C’WEALTH GAMES – Li carries Canada through nail biter

Ghana and Canada both required the last match of womens’ doubles to win their ties, with Canadian Michelle Li calling on all her experience to take two of her teams’ […]

Ghana and Canada both required the last match of womens’ doubles to win their ties, with Canadian Michelle Li calling on all her experience to take two of her teams’ most decisive points and finish off. Home favourites Scotland, and rivals England have a much more convincing passage on the day however, with Scotland pulling through some tight performances to win 5-0.

By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Glasgow.  Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live).

The contest of the afternoon was fought out on court 5, as a showdown between Ghana and Uganda went the distance. Emmanuel Donkor fought well to best the African number 1, Edwin Ekiring.

The womens’ singles and mens’ doubles went one each way, but the womens’ doubles crowned off a tense affair as the match went into the deciding rubber.

Botwe / Amasah (pictured left) emerged on top in a nervous game, peppered with errors. With Stella Amasah in tears of joy, Evelyn Botwe was a little lost for words.

“Oh my goodness I can’t even say it, it feels great. It was the best match of my life, and my partner was brilliant. We were always confident that we could win, but it was so close.”

Her compatriots in the mens’ doubles, Sam and Donkor had previously spoken of keeping the game alive. “We didn’t expect it to be so close, but we were very determined. We want to qualify for the quarterfinals and make Ghana proud. Hopefully we can do that.”

The English had somewhat of a friendlier encounter against Jersey, as they beat them 5-0. The tie was marked by the fact that three Jersey players; Constable, Cann and Agathangelou, were former members of the Team England set-up from previous Games.

The matchups were hard fought, but more relaxed than some, but the England performance was summed up succinctly by Mark Constable (pictured right) of Jersey when he said, “They [Langridge & Olver] were just at a much higher level than us. We were always under pressure in the points relative to them so we were always going to make the errors.”

Constable actually coached opponent Langridge at Loughborough, and with Team Jersey coached by Nathan Robertson for these games, the match had a little tinge of Old school versus new.

The evening session saw the hotly tipped matchups to head groups C and D, with hosts Scotland taking on New Zealand, and Australia taking on Canada.

The feted Kiwi resistance was not enough to stop the Scots, who continued on their path at their home games. The highlights were mature performances from Keiran Merrilees (pictured left) and Kirsty Gilmour, who was pushed to the edge in her second game against Michelle Chan. They embodied the belief and ability in this strong team with good performances in these hard fought matches.

Kirsty spoke after saying, “It was a bit of a sticky match, I even lost my voice from shouting in the first end. I learned a lot from that game, got a lot more rhythm. I knew what I had to do but I wasn’t quite doing it right in the second game.”

It bodes well for the individual tournament next week, as the first seeded player in her draw will be Li, a fact that was not lost on her.

In contrast to what ended up being a convincing Scottish victory, the Canada-Australia tie was another matter. Ross Smith contributed two points with partners Veeran and Middleton, but Canada responded well to take both the singles.

It was Michelle Li (pictured right with Honderich) who came back to win her second and most decisive point, this time partnering Honderich in the womens’ doubles, to top the group for Canada in a tight game 26-24 21-12.

Having spoken after her singles match hoping it didn’t all come down to her, Li was relieved after to come through, “At first we were kind of down, and ‘oh no what do we do now’ went through my head. But we just kept taking each point and talking to each other and we turned it around.”

Rachel Honderich spoke of the mammoth first game, “I was mostly trying not to think about the score, just each point as it came. They kept trying to keep the points long because that suited their game more so we just had to focus.”

Li continued, “We learnt about their game play in that set and we played a much better game plan in the second so yeah just really happy to get through.”

The full results for Day 2 at the Commonwealth Arena can be found here.

About Michael Burke