Wetherby A played their penultimate game of the season and their final one at home when they entertained Academy on Thursday evening. With Knaresborough and Harlow already promoted this game was the battle to see who would finish third so an eagerly awaited clash was expected.
Wetherby were in the driving seat as Academy had suffered a shock defeat at bottom side Thirsk in their last outing. This meant Wetherby held a three point advantage with only two games remaining so knew that avoiding defeat would mean they remained in third place.
Regular number one pairing Kevin Duckenfield and Fiona Chantry were once again the cornerstone of a strong looking home line up although with usual partners Neil Ripley and Louise Williams missing, Katy Barrett and Mike Triffitt paired up at number two with captain Ian Teasdale and Dawn Steel playing at seed three.
Duckenfield and Chantey would have their hands full during the opening rubber as Academy pair Nick Boid and Anthea Davis are a strong couple themselves. In a match where no quarter was given the game was halved with Wetherby winning the opener 6-3 before Academy levelled the second 4-6. Chantrey suffered a reoccurrence of a leg pull and although she battled on gamely she wasn’t able to move as fluently.
Barrett and Triffitt were looking good as they opened up a 4-2 lead over Alan Cunningham and Juiliet Jones on court two. However things took a turn for the worse and they lost focus to lose the opener 4-6. The second set didn’t improve as they quickly found themselves 0-4 down. However both discarded the sunglasses as the sun disappeared and this signalled the fightback. After losing eight games in a row they suddenly reeled off six games in their favour to level the game with a 6-4 success to leave both players clearly delighted.
Captain Ian Teasdale and Dawn Steel were last on court and in a tough opener also had to settle for a share of the spoils with a 4-6,6-5 half.
After the opening round the scores were level at 3-3 and the promised close match was seemingly heading in that direction.
Barrett and Triffitt moved over to the show court but found Boid and Davis much tougher opponents. Finding themselves 1-5 down they battled back to close the gap to one game before running out of steam and ultimately losing 4-6.
So as Academy moved ahead 3-5 it was vital the other home pairs were able to put points on the board and they didn’t disappoint.
Chantrey and Duckenfield were convincing 6-0 winners over Karen Carpenter and Chris Dixon with the duo having far too many big plays in their armour. Wetherby were then able to go into the last round ahead as Teasdale and Steel also won beating the disheartened Cunningham and Jones 6-2.
Leading 7-5 the hosts knew another point was all that was needed but were in no mood to just do enough. Chantry was pleased to see that even at half pace she and Duckenfield were comfortable 6-1 winners against Cunningham and Jones and as often is the case were first back in the club house after another tremendous points haul where they picked up five from a possible six. It was a good effort from Chantrey who has now been forced to pull out of the ladies second team game on Sunday with her injury still proving troublesome. Barrett and Triffitt were looking for their first win of the night and finally were able to get their noses in front and stay there when winning 6-2 against Carpenter and Nixon. They contributed three points to the Wetherby score.
The night was drawing in and the lights were on as the game of the night began to unfold on court one. Teasdale and Steel were playing their best tennis of the evening and putting Boid and Davis under increasing pressure. With Steel covering every inch of the court as is typical of her game and Teasdale frustrating the Academy pair with punishing lobs which inevitably were landing right by the baseline, the pair to the delight of the watching crowd took the final game 7-5 for a richly deserved victory and in doing so earned all the plaudits. They too managed five points on the night to finish as joint top scorers.
A final score line of 13-5 was perhaps a shade unlucky on the visitor but Wetherby really turned the screw especially in that last round to win all three matches and make the score line a relatively convincing one.
A third placed finish is very much reward for a good team effort this term when only the top two teams have lowered their colours.
They finish with an away game at Wetherby B hoping the second team have beaten Burton Leonard on Tuesday to keep themselves in the division.
The previous evening the mixed first team travelled to Academy A. Wetherby have been fighting relegation all season but in a very tight section where generally teams 3 to 7 inclusive are separated by only a point, it shows how competitive Division 2 has been this season.
They still were looking for points to secure their safety but knew results elsewhere would hopefully mean they would be safe anyway.
Academy A were on the verge of confirming their promotion behind runaway title winners Boroughbridge and looked in no mood to postpone that on the night.
Wetherby were forced into team changes with top seeds and number one couple Rachel Hill and Josh Bayliss unavailable. Captain Sue Jacklin reinstated herself and she played alongside Mike Abel who stepped up from the York mixed second team. On a gloomy night when playing conditions proved difficult, the pair found the hosts in buoyant mood and determined to go up in style. However after losing the opening set 6-1 they levelled the rubber with a 4-6 success. Despite a valiant effort they were unable to add any more points to the visitors scorecard.
Marc Bickers and Helen Robinson enjoyed their evening although it proved fruitless. They were without much luck in all honesty and again despite running their opponents close were left empty handed from their three matches against very impressive opposition.
Nigel Williams and Lucy Wright are a battling couple who leave nothing in the changing room. They were keen to ensure Wetherby left with heads held high and the third seeds managed to put some respectability on the scorecard. Despite a loss against home number one duo Andy Cousins and Angela Stevens who finished on five points, they drew with Thomas Cameron and Vanessa Cameron before rounding off proceedings with a 5-7 final game win over Katie Collins and Jarrod Robinson which earned them three points for their considerable efforts.
As the hosts cracked open the champagne to celebrate promotion following a 14-4 victory, Wetherby were left to drink tea hoping news from Starbeck would be beneficial to their relegation fight. Ironically with Academy B losing it did indeed mean Wetherby were safe with Academy B looking favourites to join already relegated Northallerton in Division three next term.
Well done against quality opposition and congratulations on maintaining Division two status for next year.