Abacus B v Hit & Miss B – A very good heritage
Bumping in to Sir, my old English teacher from Pleckgate, as he left Hyndburn Sports Centre, was perhaps a timely reminder of how long I have been playing badminton and how important it is to both keep getting back on court and to encourage the next generation to take their place in the Blackburn & District league. Tonight, as the experienced Abacus team met the newly formed Hit & Miss second team, I was to be reminded of that again and again.
Unfortunate injuries at the beginning of the season had left Abacus two players short as their reserves flew up to join the heady ranks of their A team. Out of a temporary retirement of two years stepped a very sprightly Carol Olstowski, resplendent as always in her matching kit. Their second lady replacement, however, was unable to get there in time, forcing Hit & Miss to claim three of their games.
In the level men’s doubles, Eric Duckworth and Jeff Howarth faced Martin Meadows and Dahrmin Malik. Eric’s accurate net returns and well- judged back line calls, coupled with Jeff’s excellent reaching of the shuttle, ensured two tightly fought games. The accuracy of Dahrmin’s long backhand serve, however, along with Martin’s infectious enthusiasm around the court, eventually wore the Abacus pairing down, despite many long rallies. In the second men’s game, Jeff partnered Saf Sartraz, this time facing Martin and another up and coming player, Rees Parry. Jeff’s clever mid court teasing shots tested Rees’ ability to reach, with Martin’s straight down the middle, no nonsense smash often winning the Hit & Miss couple their final point. Saf took no prisoners at the net but Martin’s steady tutelage of Rees eventually proved too much for the Abacus men.
In the top mixed doubles, Saf and Carol faced Rees, this time playing with the experienced Jackie Gibson. Precise serving and excellent net anticipation from Jackie really pushed the Abacus pairing hard. From his position up on the gallery, Carol’s husband, Michael, watched as she carefully covered the court. Some lovely defence of Rees’ smashes from Saf produced another close game which the Abacus pair were unlucky not to win. In the second game, Rees executed some nice push shots and his careful judging of the side lines brought a more comfortable victory to the Hit & Miss couple. The second mixed doubles saw Eric and Abacus Captain, Kath Keir, face the two youngsters, Dahrmin and Sophie Nicholson. Both only 18, the Hit & Miss couple showed both determination and promise as they battled hard against the experience of Eric and Kath. The very close games here fell in Abacus’s favour, bringing them their first points of the evening.
As the couples switched round, the teams began to realise that the 3rd lady for Hit & Miss, the highly promising Aqsa Adam, just 12 years old from St Wilfred’s, was not going to get a game. In between the mixed doubles, then, some very sporting knocking up enabled the opposition to see just what they had missed. Aqsa is a keen young player, well balanced under the shuttle, and desperate to make her mark in the league. I am sure we will hear much from her this season and I am looking forward to being able to see her compete.
Saf and Carol then took on the young pairing of Dahrmin and Sophie. Saf’s enthusiasm and Carol’s clever net play brought out the very best in the Hit & Miss couple. The second game in particular was very close and Sophie did not seem put off by her unusual method of carrying coins on court, although Philip Rhodes, Captain of Hit & Miss and scorer for that game, looked a little surprised! In what was to be the last game on the night, Kath and Eric faced the indomitable Jackie and Rees. The Hit & Miss pairing were quick to attack the net and Jackie produced some cross court killers which stretched Eric and Kath to the limit. The neck and neck game was nicely tempered in its competitiveness, exactly the sort of thing we should be showing the young players of today.
So, heritage? Dahrmin, Rees, Sophie and Aqsa all come from very experienced badminton families, all of whom were there that night to cheer on their children. In the midst of this, of course, Martin was quick to let me know that Bunty, especially now she’d stopped tutting at his bad shots, was also welcome at his games. Still playing at Roefield, it was lovely to see Bunty witness the strength of our league in the display put on by the Hit & Miss youngsters.