Melbourn 1 vs St. Neots 1
Weds 16th October
Melbourn won 18-5
A first home game of the season for the 1st team pitted them against St. Neots.
First on were the second and fifth strings. The latter was an extreme contrast of statures and game styles with Mumin Bilen, who is not only a 13 year old but a slight one at that, taking on 6’5” Grant Mankee. Grant’s power hitting took him through the first, but even so Mumin didn’t look ruffled, absorbing the pace, moving sweetly and gradually using his more weighted shots to depth to work the openings and win rallies. That levelled things up and then put Mumin ahead when he edged a tense breaker in the third. Grant dug in to win the fourth and had the early edge in the fifth, but as that progressed Mumin’s previous work paid dividends as his previous consistent choice to hit to length had seen Grant adopt a deep court position, which now opened up the front for a string of boast winners. These powered Mumin to a 3-2 win. And he didn’t even have to sling any rocks at the giant to do it.
Meanwhile next door Vinod Duraikan was well in charge as Matt Nankivell struggled on the courts where he learned the game. Vinod’s solid and accurate game was making Matt scramble, and also drawing unexpected and atypical errors of the St. Neots’ player’s racquet. The match ended on a bit of a whimper when Matt picked up a muscle injury (he later said abductor) chasing back to retrieve a lob midway through the third. He did complete proceedings, but could no longer move properly – it was just going through the motions.
Malik Bilen (3) and George Zitko ended in the same way, but via a rather different route. Malik was shading things, his movement nullifying George’s attacking opportunities and then pace hitting drawing forced errors in the back corners from the Saints player. That built a two game lead for Malik, the second ending with the visiting player, let’s say, very frustrated. After things had simmered down the third commenced, but George’s heart wasn’t really in it anymore and Malik won it at a canter to triumph 3-0.
Kate Bradshaw (4) took on Bryan Williams in confident mood, with recent impressive Masters Series Tour performances behind her and some h2h wins against this particular opponent in the past. She was edged out in a breaker in the first, but took the second comfortably and looked on course. But that wasn’t how it turned out as Kate got tangled up in Bryan’s style, and also the atmosphere of the match (oddly flat) didn’t give anything to latch on too to inspire her to turn things around. It ended 3-1 to the St. Neots player, with Kate a bit bemused afterwards about how it had gone wrong.
Last on was Matt Sampson (1) against Chris Reeve. Two players who know each other well, too well for Chris’ sake here as time and again Matt read his intentions and was right there, able to volley what were attempted cross court power kills. Which is pretty impressive given how shudderingly hard Chris hits the ball. More than that, not only was Matt nullifying his opponent’s attacking shots, quite often the , these cut out volleys often went for counter-punch winners to Matt! Nothing Chris tried worked effectively or consistently enough, whilst Matt’s own attacks, drops rolled tight or held then flicked cross court, were having the desired effect as he cruised to a comprehensive 3-0 success. Matt was also skipper for the evening, and commented afterwards that it was a “Great points haul. Thanks to Vinod for re-arranging things so he could play. It was a useful win!”