Men’s Badminton: University of Leeds 8 – 0 University of Newcastle
- Leeds earn promotion with win over Newcastle
- Team win all eight games
THE 2nd team of the University of Leeds’ men’s Badminton squad attained their year-long ambition of championing the Northern 3B league and earning that ever-tantalising and hitherto illusive promotion. The team only needed a draw in order to win the league, but the Gryphons had enjoyed a stellar season, and were not about to let their blistering season end on a bittersweet note.
The first two singles matches got underway, each player visibly enduring a sense of nervous anticipation. Kieran Kavi’s first match against Billy Chui ran alongside the match between Sam Carcelmont and James Dunlop, with both of these two outings providing an impressive spectacle and some truly tense badminton. Kavi was certainly tested rigorously against Chui, who showed a rigorous determination that perpetuated achingly tight rallies between the two. Consequently, Kavi lost the first game of the match (something that had been a stark rarity this season) and had a lot of work to do. Carcelmont meanwhile, had won his first match with relative ease and a score of 21 -16. However, Dunlop experienced somewhat of a resurgence in the second game, as Carcelmont allowed his opponent a way back in, via a series of unfortunate unforced errors. With Kavi pulling through to win his second game by an achingly close 21-19, both matches were going to go right down to the wire. The two Gryphons responded perfectly to the pressure. Like two lions that had been backed into a corner, they attacked their opponents with everything they had. Kavi manipulated his opponent with superb skill, executing smash shot after drop shot, pulling Chui from one side of the court to the other, and ultimately winning the final game of his match 21-12. Carcelmont too demonstrated his resolve, coming back from a lacklustre second game in order to win 21-19.
The doubles teams were next to play, and if they won both of their matches respectively then Leeds would be crowned champions of their league. The tried and tested partnership of captain Callum Andrews and Ben Beresford, was first to take the doubles court. The two experienced a shaky start to the match, as they committed a troublesome number of unforced errors and one particularly unflattering serve – which was possibly the result of an over-enthused nervousness getting in their way. However, when the team were five points in arrears, Andrews executed a crucial smash shot that turned the tide. The duo went on to win their first game by a margin of 21-16. Following this, Andrews and Beresford were able to clearly rattle their opponents, who became flustered to the extent that at one point, they ran into one another whilst chasing a particularly adept drop-shot form Beresford. Andrews and Beresford won their match in straight games – meaning that the pressure was all on the partnership of Jun Ho Gong and Zayd Sheikh.
The pair quickly set about defeating their opponents. The boys knew that they had a job to do, and wasted no time in achieving their goal. The first game was over in a flash with the pair totally dominating the opposing team to warrant a 21-13 score. The second game was awash with tension, as Gong and Sheikh’s teammates watched on with agonising attention. This was a much closer affair, with Newcastle’s representatives demonstrating a keen ability to win points easily, with startling smash shots. Fortunately, whenever the play evolved into a rally, the two Gryphons showed that they had the skill to win the point. The game finished with a score of 21-19. The Gryphons had won the league and smiles broke out all around the court. The day was not over yet however, and like true sportsmen, the boys saw the day out till the end – winning the whole day (rather fittingly for such a dominant season) in straight matches.
After the match, The Gryphon caught up with 2nd team Captain Andrews, who attributed success this season to ‘a strong set of players with a lot of depth to the squad. The commitment from everyone has been great, so we’ve been able to play at a consistent level.’ When asked about the challenges of next season, the captain responded: ‘Next year could depend on who we get that’s new, but if we get a good set again then I don’t think we’ll have a problem staying up’. The Gryphons then, are already setting their sights on next season. But in the meantime, the impressive team can now go and celebrate.
Featured image: The Gryphon