UNIVERSITY OF YORK 4-4 UNIVERSITY OF HULL
After drawing with Hull’s firsts team twice already this season, the men’s badminton firsts could only repeat the result for a third time at Varsity, courtesy of Andrew Henderson shot that happened to fall on the right side of the net cord and saved the White Rose at the last.
The singles matches were firstly kicked off by Jinglun Tang. After narrowly losing his opening game 20-22 in a close encounter, his opponent then worked Tang into a vigorous sweat toiled around the court, eventually losing the game and his second end 16-21.
Tang’s performance in his second singles match-up look far more promising as he completely outsmarted his adversary by a score of 21-13 in the first end. However, the roles were reversed in the second as Hull responded with their own 21-13 victory. In the deciding third game, Tang worked the hardest to win points but after some confusion over the score, the unlucky Tang was finally beaten by a very strong smash by his opponent at 21-18.
Badminton Team President, Baillie Watterson, took to court next. He was later declared as player of the tournament by YorkSport President Charlotte Winter in the closing ceremony – his strong performance in both matches made it easy to see why.
After cheering on and motivating the rest of the badminton squad for most of the day, Watterson played a blinder as he put in a solid all-round performance in his first game, winning 21-6 and 21-13 as he chipped away at his opponent’s game from all angles. His second game was just as easy and despite playing a tougher opponent, his ability to kill the rally from so many positions meant he won successively 21-7 and 21-11.
The overall score was still level a 2-2, and it was down to York’s doubles pairs to try and lay claim to the match. Thomas Dainty and Andrew Henderson found their adversary’s kills to strong to respond in the first, losing 17-21. In spite of a strong response with a 21-11 win in the second end, Dainty and Henderson still struggled some sublime smashes from Hull and they narrowly missed out on the when Hull finished the game 21-19.
Meanwhile, York’s other pairing of James Davies and Dan Hirst were in action on the next court. The game proved to be one of the tournaments most ferocious and entertaining matches as the pair worked well together with a pulsating energy. But their opponent’s were able to match them pace for pace and the White Rose outfit were eventually edged out in the first end 22-24.
Regardless, Davies and Hirst responded radiantly; Hull’s smashes were strong York’s returns were better as the pair continued to tire their opposition and force them into errors, winning the second and third games 21-17 and 21-15 respectively.
A win in their second game would have secured a draw indefinitely, but Davies and Hirst put added pressure on Dainty and Henderson’s final game when they conceded defeat. After losing the first end 18-21, the pair riled themselves to victory in the second as they proved too quick for Hull. However, Hull slowed York’s game down in the final game and the tournament hosts took the game with 21-16 score-line.
So it was down to Dainty and Henderson’s final game to savour any chance of a draw for York. The pair worked well with each other as they played to their opponent’s weaknesses, claiming a 21-18 win. Conversely, the opposing pair responded in the second game as they came back 21-14. With the result of the match in the balance, the two sides gave it their all and the score was often inseparable throughout.
With the score at 21-20, York desperately sought that final point to bring the match two a draw. An inspired Henderson decided that he was the one to win that final point; he defended to dangerous smashes with excellent precision, to the surprise of their Hull counterparts When Hull fired another outstanding smash at Henderson, the point looked lost.
But to their astonishment, Henderson managed to return the shuttle once more. This time, the shuttle flicked off the net cord and trickled down the right side of the net for York, securing the 4-4 draw for good.
A relieved team captain, Dan Hirst, told Nouse: “I think a draw was the only fair way for it to end. We’ve drawn with them twice already this season and this is now the third time; neither team has been able to get the better of the other. We knew it would be close, all the doubles games particularly and we played well to get two of them. I’m quite happy!”