Week 1 – The score really doesn’t matter
Well, what a first match the Roving Reporter chose to attend: Blackburn Seniors C versus their D team. The camaraderie and friendliness were evident from beginning to end, a testimony to this Club’s inclusive and enthusiastic approach to badminton and its promotion in Blackburn & District.
It sounds like a cliché to say it was lovely to see so many new, young players on court: from the stylish Morgan Shanks, with not a hair out of place, to the emerging expertise of Connor Bell; but it really was lovely to see so many promising players enjoying the game of badminton. The Club, however, isn’t called Blackburn Seniors for nothing as Elaine Smith was first to point out. Describing herself as the oldest player in the team, Elaine was quick to chastise Lily Edmundson for ‘deliberately serving high to me when she knows I’m not good at running backwards’. With her husband, Steve, in the opposing team, this match was always going to be entertaining to say the least. I did start by counting the frame shots in Elaine’s first mixed – ‘good woods’ is perhaps a more generous description – but Lily’s panic face said it all!
The match was captained by Anne Masterson for the D team who had a beaming smile on her face from beginning to end; and Claire Edmundson as non-playing captain and Mum for the C team. Claire’s gentle encouragement to her team not to go soft on the opposition was sustained throughout all of the games with many of the matches going down to the wire. There was more than Lily with a panic face.
In the C team, there was some impressive net play from Helen McKernan who delivered tight short serves throughout the night, and Keira McPartlan who aggressively dominated the net, using her height effectively to intimidate the opposition. The young boys in the D team, however, namely Harry Boyle, Jack McKena and Morgan Shanks, all from Blackburn Seniors Juniors, never stopped reaching for shots as they scampered around the court – despite the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding some of them (Jack) had eaten an hour earlier. The only slight controversy on the night was the query that the D team boys had been playing for an hour prior to the game at the Club’s coaching session that night. Next time, Elaine informed me, Jack would be resting before his mixed with her.
Mel Rushden and her mixed partner, Harry, in the D team, showed admirable determination in their mixed games, with Harry’s strong smash making the most of Mel’s tight net play. Yu Hanaki (Dan) looked very much at home on court with Helen McKernan for the C team, later partnering the experienced Steve Smith. Although the young boys in the D team continued to work their badminton socks off, eventually, as all C v D matches should, the games fell in favour of the higher ranked team and players.
On the night, then, does it matter what the score was? NO. The match was played in a friendly yet competitive fashion, with both teams respectful of the others’ ability. I left the court excited about the challenge I had set myself to report on one match a week during the season and also relieved to discover that Steve and Elaine were in fact married, and he didn’t just sleep with her after badminton matches!