4th November, 2015 Blackburn Seniors B v Abacus A
Back where it all started and guess what, the lady herself, Elaine Smith, was playing on the adjacent courts against Hit and Miss B. The Roving Reporter’s match, however, between Seniors B and Abacus A got off to a very close start in the level doubles with all of the games evenly matched. Although fiercely competitive, the manners and respect for the opposition were in evidence throughout the evening, something I was very proud to see.
First up, Captain for Seniors B, Helen Shanks, partnered Amanda Hodkinson against the Abacus ladies’, fellow captain, Karen Lamb and Rachel Hillary. As the two Captains clashed on court, the rallies were long and furious with some effective centre line smashing from Amanda, coupled with well reached over head drops from Rachel. Despite Karen’s controlled placing of the shuttle, Helen’s aggression at the net and Amanda’s steady consistency eventually wore the Abacus ladies down. On the next court, Matt Cole and Sameer Kadiri faced the formidable Abacus pairing of Mick Crilly and Andy Shutt. Another evenly matched game saw strong smashes from the well balanced Matt and confident net play from Sameer. Working hard, Mick’s court coverage and Andy’s intelligent tactical play resulted in two more very close games, which the Seniors’ men eventually won.
In the second round of doubles, Emily Cholmondeley played with Amanda for Seniors, against the experienced Julie Blackburn and Rachel for Abacus. Competent court coverage by the Seniors’ ladies and excellent anticipation at the net from Amanda meant the Abacus ladies had to fight for every point. Julie and Rachel worked hard defensively but eventually the Seniors’ ladies’ aggression proved too much and the two games went to the home side once again. The final doubles’ game saw young Brad Savage for Seniors, playing with Sameer, take on the Abacus pairing of Darren Veevers and Andy. A good humoured match, both games were point for point. Brad’s elegant drop shots from the back of the net complemented well with Sameer’s net domination: the opposition, however, were not giving up without a fight. Andy’s competitive determination and Darren’s brave defending forced the Seniors’ pairing to pull out all the stops. The accuracy of Andy’s long flick serve and Darren’s controlled push shot to the net both worked effectively. Despite some brave defending, however, the Seniors’ men came from behind to win the first game, before going on to cement the victory in the second.
In the mixed doubles’ games the pendulum started to swing in the other direction, with Abacus winning the first two matches. First up, the experienced pairing of Mick and Karen faced their opposite number in Helen and Matt. Exhaustive court coverage from the Abacus pair, along with clever serving from both, brought a long awaited victory for the away team. Next up, another neck and neck battle between the number 2 couple, Brad and Emily for Seniors and Darren and Julie for Abacus. Despite Brad’s excellent retrieval skills and leaping smashes, and Emily’s well reached net shots, the Abacus pairing proved too strong. The number 3 pairings of Sameer and Amanda for Seniors and Andy and Rachel for Abacus were next on court. A good run of serves for Sameer saw the Seniors’ couple edge in front. Not to be out done, Andy’s cross court smashes and Rachel’s energetic movement to cover the net, resulted in the match being drawn one game all. In the final two mixed matches, Matt and Helen had a close call against Darren and Julie, winning both games but setting in the second game. The opposition were gracious in their play with courteous appreciation of the Seniors’ winning shots. Despite Darren’s accurate long serving and keen determination, both games went to the Seniors’ pairing. The final game saw Brad and Emily face the wily Mick and his partner Karen. Brad’s excellent balance under the shuttle and Emily’s delicate cross court drops ensured the Abacus couple had to work hard for every point. Mick’s accurate reading of the game and Karen’s ability to always be in the right place at the right time meant that the match was split, after a very audible ‘Get in!’ from Mick.
At the end of the night, as the Paying Mantis collected from the Seniors’ players with a ‘Last to pay? It’s double next week’, I really wish I could have commented on both matches at once. After all, next door’s fixture had seen Linda Nicholson take off her racquet’s dustjackets (and wooden press?) and seen the promising Aqsa Adam in action. Never mind, their time will come.