Matchbericht ¦ Nationalliga B ¦ Grasshopper II vs. Bern II ¦ 2:2

The first interclub match of the new decade was a home fixture vs Bern. As with all the home matches this season it was scheduled at the same time as the GC Legends first home match of the year. Graciously, GC1 gave us the benefit of courts 1 & 2 as they predicted a comfortable win for themselves vs Kriens (later confirmed).

Luckily for us Bern hadn’t brought their regular NLA players this time and on paper it was looking like a close fixture. First up were JB at 4 vs Marco Garbani and Lubo at 2 vs Simon Oswald. JB’s opponent stepped on court with a cyborg-looking leg wearing a full length leg brace. JB showed no mercy to his opponent coming back from injury and dished out a swift 3-0 win. Meanwhile, Lubo was getting stuck into a marathon battle on court 2. The first rallies gave a flavour of the match to come: rallies long enough for the other court to get through 4 or 5 points. The passive play from both players made even my style of play look positively attacking! Lubo was looking to avenge his 3-0 defeat in the first half of the season and got off to a good start. Patient play with some intermittent attacks worked nicely and Lubo got up to a 1-0 lead. A brief mental collapse in the second levelled the games at 1-1 before Lubo refocused and took a 2-1 lead. Then a surprising change of tactic from Simon saw him suddenly play a burst of attacking shots and Lubo then took the remainder of the 4th to rest ready for the 5th. Unfortunately, in the 5th the grinding consistency of Oswald and the depleted energy of Lubo, due to a tough training session the day before, combined to give Bern the match 3-2. A good effort, particularly as Lubo had only stepped in the night before to replace an injured Dalvit. 

Next to start was Yves vs Shamir, a talented young player originally from Pakistan. Despite some close exchanges Yves found himself 0-2 down before a tense third ended in an epic tie break, eventually going 18-16 in Yves’s favour. An important game to win because it gave us the advantage in the case of a draw. Despite the heroics displayed to win the 3rd Yves went down 6-11 in the 4th and conceded the match 1-3. Everything was now resting on the 1st string match, which would decide between a winning draw or a straight loss. Due to the extra long match from Lubo and Simon, I only stepped onto court to warm up against Michael Cowhie as the other NLB team were sitting down to dinner. It looked like it was going to be a late night. In the first the left-handed Cowhie caught me by surprise and played some strong kills and disruptive shots to take a 1-0 lead. Following some simple advice from Lubo to try fewer attacking shots and simply focus on hitting the back corners I managed to get the second game and level the scores. Sticking with the simple defensive play to neutralise the hard-hitting Cowhie meant I could close out the match 3-1 and secure a winning draw and 2 points for us. A good turnaround in comparison with our 0-4 defeat in the first half. We’ve now moved up to 3rd in the table with only a few points separating the top 5 teams.