Following the successful open day on Sunday afternoon, Barry Johnson led his Wetherby B troops into action against Burton Leonard in this must win relegation battle. As the players were warming up the threat of rain filled the air and the brollies started to go up on the side lines from a decent watching crowd who had stayed on after the afternoon entertainment.
The bottom two sides will be relegated from the Harrogate and District League Division Five and prior to the start Wetherby found themselves second bottom on 5 points from 10 games played. Visitors Burton Leonard were a place and a point better off but had played one more fixture so it was easy to see why this was going to be a very crucial fixture indeed.
Tony Cutler and regular partner Anne Lilleywhite opened proceedings on the show court having been moved to seeds one in a tactical move by astute captain Johnson. They played Bob Lockwood and Caroline Barr in a match where there was little to choose between the pairs. In the end this rubber came down to who made the least mistakes and it was the Leonard couple who finally prevailed winning 4-6,5-6 for a 2-0 success.
Captain Johnson had recruited Trish Bell from the Ladies second team and York Two mixed team and she would prove to be a very important capture. The duo had last played together during Wetherby’s last win against Ripon earlier in the month when they contributed 5 from a possible 6 points during a tight and hard fought 10-8 team victory. They started on court two playing seed two and entertained Peter Shipston and Angela Crawshaw.After a nervy start the rubber remained close throughout before the class of Johnson and Bell allowed them to sneak home 6-5 for a useful start. They quickly found their rhythm in the second set to run out comfortable 6-1 winners and secure the game 2-0.
Ann Jones and Walter Skubiak have been on the circuit many years and this experienced pair started at seed 3 on court 3 where they played John Crompton and Liz Parker. Crompton is a fine baseliner and covers the court well whilst partner Parker is lethal at the net. However there are not many calmer and cooler couples around than Jones and Skubiak who both play with wide smiles and despite a tiebreak 5-6 loss in the first they completely dominated the second to record a 6-1 success and a share of the spoils.
So after round one the match was finely balanced at 3-3.
Round Two began with Cutler and Lilleywhite playing Crompton and Parker but again they struggled to find form and lost out 3-6,3-6 for a second consecutive 2-0 loss.
Skubiak and Jones were involved in a second tie of the night when halving with Shipston and Crawshaw.They took the opener 6-3 before losing the second set 4-6 in an exciting and hard fought contest.
Johnson and Bell however were in cruise control and entertained the watching crowd on court one with some subline tennis. They didn’t give their opponents a sniff and were ready 6-1,6-2 winners.
Round Two closed with the overall result still hard to predict as nothing could split the sides who were tied at 6 all.
The Final round was certainly going to test the players nerve and Cutler and Lilleywhite were determined not to go home empty handed. They finally hit top form to put Shipston and Crawshaw to the sword during a 6-1 romp.
Skubiak and Jones were showing no sign of fatigue despite their long games and in another tight affair were able to just scrape home 6-4 for a fantastic win.
Johnson and Bell were in no mood to surrender their 100% winning record either and this excellent couple completed a hat trick of wins in seeing off Crompton and Parker 6-3 to ensure it was Wetherby who took the points after a 12-6 win.
This lifts Wetherby above Burton Leonard and out of the drop zone but they can’t rest on their laurels just yet. They face tough tests against champions elect and unbeaten Knaresborough and also play Wetherby A.In between they face the return match with Leonard where a win would put them in a strong position to retain League Five status. Burton Leonard face second placed Harlow, where they will be big underdogs, so in effect the return game will more than likely be the deciding fixture to see who joins Thirsk through the relegation trapdoor.