Haileybury 2 vs Melbourn 1
Weds 31st July
Melbourn won 11-5
The last couple of times we have visited Haileybury, the swimming pool that is in the next door room to the courts was drained. On our arrival this evening though it was back up to the brim (and completely devoid of customers!) and with it the old Haileybury summer challenge of playing on a warmish night with low ceilings and overhanging heaters in near 100% humidity was back. Baby.
Chris F (3) was the first to try and cope with the bounciness of the ball that this led to. He commented after his opening game against Rob Battell that he was feeling uncomfortable on his backhand as he was worried about over-hitting. Given that Chris had won the game 15-6, racing away with it from ~9-6 as he pounded the ball into the back corners, this didn’t seem to be too serious a problem!
The second also saw Chris mostly in charge until a few slightly more tentative rallies allowed Rob to close the margin late game. However this served only to focus the Melbourn player, who once again commanded the ‘T’ late in the game to draw forced errors from his opponents racquet. And then repeated the trick in game three. Chris won 15-6, 15-12, 15-6.
Next on was Jan (2) against Adam Gourpinar. Jan found similar problems to Chris, struggling to quell the lively ball. This was giving Adam time to play his wrong-footing boasts and drops. The first game was still close but, having closed a gap to level at 13-all, Jan lost the next two points to fall a game down. The second was much better as Jan took a higher court position and committed more to his shots. Good length and cross court hitting from the front corners won it comfortably to level. The match swung back the other way in the third as Adam began to read the crosses and Jan struggled with his drop shots; too floaty!
The decisive moment of the match came at the death of the fourth game, which was nip-and-tuck up until another tentative drop at 13-all gave Adam the chance to put the ball away. On the match ball Jan looked in trouble as a shot deep into his backhand corner had him wrongfooted. However, a twist and stretch-every-sinew-its-match-ball effort got to within desperation swipe distance which resulted in a backhand boast high onto the front wall. Adam still had total command, with the ball sitting up in the front forehand corner and Jan deep in the court. But, inexplicably, the Haileybury player second guessed himself, tried to drive again and tinned it! *phew*
With that, the momentum swung decisively. A more confident knifed drop shot brought up game ball and another solid rally forced an error to take it the distance. Now Jan was confident, building an lead midway through the game, seeing it being to drift mostly away again but benefitting from another key unforced error at 13-11 to get over the line 13-15, 15-7, 9-15, 16-14, 15-11.
That took the pressure off Kate (1), who was taking on Karl Pyle. That was good as for the third straight string the Melbourn player struggled to cope with the liveliness of the ball on the humid court, Kate making a slew of errors in the first game as she just couldn’t time her drops. And those are a major part of her game!
The defence and movement was of its usual high level though and when Kate added more considered and focused attacking play, including her weathervane shot of really accurate serving, this translated into a much reduced error count. That got Kate level and then ahead as Karl looked out on his feet by the third. One more game of that... but it didn’t last. Kate’s looping serves were always flirting with the low-slung heater and in game four she lost the line of them and suddenly found herself back on the defensive at the outset of rallies again. The decider went awry from the start as Kate found points down early, a situation which serving out a number of times through the game did little to help retrieve. In the end it was one that got away as Kate fell 11-15, 15-13, 15-10, 7-15, 10-15.
Skipper Jan commented “It all turned on that match ball! Adam really should have put that away, but it shows the value of asking for one more shot. I’m pleased with how I dug in. Chris put in a very clean performance for his win, and it was a shame that Kate couldn’t keep her form going – she had looked in good nick for a couple of games there”