Comb 2 v Oakbrook (A) - 3/3/17

We love it when a plan comes together.

Too little too late perhaps, but Combined 2 are coming into form with a third win in four games. We moved into the automatic promotion positions on our own yet incredibly remain favourites to go down with Abbeydale 3, potentially even with a 50/50 record for the season if we win our final game in April. I bet no side has ever gone down with even a 40/60 record before (our worst-case scenario) let alone a 50/50 one.

We’d been stuffed 8-1 at home by this impressive team, and expected to face the identical six (which we did). We therefore tried the concept of marginal gains by improving on a whole series of things in tiny ways to get us an overall strong improvement and the win.

Picking, planning, preparation, performance and perseverance were all targeted for an improvement.

First I picked a side to target 5 specific rubbers where I felt we could win. Prithvi and Arun were put in specific positions to target the most winnable rubbers, accompanied by 2 mixed specialist ladies in Jane and Yimin. Ruth and I made up the set, me for the sole benefit of a game with Prithvi that I thought we would win.

Preparation was important so most of the team knew who they were playing with the day before the game, rather than turning up on the night and trying to figure out a new partner minutes before taking to the court with them.

Performance though was the most important, and those 5 rubbers we targeted were all won.

Prithvi and Steve got us off to a flyer with a dominant win to 12 and 14 that felt like we had played together for years rather than being our first rubber in anger together. Arun’s three games all gave us palpitations, first coming from behind with Prithvi to take a tight mens rubber in three ends, then winning a mixed 22-20 before finally coming from behind again to win another mixed in three ends, 21-19 in the third end. The perseverance of our two guys is legendary and more befitting professional sport than amateur!

Prithvi and Jane won their mixed too, so Jane and Yimin also played starring roles. We knew the other four rubbers would be tough because Oakbrook first team have both strong male mixed players and strong ladies’ players. We lost them as expected but not without all of us exceeding expectations and coming close on occasions.

Credit also to Ruth (and me) for agreeing to sit off for 2 hours in between our level doubles match and our two mixed so that Arun could go off on hospital responsibilities.

Credit to all the team for putting up with my obsessive strategizing in a desperate and probably futile bid to stave off relegation. Credit too for Oakbrook for very sportingly letting us play out of order for Arun’s benefit due to us not realising the match would go onto one court.

Player of the Match – Prithvi (3 out of 3, with two in straight ends)