It was in arctic conditions that the Cambs IInd team arrived for their second match against Northants Ist team in a week. There had been a number of squad rotations, and a special season's appearance by Sam Pickup, 'fresh' from his University BUCS weekend.
Northants were keen to avenge their previous week's defeat, and it was immediately apparent that this was going to be a long and gruelling day - the temperature in the hall was hitting debilitating lows and with only two courts and many games going to three ends, it was very late into the afternoon before a result was reached.
The singles was neck and neck, with Stephen Pickering experiencing a very similar game against Matt Asbrey as Paul Heads had the week before - with the Northants player starting strongly, but Stephen gaining ground to win in three. Sam Pickup also overcame his exhaustion and nausea to win, while Katie Morton and Laurel Bennet found the Northants ladies too strong and both lost in straight sets.
In the doubles the balance started to tip slightly in Northants' favour, with both Stephen and Sam, and Daniel Bates and James Wilson failing to secure their first games. Katie and Louise were also defeated, while Laurel and Jessica Sharman ground out a three set win after losing the first end in sets 22-20. Things improved for the men in the second round, with both pairs turning the form book on its head by winning, while the ladies again found Northants too tough. Katie and Louise agonisingly lost the third end of their game 23-21.
That left Cambridgeshire trailing 7-5 going into the mixed round. However, as muscles continued to stiffen in the ever-freezing conditions, it was too much of a task to overturn the lead. Although Stephen and Louise won comfortably, James and Katie were dispatched in two ends, meaning the match was lost. Perennial mixed back runners Daniel and Jessica also lost their nerve and despite winning the first end comfortably, eventually succumbed and lost in three, leaving the result a mirror-image 9-6 of the previous week.
Although this was a reasonable result, and the consolation point secured, there was still an edge of glumness to the team. The cold had dulled everyone's mood, and also there was a sadness that a better result in the match had not been that far away.
Congratulations also go to Stephen, who pipped Sam Pickup to the coveted Player of the Match position.
The team: Daniel Bates (c), Katie Morton: Hurst Badminton Club / James Wilson, Louise Tarbit: Ely Victoria Badminton Club / Jessica Sharman: Court Badminton Club / Sam Pickup: University / Laurel Bennet, Stephen Pickering.
More information about results of the Cambs II team is available on the Team Page.