The Wetherby B team captained by Barry Johnson were in action on Sunday when they entertained Ripon B at Castlegarth. Wetherby have struggled this season although they have not been helped with team selection been badly affected due to absence and injury. They have failed to pick a regular six and have been forced to chop and change regularly.
This has meant they now find themselves involved in a relegation battle, been just a point and place clear of bottom side Thirsk C but currently in the drop zone with two sides facing the trap door. Ripon are mid table but probably feel they still require a couple of wins to guarantee their safety.
On a relatively fine and sunny evening the game began and it was the visitors who made the stronger start. Tony Cutler and Ann Jones were promoted to seed one in a tactical switch from astute captain Johnson but they were somewhat put to the sword with the strong Ripon number one duo of Chris Aplin and Jo Salisbury dominating throughout to record a 1-6,1-6 success.
Johnson teamed up with Trish Bell who was a welcome addition to the team bringing plenty of experience and decent form this term playing at a higher level. The couple quickly gelled and rang out worthy winners 6-3,6-3 against Shaun McKeag and Collette Wilson.
Janine Smith, who hauled herself from the sick bed after suffering a bout of food poisoning, and Greg Vince, who had earlier played for the men’s second team that morning, were named at seed three but struggled in the opening rubber losing 2-6,1-6 to Peter Atherley and Janine Crowther.
So at the end of round one Ripon led 1-2 and were favourites for the match after seemingly looking well on top.
Cutler and Jones improved in round two however and were able to share the spoils. They won the first set 6-4 before losing the second 3-6 in a game that was end to end throughout. A draw was a fair result from two well matched pairs.
Johnson and Bell were sensing that the responsibility for success was going to perhaps lie heavily on their shoulders and they responded to the demands despite an opening 2-6 loss to Aplin and Salisbury. The Ripon pair were looking above average but in a remarkable turnaround the Wetherby pair won the second set 6-1 to take a useful half.
Vince and Smith who had been sluggish in the opening rubber found themselves revitalised too and played some real backs to the wall tennis in running out 6-3,6-4 winners over McKeag and Wilson.
The match was proving to be highly entertaining and at the end of round two nothing could split the sides with the score line 3-3.All to play for heading into the final round with both sides desperate for the two league points on offer.
Cutler and Jones left it late but finally produced their best tennis of the evening to destroy opponents McKeag and Wilson 6-1 to ensure Wetherby were starting to turn the screw.
Vince and Smith, who were perhaps feeling the effects of their heroic efforts in round two, were unable to maintain that level of intensity and were just touched off 5-7 against Aplin and Salisbury in arguably the game of the night.
This meant all eyes would be on Johnson and Bell and they didn’t disappoint. The couple were in no mood to surrender and in another tight affair they finally came through 7-5 against Atherley and Crowther to ensure Wetherby ran out eventual winners 5-4.
The beaming smiles at the end showed Wetherby were exceedingly pleased to take this match and the result moved then out of the bottom 2 and out of automatic relegation now sitting third bottom with five points.
Thirsk and Burton Leonard are clawing at their tails of course and the B team will be hoping Ian Teasdale and his A side can do them a favour on Thursday when they host Burton Leonard.
The B Team are quickly back in action again on Tuesday when they travel to Harrogate to face a tough game at Academy C. The Academy have a strong pool of players especially when playing at home and will be big favourites to continue their promotion push.
Well done to everyone for a fabulous win here however and good luck in the quest to secure safety for another season at this level.