UNIVERSITY OF YORK 1-7 UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
Images: Philippa Grafton
The men’s badminton firsts team endured a second heavy defeat in a row, losing 7-1 to Manchester in the BUCS Northern Conference 1A. The thrashing came a week after an 8-0 defeat away at Leeds Met, in what has proved to be an extremely difficult start to the season.
Knowing they faced an uphill task from the outset, York began the day promisingly, as captain Baillie Watterson defeated Xu Nan in straight sets (21-17, 21-16). In a tight encounter, Watterson’s smashes were the difference in the first set and, with Nan unable take the lead, Watterson won the set with a stunning backhand whilst diving across the court. Watterson would go on to complete an impressive victory, but this was to be the highlight of York’s day.
Shortly afterwards, Tan Jun Chuen was comprehensively beaten 21-8, 21-12 by Manchester’s Greg Mooney, levelling the scores after the opening singles matches.
Further defeats followed for York in the doubles, as Dan Hirst and Andy Henderson were narrowly beaten by Wilson Cam and James Kee. Hirst and Henderson had staged a remarkable comeback to get to 18-18 in the first set after the Manchester pair had raced into an early 15-8 lead, but it was in vain as Cam and Kee took the first set 21-18 and then the second by the same score.
Jonty Hiley and Tom Dainty were left to rue missed chances as they went down 22-20, 21-13 to Luzz Tem and Davidson Ching. The home pair were a point away from taking the first set at 20-18, but Tem and Ching won four consecutive points, as an unforced error from Hiley sealed the set for Manchester. Unable to recover, the York duo were easily picked off by their opponents who took the second set with much greater ease.
In the highest quality match on show, Manchester’s Mooney demonstrated his class once more by beating Watterson 21-14, 22-20. After being outplayed in the first set, Watterson regained his form late in the second to save six match points. It wasn’t enough, though, to prevent Manchester extending their lead.
The visitors’ victory was ensured in the next match, as Chuen was beaten in straight sets by Nan (21-7, 21-10). Despite showing his quality in spells, Chuen was easily defeated as Nan made it 5-1 to Manchester with two games to play.
With their success guaranteed, Manchester rubbed salt into the home side’s wounds by winning the two remaining doubles games. First, Tem and Ching exhibited their superiority to beat Hirst and Henderson 21-11, 21-14, before Kee and Cam did the same, defeating Hiley and Dainty 21-18, 21-18.
After a demoralising, though not unexpected, week for York, captain Watterson remains confident that his side can avoid relegation this season. “We knew it would be tough – they’re expecting to get to the Premier division next season,” he said. “I’m happy overall though, and hopefully we’ve got some easier matches coming up! I think we can definitely cling on – we can do it.”