Outward bound at Emerson Park, the mixed squad gear up
By Katie Garner
Sporadic the mixed matches may be, but I’ll always have a soft spot for them, as for Wychelm, I feel that is where our biggest battles and closest combats take place. The team were out in full force again tonight as we attended an away match against coached youngsters Emerson Eagles 2, based at Emerson Park school. So far, all of our results have been right down to the wire when it comes to the mixed, so we were expecting a tight evening of evenly matched play and hopefully the opportunity to stack up some more wins on our proverbial chalk board.
With Jess in ostrich style revision mode, not surfacing for man nor badminton, we had the trusty Janet once again step into the fold to partner Gary. Teacher Helen paired up with the constantly on fire Barry (or Bazza as he is affectionately known) while builder Stuart was once again stuck with me.
Gary and Janet:
- 21-18 / 21-18
- 19-21 / 21-19 / 21-20
- 21-15 / 21-20
Stuart B and Katie:
- 21-10 / 18-21 / 15-21
- 16-21 / 21-20 / 21-12
- 16-21 / 21-16 / 21-12
Barry and Helen:
- 18-21 / 20-21
- 6-21 / 18-21
- 14-21 / 19-21
Total of 5 wins to Wychelm versus 4 wins to Emerson Eagles.
It was close. It was closer than close with the final score line literally down to the very last game played, both teams nervously clustering around off court, trying to mind read or become a body language expert in record timing. Luckily for us, we managed to pull through with an overall win, which is just what we needed after our super tight defeat to Corinthians recently. It has been ages since we have crossed rackets with the guys and gals from Emerson Eagles, and I have to say the improvement in their play was huge from when we last saw them, especially their shots across the front section of the court and the interception of shots at the net. The extra speed definitely kept us on our toes and made us work for any win that we gained.
Stuart and I faced off against their second pair first, seeing a friendly face in ex-member Al and also Charlotte, who I used to play against in the ladies pairs. Plenty of playful banter underpinned the whole game, but it was also well matched. Al’s serves were incredibly deceptive and often ended up in places entirely different to what you were expecting and yet still very much in, which as you can imagine is very annoying. Charlotte’s net shots had come on leaps and bounds since I last played against her so that was great to see as well as frustrating! We were lucky in some instances as they hit quite a lot of shots out, but I think we stuck to our game plan well and that saw us through in the end, despite a hiccup in the first game from us meaning that we had to take it to a decider. I felt that my short serving was particularly good tonight, which meant that Stuart was gifted with an array of lifts which he could pick off with his thunderous smash, smacking tram line after tram line and even the occasional opponent.
Our second game was against their third pair and this one was definitely tricky. The girl covering the front of the net was taller than average, meaning that she had great stretch and reach both upwards and cross court. She used this to her advantage by playing some fantastic interceptive shots that rained downwards to the mid-section of the court, especially as she also has a very decent smash. Her partner liked to mix up the pace and direction of his shots, using a creative mix of both cross court drop shots, straight line clears and of course the power smash. No matter how good he played however, I found his attitude and court manners stank which soured the game somewhat for me. Again, we had to plough through to a decider but the dream team tactics pulled through once again, and I felt that I was moving well at the front of the court, delivering a successful range of cross court drives that had the back player moving from side to side. Stuart once again was running like a mad thing yet still shuddering shots across the net in his super strength style.
Our final game of the evening was against their first pair and I could see why they were the number one’s as the guy had an awesome smash that had a fantastic downwards drive to it, making it near impossible to disrupt its purpose. Again, the girl playing at the net was great at the interceptive stuff so it sometimes hard for me to get involved in the rally as both of the Eagles peeps were shoving shots down at Stuart and there was little else I could except duck and work my thigh muscles. However, I felt I could out-net them which was probably one of our main advantages as this once again opened Stuart up to attack the lift which tended to hover around the mid court area. My short serve and Stuart’s smash is a winning combination for us and it netted us a fair few points here too, as I flung myself across the width of the net. This one also skipped along to a decider, however we weren’t able to push through to the win this time, partly as Stuart twisted his back which seemed to affect his movement afterwards.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the games that we played tonight and it was a great mix of shots, deliveries and competitive spirit. I would say that as teams, we were pretty evenly matched so the resulting score lines were tantalisingly close, with many of them hitting 18 points and over as well as reaching the pressured decider. As the last game was being played, it was 4 games each, so it was brilliant to see Gary and Janet’s smiling faces when they came off court and we realised that we had nicked the night just in time. Of the four fixtures we have played so far, that gives us three wins and one loss which stands us in good stead. Our next match is a home one on the 19th March, back against Corinthians so it’ll be interesting to see if we can use our home advantage to smuggle a win this time.
Thanks to everyone who played tonight, you guys are fabulous and rock on for the next round!