way.
Luckily for us we won our group, although it was incredibly tight at the top as bemoaned by Harold Hill. Since we were group winners, we went through to the quarter finals where we faced a Ramgarhia pair – funnily enough the same pair who knocked Gary and I out of the semis last year. True to form, they did a sufficient job of whooping us (we managed a measly 13 points) so I’m afraid the quarter finals were as far as we got, although winning our group was a lovely bonus for us. Our tactics were working on the whole, but I think we made more mistakes than normal and also our opponents were just a tad more polished in their play which gave them the edge. Me taking on the net and the interceptive play with my short serve was a strong start, and allowed David to tackle the lifts with his usual manly style – he did a lovely selection of deceptive drops which worked nicely.
On the whole, the tournament is a wonderful day out. Not only do you get to mix up your opposition and maybe partner different people yourself, but there is a great atmosphere throughout the day of a real community spirit. Everyone asks how everyone else is doing and it’s a fun chance to mingle with players you don’t always see. There was cupcakes, coffee and crisps on offer as well, with plenty of seating for stray family members who had come to cheer us on (such as Janet’s packed lunch bearing David, and Gary’s loveable chatterbox Kerry). Of course it’s always nice to do well, and we always strive to perform the best we can, although it doesn’t always end up that way! Photos from the day are all on the Facebook group page, and David also posted live updates of the scores on the group wall, so please have a look on there for more information about the details.
I would just like to say a big thank you to all of the Wychelm players who made the effort to enter, and to help make the tournament the fantastically fun day out that it is. I hope you all enjoyed yourself as much as I did, and I look forward to seeing you all representing your club again next May! Who knows, next year we may even surprisingly sneak our way into a final?