Back where I started
More by chance than ornament, I ended up reporting on another friendly cup game between the family that is Blackburn Seniors. I had actually braved the snow thunderstorm on top of the Rising Bridge to watch Blackburn Seniors A take on Caprica. Unfortunately, the latter weren’t able to field a team; fortunately, the Wilson Cup match between the C and D teams was taking place at the same time. My trip had not been wasted.
Straight down to business, Lilly Edmundson took charge of the C team, putting mother and daughter partnership, Keira McPartlan and Helen McKernan against Mel Rushton and the ever smiley Anne Masterson. The D team ladies worked well to cover the court, ensuring the rallies were long and well fought. Keira’s aggressive net play and her mum’s effective attack down the middle, however, meant Lilly’s team were quickly two games up. Ryan Collins and the experienced Steven Smith for Seniors C then faced their youthful D team opponents of Morgan Shanks and Harry Boyle. This was definitely a no mercy kind of men’s game and, although the C team men came out on top, every point was hard fought.
In the second round of doubles, Lilly partnered Helen against Anne and the lady herself, Elaine Smith. The C team couple quickly asserted themselves, largely down to Lilly’s accurate, steady serving and Helen’s powerful centre court smash. Anne and Elaine, however, were never down hearted; in fact, every point they scored was met with a victory wave and a cheer. In the men’s doubles, Stewart Holt and Ryan for the C team faced their even younger opponents of Morgan and 17 year old Jack McKenna. Ryan’s dominant net play was particularly impressive. The left handed Morgan and his partner, Jack, however, withstood whatever the C team couple blasted at them, remaining cool and calm under pressure. I am sure this young couple will go far.
In the mixed matches, Steve and Keira faced Harry and Mel. Steve’s well balanced court coverage and Keira’s excellent net play had their opposition at full stretch. The C team pairing were made to work hard for their win, however, with Steve having to go off court for occasional liquid refreshment which he cleverly disguised as changing the shuttle. Harry’s well placed back hand drops and strong drive smashes worked well with Mel’s reach at the net. Stewart and Lilly then met Jack and Elaine in another ‘every point counts’ match. The lady herself played with poise at the net as her young partner, Jack, scurried around behind her, sometimes diving to the floor to retrieve Stewart’s punishing drives. Lilly’s effective long serves worked well, pushing her opponents to their limits. Helen and Ryan from the C team next faced Morgan and Anne. Another well fought battle, Morgan’s accurate drop shots had the C team couple at full stretch. However, Helen’s well controlled play at the net and Ryan’s aggressive domination and cross court smashes eventually won the game. In the final match of the night (unfortunately, Jack had had to leave early due to the worsening weather conditions) Lilly and Stewart came up against the D team pairing of Harry and Mel. Another good natured, well fought match; another victory for the C team couple.
The friendliness and social inclusiveness of this club continue to impress me. Prior to the match, I had seen dozens of youngsters enjoying this sport of badminton we all love so much being coached by the ever ebullient Richard Smith. I heard tales of the club meal at Monte Cristo; saw pictures of a fancy dress handicap tournament; and watched an exhausting two hour ‘practice’ between 4 of the A team players who had had their own match cancelled. Oh yes, in case you’re wondering, the picture of the broken strings is one of Paul Zinger Ainger’s racquets: apparently, he did that on a serve!
Time to open the envelope. Nobody was surprised by the C team’s victory on the night. Thank you for another very entertaining evening of badminton and chat.