Cold wind whipping through….Brrrrrr
After last minute re-jigging of the pairings from the home team, the match began with the mixed doubles. The top couples, Chris Ball and Louise Burrill for Clitheroe and Gary Pollock and Rebecca Pountain for Abacus, were very evenly matched. Chris’s aggressive smashes complemented well with Louise’s tight net shots and excellent coverage around the court. The supportive partnership of Gary and Rebecca, however, worked effectively as a team, with Gary’s strong backhand clears and Rebecca’s nice half court pushes, matching their opposition point for point. Splitting the first two games was a fair result and both couples came off smiling. On the next court, Dave Gruby and Shirley Bush faced the Abacus pairing of Eric Duckworth and Kath Keir. Eric’s steady serving and Kath’s confident finishing off at the net ensured an away victory in both games, although Dave’s effective push return of serve and Shirley’s cross court net shots frequently pushed their opposition hard.
In the third mixed doubles, Steve Jenkins played with Clitheroe’s new signing Pippa Davies, facing the experienced pairing of Jeff Howorth and Karen Cook. Pip used her height to good effect as she enthusiastically reached for the shuttle. Supporting his partner with both encouragement and what appeared to be growls (!), Steve covered the court with similar alacrity. Jeff’s strong focus and strident line calls (which made more than Karen jump) were a difficult match for the new Clitheroe partnership, however. At the net, Karen’s tight play and excellent control eventually saw an away victory in both games.
Chris and Louise for Clitheroe next faced the Abacus pairing of Eric and Kath. The long rallies during this match and excellent court coverage of all four players were a delight to see. Chris’s recent marathon training stood him in good stead as he energetically returned the shuttle. Eric’s precise backhand drop shot, however, frequently forced the Clitheroe pairing to lift the shuttle which Kath was always ready to finish off. The inventive use of the net at the end of the second game when Eric’s long serve caught on the cord, only to become an impressive short serve instead, resulted in the games being split: again, a fair reflection for two evenly matched couples. In the final mixed game, Dave and Shirley for Clitheroe faced Gary and Rebecca. The Abacus pairing won both these games. Working efficiently as a team, Rebecca’s low positioning at the net enabled Gary to use his strong wrist for deception as well as effective backhand winners.
The men’s and ladies’ matches were extremely close often being played point for point. Louise and Pip split their game against Rebecca and Karen. Louise’s excellent long serves and strong backhand clears frequently had the Abacus ladies chasing after the shuttle. Rebecca’s use of the cross court drive and Karen’s magical touch at the net helped to secure them the second game. On the adjacent court, the men were likewise battling it out. The Clitheroe pairing, Chris and Steve, gave it their all in the long exchanges, with Steve even doing a full length dive on the final point. Gary’s ability to find the gaps on court, particularly with his accurate backhand drive, coupled with Jeff’s confident drop shots, resulted in both games going to the away pairing.
The final ladies’ match saw Pip and Shirley take on the experienced partnership of Kath and Karen. This was a very sporting game, even to the extent of re-serving Karen’s errant long serve which had been inadvertently hit by the opposition. Despite the perseverance and enthusiasm of the Clitheroe ladies, however, the Abacus pairing proved too much for them, winning both of these games. In the final men’s, Steve and Dave faced Jeff and Eric in another very entertaining match. Dave’s determination and Steve’s energetic court coverage saw the Abacus men forced to pull out all the stops and resulted in this final match being drawn one game each.
A request from Louise and Chris for a copy of their photo used with this report certainly made my night: perhaps I’m getting better at this roving reporter malarkey!