By Tommy Pallett
Badminton was no exception to the first Durham-Loughborough showdown. Whilst Loughborough dominates in this sport, this match would be different: the Scottish Grand Prix tournament began on the same day. Thus, every University’s top players would be migrating north in search of an international title, leaving BUCS teams to call up their best substitutes in an attempt to hold fort. For Durham, this was no attempt to hold fort, this was an opportunity to beat the best team in the country.
The men’s captain Tom Davies stressed that this was “important, really important”: a win would secure the team’s place in the Premiership next year. The match started strongly, with both doubles pairs achieving comfortable wins. These pairs went on to win their second games to establish that Durham couldn’t lose. But for Durham, with their best singles players in Scotland or injured, the win really rested on the ability of the replacement singles players to pull through.
The Loughborough first singles player proved too strong and claimed a convincing win against our second, but meanwhile, Mantej Sing-Bahra fought his corner on the court next door. Breaking a string at the crucial 19-all point proved disastrous and cost the first end. Undeterred he came back with a vengeance to claim both the second and third ends, annihilating his opponent 21-12 and 21-13. Durham had won the match. But they weren’t finished. To top off the display of determination and skill, the second singles player Chiho So also battled to a win. Durham had won the match 6 games to 2.
Captain Davies expressed his gratitude to players Chiho So and Tommy Pallett, playing up from the Durham 2nd team, saying that “everyone performed really well.” He hopes that the momentum gained from this win, combined with the return of players currently out of action, will help the team to climb the league table.
Photograph: Team Durham