You may only catch us eating biscuits, but match nights are so much more than that. Katie Scott provides the lowdown of this month’s matches…
Ladies Pairs Division 1: Wednesday 19th October 2016
I love ladies season. With so many men at club night, ladies games are few and far between, and with the style of game completely different to mixed matches, it’s so refreshing to be able to get on court and strut my stuff at the back of court. Granted, I don’t admit to doing this brilliantly, but there is nothing so satisfying as the deathening thwack of a smash as it scuttles at someone’s feet, or the hum of a clear as it flies overhead. Ladies gives us girls the chance to showcase not only our net play, but also a bit more of our power shots too.
This season, I am back with my twinny twin twin Jess taking on three other duos in division one of the ladies pairs. We last played together competitively years ago, taking plenty of time to build our teamwork, so now, it feels like I’m putting on a favourite pair of underwear stepping back onto court with Jess in tow. We spent a few weeks previous to our first match practising as much as we could to fine tune the base work we’d done all that time ago, and thankfully, it was a lot easier than the first time! Muscle memory is a wonderful thing!
So, here’s how we got on…
- Against Corinthians B: 19-21 / 18-21
- Against Corinthians A: 21-15 / 16-21 / 16-21
- Against Epping: 17-21 / 7-21
I am pleased as punch with these results. On the face of it, our scores may not look that hot – I know we didn’t take home any overall wins but, compared to my form of seasons past, this is a brilliant start. Normally, us Wychelm girls take a good while to warm up. As in we lose everything until halfway through the season, a switch is suddenly turned on, we start winning but by then, it’s too late to make any real damage in the league standings. Although we didn’t take home an overall win, taking one game to a decider and then hitting such high scores (we’re ignoring the 7, please do likewise) for the other games, is such an encouraging and promising start, we couldn’t help but be buoyed and hopeful that maybe we can do alright this season. Granted, we have new girls Epping in our division this year, and if the annual tournament is anything to go by, this will never be a pretty match, however we have always been of an even keel against Corinthians, so with some more hard work, we can hopefully swing some games in our favour.
On the whole, I would say we played well. We made a few too many unforced errors and I think we both realise that our backhand clears need some serious work – even the shuttle itself seems to gaze longingly at the back tramlines before falling in a vertical line in a prime mid court position, an expression of ‘sorry’ etched on its flyaway feathers. On the other hand though, our forehand clears are a lot stronger, my sneaky high backhand serve is finally seeing improvement and our rotation and teamwork is still suitable to pass muster. Jess threw herself into the match and delivered some great drops and net play. For me, I would have liked to have taken a win as we came so tantalisingly close, but our performance is not one to be sniffed at, and I’ll certainly be patting us both on the back.
Combination League Division 2: Monday 31st October 2016
This season there is a new category to the league roster with the introduction of the combination league, comprising of teams of two men and two women who play two mixed games and a men’s/ladies game over the course of the evening. For those who have played in the challenge cup, the format is basically the same, but with only four team members instead of six.
For our first home fixture in this brand, spanking new division, we were due to take on the motley crew from Dagenham-based Hunters. Here’s how we got on…
- Gary and Het (men’s): 18-21 / 19-21
- Katie and Helen (ladies): 21-19 / 12-21 / 20-21
- Gary and Helen (mixed): 13-21 / 20-21
- Katie and Het (mixed): 16-21 / 21-13 / 21-10
- Katie and Gary (mixed): 21-7 / 16-21 / 21-19
- Helen and Het (mixed): 21-16 / 14-21 / 17-21
We may have lost the evening 2-4 if you look in terms of games, however I couldn’t be prouder of how we played tonight. With four of the games pelting into deciding rounds and score lines hitting 20 all more than any of us wanted, it has been an absolutely exhilarating evening of badminton with rallies covering every inch of the court.
Wychelm and Hunters have always been very evenly matched and in a way, this increases the competitive fire of the games as there is that constant sniff of victory which you know is always going to be within reach…it’s just a case of whether you reach it first or they do. With the games able to go either way at a mere sneeze, every point is hard won, every loss taken hard and the games are uncomfortably close.
Weirdly, we even had a similar playing style to the Hunters lads and lasses. Personally, I’ve come across the lovely Lisa and Vicki numerous times in the ladies leagues, so we all know each other’s games rather well by now. I know Lisa’s short serve is pesky and Vicki has a clear that takes the shuttle to the moon and back. With regards to the mixed, we both utilise an attacking front and back formation, with our leggy strong smashers taking the rear and ninja style ducking and diving at the front of the court.
My main thought for the mixed matches tonight was interception. The more I intercepted, the more I caught our opponents off guard, so even though at times you can fear for your life as the feathers graze your parting, or brush the hairs on your arm, sometimes you just have to think jack-in-a-box. With this tactic though, it has to be constant. Sometimes I found myself leaving a few and then I’d mentally check myself, reminding my lax racket arm to get back into gear pronto. Winning both of my mixed matches left me on such a high, especially because they were such close contests. Sometimes it was tricky thinking what on earth to try next – our playing styles and shots were so similar that it was very often a case of who is going to do it best in this rally? Het let loose his formidable rocket-style smash which certainly picked up a few bonus points, while for me, Gary’s placement and movement was exceptional. He seemed to be all over the back of the court sending his counterpart across the court into an interesting array of splits and dives.
As well as the two mixed games, I also got to dip my toe into the water of ladies games, pairing up with reserve Helen. Taking it to a decider, the games were impeccably close yet again, a few silly errors here and there merely adding up to make the difference. I think at the end, they caught us out by running poor Helen ragged when I moved to the front, making my interception mission all the more vital if I was going to be a productive member of the team. I also believe I was quite aggressive at the front of the court in this match, which worked in our favour. Helen did some fantastic reaches to retrieve drop shots and also some cleverly placed clears to bamboozle.
More combination league matches at home on 28th November.
Obviously, I am not a man (thanks for noticing), so I do not play in or attend the men’s games. If any of you lovely chaps who do, wish to write a blog article round up for me on your games, it would be great to present a fuller picture for our members who want to stay up to date with all of our league action. Talk to me peeps!