The onslaught of mixed matches continues in a bid to finish before the end of the season
By Katie Garner
With only a few weeks until April – and therefore the end of league match season – hits, we are now under pressure to complete all of our final fixtures. With so many match re-arrangements due to dodgy hall hire at Royal Liberty School in Gidea Park we are now really tight for time. Granted, we doubt our scores will affect things much our end, but you never know, it may affect the opposition battling for the top of the table.
Tonight we were against hot shot side Redbridge, and although they could only provide two pairs instead of the required three, there was no way we were underestimating them. To put it bluntly, the evening started badly – Royal Liberty had effectively forgotten our hall booking, so the squad was lined up a row of furiously hazard-light blinking cars, baffled by the locked gate and lack of light. After pleading various favours, we finally were able to get in touch with one of the caretakers who kindly let us in. Because of this unforeseen palaver, the games didn’t end up starting until half an hour later than intended, which is a bit of a mood killer to say the least. With Het still out of action, we had drafted in Gary to play with Jess, since he did so well with Liane last Friday against Harold Hill. We put Helen and Mike as first pair, with myself and Stuart in our usual second spot.
Helen and Mike:
- 8-21 / 6-21
- 13-21 / 8-21
- 21-0 / 21-0
Katie and Stuart:
- 8-21 / 16-21
- 16-21 / 11-21
- 21-0 / 21-0
Jess and Gary:
- 21-19 / 16-21 / 17-21
- 12-21 / 12-21
- 21-0 / 21-0
Right, the good news first – we all automatically won a game because they couldn’t bring a full team to the match, so yay for some extra points, but boo because they weren’t earned or won, although we will still eagerly clutch at them like a long desired Christmas present. In other more pleasing news, Jess and Gary were able to nick a game from their number one pair taking it to the only decider of the evening, and since it was the last game played, us spectators had a great view of the fast paced and closely run score line.
In not-so-great news, we lost all the others. The gap between Divisions One and Two really is so startling, that it is quite hard to fathom at times. In Division Two we had this eager competitive spirit that rose to every occasion, and we actually had the ability and skills to see matches to their conclusion and win them with an unrefined gusto that is typical of Wychelm. However, since moving up in the world of league badminton, I think we’ve come to realise that we have a lot further to go that we maybe anticipated. A Division 1.5 would be much appreciated to cater for our skill level!
What was rather frustrating about the games I played in, and discussed with other team members, was that at times, it was do-able. There were flashes of moments where we had the upper hand, or were pulling through and in these patches, they were beatable. But for some reason it just wasn’t working or clicking. I know in myself I didn’t perform my best, and my first game was a shocker as I spent so long attempting to feel my fingers and adjusting to the flight of the feathers (I swear someone moved the tram lines although Stuart kept asking me if I’d eaten spinach).
The clever thing about Redbridge’s play is that they have a very fine understanding of space, so even if their movements aren’t as smooth, or their floushes quite as polished, at the end of the day, they still find those pesky gaps that we wish they wouldn’t. This is a particular problem when playing front and back, as the middle ground to the far left and far right is your most open space and the weakest area on court, being too far back for me, yet a large stretch for Stuart. As well as our own numerous mistakes as we tried to get into the swing of things, this strip of space proved temptingly alluring to our opposition.
I wouldn’t say they had any real stand out shots or a game plan that blinded us – they just played good, solid badminton and they played it better than we did, which is a real shame. I feel a bit disappointed in my own performance, although I feel that if we had been more pumped, maybe we could have driven them to a couple more deciders, which would have been more satisfactory. On the whole it feels rather unsettled, as we feel we could have done better and the weak patches in their performance were left unpunished.
Maybe I’m just being overly negative after a string of mixed defeats after such a jubilant and uncharacteristic success in the last, and we all know that we will now become a yo-yo team between divisions – better than Division Two but sadly lacking in Division One. However, playing in Division One will only make us better players, even if it does dampen our spirits slightly on the way. I think Helen hit the nail on the head on the drive home, as she explained that when we felt we had a chance of winning we became more driven and ambitious in our play, and it is this competitive rivalry that is now sitting on the side lines of our game, pom poms down with disgust and mouth open with awe at our shiny new opposition. We just need to recapture this belief and inject it into the final few games to really go out with a bright bang if nothing else.
With our semi-final Challenge Cup match against Emerson Eagles Two coming up next week we definitely need to give ourselves a stern talking to. I have a good feeling about this one and that we can deliver and actually get through so I’m keeping everything crossed that we can shake ourselves into shape…to do this may require doughnuts (jam, custard or chocolate – I’m not fussy). Just saying.