Hit & Miss A v Telecom A – “Digging Deep”
The dizzy heights of First Division in this week’s report saw me at a surprisingly quiet Norden for Hit & Miss A team’s fixture against Telecom A. After a very s-l-o-w start (does Mr Ashton go any faster?) the match eventually got underway, with the Hit & Miss ladies, Cheryl Parry, partnering a welcome newcomer to our league, Ciara Pender, gracing the first court as they faced the stalwarts, Jane Makey and Judith Hamilton. This evenly matched game saw all four ladies stretched to the limit. Strong aggressive smashing from Ciara was met by some lovely backhand crosses from Judith and excellent defensive rallies from both pairings. It was the anticipation, however, of the experienced Cheryl as she pounced on and buried anything at the net which eventually won the day. On the adjacent court, resplendent in his vibrant kit, Abdul Malik and Syed Masood took on the never say die couple, Captain, Dave Holt, and Andrew Barlow. Dazzling to watch (and I’m not just talking about Abdul’s outfit!) the Hit & Miss men impressed with their tumbling net shots and controlled backhand drops. Dave and Andrew’s next point mentality, however, saw them battling long and hard throughout both games.
In the next set of doubles, Cheryl partnered the nifty left hander, Alison Leaver for Hit & Miss as they faced the experience of Judith and Kath Spillane, fresh from her recent England match in Portugal. Despite some steady short serving by Kath which enabled Judith to attack the lifted shuttle, Cheryl’s take it and kill it attitude proved indefatigable. Next up, the men’s doubles saw Abdul partnering Hit & Miss Captain, Keith Ashton, against the father and son Holt duo, Dave and Cameron. I’d like to have found a Churchill quotation to do justice to the battle I witnessed on court but, to be honest, even the great man’s words would fall short. Intelligent tactical play by Abdul, coupled with fast reactions by his partner, Keith, forced the Holt partnership to dig deep. And dig deep they certainly did. The understanding that both men showed on the court as they countered attack with defence and switched play around was a pleasure to see. Dave’s excellent cross court shots and Cameron’s strong smashes were, however, not quite enough to beat the might of the Hit & Miss pairing.
With Telecom still to win a game, the mixed doubles beckoned. First up, the softly spoken Ciara and Syed faced Telecom’s Andrew and Jane. Another close match with both couples battling hard, this game saw some dominant smashing from Syed which both Telecom players met with confidence. Ciara’s reading of the game and the strength of her partner’s shots, however, eventually won Hit & Miss another hard fought two games. The next match saw Keith stroll on to the court with his partner, Alison, to face the young pretender, Cameron, this time playing with Kath. Despite some excellent tactical play by both Hit & Miss players, the exuberance of young Cameron and the experience of Kath who tackled the net with confidence, finally won Telecom their first, well deserved game of the night. In the remaining mixed games, Cheryl and Abdul took on Judith and Dave. Despite Dave’s speciality cross court drop and Judith’s aggressive service returns, the Hit & Miss pairing always had the upper hand. Syed and Ciara then faced the Telecom partnership of Kath and Cameron. Working as hard as ever, this time the away couple could not break down the might of Syed’s smash and push shots. Ciara’s well balanced coverage of the court as she danced at the net helped the Hit & Miss couple to another victory. In what was to be the last game of the night, Keith and Alison played Jane and Andrew. Another good humoured match, Keith’s elegant net play and ability to find gaps on court which nobody else can’ eventually proved too much for the Telecom pairing.
Yes, it was an emphatic win for Hit & Miss. What I was most impressed with, however, was the effort and determination of every single one of the Telecom players. At no point did anyone go on court not believing they could win. At no point did anyone stop trying. These are the sort of players we need. This is the mentality which will keep our league going. Now where was that Churchill quote when I needed it?