Lancaster’s reinvigorated mixed badminton team get revenge

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The opening campus-based sport of the weekend, mixed badminton, ended in favour of the White Rose as Lancaster pipped York to a 5-4 victory in the sports hall. Last year’s event sparked a 8-1 whitewash in favour of York, and this victory here was Lancaster’s first mixed badminton win for over 5 years in the competition. A phenomenal performance from Lancaster’s best badminton pairings was testament to their commitment of constant training over the year, despite no mixed badminton in BUCS.

The format of play for the day saw Lancaster and York assemble three pairings, which were seeded 1-3, to play each of the opponents pairings once in a best of 3 sets, first to 21 format. With nine fixtures in total, 5 wins would secure an unassailable lead for the winning university.

Lancaster Captain Derek Cheng paired up with Yinai Sun and were our first seeds in the competition. Following Cheng and Sun were Nathan Stewart and Steph Hall (2), and our final pairing of Andrew Li and Danielle Crowther (3) made up the remainder of Lancaster’s mixed badminton squad.

The day started disappointingly for Captain Cheng, who with partner Sun were comfortably beaten by York’s first pairing, 10-21, 11-21, as Cheng cited a “lack of focus” as his personal downfall. However in the other two fixtures of the first set of matches, Stewart and Hall were able to keep York in touching distance winning their match 23-21, 21-16, which proved a much tighter affair. The final match saw Li and Crowther taken to three sets by their York counterparts. Winning the first set 21-18, a York fightback tied the match 1-1 after a close 20-22 second set loss for Lancaster. In the final set a spirited Li and Crowther showed a great amount of character, with both providing strong opposition to York’s thirds and winning the final set 21-16.

After the first round of fixtures, Lancaster were leading York 2-1 overall, with some promising combinations and great teamwork all round, Lancaster could be confident of securing the first 4 points of the weekend.

The second bout of matches got underway with a similar intensity as the starting tie. Unfortunately for Cheng, he started in similar fashion to the end of his and Sun’s first match, losing the first set 14-21, giving York the feeling of an upset on the cards. However a terrifically inspired fight back from Deng and Sun, illustrating both their determination and never-say-die attitude, brought Lancaster right back in to the mixed badminton, winning the last two sets 21-17 and 21-12, evidence of why they were made first seeds in the badminton.

Meanwhile on the other two courts Hall and Stewart were in for a battle against the first seeds who finished off Cheng and Sun with relative ease in the first round. Losing the first set 17-21, the pairing took the lead in the final stages of the second set only for an incredibly unfortunate net call against Stewart to see his momentum from a winning smash force him into the net. Agonisingly for the pair they went on to lose the second set 19-21. Hall proclaimed “We were better than them” as she voiced her frustration after losing a point for the team. Lancaster were still in front on 3-2, only needing two more wins from the final four matches to win the mixed badminton for Lancaster.

Crowther and Li’s match went as perhaps expected, against York’s first seeds, bowing out 13-21, 9-21 making it even overall, 3-3 after the first two rounds of matches. That left Lancaster’s number one seeds to beat York’s third seeds and Stewart/Hall to win their match, to give Lancaster the four points.

Sure enough Cheng/Sun’s resurgence in form could again be seen in their final match of the competition, defeating the opposition easily, 21-18, 21-9. Despite losing their first match, Cheng’s intensity never wavered in his and Sun’s last two matches enabling him to concentrate effectively on defeating York. Now with the score 4-4, Crowther and Li were up against the second seeds, after putting up a strong resistance they succumbed in straight sets, losing 15-21, 10-21, putting it down to the final match in the mixed badminton.

Hall and Stewart knew a win was what they needed and they didn’t upset, winning the final match at a stroll, 21-16, 21-12, giving Lancaster the four points they richly deserved.

Stewart hoped that “the work we’ve put into the mixed, hopefully will carry through tomorrow morning.” While captain Cheng told SCAN “I’m really happy for the win, it justifies all the training we did in the build-up to the competition.”

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