With the season slowly stumbling along, Katie Scott rounds up the action from last week
The 2016/17 season is finally gaining some traction as last week saw the conclusion of a further two matches from our fixtures roster. We kick started the week on Monday with a home combination league match against the troops from Emerson Eagles, who put forward their second team for the occasion. We then finished the week with a ladies pairs face off on Friday, over at the home ground of Epping. Here’s how we got on…
Combination League: 28th November 2016
- Gary and Het: 16-21 / 20-21
- Katie and Jess: 21-9 / 21-11
- Gary and Jess: 21-14 / 21-19
- Het and Katie: 21-14 / 21-12
- Gary and Katie: 19-21 / 20-21
- Het and Jess: 21-18 / 21-13
Exciting news from our second combination league match in that we actually won the evening 4 games to 2! However, I wouldn’t say that all of the games were smooth running; as you can see from the score lines, some games were sorely contested with 20-20 occurrences frequenting too many of the matches for my liking! I would say that the games were a mixed bag though. Jess and I started off with our ladies game and if I’m honest, we got far too complacent which made us sloppy and that is always a dangerous place to be. I know we still won in two games, however it’s always nice to keep improving and ensure your game stays succinct. I found our match experience came in handy here, as I got the impression that the Eagles girls were fresh to the match field and may not have played together too much in the past. Obviously Jess and I have been sprinting laps around each other for years, so our teamwork element is particularly strong and worked very much in our favour. Where we got sloppy was when we were just placing shots in the middle of the court and not using the angles or net play I know we usually employ to great success. Granted, we managed to out-net our opponents which is a testament to the hard work we’ve put in over the years in mixed games, but on the whole, I would say our performance was smoother and more slick which contributed to the win. One of the ladies we faced was clearly a net-lover herself with some neat net play, whilst her partner had more force behind the shuttle for the power clears and drives from the back of the court. Either way, it’s nice to get a win on the table early on.
In my next game, I played with Het for the mixed and on the whole I think this went well too. We managed to win in two games and I think this is down to our strategic front and back play, as well as our practice makes perfect policy. Het was tactically targeting our male opponent’s backhand whilst dishing out his trademark smash in generous doses, aiming in particular for that pesky middle ground that always sit appetisingly between front and back players. For my part, I attempted as much cross court confusion play as I could muster, as well as some net shots for some lengthy rallies there, managing to out manoeuver my counterpart. The second male of the Eagles squad also had a great smash so avoiding that is always a priority.
My last game was a bit of a disappointment for me as I was hoping for a clean sweep of wins, however I played appallingly and I have no excuses I’m afraid. Every lob and clear went flying past the back tramlines with uncharacteristic gusto and aplomb leaving me steaming out fudge words into Gary’s sympathetic ear. If I actually landed a shot on the court, then I am sure that was a great help. It’s a shame as I reckon if I had played at my usual standard, then we would have won but I threw too many points away with this random finishing dip. I did manage to polish off any high serve directed my way with an array of drops and smashes in single shot returns, which is always satisfying as for some reason guys assume that because I live happily at the net, I also can’t live happily at the back too. I may not be as strong there, but I can still make it count. Poor Gary was being run from pillar to post, however he was working on tactical shuttle placement that pushed our female opponent backwards and targeting the middle ground and backhands. Unfortunately we didn’t win but at least the last game went to 20 and you can’t ask more than that.
I must admit, the weird thing about playing Eagles is the random pep talks and coaching element. The very obvious pep rally talk before the matches began was either a normal Eagles activity or an off-putting tactic; and in between matches we were left standing on court getting cold while a watching coach picked apart our game and assembled it into an annihilation plan for the Eagles youngsters before the second games began. I appreciate this is all to better and improve their games but I think it does raise the eyebrows of competitiveness and sportsmanlike behaviour when we are twiddling our thumbs on court.
On the whole though, the matches were close, good fun and enjoyed by all I hope! I enjoy the league matches as it’s good to get more experience against a wide range of players as well as in match situations. It’s also refreshing to actually win for a change too! Hopefully more wins in the combination league to come (touch wood, cross fingers, etc).
Ladies Pairs: 2nd December 2016
- Against Corinthians A: 19-21 / 11-21
- Against Epping: 10-21 / 14-21
- Against Corinthians B: 21-20 / 19-21 / 21-10
Jess and I were once again battling in division one of the ladies pairs last week, heading to Epping Sports Centre for the home fixture of this dominating club. Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening; the games are always close with very narrow score lines and the rallies are certainly a mixed bag of fast and furious drives, smashes and sprints, juxtaposed with the net trickles, bounding lifts and hidden drop shots. Either way, ladies badminton is very exciting stuff and this division is really keeping us on our toes.
Despite landing 19 points in our opening game, we did not start strong. Jess and I seemed to take it in turns to hit the shuttle anywhere but actually on the court which proved very frustrating and made the evening just as much about mental fitness as well as physical. I feel we could have done better in the first match of the evening against Corinthians A as we were getting decent scores, but I think it was taking us a bit too long to hit our stride. Epping pretty much out-class us, so it’s a case of just getting as many points on the board as possible, but I think our last match of the night was undoubtedly our best. Our play finally fell into place and our teamwork was able to come up trumps which was a welcome relief! Jess also really stepped up her game to retrieve shots I thought we’d lost and I think our shot placement here also really improved. This last game against Corinthians B is actually our first and so far only win of the season, so we are keeping everything crossed that it is the start of a turning tide! For us, it is always a pleasure to play Corinthians as we are very evenly matched to the majority of their female players and it makes the games such a fierce contest, adding so much more excitement and pace to the games. Where you never know which way the game will go, it is a fight for every point and for me, it provides an opportunity to up my game. Corinthians have a good mix of players who are strong at the net and then some who can deliver from the back of the court, so I find it is always a good test, especially as we have similar styles of play and tactics too so it really does come down to quality and who is better on the night.
A fun evening nonetheless and it was great to get a win chalked up!
The rest of the matches will be played in the New Year, so please prepare to cheer on your squad as 2017 arrives!