County Badminton Report

Norfolk Badminton 1st Team vs Hertfordshire 2nd Team Home 10/02/13

After an eight week break from county badminton, mainly due to the Christmas period and a postponement due to snow, a full strength Norfolk first team hoped to continue their positive start to the season with a win against Hertfordshire seconds.

The men’s singles were up first. After a fabulous win last time out, number 1 Daryl Jacobs stepped on court to try and maintain his 100% singles record for the season. Unfortunately Jacobs seemed ‘out of sorts’ and never really got going, losing to a player he would normally expect to beat comfortably. With number 2 Rory Kitchen recently quitting badminton after a very brief Norfolk career, a debut was offered to UEA student Ryan Leung. Despite playing well, Leung also lost in 2 close sets. In the unprecedented position of being 2-0 down the ladies singles started. Another unbeaten record went when number 1 Devon Minnis lost 16 & 11. Number 2 Louise Culyer, with the only remaining unbeaten singles record, registered Norfolk’s first point of the day with a comfortable victory.

Norfolk 1 – 3 Hertfordshire

Again it looked like the men’s doubles was going to be difficult. First pair Jacobs & Matt Howes lost in straight sets to the left-handed partnership of the Herts first pair. Meanwhile, Captain Justin Gerrard and partner Jono Atmore were finding the Herts 2nd pair equally challenging losing 22-20, 21-14. In the crossover doubles Norfolk fared slightly better with Jacobs & Howes winning in two sets and Gerrard & Atmore eventually losing in three.

Norfolk 2 – 6 Hertfordshire

With a win looking very unlikely and a heavy loss looking the most probable outcome Norfolk sent out the ladies doubles pairs. Undoubtedly, this has to be considered our strongest event and one on which we have come to rely. The ladies didn’t disappoint with first pair Julie Pike & Culyer winning both games in straight sets. Second pair Katherine Cooper & Toni Sturgeon came through victorious in a close three-setter against the second pair, and after winning the first set were unfortunately beaten by the stronger first pair (which included ex-Norfolk girl Charity Barnes).

Norfolk 5 – 7 Hertfordshire

Although the scoreboard was definitely looking better Norfolk still required all three Mixed doubles to make the comeback complete and steal the win. At least one of the three games was necessary to finish with a ‘losing point’; this was the minimum that Norfolk needed to keep their hopes of promotion alive. Unbeaten first pair Jacobs & Cooper bagged the first win comfortably (21-10, 21-12) this ensured a losing point at the very least. Meanwhile Gerrard & Pike, after losing 3 very close three-setters in their last four games, also won in straight sets (21-17, 21-14). This levelled the tie at 7-7 and kept Norfolk’s hopes of winning the match alive. Third pair Atmore & Culyer had disappeared to the other end of the hall to start the crucial final game. With the Norfolk team following to watch they found that the Norfolk pair had lost the first end 21-17. A determined effort in the second set saw Atmore & Culyer win 21-15. The match was on a knife-edge and after all four players agreed to move courts, due to the basketball boards causing poor vision (and probably the intimidating support of the Norfolk 3rd team!), the Norfolk pair never really got going again and lost the final set 21-10.

Final Score: Norfolk 7 – 8 Hertfordshire.

Putting aside the disappointment of defeat, the losing point does keep Norfolk in 2nd place in the division and hopes of promotion are still alive. Next match, top of the league Middlesex at home – Easton College, 24th Feb, 12:00 - spectators very welcome!