So as you know on Friday evening I participated in my first ever badminton tournament! I was so excited that I booked a half day off work, so that I could come home and have a nap before going. I’m so glad I did this because I hardly slept the night before! I don’t know if it was nerves, but anyway I woke up with a cracking headache and a blocked nose. Uh oh!
I bought a nasal spray on the way home from work as breathing would be very important at the tournament! I was feeling so nervous because everyone at Friday club plays a lot better than me, bar two newbies. What was I thinking?! Also, as I had played badminton more than usual this week, I had no clean sports bras to wear! What a disaster! I rushed home to put them in the washing machine, but my mother in law unexpectedly had the day off and was washing some mats! What were the chances?! I handwashed two sports bras and collapsed in bed. I needed to feel better for the tournament!
I woke up feeling much better thankfully! My sports bras were still wet though, so I dried one as best as I could with a hairdryer. The theme for the tournament was neon so I stuck a neon bow in my hair and some neon war paint on my face. Such fun! I’m pretty sure my shoes and t-shirt were neon too!
At the start of the tournament, names were picked out of two hats to decide the doubles partners. One hat had the names of strong players in it and the other hat contained names of the weaker players. Not all players were equally weak or strong if that makes sense, so my husband implemented a handicap system. I had plus 5 points and my partner was a very strong player so he had minus 5 points. As a team we had 0. When we played other teams we would ask them what their collective handicap was in order to determine the starting score. So if they collectively had minus 3, me and my partner would start with a 3 point lead. This system worked quite well e.g. if we played two reasonably strong players then we would have a head start.
My partner was the first to be announced. It was my husband’s friend, who I used to partner for the grudge match against my husband and sister in law a few months ago. We had stopped playing for the last couple of months, but we still knew each other’s abilities. He was one of the strongest players there. My stomach did flip flops because I knew he was taking this tournament really seriously and I didn’t want to let him down. I gulped, this was going to be an intense night.
My sister in law ended up being partnered with our coach. This was really good for her because he knew her strengths and weaknesses and would coach her throughout the night.
My husband wasn’t going to play but one team didn’t turn up and everyone wanted him to play, so he played with our little cousin who has only ever played badminton once before. My husband was basically playing alone against each team but with the advantage of starting off with 7 points. He did really well!
Me and my partner were team 1. There were 11 teams in total. We had to play every team and write our scores on a score sheet before submitting them at the end. We were to play up to 15 instead of 21 in order to fit all these games in!
During our first game, I moved back to intercept a shot while my partner moved forward to smash it down. Unfortunately his racket finished the smash on my head! The pain as the racket smashed into my head was unreal! I was seeing stars as I tried to serve. I’m sitting here now rubbing my head as I think about it. My head is still very sore!
I have never participated in such intense games! No one was playing nice during the tournament! Everyone wanted the points and was smashing constantly! My partner complimented me a few times on some of my returns which was nice, but I did let him down a few times too, much to my annoyance! He was making some silly mistakes too which made me feel a bit better. I think he was a little out of practice as he hadn’t played over the last few months. His smash was still powerful though and he was happy that I was keeping the shuttlecock quite low so our opponents had to lift it.
When we played against my coach I was nervous! He knew all my strengths and weaknesses so was catching me out. We lost that game and were both quite miffed!
Finally the score sheets from all of the teams were submitted and we started playing casual games amongst each other while the scores were added up. I walked up to the people adding the scores up at one point to find out who would play in the final and was told by someone standing there that we hadn’t made it. That was fine by me as I wanted to eat popcorn and watch the final. This meant the pressure was off. I knew that my sister in law and my coach had made it to the final as they had won most of their games, so was looking forward to seeing who they would play. I located the snacks and started happily munching when the finalists were announced. I heard my name, but couldn’t believe my ears. Seriously?
Apparently we had 141 points and my sister in law and coach had 143. I reluctantly put my snacks down and headed on to the centre court for the final. Meanwhile, my husband and a few others were moving the benches to be on either side of the centre court so everyone could watch the final. I had butterflies in my stomach as I looked around at the audience. They were so loud, all watching us. I said a little prayer as I took up my position. My partner wasn’t very popular as he had been smashing the shuttlecock at everyone throughout the evening, so everyone was cheering our opponents on. I had to ignore everything otherwise I wouldn’t be able to play. My partner screamed at every opportunity, when he missed something, when I missed something and when our opponents missed something. This could be very distracting and I could see that he was getting to my sister in law. Again, I had to block him out too.
I heard the rocky theme tune in my head, I took a deep breath and just like that, everyone vanished. I gritted my teeth, raised my racket arm and got into the ready position.
They had taken a startling head start. The score was 11-2 to our opponents. My coach kept catching me out. I’d blocked everyone out so I just kept steadily serving and returning what I could. This wasn’t the time to lose my cool or to start making mistakes. Their lead didn’t mean we would stop trying…and somehow we caught up… Then we overtook them….and then we won. I can’t say I know how it happened. My partner did start smashing towards the end. I didn’t even know it had happened until my partner high fived me and told me we’d done it.
I must say, my husband organised a fantastic tournament. Still a bit dazed that we won, credit to my strong partner and his smashes!