Norfolk 1 versus Herts 2 - match report
One month to the day after playing Hertfordshire 2nd team at home, Norfolk badminton first team travelled to Hatfield to play the corresponding away fixture. Norfolk knew that taking the maximum 3 points from this tie (winning 10-5 or better) would have guaranteed them 2nd place in the division and a likely appearance at the promotion play-offs. This, however, seemed a little unlikely (although certainly not impossible) as the home fixture finished with Hertfordshire winning 8-7.
Having 4 courts was pleasing although it did mean there were less players cheering form the side. Last time out we lost the singles 3-1 with Louise Culyer picking up the only victory. This time we were hoping for better. Number 1 Daryl Jacobs was again disappointed to lose, this time to a very good youngster (14 &19). Number 2 Daniel Leers made an excellent start to his first team career convincingly beating the same Herts. player who won in the home leg. Ladies number 1 Devon Minnis faced the same girl who beat her comfortably last time but this time, despite losing the first set, managed to turn the game to win closely in 3 sets. Unfortunately this time out Culyer couldn't repeat the win and lost out, also in 3 close sets. Singles shared.
Hertfordshire 2 – 2 Norfolk
As we have come to expect this season the men’s doubles produced very close, entertaining games. The points total across all four games was Herts 194 – 193 Norfolk. It was Norfolk’s first pair of Jacobs and Matt Howes, however, who thankfully won both their rubbers closely in 3 sets, whilst second pair, captain Justin Gerrard and partner Jono Atmore who were unlucky to lose both closely in 2. Men’s doubles shared.
Hertfordshire 4 – 4 Norfolk
Again it was down to the ladies doubles to ensure we got a victory and give us a shout at the 3 points we were hoping for. This they did in true Norfolk/Suffolk/Yorkshire style winning all four rubbers, one more than they managed in the home fixture. First pair Julie Pike & Culyer winning against the stronger Herts. pair in 3 sets and demolishing the weaker pair. Second pair Katherine Cooper & Toni Sturgeon looked fairly comfortable and won both rubbers in straight sets. Ladies doubles finished, match won!
Hertfordshire 4 – 8 Norfolk
With 2 points guaranteed and just the 3 mixed games to play, could Norfolk win two of them again and take all 3 points? First pair Jacobs & Cooper bagged the first win in straight sets whilst third pair Atmore & Culyer lost out, also in straight sets. This left the score at 9-5 and second pair Gerrard & Pike on court starting the third end. Despite some fantastic support (especially from 10 day old Olivia) and a great deal of effort (with a few dives thrown in for good measure) the Norfolk pair were just pipped to the post 24-22, largely due to the very effective opposing lady. This ensured a losing point for Hertfordshire.
Final Score: Hertfordshire 6 – 9 Norfolk