A new term brought new hope to the men’s badminton team, hoping to cling onto the momentum of their cup win over Kent so many moons ago in order to dig themselves out from deep in the relegation zone. With the home team consisting of Ritish Desai, Marcus Liang, Thomas Sheat, Morten Sode, Jonny Scott and Tom Wade, play got underway ‘only’ half an hour late, much to the joy of the flocking crowd of five supporters. Both sides were similar to last time out at Birmingham, which resulted in a disappointing 7-1 loss for the light blues, despite some tight matches – it was all to play for.
The match got underway with the doubles as Scott was initially under the illusion he would be able to make a 3pm mathmo examples class on time if this was the case. It was confident start for new pairing Sode and Scott, and their standard improved throughout the match, leading them to a fantastic straight-sets victory. Liang and Sheat had a small wobble in their second set, making a string of unforced errors, but pulled through to take the deciding end 21-15. Already Cambridge had doubled the amount of games they had won away last term.
In the singles, Desai’s usual relaxed playing style was in full swing as he stormed to victory in straight sets, effortlessly moving his opponent around the court. Wade had more trouble, and was simply outplayed in two straight sets by the consistency and fitness of his opponent.
At the halfway point, with the score at 3-1, the realisation of what could finally be on the horizon after a succession of league defeats began to set in for the Cambridge team – just two more matches would clinch victory.
Back to the doubles, and Liang and Sheat held the attack throughout the majority of the game and won in straight sets despite Liang developing an unnerving tendency to fire the shuttle out the back having done the hard work to set up the ‘easy’ kill. In the second match Scott and Morten struggled to deal with the attacking play of their opponents in the first set, going down 21-17. However, they fought back strongly with great attacking play of their own, winning both the second and third sets, to seal the first league victory of the season for Cambridge.
Due to the scoring system of the league the remaining singles games were not trivial, and Desai upped his game further to defeat his tough singles opponent in straight ends by playing tactically to narrow the angles available to his opponent, who looked far less of a threat without his biggest weapon. After a lengthy opening point that both players hoped for the sake of their cardiovascular systems would not set the tone, Wade scraped through the first set after finding himself 19-17 down in the closing stages. He then went on to win the second slightly more convincingly, despite the entire Birmingham team getting firmly verbally behind their man.
At the end of the afternoon Cambridge had won 7-1 and could hold their sweaty heads high as they dissipated to supervisions, examples classes or back to their rooms for no doubt a little procrastination, whilst the Birmingham team debated which fast food chain would take their fancy on their journey home.
Unfortunately the Cambridge women’s team did not fare so well in their home clash against the strong Nottingham 3rds. The whole team played well, but eventually were beaten 6-2, the two coming courtesy of Sarah Collins and Kim Chan in their singles games. The scoreline was so nearly 5-3, but for Neha Madhotra and Becky Donaldson woefully losing 5 match points in their third and final set.
The next fixtures for both teams are in the cup – the men will make the long journey to Bath to square up against their 3rd team, whilst the women will have a chance for redemption against Nottingham 3rds.