Monday, June 25, 2012

The league of extraordinary badminton players

Gaz and I have been developing a serious crush on badminton for a while now. To start with, he used to play with his friend Adam, because I thought it looked boring. Then I had a go. Hello, competitive sport! Should have known I was going to love it - not to mention be awesome at it.

So, Adam got ousted to make way for big brawny Kim, the most competitive girl on the pitch. Or field. Whatever it is, the place where I go to win. We had some early teething problems, based on Gareth doing some annoying 'messing around' and 'practising' on me while I was trying to focus on winning. But although we have very different styles, I've enjoyed playing with him. If anything, I admire the way he can mess about and doesn't mind losing a point if it means he can have a go at hitting the birdie from under his cocked leg in a comedy way. I taught myself to enjoy Gareth's non-competitive nature and we really started to have a spot of bi-weekly fun.

Then we started playing doubles with our friends Cordy and Tom. Now that's when the fun really started - doubles was so much more fun than singles. I teamed up with the competitive fella and gave Gareth to Cordy. Tom and I made an excellent team, quickly spotting the flaws in Gareth's backhand and Cordy's weak spot, adapting our own high five and seriously considering a team 'T'shirt. 

So much fun was had that when a poster went up at our local sports-centre for a new badminton league, Gareth and I excitedly signed up.

To me, it seemed like the next logical step. This was how you made friends with locals. I saw myself, a few months down the line, walking into the gym and saying: 'Hi John, hi Mary. Oo, look out for his killer serve, this one's an animal on the court,' and other game related banterings. 'Nice shuttlecock.' That kind of thing.

Gareth and I lined up a game with our first competitors, Tom and Colin. Until we met court-side, we had no idea of their prowess. They could be crap, they could be Olympic. We did not know what we'd let ourselves in for.

But first impressions count for everything and as Tom and Colin arrived, I stifled my joy. Two old fat blokes, one only about 4ft tall on tiptoes.

'Just get it over the little one's head,' I whispered to Gareth, by way of a team talk.

We started knocking up and it was clear Tom and Colin were no match for Gareth and me. We were getting points when points don't count left right and centre.

Then we started the actual game. First to three wins.

Tom and Colin start actually playing properly now. Turns out there's no such thing as over the little one's head, because the pesky little Ronnie Corbett is fast and furious and just runs back and forth like a road runner. He lines them up for himself, he slam dunks, he smashes, he whips, he shoots, he scores. He hit me in the face about three times. He nailed the back hand, the forehand, the wrist flick, the back spin.

Naturally, I hated him. I hated him when they won the first game. And the second. And the third.

Gareth came off the court surmising what fun he'd had, how important it is to take part in these things. I think there's something wrong with my boyfriend. What was fun about that? It was awful. I was in a right grump. I will not be saying 'Oh hi Colin, look out for his backhand, he's an animal on the court,' in a jovial manner next time I see him. I'll be pretending I didn't see him because he's so short.

Bastard. Skillful sporty little bastard.


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