Newcastle’s battling badminton side fell to a 5-3 loss in a spirited performance against a very adept Durham third team.
On the back of beating the York seconds 5-3 just a week before, Newcastle’s men’s seconds went into their second league match of the season looking for consecutive wins. In their way was a confident Durham side, filled with fresh faces and buoyed by a 6-2 win against the Leeds Beckett seconds in their curtain raiser.
As is often the case this early in the season, both sides were filled with players still trying to find their feet in the university badminton world. At a glance, both teams looked like they were a bunch of individuals, if just because few of the players on show were wearing university kit.
However, going into the match Newcastle were already at a disadvantage. With their usual captain, Jeremy Revell called up to play for the 1st team, NUBC turned to James Ashcroft to lead the side on the day. Under the watchful but supportive eye of the AU Officer, Clara Pettitt, he wouldn’t disappoint.
As is often the case this early in the season, both sides were filled with players still trying to find their feet in the university badminton world.
It was Ashcroft that kicked off the day on Centre Court. He faced Durham’s Matthew Peart, whose composure saw him seal the first set 21-16. Shouting at himself in frustration, the captain picked up his game, pulling together two brilliant sets to take the match two sets to one, with scores of 21-14 21-13.
Newcastle’s Pratyush Pradeep didn’t have the same fortune in his opening match. Up against Durham’s Joshua Davidson, the NUBC player fell one set down. Unlike Ashcroft, Pradeep wasn’t able to turn it around, as Davidson took the match 21-7 21-11.
Next, up the two doubles matches got underway. On the far court, Newcastle pairing Yap Yixuan and Jeremy Liew were up against the tough-looking Freddy Levitt and Theirry Fasnacht. Despite looking the part, Newcastle were considered favourites going into the clash, with our sideline badminton correspondent tipping the two Newcastle lads for the win.
Sure enough, Newcastle took the first set; with the newly paired Newcastle doubles side sealing the first set 21-16. However, Yixuan and Liew dropped the cock in the second set, losing out 22-20. Nevertheless, NUBC’s dangermen showed enough character to comfortably seal the third set 21-61, giving Newcastle the point.
In the second doubles tie, Durham were the ones who took advantage. A very tight first set saw the Newcastle pairing of Ryan Jackson and Ganzy Gan lose out 21-19 to Dom Pellow and Leith Osborne. Newcastle then crumbled in the second set as Pellow and Osborne pressed their advantage to win 21-12, and take the match.
A very tight first set saw the Newcastle pairing of Ryan Jackson and Ganzy Gan lose out 21-19 to Dom Pellow and Leith Osborne.
With the score poised at 2-2, the next four fixtures had double the amount of pressure piled on them. This showed in the two remaining singles matches, as both Pradeep and Ashcroft took their ties into agonisingly tight final sets.
Ashcroft took to the court first, dispatching Davidson 21-17 in the first set. The same form was not replicated in the second, losing 21-14. With a fantastic blend of power and accuracy, Ashcroft put himself in the driving seat in the final set, but Davidson’s relentless consistency paid off, finally sealing the tie 21-19.
On the flipside, Pradeep struggled in the first set, losing out 21-11 to Durham’s Peart. However, Pradeep seriously found his feet in the second set, and his form along with it, winning the set 21-10. In the final set, Pradeep made Peart work for every single point but lost out in a tense final set 24-22.
Newcastle gave themselves a real boost going into the final fixture as Yixuan and Liew coolly won their last match in two sets, beating Pellew and Osborne 21-15 21-13. This gave Jackson and Gan an opportunity to draw the overall fixture if they beat Levitt and Fasnacht.
Newcastle gave themselves a real boost going into the final fixture as Yixuan and Liew coolly won their last match in two sets, beating Pellew and Osborne 21-15 21-13.
After losing the first set 21-14, Jackson and Gan fought back in the second. Playing with a fluidity not shown previously, the pairing put themselves in serious contention, with a third and final set looking like the likely destination. However, the last few points were very sticky as the game became more viscous, as the Newcastle pairing fell to a narrow 22-20 defeat.
Though the 5-3 scoreline may look comprehensive, it was just a few key points that separated the two sides. No doubt the Newcastle freshers will grow into the team, and therefore grow in confidence as the season progresses.
Newcastle next face the York seconds down in God’s county, as they both look to progress in the cup. Having beaten the 2s 5-3 already this season, Newcastle have reason to be confident, but complacency could be their downfall if they don’t take it seriously. Cup badminton doesn’t take any prisoners.