Having won all eight of their league matches prior to this one, IC badminton men’s 2nd team have effectively won the South Eastern 2A division, and secured a promotion to the division above. However, apart from us social members witnessing a gif of 2nd Team Captain Noah Semonin dabbing his beanie off during the club’s AGM, news of that achievement has probably stayed within the IC teams for the most part, so Club President Joseph Kim invited me to cover the 2nd team’s home match against Surrey’s 2nd team at Ethos last Wednesday. I had time to have a chat with the IC team before the matches, and it was great to see a relaxed atmosphere within the team, with cheerful faces all around. Unsurprisingly, they took it very well when I told them not to lose the tie so I didn’t have to report that!
The Surrey team eventually arrived 45 minutes late, and – to make matters worse in what I imagine must’ve been an already tiring trip to London – they weren’t able to field a full team, effectively giving us a two point lead in the tie before it even started.
Matchday started with the singles matches, and Matthew Cotton got IC off to a good start, taking the 1st game 21-11 with a convincing performance. His opponent upped his game to win 21-17 and level the match, but any alarm bells that might’ve raised were silenced when he sealed the match with a 21-13 win in the rubber game. Concurrently, Ranul Pallemulle — our other singles player — endured a slower start to his day. He won a number of points from his sturdy defence, forcing his opponent to aim for the sidelines, but he never quite settled into his match and lost it 13-21, 14-21.
Up next was Jeremy Lou and team captain Noah in the doubles, and they too endured a rather slow start, improving as the game went on but ultimately losing a close first game 17-21. The pressure was on in the 2nd game, and they responded by turning up the heat. But perhaps the tension got to them as they made some unforced errors here and there, losing the next game 20-22.
It now came down to Edward Liu and Joseph to deliver a point from the doubles, and they did so emphatically, taking their match 21-11, 21-13 with a dominant performance. Their smashes and netplay paid dividends, but crucially it was their tight serves which made the telling difference compared to Jeremy and Noah, giving their opponents no room to apply pressure right from the off.
While I turned my attention to the doubles, it was a Matt vs Matt affair on the other court; unfortunately it was Surrey’s who took the match with a 21-16 22-20 victory. Ranul, however, made amends for his earlier loss to Surrey’s Matt, winning his 2nd match 21-13, 21-17. That sealed the tie for IC, and preserved the team’s perfect run.
Of course, no match is complete without interviews of sort, so I asked Noah for a comment on the team’s performance this season:
“The key things this year are the consistency of the guys playing week in week out, building chemistry as a team and supporting each other on and off court. Everything that’s been achieved is because of the team playing their hardest and delivering the performances needed. As much as being the captain is important, doing this well relies on the players being willing to play, travel, and put in the performances, so I owe massive thanks to everyone that’s played over the course of this year.”
“The initial aim for next year is to hold our own within the league, and if things go well enough then pushing again for a win in that league too!”
I then asked Joseph for comment about the club:
“It’s really great to see all that the society has achieved this year. None of our other teams were relegated and have all shown massive improvements, meaning we can push for promotions next academic year. This year’s committee has also improved the quality of badminton events and socials. The popular Friday coaching sessions has seen large turnouts with several players improving greatly over the past two terms.” “Furthermore, we’ve successfully hosted two London-wide tournaments this year thanks to our partnership with Yonex. With the next committee decided, I really hope the society can continue to blossom.”
We followed this up with our last match, against Chichester – we drew the tie 4-4, so lost our perfect record, but still finished the season unbeaten. All the best guys. Congratulations and keep flying the flag for IC!