With some new faces added to the ranks, it fell to the Cambs IInd team to kick off the ICC season this year, with a home match against Staffs IIIrds in the newly designated 'Division 5 Central'. The IInd team are the very grateful recipients of the hard labours of the IIIrds last year, who won promotion through their Division 5 playoffs, with the higher league placing resulting in the IInd team going up. However, with the vagaries of Badminton England organisation, such promotion has resulted in the team remaining in 'Division 5' because other leagues above have been re-ordered!
There was much anticipation as the team formed and began to warm up, and everyone knew the day was sure to be a good one when the 1-ton tin of homemade tiffin arrived with Katie.
Staffs looked like a young but decent team, and that proved to be the case in the singles. Debutante Paul Heads enjoyed some challenging rallies, but always had the class to be in charge of his game, and won in two straight games, as did Katie Morton - looking more the classy singles player every match. Will Hodkinson and Laurel Bennett both encountered sterner resistance. Laurel played well, but was eventually outrun by a younger opponent, while Will's match was the spectator selection of the round, with a nailbiting first end going to 21-23. Unfortunately, despite giving his all, and winning the middle game, Will was pipped 19-21 in the third.
With the match 2-2 going into the levels then, Cambs II knew that they are going to have to fight for all their points this season. In the mens doubles, Paul and James Wilson - the established pairing - had a harder game against the first Staffs men, but then settled into their groove and beat the second pairing comfortably. Will and Daniel Bates founding the going harder. Although they powered home to win a third end 21-10 against the second pair, they gave the first pair over-generous leads in both games, and failed to reel them back in, and lost in straight sets.
The ladies doubles also reflected a difference in strength between the two Staffs pairs. Both Katie and Jessica Sharman, and Laurel and Louise Tarbit (also a debutante) won in straight games against the Staffs second pair. However, in identikit games, they won the first end, and then lost the second two in hard games against their first.
That left the score 7-5 going into the mixed, and with both victory and the bonus point for Cambs sitting on a knife-edge. James and Louise put their experience together to good use, winning in two - although they conspired to take the second to an impressive 29-27, after having been a long way behind. New pairing Paul and Katie seemed to click well, and rampaged to a 21-4 / 21-7 victory, clearly inspired to get back to the tiffin-tin before anyone else was off court. This left the bonus point down to Daniel and Jess, who despite letting a good lead slip away, were comfortable in winning their game in two ends.
This was a stiff test for a new team, and it's clear that the league will be a challenging one. It's great to get the season off to such a good start though.
The team: Daniel Bates (c), Katie Morton: Hurst Badminton Club / Paul Heads, Louise Tarbit, James Wilson: Ely Victoria Badminton Club / Jessica Sharman: Court Badminton Club / Will Hodgkinson, Laurel Bennett
More information about results of the Cambs II team is available on the Team Page.