Fairway Sports Complex, Sandown, Sunday 14th December 2014
In their final match before a Christmas break, Cornwall 2nds made the long trip to take on the Isle of Wight 2nds in Sandown. Despite a rather early start – the worst being an eye-watering 4am for the Penwith contingent – the journey passed without incident and the team arrived on the Isle of Wight keen to build on their solid start to the season so far. Having taken two points in all of their fixtures so far, the team were looking to go one better and take all three points against a team yet to score a point this season. A few changes were made to the team which took on Wiltshire two weeks previously – Chris Cooper made a return to the senior teams for the first time this season and recent CYB graduate Noah Semonin was making his senior team debut. Lynda Beer also re-joined the team following her recovery from an injury picked up in the recent match against Dorset.
As usual, proceedings commenced with the Singles. In the Ladies’ Singles, Cornwall were represented by singles regular Hester Luke and Vicki Thomas, playing her first singles match this season. Despite Vicki’s protests that she is not much of a singles player, both she and Hester made short work of their opponents, both of the Cornish ladies moving their opponents around the court well and pushing the back corners to good effect. Hester defeated her opponent, Linda Radcliffe, 21-13, 21-14, with Vicki beating Emily Boynton 21-13, 21-9 to give Cornwall a great start to the fixture. The Men’s singles was not quite such plain sailing – having been in excellent form in recent weeks, Sam Spencer took the first singles slot for Cornwall. Unfortunately for Sam (and for the team), he sustained an injury during only the third point of the first end. Unable to reach anything like his full capabilities, Sam could not better his opponent, Matthew Honnor, and went down 21-11, 21-14. Noah on the other hand, was taking on the younger Honnor brother, Jacob, and grew in to the match, becoming very consistent in the final end to seal a 21-16, 18-21, 21-10 win – an excellent performance in his first match in a senior county team.
Next up was the Level Doubles, with Cornwall looking to build on their 3-1 lead after the Singles. The Duchy were represented in the Ladies Doubles by the pairings of Hester and Vicki and Lynda and Jan Santillo. On the Men’s side were the relatively untested pairings of Sam and Rich Townsend and Chris and Noah.
Proceedings in the Ladies’ Doubles were immediately given a positive start, with Cornwall claiming both of the first round rubbers. Hester and Vicki took on Caroline Pearson and Charlotte Gray and despite a shaky first end, upped their game considerably to ease to a 19-21, 21-11, 21-3 win. Jan and Lynda did not even require a first end to become accustomed to the hall in their match against Radcliffe and Rosanna Riddett, powering through in two ends to a 7-21, 12-21 win.
In the first round of Men’s Doubles, things were not so straightforward. Rich and Sam took on IoW first pairing of M. Honnor and George Utteridge. Due to his injury, Sam was unable to hit with any power and was very limited in the movement of his shoulder, making life difficult for the Cornish pairing. Despite having numerous game points in both ends, they went down 23-25, 23-25 to the tenacious IoW pairing. Chris and Noah also encountered problems in adapting to an unfamiliar hall and each other’s playing style and were unable to string together enough points to overcome the young pairing of J. Honnor and Daniel Parsloe, losing 17-21, 13-21.
The second round of Level Doubles saw improved results for the Cornish team. Continuing their dominance from the first round of matches, the ladies again took both rubbers. Having adjusted to the speed of the shuttles and the hall itself, Hester and Vicki did not allow Radcliffe and Riddett into the game and ran out 21-17, 21-9 winners. Jan and Lynda performed similarly well, not allowing the IoW pairing of Pearson and Gray to settle and were never troubled in a 21-13, 21-7 win.
Having been stung into action by losing both rubbers in the first round of matches, the Men’s Doubles pairings both produced improved performances in the second round. Chris and Noah, taking on the first pairing (Honnor/Utteridge), came out of the blocks quickly, gaining a good lead in the first end. This seemed to demoralise the IoW pair and, in combination with the Cornish pair’s greater consistency, smoothed the road to an excellent 21-15, 21-14 win. Rich and the injured Sam also produced a better performance in their second game against Honnor/Parsloe, having found a better way of adapting to Sam’s difficulty in playing any shots involving significant movement of the shoulder. In a close match which ebbed and flowed, particularly in the final end, Rich and Sam held their nerve and ran out 15-21, 21-15, 23-21 winners to claim the last of the rubbers in the final round of Level Doubles.
With the match score at 9-3 going in to the Mixed Doubles, Cornwall needed one more rubber to finally claim the third league point for winning 10 or more rubbers in a match. Representing the team were Lynda and Rich (taking on M. Honnor/Gray), Vicki and Noah (taking on J. Honnor/Pearson) and Jan and Chris (taking on Utteridge/Boynton). Any fears of being unable to take the final rubber were quickly allayed with the scratch pairing of Jan and Chris gelling well against the IoW pairing. Jan’s characteristic consistency and Chris’s good reach and movement proved too much for their opposition and they ran out comfortable winners, 21-12, 21-13 to secure the 10th rubber for the team. The first pairing match-up was, if anything, even more straightforward. Callington BC club mates Lynda and Rich played well from the off and, with Lynda’s coverage of any weak net returns allied to Rich’s anticipation and reach, the Cornish pair cruised to a 21-7, 21-9 success. The remaining mixed match-up was a far more close-fought affair, providing a good contest on which to finish the match. Noah and Vicki again represented a scratch pairing for the visitors, but this did not deter them with Vicki’s steady head proving an effective foil to Noah’s youthful speed and exuberance. Their opposition were very much a pair in the same vein, which made for an interesting game. With the lead alternating between both pairs, particularly in the final end, some compelling badminton was enjoyed by the spectators – thankfully for the Cornish team Vicki and Noah held their nerve to win 21-18, 18-21, 21-19 and take the third and final mixed rubber.
The match having finished, the score stood at 12-3 to Cornwall – an excellent result given the arduous journey and the injury sustained by Sam at the very start of the match. With four out of eight matches now complete, Cornwall are yet to be defeated and will look to continue their good form in the new year as they push towards the top of Division 6 South West.
Congratulations go to Chris and Noah for putting in excellent performances in their first appearances of the season and helping the team to claim three crucial league points. Thanks also go to Sue Cooper and Vicki for driving the team mini-bus all the way to Sandown and back, as well as to the Isle of Wight team for a match played in the right spirit and for providing some excellent post-match food!
The second team’s next match will see them take on Dorset 3rds at Polkyth Leisure Centre on 18th January 2015.
Ladies – Lynda Beer, Hester Luke, Jan Santillo, Vicki Thomas.
Men – Chris Cooper, Noah Semonin, Sam Spencer, Rich Townsend.