You see this is what happens when you keep saying ‘Yes’!
I thought I’d surprise you with another town team match report: yes, I am as surprised as you are that I was playing again – this time for Blackburn 1 team as they took on the mighty MidLancs 1 team. Before I said yes this time, I did have the foresight to check with Keith Ashton, Captain, that I wouldn’t be needed for ladies’ singles!
So, on a very snowy Sunday afternoon I found myself catching up on the benches with the MidLancs team relieved to be watching the opening singles games. First up, Joanna Holt faced Emily Hollis for the away team. Despite Joanna’s protestations that she did not enjoy singles, she put up an excellent fight against Emily, only losing in 3 when the tactics were changed by the opposition and she began serving short. On the adjacent courts, the battle of the titans was in full swing with Phil Aspinall facing MidLancs’ Jared Matthews, and the prodigal son himself, Nick Hodgson, making a welcome appearance at second singles against Andy Owen, under the watchful eye of his Dad, Barry. Both Blackburn boys (I’m plenty old enough to call them that!) smashed mercilessly as they danced around the court, winning their games in 2.
As the doubles’ matches commenced, Blackburn were up 2 to 1: the cliché ‘there was everything to play for’ began to be whispered by the non-playing Captain, Keith, as he hastily assured Nick that the glucose tablet which he’d just found in the depth of his badminton bag would not turn his super star’s legs a funny colour.
Joanna Holt played at top ladies with Julie Bates against the MidLancs singles’ player, Emily, who played with Lizzie Holt. This was a real battle between the two couples, which the Blackburn girls were able to win in two, setting in the second. Yours truly was next up playing with Amy Ashrafi against Lizzie Balmforth and Karolyn Hustler. I was pleasantly surprised not to be picked on in this game (I did a lot of hiding at the net!) and, though we lost, the scores were a respectable 17. Using all four courts, we were able to keep the ladies’ games going and the pairings switched. This time, Joanna and Julie found a very different game to read when they met the number two ladies, and, like us, lost in 2. If only me and Amy had been able to emulate their score against the top pairing and secure that elusive point which was still dancing teasingly in front of Keith’s eyes. We did, however, put up another brave fight and played some decent returns from two talented young MidLancs ladies.
In the men’s doubles, the titans, Phil and Nick, had an exhausting game against young Jared and that gent of the MidLancs league, Steve Taylor. Having won the first game, their opponents came back to win the second, meaning that glucose tablet would be well and truly used in a third game. Having kept the decider neck and neck all the way through, the Blackburn boys just let the game slip right at the end. On the adjacent court, under the eager eyes of his two young sons, themselves desperate to get on to any empty court for a quick knock up, Sayed Majood partnered the ebullient master himself, Abdul Malik. In their opening game, the Blackburn pairing met Andy Owen and Chris Hoyle. Sayed and Abdul were quick to take control of this game, forcing errors from their opponents with their tactical play, and winning the game in 2. As the men changed over, the match was still finely poised. Phil and Nick’s titanic strength produced another battle against Andy and Chris; this time, however, it was a battle that went our way, much to the relief of the home supporters. Sayed and Abdul had a tremendous tussle with the MidLancs top men, Jared and Steve, again forcing the match in to a three game decider. The opposition held their nerve, however, and the game fell to MidLancs.
In the mixed doubles, despite only needing one game for a point, MidLancs dug deep and won all four matches. At top mixed, Nick and Amy faced Jared and Emily; followed by Sayed and Joanna against Steve and Lizzie H; with me and Phil at bottom mixed playing against Chris and Lizzie B. Our energy reserves must have been waning, however (either that or MidLancs were just a bit better at mixed than we were!) and we lost all of these matches in 2. As Sayed’s two young up and coming stars dashed on to the empty courts to show us what they could do (and, aged 7 and 6, they can do a LOT!) all of our hopes for that elusive point fell upon the shoulders of the experienced pairing of Abdul and Julie, facing the equally experienced Karolyn playing with Andy. This was the one mixed game we took to three, but, unfortunately, it was not to be and MidLancs ran away with a 10, 5 victory.
All in all then, not how I had planned to spend my Sunday afternoon, but definitely something I enjoyed playing in. It was lovely to see so many friendly supporters there from both sides and to participate in a town fixture which was played throughout with courtesy and respect for all players.