Blackburn Seniors A v Hit and Miss – Neck and neck
This eagerly awaited clash at the top of Division 1 was always going to be a close run thing. It did not disappoint. From start to finish, points were exchanged as these top two teams battled it out.
In the opening doubles, the home team’s Nathan Whitehead and Sameer Khadir, faced the indomitable pairing of Abdul Malik and Keith Ashton. Nathan’s aggressive smashes coupled with Sameer’s determined anticipation at the net meant that the Hit and Miss men had to work very hard indeed for their first game. Tight serving from Abdul and Keith’s characteristic nonchalance on court provided a very entertaining, not to say long, match. In the second game, Nathan’s fast approach to the net and excellent cross court shots came in to their own. The Blackburn Seniors’ men worked well together, with Sameer even being allowed to poach the occasional shot from his partner’s racquet! It was a fair result to see this first men’s game split between the two teams. On the adjacent court, the ladies – Claire Edmundson and Joanna Holt for Blackburn Seniors, Alison Leaver and Julie Bates for Hit and Miss – played a similarly close game. The nippy left hander, Alison, covered the court well, helped by some strong, positional play from her experienced partner, Julie. Claire’s delicate net shots and Joanna’s excellent smashes and defensive retrieval, resulted in another split match between the two teams.
In the second round of doubles, Claire, this time playing with Jenny Woods, faced Alison and Cheryl Parry, the come back queen. Another close game, Cheryl’s intelligent net anticipation and well placed drop shots forced the Seniors’ ladies to some excellent retrieval. Jenny’s strong smashes down the centre worked well, however, against her left/right handed opposition. Again, this match was split. I told you it was neck and neck. In the final men’s doubles, Keith partnered Ashley Gibson, against the home pairing of Sameer and Rick Smith. Another closely fought match, with some very mean head shots from Ashley, eventually saw Hit and Miss nudge in to the lead, winning both these games. At this point there was a very feeble attempt at a Mexican wave from one of Hit and Miss’s supporters on the bench, Phil Rhodes. The least said about this the better!
In the mixed doubles, the experienced partnership of Julie and Abdul faced the young pretenders, Nathan and Joanna. Julie’s fast cross court cut outs and Abdul’s controlled backhand net shots were met shot by shot by their worthy opponents. The strong pairing from Blackburn Seniors fought hard throughout both games, thoroughly deserving their split result. Next up, the cousins, Cheryl and Rick, faced each other, partnering Ashley and Jenny. Well, I say ‘cousins’ – it was at this point that Sheila, the lady herself, put me straight. Stephen Smith is, apparently, an ‘inbetweener’ which, I was reliably informed, is better than Penny’s description of him. Another close game, Rick’s tumbling net shots and Jenny’s determined cross court anticipation made the Hit and Miss couple dig deep. Some lovely flick serves from Cheryl, however, and excellent returns to the net from Ashley, who was, again, very mean in his deliberate head/body attacks, eventually resulted in both games going to the opposition.
It was at this point that the bench noticed how many shuttles were being used, as they began to litter the court side. Murmurs of ‘It’s a good job you don’t play this lot every week’ were heard as fresh tubes of shuttles surfaced from deep inside badminton bags. Keith and Alison were next up, facing Sameer and Claire. The net was definitely on the nippy left hander’s side in this game, both of which went to Hit and Miss, despite some excellent defensive play from both Claire and Sameer. The remaining mixed games saw Abdul and Julie face Rick and Jenny, followed by Ashley and Cheryl play Nathan and Joanna. All extremely close games, both of these matches were again split.
The atmosphere throughout this well supported fixture was both exciting and competitive. Players applauded each other’s shots, gave encouragement to their partners and generally behaved in the way we should expect all players to behave. Steve’s momentary lapse when he accidentally laughed at his son’s short serve was soon forgotten in the general mood of fun and enjoyment. A thoroughly entertaining match, for yours truly to enjoy from the side lines, and lovely to see the come back queen, Cheryl, looking and playing so well.