Kicking off the home matches after our first success away last week

By Katie Garner

So, this evening we tackled our first home mixed match of the season, at our usual turf of Frances Bardsley School, on Brentwood Road in Romford. Tonight, our opponents were Redbridge 1, who we normally bump in to during the Challenge Cup, so it nice to see them in a non-handicap environment. Although only two of their members were present were present at our 7.30pm start time, with two more arriving 15 to 20 minutes late and their final team member getting to the sports hall an amazing half an hour late, we were luckily still able to complete all of the matches on time, which is a good plus point.

Our team was pretty much intact for this round, with mixed regulars Janet and Gary pairing up, as well as myself and David, with Het playing with our reserve Tracy, as Clem is still out with her wrist injury. Warmed up and ready to go, we were determined to do our best against this notoriously imposing club.

Home Mixed Match 1

Results: Wychelm BC 5-4

Gary and Janet:

  • 14-21 / 11-21
  • 14-21 / 21-18 / 17-21
  • 21-16 / 21-17

David and Katie:

  • 21-18 / 21-20
  • 21-20 / 21-19
  • 21-13 / 21-13

Het and Tracy:

  • 15-21 / 21-14 / 13-21
  • 21-20 / 15-21 / 12-21
  • 14-21 / 21-15 / 21-19

The matches tonight were a very different style to many of the mixed matches we have played in league games before, resulting in some incredibly close score lines, the rallies able to flicker either way at the simple drop of a feather. What I particularly noticed with the tactics tonight was how eager Redbridge were to utilise the net and to really play their shots up the front. Being able to deliver a good net rally is always an essential aspect of a decent mixed match, however I found myself definitely more involved than ever before with a succession of net exchanges as well as defending from discreet drops from the back of opposite side of the court.

In particular, against their second pair, they played a lot at the front, with drops literally raining from left to right, targeting the tramlines with precision. Luckily, I adopted an elastic attitude, throwing myself cross court to keep the front covered, clearing the drops with my own secretive mix of straight and cross court shots, leaving David to mop up anything above net height. Interception also became vital, as fast, low shots were also in abundance, although interestingly, smashes were used sparingly and in a much more tactical manner than is usually adopted – the bad boy of the badminton shot portfolio is usually wheeled out for the majority of winners, however tonight I felt they were employed as a last resort shot.

l-r: Katie and David W

l-r: Katie and David W

I think the key of many of the games tonight was who could control the mid court. Mixed doubles is a very horizontal game, with one player taking the front section and the other player covering the back section, which means that the pesky middle area can be tricky to cover. David spotted this instantly and really made use of it, playing some gorgeous push shots that floated tantalisingly away from the front player, but not directly in front of the back player. He seemed to be on roller skates the speed he was getting at the shots, and he was also brill at stepping up to cover our mid court, so I didn’t have as much to worry about, although I did my best to intercept any shuttle traffic I could.

There was plenty of dipping and diving, far too many squats for my thigh’s liking and the sweatiest victory hug ever once the night was done. I feel that as a partnership, David and I are playing well together, and I am so pleased that we showed that in our scores tonight, winning in two straight games for each face off. Usually we don’t get a looking against Redbridge unless we have a handicap, so to be able to smuggle the win away tonight is a massive boost for our squad and shows how well we are performing, and that the hard work is paying off. Long may it continue!

Next on the agenda is the first ladies match of the season next Tuesday, again a home one for us, where Kay and myself, as well as our second Wychelm pair Janet and Tracy will be taking on various pairs from other league clubs. Wish us luck!