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Swavesey II vs Melbourn II (13th October 2022)

Melbourn lost 3-20

The Seconds made the trip to Swavesey aware that the Firsts had undertaken the same journey the evening before and lost 20-3 to the fenland club’s 1sts. However the Seconds were hopeful we could do better – after all, we were top of Division 3 after winning both our opening fixtures whilst newly promoted Swavesey were in mid-table with a win and a loss.
Things started to go wrong before we even got to the venue as personal life issues meant that our what was meant to be our second car-load to arrive got there before the first one! Despite the delays skipper Colm (4) rushed on to court to take on Adil Rizvi… as he had to hare straight off again to pick up his kids. Unsurprisingly Colm’s focus just wasn’t there, as he looked lethargic, making uncharacteristic errors to fall two-love down. Some of the usual battling grit was in evidence in game three as the real Colm finally made it to the venue, but having got himself two behind a few errors at key times in the fourth cost him that game, which meant the match on the basis of the opening pair of games rather handed away. Colm lost 9-15, 10-15, 15-11, 9-15.
Things went no better next door for Gareth (5) who was up against a hard-running youngster, Henry Miller. Gareth had started on top, but made something of a mental error when ahead when he caught the ball after Henry’s serve had gone smack into the middle of the out line… but that hadn’t been spotted, or critically called as such, by the marker. Never unilaterally stop the rally, always wait for the call even if it seems screamingly obvious – as rather than a point to Gareth (as it should have been) it was one against. Nevertheless he was still 10-8 up after this, but the marking error got under his skin and Gareth lost the game from a strong position. He then proceeded to lose the second from an even stronger one, going away from the play that had got him 7-1 up, holding a high ‘t' position and pushing Henry into the back corners, dropping deep instead and dropping the game as a result. The third saw Gareth dig in, but then get tight and negative towards the later portion. He had game points, but didn’t take them and eventually lost this one on a tie-break and the overall match 11-15, 11-15, 15-17. A very frustrating defeat.
Next on were Jan (2) against Simon Hudson and Liam (3) against Kamrun Patel. That these were the opponents was a sign that Swavesey had a strong side out, as Simon and Kamrun had been #1 and #2 in the previous two weeks. We will skip politely past the first game of the third string match as Liam warmed up because after that the Melbourn player definitely had his chances against an opponent who retrieved well but didn’t offer that much threat on the attack. Liam claimed the second, dropped the third, and was right in it towards the end of the fourth. However two mishits from Kamrun in quick succession that sneaked over the tin for fortunate winners at the denouement of the game, condemning Liam to a 4-15, 15-13, 11-15, 13-15 loss.
Meanwhile next door Jan lost the opening point against Simon as the Swavesey player attacked the return with a thumping kill on the wall. And the second point the same way. And the third… Ooookay, this is a bad pattern. Part of the problem for Jan was Simon was hitting with some extreme cut spin that meant despite the kills being pounded they also somehow second-bounced shorter than expected. Jan did eventually get out of the pattern, but was still at a loss for how to win a rally himself and was soon 9-0 down in the game. He finally got on the board by getting a drop shot to cling to the side wall and despite the opener having obviously gone managed to get some points to at least establish a platform. Now to start game two better. Well, only going 0-6 down this time counts as a 33% improvement doesn’t it? Once again the remainder was about just being in the fight ready for game three. But once again Simon upped his level and intensity, this time going 7-0 up. Jan finally won a rally at this stage, but it took a repeated backhand straight drop, backhand deep cross-court pattern repeated three times before it finally got far away enough for Simon’s dives to cease getting the ball back. He was clearly gunning for a bagel game! Jan had avoided that, but this time Simon didn’t ease up but instead pushed towards the conclusion, sending the Melbourn player to a 9-15, 8-15, 4-15 loss.
The final match of the evening was a first appearance of the season for Mike (1), who was up against Arran Smith who was also debuting in Div.3 for the season… but had played and beaten Ed at #5 in the 1sts encounter the evening before. This was an intense match with very little between the players – indeed the opening two games both finished 15-13 with each claiming one of them, Mike taking the opener as he got on the attack first slightly more often than Arran and then seeing things level up as this pattern reversed. Arran edged the third showing some creative shot-making, but the fourth went to a breaker. However once again this went the Swavesey players way, Mike losing a very high quality match 15-13, 13-15, 11-15, 14-16.