Our second fixture of the season sees us fending off injuries, wondering if the tram lines have been moved and scoffing brownies…
By Katie Garner
With the ladies and men’s seasons really shaping up as the countdown to Christmas impatiently waves ahead, yesterday saw us limber us for our second mixed doubles fixture – an away game against the eager grimaces of new club Shuttlers. Once again plagued by our trademark injuries and illnesses, we had to rely on our trusty reserves to step into the fold, as Barry was taken down ill with incredibly bad flu whilst Stuart B had managed to injure his back. Bearing the gift of brownies and shortbread cookies and accompanied by cheerleading chief wife Sandra, our lovely treasurer Nick stepped in to play with Helen, whilst I nabbed our resident roadrunner Luke to replace Stuart. This was the first time we had played at the Shuttlers’ home ground, situated in Ilford, so we were interested to see what the atmosphere would be like. The pressure was also on, since we beat this team in our home game back in October and we were determined to try and continue our streak of luck outside the comfort of our sports hall walls.
Gary and Jess:
- 21-19 / 21-12
- 21-14 / 21-18
- 21-9 / 21-12
Luke and Katie:
- 21-16 / 18-21 / 21-10
- 13-21 / 15-21
- 21-0 / 21-0
Nick and Helen:
- 21-0 / 21-0
- 11-21 / 14-21
- 17-21 / 21-20 / 21-11
As you can see, Wychelm won the evening 7-2, which is a fantastic result to tally up on the score sheet. Shuttlers actually had to forfeit the last two games of the evening however, giving us two automatic wins, since we ran out of time to play the matches. We had all arrived on time to start the match at 7.00pm, so it was up to the home club to concede. I think we could have taken the overall win regardless of this, as we already had the majority wins – don’t get me wrong though, we never look a gift horse in the mouth! This meant that Luke and I didn’t get the play the third pair, while Helen and Nick were deprived the opportunity to tackle Shuttlers’ first duo.
My favourite game of the night was undoubted the second game that Luke and I played against the first Shuttlers pair. I’m going to lie – I played appallingly in the first game against their seconds as we couldn’t seem to get anything past them. The younger lad had a very powerful smash despite his small stance and quick movements to boot, so he was definitely giving Luke a run for his money. Whilst we were finding our footing with the teamwork and the pesky flying feathers, they managed to come along and win both games, leaving us feeling disappointed and with something to prove. We took this energy into our second game and I feel we played a real blinder. We won a fantastic string of points on my short serve to take us from lagging behind slightly, to in the lead, as they gifted Luke lift after lift. The woman of this pairing was the slightly weaker player, and her short serve did sit a little high which I took as an open invitation to attack. I was also pleased with the deceptive shots that I played, as this is something that I can’t usually conquer, but the fact that I managed to catch them out on the direction of my drop shots and smashes was a real bonus.
I’m also so pleased that Luke was able to step in, as it makes such a difference knowing you can rely on your partner to cover your back and be there. Luke has amazing speed and strength so his ability to finish a shot cleanly and quickly is greatly prized in these high pressure situations. It was annoying having the second game head to a decider but I feel we got our confidence back after the disastrous game against the Shuttlers second pair to really show our stuff. To take a win felt great, and I’m just disappointed that we didn’t get the opportunity to play our final game, as I firmly believe we could have taken that to victory as well, on the wings of momentum.
Whenever I looked over at Jess and Gary, quite frankly they were absolutely stonking it, with Jess’s self-accusations of being rusty after a stint away in Chelmsford sitting on the tram lines woefully as our net player of the year rose to the occasion. Gary’s infectious over-competitive spirit was great as well – we can always rely on him to get the team pumped up and raring to go, which I love. Nick as usual threw himself into every shot with an inelegant yet dedicated gusto, while Helen used her sneaky shots to full advantage. As a team, we pulled together and the results were brilliant – especially from Jess and Gary who won all three of their games.
The next mixed match isn’t until the new year, so with two matches played and two victories so far, our season is shaping up nicely! Fingers crossed our unwell players battle through into good health so that they’ll ready and raring to roll after the festivities.