On Thursday evening Wetherby 2 entertained Boroughbridge in the Winter League. A 5pm drizzle had threatened to make the match a little uncomfortable but an hour later the weather was dry and this continued throughout the night despite temperatures been far cooler of late. Boroughbridge arrived having beaten Wetherby 1 40-32 in their only game of the campaign and they picked from strength with two members from that victorious team once again in action. With captain Sean Watts also available and Nicola Scott, fresh from top scoring for Boroughbridge B in Division four of the Harrogate mixed league, also selected this meant Wetherby faced an uphill task.
Wetherby had selected Barry Johnson, Greg Vince and Judith Crossley who had all played many games for the mixed team in Harrogate League five last season along with Dawn Steel who was a regular in Ian Teasdale’s Wetherby A team in the same section.
The visitors soon began to dominate proceedings during the opening mixed doubles rubbers. Steel and Vince are a duo that will ensure plenty of balls are returned and it takes some thought and craftiness to outwit this pair. However opponents Chantal Lancaster and Charlie Grasby are used to playing at a higher level and their class was all too evident. The pair had won both their mixed games against Wetherby 1 previously and once again formed a very useful partnership. Grasby is a decent server and controls key areas of the court with his fine mobility whilst Lancaster is difficult to read and even harder to pass. Despite a number of deuce games Boro eventually came through 4-8 after an excellent 12 games of tennis.
Captain for the night Barry Johnson is used to playing the underdog role after many backs to the walls performances captaining the Wetherby B mixed team that avoided relegation on the final day of the season last year. He partnered Judith Crossley and the pair made life difficult for the favourites with some unorthodox play and lethal finishing. However once again Bridge duo Sean Watts and Nicola Scott just had a little more up their sleeves. Watts is another all action athletic individual and with Scott as a cool as a cumber and rarely unnerved, they made all to record a 2-10 success.
The match had already began to drift away from the hosts but they continued to fight and certainly all enjoy themselves. Wetherby ladies Crossley and Steel fought with great determination against the odds during the ladies rubber but Scott and Lancaster finally prevailed 1-11 which was harsh on the home side pair.
The men fared better with Vince and Johnson gamely battling on before succumbing 3-9 to the impressive Grasby and Watts.
With Boroughbridge now well on their way to victory the final round of mixed games proved the closest of the night and had the visitors sweating to remain undefeated. With Wetherby playing with a freedom and without pressure they surprised Boro with some expansive tennis which caught their opponents off guard. Both rubbers were in the balance before Bridge finally secured both 5-7.
A final score line of 20-52 was perhaps a little harsh on Wetherby but nothing can be taken away from a very professional performance from the visitors who on this form have put themselves firmly in the title reckoning. They move up to second place on four points from two opening victories and hot on the tails of Rufforth who are also unbeaten but have played a game more. The two are not due to play until the final game of the season and it may well prove to be a title decider on that particular evening. Before them other teams still harbour strong hopes of been involved. Starbeck especially, who have yet to play this term, but face early leaders Rufforth next Thursday in a match that will test their championship credentials to the limit.
For Wetherby its two defeats but all four players this evening thoroughly enjoyed the experience of facing tough opposition. Interestingly as members of the Harrogate league that adopt sets rather than best of 12 York and Winter League style formats, they all agreed that the 12 game system works extremely well and are pleased that Harrogate will be trailing this next season during their summer league.
Well done to all concerned for once again ensuring the Winter league is a competition that provides good quality tennis and entertainment.