Norfolk 2 v Berkshire 2 - Match report
Last weekend saw Norfolk's second team finish their season with a survival clinching win over Berkshire 2 at Easton College in Badminton England's 4th division.
The day started with Norfolk, who were playing at home, finding themselves at the bottom of the league standings. Only a win against their opponents would do; it would also then see the two teams swap places in a division which had many surprising results throughout the season.
Norfolk began the match brightly, Daniel Leers taking no time at all to despatch the away teams captain at number one singles, 21-12, 21-8. Leers' has found some rich form in recent matches and continued to show his promise against an experienced opponent. Playing at two, Alex Wyett made hard work of his match, losing in three sets. A slow start and not being able to make good use of the courts dimensions, his heavy hitting opponent took advantage winning 21-17, 18-21, 21-15.
The Ladies singles was equally as tight. Lucy Curran stepping in at number one, lost out in two close games, 21-19, 21-18. Second team debutant Lizzie Rumble equalled the match though with an excellent three set victory. After narrowly losing the first game 19-21, she show great resolve, coming through the next two , 21-17, 21-12 and tying the two teams a 2 games a piece.
The doubles events are always where county matches are decided and Norfolk needed a solid doubles performance to give themselves any chance of winning. James Ruthen and Alex Wyett started off proceedings with a win against the number one pair, 21-17, 21-14. They then followed it up with another win against in the reverse doubles, again in two straight sets. Whilst neither player felt like it was their best performance, it was still good to beat two pairs who they lost to in earlier in the season. Chris Piff, returning from a severe achilles injury paired with Leers at number two. The duo who have started playing tournaments together recently, battled hard and were unlucky not to win both their rubbers too, beating their opposing number in three sets but then losing narrowly in the changeover match against the first pair.
Both of the Norfolk ladies pairs halved their matches to put the team in a strong position ready for the three final mixed matches. Katie Ruthen and Helen Newstead, Louise Thacker (who was also returning from injury) and Ann Jenkins both had valuable wins against the Berkshire second pair. The two ladies extra games made the score 7-5 in Norfolk's favour.
Norfolk now only needed one of the remaining three mixed matches to win.
Fielding their strongest mixed line up of the season, Paul Daynes and Katie Ruthen soon secured the match with a convincing win over the third pair, 21-14, 21-17.
Norfolk had managed to avoid relegation!
The pressure was now off and meant the two remaining pairs could enjoy their last matches. Wyett and Ann Jenkins also made light work of their mixed, Jenkins' skill full serving meant their opponents had no option but to go on the defensive and ultimately lose the match 21-10, 21-17. In the last mixed of the day, Norfolk stalwart Ian Murphy came out of retirement and to pair up with club partner Lucy Curran. This was one of the closest matches of the day and the home pair lost the first game 15-21. With a small change of tactics, some tight serving from Curran, patient play from Murphy, the pair turned the match around and were able to close the match comfortably, 21-14, 21-14. This gave Norfolk maximum points from the match and actually meant they finished 3rd in the division (Click Here to see the standings).
An exciting end to the season, well done Norfolk!