Hengrove Park Leisure Centre, Sunday 22nd March 2015
After a chastening defeat at the hands of Avon Third Team, Cornwall Second Team could be forgiven for seeking solace in the famous words of Samuel Beckett. Indeed, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.Try again. Fail again. Fail better” would seem to provide an apt description of the fortunes of the Cornish side in the recent years, with the 2014-15 incarnation being unable to claim the single point required from this fixture – consigning them to yet another near miss in their quest to win Division 6South West. The team travelled fully aware of the task which confronted them and the tension and atmosphere at the Hengrove Park Leisure Centre did not disappoint, with a large crowd (for a badminton match) in attendance. A few new faces (for season 2014/15) represented Cornwall on this occasion, with promising youngsters Amy Polglase and Kellen Moore stepping in, alongside Tony Clark.
Proceedings started well for Cornwall in the men’s singles, with Sam Spencer recovering superbly from a poor first end to wear down the powerful Will Hollis and take the first point for Cornwall with a11-21, 21-17, 21-10 win. Unfortunately this proved to be a false dawn. Liam Sillifant, taking on the talented left-hander Aidan Gibbons, put up an excellent fight but faded in the final end to slip to a 13-21, 21-17, 12-21 defeat. In the ladies’ singles, a somewhat fractured match between Hester Luke and Kwon Yoongeun, in which both players went on long runs of point-scoring, narrowly went the way of the Avon player 8-21, 21-18, 18-21. Likewise, a spirited performance from Kellen was unfortunately not enough to overcome the consistent Lauren Ashley, who took the win 16-21, 18-21.
Despite trailing 3-1 after the singles, Cornwall were still confident of pushing their score towards the magic 6 rubbers in the Level Doubles. However, what was to follow turned out to be a veritable nightmare for the Cornish team. The added pressure of the promotion decider and intense play from the Avon pairs saw all of the Cornish pairs perform below the standard of which they know they are capable.
In the Ladies’ Doubles, the usually reliable pairing of Hester and Vicki Thomas were unable to find their usual consistency, losing their first match against Kwon and Ashley 12-21, 6-21 before rallying a little at the start of their second match against Rebecca Scott and Clara Fitzpatrick-Milton which they unfortunately went on to lose 22-20, 12-21, 9-21. Amy and Kellen fared a little better, being unlucky to lose their first match against Scott and Milton 21-13, 17-21, 19-21, before putting on a much better performance to win against Kwon and Ashley 21-14, 11-21, 21-7.
The Men’s Doubles, usually reliable point scorers for Cornwall, saw the team fare even worse. Kahoo Tse and Liam formed Cornwall’s first pairing and despite taking the first end against the dogged Hollis and Adam Parr, lost 21-18, 19-21, 20-22. The Cornish lads were also on the wrong end of a three ender against Avon’s second pairing of Giibbons and David Bailey. A good end sandwiched between two poor ones saw the away team lose 6-21, 22-20, 10-21. The other Men’s pairing, East Cornwall based Rich Townsend and Tony Clark, did not fare any better. After a slow start against Gibbons and Bailey, Rich and Tony contrived to throw away a number of game points in the second end and lost 13-21, 26-28. Despite an improved performance against Hollis and Parr, the Cornwall pair were unable to close games out, despite being ahead in all three ends, and lost 21-17, 16-21, 18-21.
With only the mixed remaining, and the prospect of promotion already snatched away due to the 10-2 scoreline, the Cornish team were playing for pride. Thankfully the team lived up to the county’s strong Mixed Doubles reputation and put in a far better performance to limit the extent of their defeat. Taking on the formidable pairing of Scott and Gibbons, Kahoo and Vicki were unlucky to lose 21-13, 17-21,16-21 in a fast and frantic game. The Cornish second pair of Rich and Amy, despite having never played together, steadily improved throughout their match – sealing a 23-21, 21-13 win against Ashley
and Hollis. The final match was a real nail-biter, with the majority of both teams watching the final end.Thankfully for the Cornish team, Sam and Kellen showed the composure the team had perhaps been lacking for the rest of the day to edge a close third end and take the final rubber 19-21, 21-13, 24-22.
With the match complete and the score standing at 11-4 to Avon, Cornwall had agonisingly missed out on winning Division 6 South West yet again, although credit should go to Avon for a relentless performance which prevented the Cornish team from settling until it was too late. However, the Cornish team are bound to look back on their record of winning only 3 of the 11 three-end matches in this fixture and wonder what might have been – maybe they will have to accept the home advantage and support helped Avon to keep their composure a little better on the big occasion. Despite the disappointment, a restructuring of the county leagues next year is likely to see Cornwall playing a few new teams, which will present a welcome change and challenge for the team. In reflecting on the near misses of the last few years, perhaps the last word in comforting the Cornish team should be left not to Samuel Beckett, but to fellow literary luminary C. S. Lewis: “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward towards success...”
Ladies – Hester Luke, Kellen Moore, Amy Polglase, Vicki Thomas.
Men – Tony Clark, Liam Sillifant, Sam Spencer, Rich Townsend, Kahoo Tse.