UKAF Badminton vs Oxfordshire Select 27 April 2019

Winning start for UKAF Badminton.

In the first fixture of the 2019 season, UKAF Badminton defeated a team of top county players from the Oxfordshire region. The final score was a resounding 26-14 win, despite being an extremely close and hard-fought match.
Hosted at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, the debate as to who would be the home team began instantly. The matter was settled half by the winning score and half by the event financing, both being supplied by UKAF Badminton.
The match would comprise 8 men’s and 8 ladies singles sets; 8 men’s and 8 ladies doubles sets; and 8 mixed doubles sets.
Play started with the men’s singles where UKAF Captain SSgt David Williams (Army) took the opening set 21-17, 21-19 against the opposition #1. A narrow 21-19, 21-19 loss from Flt Lt Charles Badu-Boateng (RAF) and two strong performances from SAC Callum Riddell (RAF) and Sub Lt Andy Stride (RN) saw the UKAF take an early 3-1 lead in the match.
The first round of the ladies’ singles saw SAC(T) Katie Witting (RAF), SAC(T) Eleanor Bonser (RAF), Fg Off Bernice Dore (RAF) and Cpl Jo Wesley (RAF) all win their opening games taking the UKAF into a commanding 7-1 lead.
The final round of the men’s singles saw the opposition raise a stronger contest, with Dave and Charles being edged out 11-21, 21-19, 19-21; and 21-19, 13-21, 19-21 respectively. “I’m done, I’m broken!” was the resulting declaration from the UKAF Captain after his singles battle.
As per the first round, the ladies led the way in the final singles sets, with Katie, Bernice and Jo taking three more wins. Eleanor lost a tough set to the opposition #1 21-13, 18-21, 13-21 seeing an overall 12-4 lead for UKAF Badminton at the completion of the singles.
From the start of the doubles, it was clear that the competition would become even closer. Several new players arrived for the opposition including a National top 10 player.
The opening men’s doubles set went to the opposition with UKAF #1 pair FS Simon Gaines (RAF) and Dave losing 13-21, 21-18, 23-25. The opposition #2 pair were equally as strong beating LCpl Lok Bahadur Thampa (Army) and LCpl Shakti Gurung (Army) 15-21,15-21. Fortunately, the strength in depth of the UKAF team showed through with #3 pair Flt Lt Barry Garnham (RAF) and Charles winning 21-15, 19-21, 21-15; then #4 pair Callum and Andy also winning convincingly 21-16, 21-15 to level the score in the doubles and maintain the overall lead.
The start of the ladies doubles also saw fierce competition with Bernice and Katy taking the opening set 21-19, 21-23, 21-14 against the opposition #1 pair. Jo and Eleanor followed up with another battle, winning 21-16, 13-21, 21-18 against the opposition #2 pair. Now the fortunes reversed and the opposition ladies’ strength in depth played out with #3 pair Fg Off Laura Pellegrini (RAF) and Cpl Kate Byerley (RAF), and #4 pair Cpl Paula Dale (RAF) and LCpl Abi Kennedy (Army) losing their opening sets.
The final round of the men’s doubles was much a repeat of the first, with #1 and #2 opposition pairs winning, and #3 and #4 UKAF pairs winning. The ladies doubles was similarly repetitive with #1 and #2 UKAF pairs winning and #3 and #4 opposition pairs winning.
Now evenly matched, the doubles concluded 8-8 in sets, with the overall score 20-12 in favour of the UKAF team. With only 8 sets left in the mixed doubles event, avoiding a loss was already secured, but we have never aimed so low. A single mixed doubles set win would seal the victory for UKAF, but in the #1 pair play off, Simon and Capt Clare Hamilton (Army) lost 21-17, 21-17, and #4 pair Barry and Jo also lost 19-21, 23-25 fighting for the match win. Auspiciously #2 pair Callum and Kate and #3 pair Charles and Eleanor both secured victory putting UKAF 22-14 ahead in the match and into an uncatchable lead.
In the final round of the mixed doubles, spurred on by the certain match win; #5 pair Lok and Bernice; #6 pair Tom Machon (Army) and Kate; #7 pair Cpl Nathan Stewart-Walker (RN) and Laura; and #8 pair Pte Gareth Oates (Army) and Paula all won their final sets to conclude the match 26-14 to the UKAF.
Many thanks have to go to the players’ line management for releasing their personnel, RAF Benson for hosting and Clare Hamilton who doubled as a UKAF player and the team manager for the Oxfordshire Select team. Finally, congratulations to all the UKAF players who have started the 2019 season with a win and will continue to support UKAF Badminton for the foreseeable future.

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