Finding one’s feet in the First Division
Week 6 Independent v College 7.11.2016
The match got off to a brisk start on what was to be another cold night. The badminton was far from cold, however, with many closely fought battles from start to finish.
Jubilant from their previous game against Westholme, the away team, College, knew they would have to work hard. And work hard they certainly did. In the first ladies’ doubles, Karen Lamb for Independents partnered the experienced Pam Parkinson as they faced the ever smiling Ann O’Grady and the young player from Versailles, Cecile Planque. This was to be the first of many close games. Cecile cleverly exploited the oppositions’ backhands and Ann’s quick, flat game often had the home pair scampering after the shuttle. There was some nice aggressive play from Karen mid court and the ever steady Pam rarely put a foot wrong. In the second ladies’ game, Karen partnered Gill Fourie, whose excellent line judgement and tight net anticipation meant Ann, this time playing with the Lifetime Sailing Award lady herself, namely Carol Yates, had to battle hard to keep the rallies going. The strength of the home ladies, however, eventually saw both matches fall to Independents.
In the men’s doubles, the experienced partnership of Nigel – a real Captain sweeps the court (do you remember him!) – Shuker, first with Phil Livesey and then with Richard Done, faced the enthusiasm of young Will Pang for College as he partnered first Paul Ainscoe, followed by James Aldred. After a close opening game where Phil’s delicate drops to the net and deceptive pushes really stretched the College duo, the Independents’ men went on to control the second game. Richard Done’s intelligent tactical play saw the experienced home pairing eager to take dominance of the final men’s game. Some excellent energetic defence from young Will, along with James’ wicked cross court back hand drive courtesy of his squash, meant the opposition had other ideas and made for another closely fought match.
In the mixed doubles, Independents continued to make their mark on the match. At top mixed, Pam and Phil took on Cecile and Paul. Pam’s tight net play and anticipation resulted in some delicate touch play by the College gent, Paul. On the adjacent court, Gill and Richard for the home team faced Carol and James in another very good humoured match. Tight serving from Gill, however, coupled with Richard’s court awareness meant the Independents’ pairing were always in control. As the number 3 couples went on court, namely Karen and Nigel for the home team and Ann and Will for College, we knew we were in for another battle. Nigel’s steeply angled smash and Karen’s beautiful cross court winners forced the away pairing to really battle hard. Ann’s never say die attitude, coupled with Will’s intelligent body smashes to the lady, resulted in a very close first game. As the top two mixed couples’ turned round, the third court became free, which brought the game to an early conclusion.
It really doesn’t matter about the final score: what impressed me was College’s reaction. “Next year, we will know our opposition. Next time we will know how to play them, and we will learn from this” were the sentiments I heard from the whole team throughout the night. Their support for one another (dare I say camaraderie) was sustained from the first to the last match; this speaks much for a team finding its feet in the First Division.