The Harrogate mixed first team have done well to avoid relegation this term but still have two games left of the season. It has been a battle all campaign to keep their noses above water but now free from the threat of demotion they can at least relax and enjoy their remaining games.
On Monday night they travelled north to Starbeck for a rearranged fixture with the Harrogate based outfit after the clash last week was lost to the weather. The hosts were one of six teams that could realistically have gone down with only two points still separating them in third with Academy B in seventh who have actually fallen through the trapdoor. This has been the tightest of all six Harrogate divisions with every game extremely hard fought and no opportunity to rest of ones laurels!.
Starbeck went into this game on the back of two consecutive victories and were in buoyant mood ahead of their final game of the season. Wetherby were looking to finish their campaign on a high too and could still finish third if they were able to manage victories in both fixtures.
Regular number one paring Josh Bayliss and Rachel Hill once again opened the batting at seed one and they were involved in a tough contest with Rich Noland and Katie Draper. The spoils were shared with the visitors winning the first set 4-6 before been pegged back 6-3 in the second. Bayliss had been buoyed prior to the game with the news he had moved up to number 12 in the overall season playing stats for Division two whilst Hill was close behind in 14 herself. Starbeck number three Shaun Horne and Jo Douglas were put to the sword next with Bayliss and Hill turning on the style to hand out a 0-6 thrashing. The duo’s final opponents were both top 20 players themselves and Christopher and Christine Nodding’s are arguably Starbecks form couple. They certainly were in good form as the Wetherby couple found out and ran out comfortable 6-2 winners in a game that adopted the 2-1-1 playing format. So 1.5 points was a fair effort from Bayliss and Hill.
Nigel Williams and Lucy Wright played at seed two and were involved in three extremely close rubbers during the evening. Lady luck perhaps just deserted them however as they were on the wrong end of a 6-4 ,6-5 opening defeat against the Nodding’s and despite a brave effort, lost 7-5 against Noland and Draper but were rewarded for their considerable efforts with a battling 6-6 draw against Horne and Douglas. A half point seemed poor reward however for those efforts and left the hosts in pole position for victory.
Captain Sue Jacklin partnered Marc Bickers at three and they were involved in a high scoring opening draw after a 6-5,5-6 tie with Horne and Douglas. They took the scalp of home number one due Noland and Draper 4-6 but they too fell to the impressive Nodding’s losing 6-2. However a very creditable total of 1.5 was secured which was most welcome. However ultimately it was not enough as Starbeck ran out deserved winners 5.5 v 3.5 to end their season on a high and put themselves in pole position to hold on to third place.
For Wetherby a gallant effort and even in defeat some tremendous tennis was on show but fair play to Starbeck for proving quality and strong opposition. Wetherby are quickly back in action when they host Bedale on Thursday at Castlegarth in a straight battle for fourth and fifth placings. The North Yorkshire outfit hold a place and a point advantage so Wetherby will need to avenge an earlier unlucky away defeat to pinch fourth spot from them.
Well done to all concerned Monday and good luck with Bedale on Thursday.