Harrogate One mixed played their vital relegation clash with bottom side Northallerton this evening at Castlegarth. After their tremendous win over Academy B last week confidence was high and they were favourites to record back to back success’s.
With Mike Butterworth injured, captain Sue Jacklin stood herself down so that Rachel Hill and Josh Bayliss could continue their flourishing partnership as number one seeds.
They opened up against Ian Godfrey and Lyn Thompson and after winning the first set 6-3 lost the second 3-6 to share the spoils from a tough rubber. The Northallerton duo are pretty lively and went on to win their remaining two games to finish with an impressive 2.5 points on the evening. This put pressure on Hill and Bayliss but this confident couple thrive on that and they beat Matthew Midgley and Margaret Fenwick 6-2 and Neil McLachlan and Helen Coulthard 6-3 to also accumulate 2.5 points in a match that was played on a 2-1-1 basis with the light not guaranteed on a damp evening.
Nigel Williams and Lucy Wright resumed their partnership after Wrights holiday absence and this pair began the evening brightly beating Midgley and Fenwick 6-5,6-3. After a loss against Godfrey and Thompson they followed up with a close 7-5 victory over McLachlan and Coulthard to secure two vital and crucial points.
So with 4.5 points in the Wetherby satchel Marc Bickers and Helen Robinson knew they just required a half to put Wetherby in the winners enclosure. Ultimately that half was achieved from a draw in their first rubber with a 4-6,6-4 draw against the visitors third pair. But Bickers and Robinson were not finished and a good 6-3 win over couple two ensured they contributed 1.5 points to enable Wetherby to run out 6-3 winners .
This win has hopefully put to bed any lingering relegation fears although mathematically they are not safe just yet. But they move up to fourth in the eight team league and officially relegate Northallerton in the process. Despite been around the relegation zone most of the campaign ,Wetherby have always had crucial games in hand on their rivals so always felt confident of escaping the drop. They have three fixtures to play and one more win from those should allow them to celebrate. They will do well to claim that away at Academy A next week but games with Starbeck and Bedale give them an ideal opportunity.
Well done tonight in another great team performance and good luck with those remaining matches.
Wetherby A were also in action this evening for their last away trip of the campaign with Louise Williams once again doing the chauffeuring honours. They made the trip North to Ripon with only pride at stake as Knaresborough and Harlow have already been promoted. Due to absence they were missing three key players and David Rhodes just back from Spain was drafted in for his first start of the season. He hadn’t brought the weather back with him however and must have felt the chill on a rainy and damp evening in North Yorkshire.
With her regular partner in crime Neil Ripley away, Katie Barrett joined forces with Rhodes and they made a confident start with a 5-6 1-6 victory over Ripon third pair Dave Lato and Pam Taylor. On the adjoining court captain Ian Teasdale was accompanied by regular playing partner Dawn Steel and they were involved in a marathon lung busting opening game. They lost the first set 6-4 but battled back impressively in the second to win 3-6 to share the points with a half against Tim Swiers and Gill Edwards.
Over on the show court away from the other courts Louise Williams and Mike Triffitt stepped up to number One seeds in the absence of Kevin Duckenfield and Fiona Chantrey. They lost the first set 6-3 to Chris Aplin and Jo Salisbury but found their form in the second to win 3-6 to share the points.
So following the opening round the visitors led 1-2 in a game which would follow a 2-2-1 format with floodlights allowing play to continue to a finish.
The rain had lifted and the night began to warm as round two began with Williams and Triffitt quickly out of the traps against Swiers and Edwards. They made all to run out cosy first set winners 2-6 but were unable to close out the game losing the second set 6-3. Swiers, for racing fans among us, is the owner of Stewards Cup favourite Orions Bow which takes place this Saturday at Glorious Goodwood. The horse has already won 5 times for Swiers and already paid his way but one to look out for over the weekend perhaps. Edwards has an uncanny game style almost identical to our very own Debbie Vines who is captain of the York 2 mixed team and she used that wicked forehand slice to good effect throughout.
Barrett and the tanned Rhodes also took a half after a 6-4,3-6 draw against Aplin and Salisbury and Teasdale and Steel maintained their long game sequence forcing a further tie in a 6-5,2-6 draw with Lato and Taylor.
After two rounds the visitors still led 2.5 v 3.5 but would these long and testing games finally catch up with them.
Barrett and Rhodes appeared to run out of steam as they succumbed 6-0 against Swiers and Edwards and despite a valiant effort Steel and Teasdale narrowly lost 6-4 against Aplin and Salisbury. Ripon still needed another victory to secure their place in League Five next term and were fighting to the death. Unaware of scores elsewhere Williams and Triffitt were looking for victory in their final game. Williams was loving the carpet surface which is similar to her own court at home, and was producing some fine forehand cross court slices whilst Triffitt produced his best serving of the season although both players had struggled at the net. Opponents Latto and Taylor are a crafty duo and produced a game full of variation to keep the Wetherby couple second guessing throughout the contest. At 4-4 and with the game in the balance Triffitt held his service game to forge 4-5 ahead but in a flash Ripon were back level at 5-5. As Wetherby edged ahead 5-6 they knew at worst a half had been secured but without confirmation from other courts were fully intent on winning the game. Louise Williams had the honour of serving the final game of another long evening which had already gone past 10pm. Unfortunatly at 0-40 down all seemed lost.However in true backs to the wall style they recovered to win 5-7 to finish on two points for the evening with an unbeaten scorecard. This obviously proved crucial as returning to the clubhouse they were greeted with news of other scores and a final match score of 4.5 v 4.5.
On the balance of play no one could argue that a tied match was a fair result and left both sides relatively happy. Ripon should just about avoid the drop whilst Wetherby know victory over Academy next week will leave them third.
A good evening of tennis with marvelous hosts and the usual excellent tea afterwards more than made up for a very late return home.
Well played to all concerned and enjoy those final two fixtures.