Making a return at Redbridge, we get stuck in to the season

By Katie Garner

After playing Redbridge at home a few weeks ago, it was now our turn to hit their plush 12 court sport centre. Narrowly beating them in the last stage had given us a smidgen of confidence that they were actually beatable, so we were feeling bright and breezy when we arrives, even though the majority of the home side arrived 15 minutes late at 8.15pm.

Usual pairings of Gary and Janet as well as David and myself were present and correct, with Kay once again stepping in for the still injured Clem to play with Het, who is growing a very interesting cowboy style Movember effort. With the hoodies off and the water bottles lined up, we were ready to go and looking forward to seeing whether our last performance was a fluke or improvement.

Results: 7-2 to Redbridge

Gary and Janet:

  • 16-21 / 21-10 / 18-21
  • 15-21 / 12-21
  • 17-21 / 12-21

David and Katie:

  • 18-21 / 18-21
  • 18-21 / 21-18 / 15-21
  • 21-16 / 19-21 / 21-10

Het and Kay:

  • 19-21 / 21-14 / 21-20
  • 15-21 / 14-21
  • 14-21 / 10-21

Tonight’s matches were by far the closest we have had, as we work even harder to be on level pegging with highflying Redbridge. Just a quick glance at the scores shows that not only did many of the games propel into deciders, but also that the points flittered from side to side so that many results finished upwards of 18, with some at that frustratingly intense 20 all moment when literally victory hangs in the balance.

David and I started off by playing their second pair, the guy of the duo having an almost psychic connection with the tramlines, so that every shot veered around the centre of the court to instead kiss the outer edges of the lines with puckered precision. Plenty of cross court action here as David and I did our best to retrieve the shots that refused to come anywhere near our rackets. We definitely tried to utilise our net play here, and although this is an area that Redbridge also make use of, I think we managed to pip the play on the majority of occasions. We took the match to a decider but lost it in the last game.

In our next game, we took on their third pair to garner our only overall win of the evening. I felt we were evenly matched with this pair also, again playing front and back tactics but mostly with the male at the front of the court. There were some intense net rallies here, but the placement wasn’t as spot on which gave us more room to manoeuver the rally to our advantage. David continued to be run ragged as they used lots of cross court clears, however I tried to tidy up the cross court drops and net play. Dragging the battle out into a decider, David and I managed to grasp the win after a 20-20 Mexican standoff, with David pouncing on the serve with an animalistic grace to swipe a smash from the tip of the tape.

Our final game really didn’t go to plan against the number one pair, as we didn’t even get to the decider this time, nabbing 18 points in both games to be done and dusted in two. I felt if we had been a bit more on form, we could have stolen a win here, although the guy in particular was good, and also being so tall, he had a fantastic reach with coped with clears and smashes easier than others.

After playing Redbridge, I think the main focus of our matches is definitely the mid court area. Since all of their pairs as well as David and myself mainly play front and back, anywhere in that middle region between us is up for grabs, so we were all aiming for those precious patches at the side that hover delicately; each playing hesitating and undecided whether it is theirs or not. I think we had marginally more success when we pushed the players backwards and then forwards rather than cross court, as this is definitely more their scene, however they were making a play for that tantalising middle ground, as we were. I don’t feel I was as interceptive as usual for this very reason, as I didn’t want to interrupt David in one of his killer smashes or drives, however I wanted to make sure that I contributed as much as I could and helped out where I could.

On the whole I would say that we played well and we delivered in the main. We only won one out of our three matches, however two of our three went to deciders and the remaining game had a high score tally. It was by no means a whitewash and Redbridge had to work for every point of their win. At the end of the night, we all enthusiastically agreed how close the games had been and how enjoyable we had found them. Het and Kay also performed well, snatching a win against the Redbridge first pair, although unfortunately Janet and Gary came home empty handed. I believe we put in a solid performance so chin up, even though the final game result of 7-2 to Redbridge looks nasty, it was in matter of fact, a hell of a lot closer. This shows that as a squad we have improved, and we have got better, as we have never had these kinds of results against Redbridge before. It’s hard to compare since they played a different team tonight than at our home match, with a few new players in the fold as well as mixing up the pairings. All in all, a good night though!