Swapping a fanciful Friday gin for the hard slog of Division One is all in a day’s work for the Mixed Squad
By Katie Garner
Normally, Friday nights are associated with languid pub evenings, surrounded by work weary mates dragging their hands longingly towards the refreshing weekend tastes of wine, beer and spirits, peppered with citrus wedges, straws and anything that isn’t yet another cup of tea. However, the Wychelm Mixed Team had more on their mind this Friday then who’s round it was, as we were continuing our jaunt in Division One with the return face off against Harold Hill, who visited us at our home grounds a mere week or two ago.
Our squad was definitely having some serious staffing issues though, as we were plagued by injuries. Hetal was nursing a leg injury after playing football, while Stuart was hobbling around after hurting his Achilles heel in a men’s match earlier in the week. Jess couldn’t make the match at all, so now we were down three players and Wychelm was falling apart at the seams. We drafted in Gary and Binu from the men’s squad, and also Liane, who plays in our Ladies Pairs B. Once again a united team, we watched as Harold Hill rolled out their two courts (I know, weird!) and set up an entire artillery of tea, coffee, kit kats and rich tea biscuits.
Last time we played these guys, they pipped us to the post in most of the rounds, and we really fought to get the matches to deciders. However, the handicap provided to us in the Challenge Cup enabled us to beat them comfortably. Back to an even start now though, we knew the fight was back on to gain points, especially as we weren’t all with our usual partners.
Helen and Mike:
- 12-21 / 5-21
- 12-21 / 13-21
- 10-21 / 11-21
Katie and Binu:
- 17-21 / 9-21
- 16-21 / 16-21
- 21-20 / 4-21 / 14-21
Liane and Gary:
- 11-21 / 21-19 / 21-20
- 18-21 / 13-21
- 9-21 / 15-21
The only win of the night came from our trusty team mates who had stepped in to help us out – tube driver Gary was partnering our very lovely Liane, and the blue duo stormed their win with gusto. Gary really flung himself into the points, throwing himself across the court in long leaping movements that were, quite simply, inspirational. I didn’t see many of Helen and Mike’s games, although I know me and Binu definitely had some close calls. I think our games were mainly frustrating, as we had potential in all of them yet were unable to really transport this into a successful overall win.
It took us a while to get into the first game, adjusting to the flight of the shuttles as well as the impossibly small and dim hall. The ceiling was so low and every time you hit it, it counted as hitting the shuttle out so you lost the point. This ended up causing us quite a bit of bother. We didn’t do too miserably though, picking up 16 in both rounds. Our next game caused more of a stir as we hit our stride to actually win the opening game to 20. This gave us a boost in momentum that somehow nosedived in the second game for an appalling score line. The decider levelled out again to an even keel, but the damage had been done.
Harold Hill have a very dynamic style of play that centres around striding movements, fast shots and lightening reactions. Their power outweighs their delicate net play, although this never seems to put them at a disadvantage, as they are very aware of how to work the court space, and also, how to work you around it. A really fantastic side who know how to deliver.
I feel that on the whole we managed to make them work for their wins, and that we didn’t make it too easy for them, which is the main thing. However, this still doesn’t aid our overall ranking in the division, so I suspect we may be visiting division two again next season. Nonetheless, playing some new and improved pairs is definitely enlightening for our tactics, game plans and skill development so we are still enjoying the battles as well as anticipating the ones ahead. Our next Mixed game is a home match next week, so keep your eyes peels for updates!