Image Credit: Luke Snell
Goodricke and James will represent the University of York at Varsity this year in the men’s badminton, after they were the two finalists following a long and testing afternoon in the Arena. Having seen off all the other colleges to reach the final, they both knew they’d booked their places at the tournament, which takes place on 1st March.
The final was played to decide which team would be seeded first, and, with the scores tied a two games all, the Campus East college stole the fifth and final game 11-8 to take top spot. It was the final chapter, but the event had started many, many matches earlier, when James 1s had kicked off the day with an 11-8 win over Vanbrugh 2s. Yuan Ding and Eric Kim came close, but James’ Ayo Jinmi and Matt Noonan showed just that little bit more quality at key moments.
Next, Jinmi and Noonan were on again, against Vanbrugh 1s. James raced into a 5-3 lead, but Ben Turner and Rob Willow-Chambers pulled themselves back ahead – 6-5. Jinmi and Noonan knew about hard-fought victories all too well though and got themselves back in the driving seat to win again, 11-8… again.
Each college was represented by two doubles pairs – a 1s and a 2s side. There were two sides of the draw, with each side playing out four round-robin tournaments. The top two per group advanced straight threw to the semifinals, which involved matches to 21 points, rather than the group stage and final’s 11-point games.
In the other side of the draw, Goodricke 1s showed good form, but it paled into insignificance compared to the quality that was on display as the tournament neared its conclusion. Against Alcuin 2s, Goodricke’s Sam Rodgers and Ryan Suen kept edging one point ahead, only to get pegged back level each time. At 5-4 up though, they instead made it six, then seven, then eight. That 8-4 gap was closed once more, with the scores standing at 10-9. Carl von Randow and Danny Chu lost that critical point, earning Goodricke 1s an 11-9 win over Alcuin’s 2s.
Von Randow and Chu were an interesting outfit, balanced in composed flair alongside brute force. In their next match, they faced Hector Lee and Oliver Harris – Goodricke 2s. Only Goodricke had led the match after ten points, but it had by no means been one-sided; the scoreline stood at five points each. Goodricke reasserted their position on top, leading 7-5, but after a couple of net shots, they found themselves trailing Alcuin 10-9. Match point. 10-10. Chu put in the killer blow, firing the shuttle to the feet of Harris, who had no answer. Alcuin 2s had recharged and claimed an impressive, tense victory.
The mixed-doubles tournament followed the men’s, before women’s completed a fine day on the badminton courts. Halifax and Derwent will represent York at the mixed, with Halifax top seeds after four unanswered wins in the final. James saw off Derwent 3-1 in the four matches of the women’s final, confirming that four colleges from a possible six will compete in some capacity at Varsity proper. If Saturday’s qualifiers were anything to go by, we really are in for a treat.