On a very cold start-of-December day, Northumberland’s Under16 team travelled to the neutral venue of Pontefract to play Cheshire in their first match of the season in the Shires League. The team, managed by Joel Dodd, was Charlotte Graham, Ellen Davison, Katrina Ho, Lucy Dodd, Hugh Twelves, Jack Tilbury, Jamie Grant and Ollie Edmondson. They were up against a strong Cheshire team, including a number of high achievers on the junior national Circuit. On paper this was going to be a tough match for Northumberland and so it proved to be – although the final score of 17-3 in Cheshire’s favour was perhaps an unfair overall reflection of the whole match.
The mixed doubles saw a number of new partnerships for Northumberland. Ollie and Charlotte played first pair and recovered well from a 21-12 loss in the first end to take the second end 21-16. Unfortunately Cheshire proved too strong, winning the deciding third 21-12. Jamie and Lucy lost the first end 21-13, fought back well to take the second 21-13 and then won a very close third end 21-19. Cheshire won the other two matches to take a 3-1 lead.
The singles all went Cheshire’s way; a combination of strong Cheshire players and a few of the Northumberland team being a bit under the weather left Cheshire 11-1 up after 8 wins in two ends. Ellen had a creditable 21-17 21-12 loss against the Cheshire no 3 girl, which was the best result amongst the team.
Fortunes improved in the doubles. Ollie and Jack played a good first end against Cheshire’s first pair, losing 21-17 before losing the second to 10. Jamie and Hugh had a slow start, losing the first end to 7 and then mounted a comeback to take the second end 21-17. The third end was really close, with Cheshire agonisingly edging it 21-19. In the return doubles the Cheshire first pair proved too good for Jamie and Hugh. Ollie and Jack finished off their day on a high, putting in a good performance to win 23-21, 21-15 against the Cheshire 2nd pair.
The Northumberland girls all battled hard against an experienced Cheshire first pair. Ellen and Lucy lost 21-13, 21-16 before Charlotte and Katrina’s excellent performance in losing 21-15, 21-18. Ellen and Lucy proved too strong for the Cheshire second pair, winning 21-15, 21-14. Charlotte and Katrina had a long tussle, winning the first 23-21 before losing the second by the same score. Cheshire managed to edge the third 21-16 to leave the overall match result a 17-3 win to Cheshire.
The match was a big step up for some of the team, yet they performed admirably. Hopefully they can all build on the performance over the rest of the season. Thank you to Karen Davison for her coaching input and to those parents who braved a very cold badminton hall to support the team.