Our very first game in brand new Division One, and the pressure was on…
By Katie Garner
Winning the Mixed Doubles trophy, and ending the season as Division Two champions really was the pinnacle of our ambitions and dreams as a developing mixed doubles team. We stayed solid, we worked painfully hard and we knew what we wanted – gold. The exhausted relief when this was realised provided a proud and sunny interlude over the summer, but now the match season is back with a bang and very suddenly, we’ve realised that we’re playing with the top guns now. Unnaturally late, we had no idea what to expect from our opening games in Division One, taking on Corinthians for our first competitive battle. At first we believed their main tactic was to overload us with sugar, offering us delicious mincemeat muffins and childhood favourite sweeties to nibble on, but we soon saw that there was more to their repertoire than a decent match menu…
Scores (our results first)
Pair One: Jess and Het-
- Against Corinthians One: 19-21 / 20-21
- Against Corinthians Two: 17-21 / 21-20 / 17-21
- Against Corinthians Three: 11-21 / 11-21
Pair Two: Katie and Stuart-
- Against Corinthians One: 15-21 / 21-13 / 8-21
- Against Corinthians Two: 21-20 / 15-21 / 15-21
- Against Corinthians Three: 10-21 / 17-21
Pair Three: Liane and Mike-
- Against Corinthians One: 6-21 / 7-21
- Against Corinthians Two: 16-21 / 12-21
- Against Corinthians Three: 12-21 / 12-21
Working for wins
Playing a couple of the females from the Corinthians Mixed team gave us a slight taster of what to expect from them – an annoying good mix of shots, lots of big clears and smashes to boot, but then we weren’t entirely sure how their usual gameplay would translate into their mixed. For me and Stuart, our first game was most definitely the most challenging and the one we put the energy into. We remained level pegging for the whole duration of the game, which was lucky really, considering we were still adjusting to the feather shuttles, sending a good few past the back tram lines. Getting to 20-20 is a trembling and nervous milestone and as I served, my hands were shaking slightly from the pressure. However we thankfully pulled a first win out of the bag, but we knew that although we had earned the win, it was nowhere near being finished yet.
In the following two games we scored the same 15 points, putting up a good show and definitely making them struggle to gain the win, but we were also disappointed considering we had the momentum of the first win, which is always important and a reassuring cushion – maybe too reassuring at times. Jo at the front of the court was brilliant, although they definitely deployed more smashes and drives than net play and I believe that it was our net play that ultimately provided our advantages.
Next we had to face the third pair, who also showed great flair on court with big movements and rotations, although Paula at the front was awesome, she didn’t look quite as comfortable at the front of the court as she does hitting the winners in the ladies games. She worked well with her partner and they were well gelled as a duo, making it hard to get around them. We were sloppy though costing us the first game, but we had seen enough hope in our play and theirs to believe we could grab a win from this set. However, this wasn’t to be as we were careless at times, but Corinthians as a team have a great ability to place the shuttle just out of reach. You think you can reach it and you stretch for all you are worth but it is that tantalizing whisper away. Again, a bit disappointed that we couldn’t drag it to a decider.
We saved the first pair for last and we knew it was going to be a toughie. Knowing my weakness was more at the back of the court (having also played against me in the ladies), Sue gave me a series of high serves to deal with throwing me and Stuart out of position. Against them we used strong and aggressive net play, with my short serves and net attacks garnering us numerous winners and stacking up the points – and a second game win. They then promptly worked out not to aim it in my direction at all and instead torment poor Stuart covering the back of the court. He was sprinting like a demon and he was still pulling out smashes and drives for them to contend with, but at the end of the day, that constantly snarling of shots provided too much, giving us a measly 8 in our final game which was a heart breaking note to finish on.
On the whole though, I am very pleased with our squad tonight. Reserve Liane stepped in at the last minute for us to accompany Mike, and although they didn’t see any through to a third game, they held their end up and helped show Corinthians that we aren’t complete pushovers, which I believe is the main point we wanted to make with our opening games. Jess and Het finished numerous games on 17 upwards, also getting frustratingly close to wins and on the whole, I feel that Corinthians worked for their win. It may look like a 9-0 whitewash, with all points heading their way, but if you study the score lines properly, you can see that there was actually more of a battle then may have been first expected. We proved that it’s early days yet, we’re still adjusting to feathers and that we have plenty of time to grow into our space in Division One. We don’t want to be a walkover, so as long as we work hard, and can hold our heads up high, we can’t ask for anything more.