Following a thrilling win over Dorset 3, Cornwall were ready to take on Wiltshire 3, knowing full well that they must win to remain in contention of promotion. What the team were not looking forward to was playing away at the infamous Christie Miller sports centre. The beautiful sunny afternoon was in contrast to the cold, unwelcoming sports hall – players would be forgiven believing the indoor flooring was cover in a layer of ice, so slippery was the floor. Credit to Wiltshire’s team manager, the teams were provided with damn cloths to wipe the soles of player’s shoes between points; but the playing conditions were not ideal for a county match.
A mixture of experience and youth set the stage with Hester Luke and Beth Wotton representing the ladies singles and Liam Sillifant and Dave Harrington for the men. Both Beth and Dave struggled to find the good form they have shown so often during the season, losing to their opposition in two ends. Hester started the singles in confident manner, sweeping aside her opposition in the first end, but after struggling to sustain the momentum lost the battle in three sets. An exciting match-up saw Liam tussling to gain the advantage against a tricky opponent and following three tightly contested games the Cornish representative notched Cornwall’s first rubber of the match.
With the exception of Kahoo Tse and Liam Sillifant, doubles saw the usual partnerships of Rich & Dave, Beth & Linda and Mounts Bay pair Vicki & Hester. Previous ties have shown that Wiltshire ladies have depth in ability in doubles - but with one of their ladies missing from the regular line-up, Cornwall were hoping to capitalise on the opportunity. The ladies split the four doubles, with both pairs narrowing losing to their corresponding opponents but securing one rubber each.
Having mixed success in the previous match against Wiltshire, the men’s doubles were keen to re-establish their dominance in their favoured event. Wiltshire first pair were very formidable and proved almost too much to handle for Kahoo and Liam – the majority of the match the Cornish duo were playing catch up. The third end saw Kahoo and Liam close to defeat, only for a fantastic display of grit and determination to snatch the rubber by the closest of margins.
Wiltshire second pair lacked the attacking prowess of the first but demonstrated a slow and steady approach tempo to their game. A disappointing show of complacency, coupled with Liam’s physical and mental fatigue following two hard fought rubbers showed signs of weariness and not even Kahoo’s futile attempt at a diving retrieve shot was enough to save the game. Reliable Cornwall duo Rich and Dave showed no such loss of focus and defeated both doubles in excellent fashion, restoring balance in a tightly contested matchup.
The standings at 6-6 and everything to play for, Cornwall would have to muster every last bit of strength to bag the win. Cornwall wisely opted to stick with regular partnerships, Rich & Linda, Kahoo & Vicki and Dave & Beth to drive towards the win.
Club compatriots Rich & Linda were first to battle against the Wiltshire first mixed. With Linda’s experience and Rich’s never-say-die attitude, Cornwall snatched the first of the three rubbers, displaying confidence and style expected from the well-established partnership.
Kahoo & Vicki found themselves matched with a competent Wiltshire second pair. Wiltshire were first to adapt quicker to the slippery conditions and with some tidy badminton comfortably won the first end. By some extraordinary feat Vicki and Kahoo were able to pull from 14-19 down to win the second game 21-19. After being informed by the team we had already lost both mixed and hence the match, the Cornwall pair were relieve of the pressure to win the final rubber and conceded that they were fighting solely for their pride. As the final game went on the Cornish pair fell further and further behind and were ready to concede defeat – at 15-19 one last ditch attempt, point by point the Cornwall duo managed to claw back to level the score and by a miraculous feat clinched the win to retain their pride and maintain an impressive 100% win record this season. The delight of Kahoo and Vicki was amplified when they discovered that the final mixed had actually taken the score to 8-7 in Cornwall’s favour!
A memorable win for Cornwall 2 as they maintain the pressure on Avon 3 for the top spot – despite less than ideal playing conditions, when the going gets tough Cornwall keeps calm and carries on.
Special thanks to Sue Cooper for arranging the team.