Harpenden 1 vs Melbourn 1
Weds 14th August
Melbourn won 9-5
Our last away match of the summer took us through the country lanes of Hertfordshire to take on Harpenden 3rds (good work by Kate’s SatNav as we arrived bang on time!).
First on was Jan B (3) against John Kerley. The opening game was close through most of its course, but with John always very slightly ahead. That, along with three tinned attempted backhand kills in the dying points, proved enough for the game. The second was similar, with Jan playing a number of good cut-out kills but John having success particularly on the backhand counter-drop and in reverses and boasts into the front forehand corner. And nothing really changed in game three, the match finishing with three straight backhand counters from John as Jan went down 13-15, 12-15, 11-15.
Next on was Kate B (2), playing her last match of the summer before swanning off to France for the BEST PART OF THREE WEEKS (alright for some!). She was up against Tim Moss, and also recent history that had seen her fall to 3-2 defeats in each of the previous two weeks (after winning by the same margin in the two before that!). A slightly scratchy opening game went against Kate and when she found herself two games balls down in the second another full length match seemed a long way off. However resilience came to the fore in these as Kate took a “no gifts, you’ll have to win this” approach that saved both and earned her a game point of her own. Tim saved that, and another at 16-15, but he could do nothing with a pinpoint serve on a third game ball at 17-16 that landed in the back nick and stayed glued to the wall.
Now Kate was in the game and playing well. Tim was getting forward fast, but Kate was picking him off with either short-deep combinations or holding her shots and then reversing the angles. She was up all the way through the third and though the lead dwindled late on she scrapped over the line. Maybe this time it wouldn’t be a 3-2 as Kate would come through 3-1? Not so fast. Despite an early lead in game four, a loss of focus or patience or both mid-game saw this one turned around. Kate battled but could never quite get back on terms and yet another deciding game was in store.
Memories of what had gone wrong the last two weeks were hard to forget, but banish them Kate did as she put in a very resolute performance, not letting a 5-2 early deficit fazed her or some loud celebrating from Tim when he won points as she eased herself ahead. Whenever Tim got close Kate found an exceptional winner, most spectacularly with a serve at 12-8 that looped high, came in just under the out line very deep and then went straight into the back nick from where it clung resolutely to the back wall. Just unplayable. With shots like that the win was secured, to Kate’s obvious post-game relief. The game scores were 11-15, 18-16, 15-13, 12-15, 15-10.
The importance of Kate’s win was swiftly apparent as Chris S (1) took on Nick Pinder. Nick struck a very clean ball and had good defence, but Chris always looked in command of the rallies (he later said “I never felt he could hurt me”) and when the winner came it was the Melbourn player playing it around 80% of the time. To his credit Nick’s head never dropped as he kept on trying to play, but the tide was relentless and Chris won 15-6, 15-3, 15-6.
Skipper Jan commented “That makes it seven wins from our last eight matches. If the season was a month longer we would have a real chance of promotion, but the gap to the top two is just too great.”