With the end of the season fast approaching, it’s a race to finish the fixtures

By Katie Garner

With match season coming to a close in April, its rackets at the ready as we gear up to complete the final matches still left to play. This evening, the Wychelm mixed team took on Corinthians 2 in a home game at Frances Bardsley School. The last time we played these guys it was a nail biter, with the Collier Row based club stealing the victory with 5 wins to our 4, so we were prepared for another night of stress-inducing, tit for tat rallies. The reserves were out in full force tonight as Janet stepped in for doctor-to-be Jess to partner tube driver Gary, whilst we had newbie member Caroline replace Helen to keep Barry company on court.


Gary and Janet:

  • 17-21 / 21-14 / 21-19
  • 20-21 / 21-14 / 21-20
  • 20-21 / 12-21

Stuart B and Katie:

  • 20-21 / 21-19 / 13-21
  • 21-18 / 21-14
  • 21-12 / 18-21 / 21-15

Barry and Caroline:

  • 8-21 / 18-21
  • 19-21 / 6-21
  • 14-21 / 10-21

Corinthians 2 won the evening with 5 wins to our 4 victories.

I really enjoyed all of the games against the Corinthians 2 bunch – for starters, we all seem to be very evenly matched, so when you step on court you actually have no idea which way the game is going to end up. The number of results that were 20-21 is a testimony to how unbelievably tantalising these games were on the whole. These guys and gals also tend to use attacking front and back play, which is also the tactic we favour so it provided us with a great opportunity to test our mettle. Despite not winning the evening as a whole, I feel our general performance was still pretty top notch – when the last three games went on to play, we were all even stevens, so it literally went down to the wire.

The Dream Team Stuart and Katie ready for action!

The Dream Team Stuart and Katie ready for action!

Stuart and I started the night playing Corinthians’ first pair. Annoyingly for us, we seemed to completely forget where the tram lines lived so more shots went out then we would have liked or predicted. The guy in this duo had an amazingly succinct smash with fantastic reach across the court, so our poor placement really affected us in this aspect, although we were able to drag them out in to a decider. Stuart had a great set piece going on where he cleared to the back of the court on the player’s backhand and then killed the return using a cross court smash which worked really well numerous times.

The next match we played was against the third pair, which included the lovely Penny who I also see for the ladies matches.  This pair played brilliantly so it felt fab to be able to sneak the win from them. Penny has excellent control of the net and fearless interception skills meaning that any drive that even contemplated nearing her direction was fair game, and often threw Stuart off point with the sudden change in direction or pace. Ross covering the back of the court had a stunning smash that just seemed to eat the air and also unfortunately, a few of our serves. These games were most definitely a battle as stylistically we are very similar with a nifty net player at the front and a super smasher covering the back. Luckily for us managed to mix up the cross courts enough to catch them off their toes, and any shots that wobbled at the net, I made sure were dealt with.

I think we really came into our own in our last match of the night, against the second placed pair. Being warned of the guy’s incredible cross court drop, Stuart made it very plain to me that I had to have it covered, so I really threw myself into some fascinating shapes to stretch myself across the width of the court. I combated his drops with some cross court action of my own, which actually worked rather nicely. A straight shot down his backhand tram line left me open for a cross court smash to the middle of the opposite side on the return and I was able to catch him out a few times simply by returning the shots with my own brand of cross court action. I was also able to fully utilise my short serve in the final games which gave us numerous runs of points as the returns swotted the net. Stuart may have been pooped by this point but he was still thundering smash after smash as well as his net-play encouraging drop shot. I feel that my play at the front of the court here really helped and also enabled Stuart some good set up lifts for his trademark finish.

On the whole, I feel Stuart and I actually improved our play throughout the course of the evening so we finished on a real high. From losing the first match in three games, to winning in three games and then winning in two, we had a nice little successful run going on. If I could have changed anything about our game plan it would be to eliminate the unforced errors we oozed over the course of the first few games, as not only did this throw us off our groove but also gave our opponents a lead that was extremely difficult to then catch up with. Hats off to the Corinthians squad for putting out some amazing play and for making us work our sporting socks off! Gary and Janet again played well with a double win on their score sheet, while Caroline and Barry hit some great results with Caroline’s first foray into league activities.

The next match action will be our Challenge Cup semi-final face off against Emerson Eagles next Wednesday at home. We’ve never gone past the semi-final point before so fingers crossed we can do some damage there, although it will be trickier as no doubt the handicap will go against us.