Wednesday 1st November: Another Wednesday and another BUCS match for the men’s badminton team. Taking on Derby the team was Tom Wade and Neel Doshi on singles and Ben Wharton with Ayngaran Thavanesan and Andrew & Thomas Sheat playing doubles.
Wade opened with his singles which he lost in two close games while Doshi was caught cold in his first game, losing it to single figures. Then, finding his stride, Doshi won the second with an impressive display of tight drops and net shots, only to lose the third set. Meanwhile, the Sheat partnership demolished their shaky-looking opponents in the first set but unfortunately the game slipped away from them. Another game lost to three sets for Cambridge, a testament to the fight and determination put in by all the players. Thavanesan and Wharton struggled against the strong Derby number one doubles pair but fought well, eventually losing but with respectable scores. This game was often interrupted by animalistic shouts from the Derby duo which echoed through the hall, accompanied by odd cheers from the sidelines, including “come on Bran Flakes” – the backstory was never uncovered . Despite this the team went full of hope into their second games after talking of ‘beatable opponents’ and trading tactics for the upcoming games.
Wade had a frustrating second game against an opponent he had beaten before. In the end it was another loss for Cambridge, despite a sterling effort from Wade and his signature steep smash causing his opponent trouble. The Sheat brothers had an uphill battle against their first pair with the home support cheering on Derby. After losing the first set the second started promisingly until a shot which caused the spectators to erupt into cheering in amazement. The Derby player had just pulled off an unreturnable round-the-back shot after a big smash by Cambridge. The Sheats could only watch it come back, astonished. With this mounting momentum the Derby pair surged on to victory. The last two games for Cambridge were lost, despite Wharton and Thavanesan putting in a good performance in their second match and pushing Derby’s second doubles pair hard. Another 8-0 defeat away.
The car journey back was sombre in parts, and some shaky navigation added to the tense ambiance as the players’ reflected on the match. The car journey was made worse by not stopping for the traditional post-match McDonalds on the way back. With our thoughts turning to future matches, the team eagerly awaits the opportunity to grab its first victory. And, to quote Wade, “the quest for a post-match celebratory cindies goes on” …..