St Nicholas v Telecom B Division 2 7th November, 2017
Down to the wire
As Telecom B set up camp in the far corner of the court, Yvonne Kay, Captain for St Nicholas, welcomed her new signing, Gulfeshan Aslam, aka Shan, who would be playing his very first match in the league having last picked up a racquet 10 years ago! Under the watchful eyes of her father, Mohammed Aslam, aka Aslam, and with the gentle encouragement of all of the St Nicholas’ team, I watched the left handed Shan improve with each game he played.
In the level doubles, Yvonne intelligently played herself at number 3, partnering first Lynne Barnard, and then Louise Hustler, against the young Telecom B ladies of Gill Luker at 3, with Jodi Davidson and Annabelle Baldock. Some impressive tactical play from the home team, playing doubles in the attacking front and back formation, brought all four games St Nicholas’ way. Clever disguised drop shots from the back by Louise kept the youngsters running, but it was the Captain, Yvonne, who really dictated the play with her astute reading of the game.
On the adjacent court, Shan at number 3, was eager to take on the two Telecom boys, Rhys Holt and Luke Quigley, with the wily Nils McDonald his number 3 adversary. Up first, Shan and Gary Walton faced Nils and Rhys. Gary’s court coverage and tactical play were unstinting, forcing the Telecom men to work hard for their victory. Shan’s short serve and drop to the net became increasingly effective, along with the long flick serve which he occasionally threw in. In the second men’s game, the father and son partnership for St Nicholas took on the experience of Nils, this time playing with Luke Quigley. If ever a prize is given for courtesy and manners on court, then this young gentleman has got to be in the running for it. I have rarely heard so much positive encouragement for his partner and appreciation of the opposition’s good play from a player. Keep it up, Luke!
By the end of the level doubles, it was still all to play for, and there were anxious glances emanating from the Telecom camp, still ensconced at the rear of the court.
First up in the mixed, Lynne and Gary at top, faced the energetic pairing of Rhys and Jodi. Using the whole of her racquet, Jodi’s enthusiastic returns kept the rallies going throughout these games, both of which went to Telecom B. On the adjacent court, however, Louise and Aslam were having better luck against Gill and Nils, winning both of their games to bring the match back to all square. Shan, playing his first game of mixed, with Captain Yvonne, then faced Annabelle and Luke. This was a delightful match to watch in terms of both its sportsmanship and friendly competitiveness. Yvonne’s tactical awareness and Shan’s clever use of drop shot really meant the Telecom pairing had to work hard to win each point. On the adjacent court, Dad, Aslam, playing with Louise, were having better luck against the youngsters, Jodi and Rhys. The home pairing could not have worked any harder, with Aslam using his height at full stretch at one point as he dived for the shuttle. Louise showed good aggression at the net, pouncing on the opposition’s returns, ensuring victory for St Nicholas in both games.
And so, as the last couple went on court, it really was still all to play for. Facing Annabelle and Luke for Telecom, the first game went down to the wire as the red faces on court paid testimony to, falling in the away side’s favour. Telecom then went on to romp to victory in the final game, but, again, with courtesy and respect for their opposition who had worked so hard.
An entertaining match from beginning to end, this really was a result which could have gone either way. Well done to Shan for his first game in the Blackburn league (wait until you’ve been playing for as long as me and Gary!) and also to Luke for his behaviour on court.