Badminton firsts suffer narrow loss to Leeds Met

UNIVERISTY OF YORK 3-5 LEEDS METROPOLITAN CARNEGIE
BUCS Northern Conference 1A

Images: Philippa Grafton

The men’s badminton firsts team endured an agonising defeat at the hands of table-topping Leeds Met Carnegie today.

York lost the tie 5-3, though were still within reach of what would have been a shock draw going into the final set of the final match.

With the visitors a man light, York, who were playing with a somewhat depleted squad themselves, were handed automatic victories in two singles games, meaning they stood a good chance of avenging their 8-0 thrashing in Leeds earlier in the year.

In the first match of the day, Leeds Met’s Phil Aspinall quickly set about recovering their deficit against Jinglun Tan. Aspinall’s class was evident, producing an array of shots and keeping long rallies at a premium, as he won comfortably (21-4, 21-8).

But York produced an upset in the first doubles match, Andy Henderson and Tom Dainty defeating Ruraidh Sim and Matt France. In a highly competitive encounter, the York pairing prevailed in three sets (21-12, 15-21, 22-20), with Dainty making the difference in the final set with a series of
classy winners.

Another exciting doubles match was taking place on the adjacent court, though the home team of Dan Hirst and captain Baillie Watterson ultimately came up short against Jamie Pugh and Ronan Midha. Both sides displayed superb chemistry, but it was the Carnegie men who had the cutting edge when it mattered, enabling them to win 21-16, 21-18.

There was only one singles match left to play, and Aspinall ensured that it didn’t last long. His combination of quick movement, intelligent positioning and pinpoint accuracy left York’s Tan Jun Chuen with little hope of victory, taking the match 21-4, 21-4 to leave the overall scores at 3-3.

With the tie finely balanced, Watterson and Hirst took to the court against Sim and France in another enthralling encounter. With the vociferous home crowd cheering their players on throughout, the match remained tight with neither side able to sustain any momentum. But again, Leeds Met were clinical when they needed to be and won the match 21-16, 21-15.

It was now all up to the team of Dainty and Henderson to salvage a draw for their side against Pugh and Midha. Things started well for York, winning the first set 21-14, and building a lead at the start of the second, as they displayed the kind of ruthlessness that had been the hallmark of their opponents. But as the match progressed tiredness began to set in, and Leeds Met managed to take an incredibly tight second set 21-19. With the York boys flagging as the all-important final set wore on, Pugh turned up the pressure and, despite a brave effort from the home side, earned a 21-15 win for Leeds Met along with all three points.

Afterwards, York skipper Watterson was in positive mood: “We didn’t quite manage to grab a draw, but it will have done our points difference a world of good. It’s certainly a lot better than the 8-0 loss at their place. If we’d been able to put out a full strength team it might have been different, but everyone played well so I’m very happy.”

There were positive results, however, for the men’s seconds, who ran our 6-2 winners over Huddersfield, and the thirds, 5-3 victors against Durham.

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