Our W1 badminton side continued this season’s incredible form with another 6-2 win over third-placed York.
Newcastle went into the Northern 1A fixture still in a fierce promotion battle with Durham 1s. Both teams had managed to chalk up 22 points throughout the season, but Durham were at the disadvantage, having lost to Newcastle back in November and having played an extra game.
York, on the other hand, were in a distant third position, with 15 points. However, they still had something to play for as Manchester were just three points behind, and threatening to leapfrog them into the top three.
So, with plenty at stake, the first matches got underway. On Court One, Newcastle’s Aika Nagai took on York’s Isabel Eastwood. This was to be Nagai’s last fixture in Newcastle colours, having been on a season-long-loan from Aichi University, and she swept aside Eastwood 21-6 21-4 in a very comfortable contest.
Over on Centre Court, CiCi Lu put in an equally convincing performance. Despite her body language not conveying the most positive vibes, York’s Catherine Wilson wasn’t much of a match for her, as the lass from Leeds won in straight sets, 21-10 21-8.
“However their experience and class shone through”
In the first doubles match of the day, York’s star pair Eleanor Sinclair and Judith Peatman took on the Newcastle pairing of Izzy Cain and Beckah Puttick.
The Newcastle girls have shown their class before, winning two matches at BUCS Individuals last month before losing out to the top seeded pair, so they weren’t going to be rolled over easy. A valiant effort from Cain and Puttick was not enough however, as Sinclair and Peatman won 21-14 21-15 in a deserved victory.
Back on Court One, Newcastle’s second pair of Cara Vincenti and Claudia Heggie took on Charlotte Whiting and Ciara Barry. The York pair took the first set 21-16 as the Newcastle girls struggled to find their range, however their experience and class shone through, clinching a very tight second set 21-19, and wrapping up the match in the third with a more convincing 21-12 scoreline.
Having taken the first round of matches 3-1, Newcastle were looking confident as Nagai and Lu took back to the court. It was the former’s turn to take on Wilson this time round, and the Yorkie was tough opposition. However, Nagai again showed her class, beating her opponent with a range of quality shots, from deft drop shots to powerful smashes, winning 21-9 21-3.
Lu’s next match panned out in a similar manner. Having conceded 11 points in the first set, Lu was far superior to Eastwood in the second, finishing with a comfortable 21-5 winning set.
1 league game in hand over 2nd-placed Durham
Though the fixture already wrapped up, the doubles pairs showed no sign of complacency. Vincenti and Heggie put up a strong fight against Sinclair and Peatman in the first set, just falling short as the York pair took the set 21-19. With the confidence of the first set victory, Sinclair and Peatman then battled to a 21-14 second set win.
In the final fixture of the day, Cain and Puttick took on Whiting and Barry. With both teams having lost their earlier fixtures, they were keen to end on a high. Though the York pair won the first set, Newcastle won the second. In a nail-biting finale, Cain and Puttick showed their class to seal an 18-21 21-17 21-14 victory. A top quality performance to top off an impressive performance.
The victory comes with a tinge of sadness however, since the win was Aika Nagai’s last fixture with the club. Being the top gals they are, her teammates had got her a massive cookie and a card, as well as a haggis dinner, courtesy of Cara Vincenti, as a send-off.
Nevertheless, the team have to now focus on their last fixture against Manchester. Durham’s win against Northumbria not only puts them level at the top of the league, but cuts into Newcastle’s game difference, so our girls will hope to get a result against the Mancunians to reign supreme.
MVP: Aika Nagai