Wetherby 1 hosted Knaresborough this evening as the Winter League continued. For once the weather forecast was spot on with a dry but cold evening only interrupted by rain at 9pm as the final ball was hit. Both teams were forced into late changes. The Hosts had lost Rachel Butterworth to injury last week and husband Mike was forced to withdraw this morning due to business reasons. Lucy Wright and Josh Bayliss kindly stepped in and ensured Wetherby still took to the courts with a strong looking team. For Boro they were thankful to Jan Blogg who was a late replacement following good work from captain Paul White which ensured the match thankfully went ahead.
Bayliss and Wright paired up at number one with husband and wife combination Nigel and Louise Williams playing seed two for a rare appearance together.
Wetherby were quickly into their stride during the opening mixed rubbers. Bayliss and Wright have had excellent season’s playing for the Wetherby first mixed team in Harrogate League Division Two this term and were able to show their undoubted class here. Bayliss continues to grow in statue and this terrific left hander serves and volleys very well. With good court coverage he is an excellent partner for Wright, who with her all action and committed style, is difficult to beat. The pair maintained a high level of consistency throughout to run out cosy 10-2 winners.
Nigel Williams was sporting a lovely blue bobble hat which was well needed with temperatures approaching zero and he and Louise quickly gelled on court. They needed to as opponents Matt Hindle and Natasha Quigley are a very useful and accomplished pairing themselves. Quigley had been an integral part of the Knaresborough title winning side that had topped Division Five of the Harrogate mixed league and is a cool competitor with an excellent all round game. Hindle is a good server and fierce smasher of the ball and anything close to the net was usually put away effortlessly. However Nigel Williams was the calmest player on court and his crafty play ultimately ensured the hosts ran out narrow 7-5 winners after some delightful tennis from both pairs.
This gave Wetherby a good start as they led 17-7 as round two began.
Boro needed to bounce back quickly but the hosts were in no mood to let slip their advantage. Visiting captain Paul White had also captained the successful Boro team that were crowned worthy champions in League Five and is a reliable player who is difficult to read. However he and partner Hindle were perhaps up in class facing Wetherby men Williams and Bayliss who are a match for most at this level. The duo complement each other extremely well and with Williams turning up the serving dial and Bayliss as strong as ever at the net they ran out impressive 9-3 winners.
Lucy Wright and Louise Williams have long been close friends both on and off the court and their understanding was to prove crucial this evening. Wright is one of the clubs leading females after stepping up to the Ladies first team last season and with Williams still on a high after helping the second team to promotion last term too the girls played with a real confidence together. Despite the best efforts and spirited performance of Quigley and Blogg they couldn’t stop Wetherby from recording another 9-3 victory.
So as the final round swung into action the hosts were well on course leading 35- 13 needing just 2 more games to secure the points.
The Williams were clearly enjoying themselves and with the bobble hat now discarded Nigel was warming up nicely. He was able to dominate proceedings with some carefully placed shots which had the visitors scampering round the court. Louise was seen to good effort producing her lovely forehand on many occasions. White battled on producing some nice winners of his own and Blogg recorded a number of fine shots at the net. Louise too enjoyed plenty of success with her net play after many a fine leap to land a winner. The rubber was close but finally Wetherby sneaked home 7-5.
On Court four Wright and Bayliss were involved in another exciting and close battle with Quigley and Hindle. This match was in the balance at 4-4 before the visitors just ran out of steam to succumb 8-4.
As the final ball was hit and the peel of 9pm bells sounded the rain began to fall but not before both teams had ensured an excellent night of tennis was played. Well done to both teams and all players this evening for once again producing some entertaining stuff.
After suffering two narrow defeats, Wetherby move up to third place on two points. Knaresborough are yet to get off the mark but are due back soon to play Wetherby 2 hoping to break that duck a week on Thursday.
Tonights winning Wetherby 1 team from left to right – Josh Bayliss, Lucy Wright, Louise Willams and Nigel Williams.
Brave runners up from Knaresborough from left to right – Paul White, Jan Blogg, Natasha Quigley and Matt Hindle.