The Men’s third team played their penultimate game of the season when they travelled south to Wakefield this morning. Injury and absence meant starts for two players making their first appearance of the campaign for the team.
Wetherby are currently in fourth, a place and a point behind todays opponents Wakefield. Therefore despite Roundhay and Dacre going up the race for third place was still very much alive.
The team were showing two changes from that which had stunned leaders Roundhay on their previous outing. Youngsters Josh Bayliss and Ryan Castelow were unavailable so the older heads of Neil Ripley and Rob Payne kindly stepped in.
Payne partnered captain for the day Mike Triffitt and they played seed one opening against the useful looking younger pairing of Danny Franklin and Ryan Serle. The match was played in tough conditions with a swirling wind making many shots extremely difficult for all concerned. Franklin is the competitions leading player and with partner Serle also in the top ten it was going to take a big effort from the Wetherby men to lower their colours.
The opening set was extremely tight before Triffitt saved match point twice serving at 5-6 down. Wetherby took the game into a tie break where Payne showed his undoubted class to see them home 3-7 for a 6-7 first set win. Wakefield stormed back however and always led during the second set to level the match after a fine 6-4 success. Both teams will feel they could have won but on balance a draw was a fair reflection and both camps left relatively happy.
Over on court two Wakefield captain Vic Ahmed was partnered by young debutant Lucas Waite. They faced experienced Wetherby pair Mark Lawson and Neil Ripley. Again despite the wind playing havoc Lawson and Ripley were much the steadier pairing and playing some exciting tennis were able to run out comfortable winners 2-6,1-6 to leave the visitors 1-3 ahead following the first round.
Wetherby knew they needed two more sets to secure victory and Rob Payne was in no mood to hang around against Ahmed and Waite. The big serving and powerful net player took the initiate early on and coupled with the crafty Triffitt the pair were comfortable throughout the contest. They ran out easy winners 2-6,1-6 to ensure Wetherby were already in the winners enclosure.
Lawson and Ripley were certainly enjoying their battle against the Wakefield number one pair too. There was plenty of long, big hitting rallies from all players and in a tight opener the hosts edged it 6-4. Not downhearted the Wetherby men came storming back and in an impressive performance were 2-6 winners to level the tie and ensure Wetherby were ultimately cosy 2-6 winners on the day.
This excellent result moves Wetherby up to third position ahead of their final game of the season away at champions elect Dacre. It will need another big effort to win there and retain third place but fingers crossed they do so.
Thanks again to Rob and Neil for their excellent contributions today and good luck in that final match at Dacre.