Match reports from the first county weekend
Norfolk's teams were in action last weekend at the first county weekend. With the format changed, teams will play all of their matches over three weekends in the year rather than the old standard of 8 matches, 4 home and 4 away in a season.
Summaries of how the teams got on are below!
Norfolk I travelled to Harlow on the 7th November for the first English Inter County day of this season. Norfolk’s first opposition was Berkshire, Jack Taylor and Michael Philpott got Norfolk off to a winning start in the singles but unfortunately the remaining Norfolk singles players of Ian Murphy, Louise Culyer and Kelly Ng came away from their games empty handed. Philpott and Murphy put up a good struggle in their doubles losing in 3 as did Culyer and Helen Newstead but with the other doubles pairings of Jono Atmore and Chris Piff and Joyce See and Ng were unable to pick up any level doubles games. The mixed saw both rubbers go to 3, Taylor and See were unsuccessful however Atmore and Newstead ran out the eventually winners 22-20 in the third end. Norfolk lost 3-8.
The next match that day saw Norfolk I take on Suffolk’s first team. Again Taylor and Philpott got the team off to a good start winning their singles but Murphy, Culyer and Ng who lost in 3 were unable to pick up their singles. Again the mens doubles saw Philpott and Murphy lose their doubles in 3 as did Ng and See but Culyer and Newstead were able to pick up their ladies doubles. The mixed saw Taylor and See lose in 2 close games and Atmore and Newstead losing in 3 ends. Final match score 3-8 to Suffolk.
Norfolk county badminton second team travelled to Luton Sports Village for the opening day of the Inter County Championships. Last season saw the 2nds finish mid-table (3rd) in the old Division 4. Following the re-structure they have now been placed in the new Division 3. After an early start, a 2 hour drive in a school minibus and some difficult parking, Norfolk arrived in high spirits ready to start the season. The extra men’s singles in each of the teams this season was likely to hit the ageing Norfolk team hard.
On court first was Alex Wyett and Tom Boardman (Norfolk’s only man not in his 30s) playing 1st and 2nd respectively. Wyett fought hard and after losing a close first set, managed to nick the second. Unfortunately the deciding set went to Staffs with Wyett running out of steam towards the end (18-21, 22-20, 9-21). Boardman fared better winning comfortably in two sets (13 & 14). Next up was James Ruthen. It took a frustrating first set for Ruthen to remember his composed style of playing singles. He then won a comfortable second set and backed it up by winning a close third (18-21, 21-10, 21-19). Winning 2 out of 3 of the men’s singles looked promising. Ladies singles was next. Lisa Vickers played first and, despite playing well, went down in two sets to an excellent Staffs player (16 &13). Lucy Curran then cruised to victory (7 & 8) to complete the singles.
Norfolk 3 – 2 Staffordshire
Following the singles was the level doubles. For the men, first pair Captain Justin Gerrard & Paul Daynes and second pair Ruthen & Steve Finney making his Norfolk debut. Both pairs looked in control and comfortably won in straight sets (16 & 10 and 10 & 15 respectively). For the ladies, first pair Vickers & Curran lost out in a close three-setter to a strong Staffs pairing (21-17, 11-21, 17-21) whilst Katie Ruthen & Steph Buttle also having a close three-setter managed to nick it at the end (17-21, 23-21, 21-16).
Norfolk 6 – 3 Staffordshire
Finally the mixed doubles, Norfolk’s first pair Daynes & Ruthen had a frustrating time losing (15 & 19). Second pair Gerrard & Buttle playing their first competitive match together had a better time winning the first and then scraping over the line in the second (17 & 25-23).
Final Score: Norfolk 7-4 Staffordshire.
The afternoon match saw Norfolk facing Worcestershire 2nd team – the only team in the division to come from the old Division 3. Following the successes of the morning’s singles Norfolk were hoping for some more good results. Wyett and Boardman again started the match for Norfolk and both found themselves in a third set. Unfortunately Wyett’s experience wasn’t enough to overcome the youthfulness of his opponent (18-21, 21-18, 10-21) and Boardman’s youthfulness wasn’t enough to overcome the experience of his! (21-13, 20-22, 6-21). Up stepped Finney, sharing the third singles spot with Ruthen; despite some incredible flair and passion in the closing stages he was unlucky to lose (15-21, 21-15, 19-21). Next up was Vickers who, just like the morning game, played incredibly well and lost out in two very close sets against what was clearly a singles specialist (19 & 19). With Norfolk 4-0 down and looking like they were going to take a hiding, up stepped Curran; nervous about the experience of her opponent but on a high from the comfortable victory in the morning she played a great three-setter and managed to nick the third (21-11, 12-21, 21-18). Was this the turning of the tide?
Norfolk 1 – 4 Worcestershire
Level doubles next. Daynes & Gerrard faced a strong pair who they had lost to last time out. Putting this behind them they closed the game out in two comfortable sets (16 & 13). Meanwhile, Ruthen & Finney were playing a pair that they were always confident of beating; a fairly relaxed performance put another point on the board for Norfolk (10 & 13). Things were looking up, the comeback was happening! The ladies then shared the levels with first pair Vickers & Curran putting down their opponents in three well fought sets (18-21, 21-18, 21-16). Second pair Ruthen & Buttle didn’t fare so well losing out in two sets (17-21, 9-21).
Norfolk 3 – 5 Worcestershire
Needing both mixed doubles to win the match up stepped Daynes & Ruthen, regaining their recent form they comfortably disposed of their opponents in straight sets (13 & 16) to level the tie at 5-5. The final match on court was the second mixed pairing of Gerrard & Buttle. After an ‘administration error’ on the scoresheet this meant playing the number-one singles man rather than one of the second doubles pairing. This proved difficult and after losing the first end and being considerably down in the second the support from the Norfolk bench spurred them on to come back to 20 all, this turned into a 25-23 victory and set up a tense finish. At 17-17 in the third a smash down the line from Gerrard, a cheer from the Norfolk crowd, dubious line call ‘out’ from the opposing lady and a big ‘Ooooooooooh!’ from Ruthen set up a ‘discussion’ that resulted in a let. Norfolk won this point and the next two and finally got over the line to win the set, the game and the match! This was a fantastic result for Norfolk after being 4-0 down.
Final Score: Norfolk 6-5 Worcestershire.