Mens 2 v Abbeydale 2 (A) - 19/1/14

Mens 2 battled through the hardest frost of the year to play their first of two matches on successive evenings, this one at Abbeydale. New year is a time for breaking resolutions, and I had to break a millennium resolution set over a decade ago when I promised never to play at Abbeydale again, with my strip lighting sensitivity never coping well with the worst lights ever seen in badminton (their new floor though is superb in balance). That, and doing some multiple polynomial regression equations for work that day, guaranteed a 24 hour headache!

 

Still, the Stevie Wonder style rose tints had to be donned because of injuries and unavailability to Jethron (neck), Rob (anniversary!), Mick (old age, bless you!), Rich (in Leeds), new member Prithvi (in India), George and Rahual (students so not back till 2017) and Clive (in Rome the lucky sod). This coupled with the departure from the club this season of Matt, Nathan and Alastair.

Four of the usual six were playing but with a little experimental shuffle with the long term aim of staying up in mind, Deepak playing with Ravi, Steve and Arun, Ben with debutant Shiraz. The opponents also brought in a couple of new faces.

Ben and Shiraz didn’t get out of the blocks in their first game against the top pair, two brothers both with great smashes and a great understanding of each other’s positioning. They lost to 6 and 10 but this is Ranmoor, we know we start slow, but move through the gears later. They then took on the captain and his new partner and won the first end superbly to 16, before this good pair upped the ante and seized the rubber to 14 and 15. Finally, against the third pair we again won the first end to 16, before an almost identical story resulted, losing the next two both to 15. The lads were disappointed but to take an end of two pairs on debut was a good effort.

Myself and Arun were the other pair to go straight into bat, and we gamely followed the Ranmoor tradition of a poor start by letting the second pair have it on their forehand, from where they could do damage, though there were some bright moments, particularly the service kills. We lost to 13 and 13. Next up were the weaker third pair and despite me hitting about 5 out of the back with diagonal clears (leading Arun to accuse me of having done some gym work, how dare he, that would ruin my drinking arm!!) we won the first end to 20 then having realised the tactic of keeping them pinned to the back, we comfortably won the second end to 16 to take the rubber. Finally the top pair were a different threat, and despite feeling fully in each point, we lost to 14 and 16 with some errors when level at midway in both ends proving crucial.

Ravi and Deepak we expected great things from, with a mixture of power and craft, as long as they didn’t kill each other on court during one of Deepak’s jump smashes or flick serves! They got off to the slow start we expect from Ranmoor, losing the first end to 17 against the weakest third pair with a series of errors, before clicking into gear and easing the pair aside to 18 and 17. They were the only pair to threaten to take an end of the Abbeydale top pair, losing to 20 with some brilliant play, before going down to 13 in the second end. The unbeaten second pair then faced us in the last rubber of the night, and our boys showed their class winning in straight ends 23-21 and 23-21, helping to improve the poor Ranmoor tie break record to boot!!

So it was a 6-3 win to our hosts but there were some fantastic signs for us to take into the second match in 2 days, the relegation battle against Jaguar 2, where Rob and Rich will be entering the fray. The points differences were -41 to Ben and Shiraz, -21 to Steve and Arun, -3 to Ravi and Deepak, the Men of the Match for their 2 rubbers!! “Goal difference” could be crucial in what we envisage will be a tight battle to stay up.

Well done to our hosts, thanks for the hospitality, we think you have a great chance of a second successive promotion.
Steve K