The new Men’s Team set off to a soaring start from the blocks…

By Stuart Easton

So, new season, new team and a new venue. The men’s team were ready to kick off a new season and look to improve on last year’s efforts. The club has had an influx of new talent of late and the new look team reflects this with Al, Binu and Luke all stepping in this year. Stu B, Hetal and myself would all be partnered differently this year.

Our first game was to be against Emerson Eagles 4. The Eagles have a great set of players and it is always good playing against them as they put on a good match and play in good spirit. The club’s decision to move match nights to a Tuesday means that we are now playing in a new venue – The Royal Liberty School, so our first game was going to be like an away game – we didn’t know what to expect and what the courts were like. When I arrived, the guys were frantically rushing around trying to find nets and sort the courts out. Both teams commented on the low ceilings and these will certainly pose a new problem for all teams this year.

The match got underway with Hetal and Binu taking on Alan Master (Al’s son, much to my surprise!) and Conner Burrows. The boys’ made light work of this and won 21-11, 21-18. Meanwhile, Stu B and Al were playing Chris Nicholls and Peter Coles, again making light work of this and winning 21-12, 21-9. Both myself and Eagles’ captain Phil Burrows were awaiting our partners (and a net!)

When we finally got our game underway, Luke and myself pulled away and got an early lead. Unfortunately, we were unable to convert this into a first game win and lost 21-18. We picked it up in the second game and managed to turn our fortunes around to win 21-17.

The final game was close, and we were matching each other point for point. In the end, at 20-20 (I checked the rules with Stu B and Al – next point wins), the pressure was on and Luke unfortunately missed a clear and despite his ninja-like speed, was unable to hit it on second attempt.

The new round of games got underway. Hetal and Binu had a slightly shaky start against Chris and Peter and lost the first game 21-16, but they were able to turn their luck around and won the next games 21-9 and 21-6, the first game was clearly a blip. Al and Stu B took on Phil and Matt and won 21-13, 21-9 whilst myself and Luke were continuing our losing streak 21-14, 21-13 against Adam and Conner.

In the final matches, Stu B and Al took on Al’s son and Conner and were able to pull off a quick victory – 21-13, 21-11. Hetal and Binu beat Phil and Matt, 21-9, 21-13 whilst we played Chris and Peter. We lost the first game 21-18, although made a lot of points up after they took an early lead. In the second game we were able pull our game back together and win 21-17. The final game was played in front of the two men’s captains as everyone had packed up and gone home. Unfortunately, the lack of an audience didn’t help us at all and we lost 21-17 after matching them point for point for most the game.

So, a 6-3 win for Wychelm in our first match of the season, which is a great start to the season. Hetal/Binu and Stu B/Al look to be in good form and working well together. Myself and Luke need to keep practising and ensuring we turn early leads into wins and don’t miss easy chances to snatch points.