Wetherby 2 entertained Starbeck this evening in a rearranged Winter League game cancelled from week one. It was a misty and fog bound evening that greeted the players on arrival at Castlegarth with Hats and gloves the order of the day. Starbeck arrived having won one and lost one and were looking for a victory to challenge for second place. They travelled south with a strong team and were big favourites for the match. Wetherby had struggled to name a quartet with both Wetherby captains Janine Smith and Mike Triffitt actually competing.
Smith teamed up with her fellow Harrogate Division five partner Greg Vince with Triffitt accompanied by Trish Bell who is usually seen representing the mixed team in York Division four.
After a quick warm up play commenced with the eerie atmosphere as the fog rolled in making a spooky setting usually associated with an episode of Scooby doo!
Round one saw Smith and Vince take on Starbeck duo Jo Douglas and Chris White. Douglas has been a prominent member of the Starbeck A team which finished third in Division two of the Harrogate mixed league last season and it was easy to see why as she is a very accomplished player with a lovely touch. White is an excellent player too and been a left hander is difficult to read and play against. A strong server he too possess a deft touch and is extremely fit. He had been the top scoring player for the Starbeck B team who unfortunatley had suffered a disappointing season in Division three where they had finished bottom and suffered relegation.
Vince was giving everything with his usual style of returning many shots deep and proving difficult to pass. With partner Smith prominent at the net and producing some lovely smashes the Wetherby pair certainly made their higher rated opponents work hard for victory. They eventually did come through 5-7 in an excellent rubber.
Over on Court four Bell and Triffitt opened up against Starbeck captain Di Lang and Chris Noddings. Lang is accustomed to playing at a high level and played in the majority of games for the Starbeck first team in Division One this season. They finished an excellent fourth in a very strong section and again it was easy to see why as she dominated the court in an efficient manor proving extremely difficult to pass. Nodding’s is a giant of a man and almost impossible to lob. He too played with Douglas in Division Two and was top scorer for Starbeck in that section. An excellent baseliner and equally comfortable on forehand and backhand, he played without fear throughout and was difficult to put off his stride. Bell was playing well from deep however and was making some fantastic returns of real power to keep the hosts competitive. Triffitt adopted his usual unorthodox style which probably took Starbeck by surprise and a slower second serve reaped benefits.Ultimatley their efforts proved in vein but after a good rubber they were on the wrong end of a 3-9 scoreline despite forcing deuce in many of the games.
So the favourites made a strong start and led 8-16 after round one.
Triffitt and Vince knew they would need to produce the tennis of their lives to upset the two Chris’s but were determined to go down fighting. An enjoyable match was played in a sporty fashion with all players having moments to cherish. Vince in particular will long remember charging in like a raging bull to return a forehand with venom that split the Starbeck pair for a beauty of a winner. With Triffitt having reasonable success at the net Wetherby did indeed cause moments of panic but White and Nodding’s proved too strong and classy to run out worthy winners 4-8.
Over on court four Smith and Bell were also enjoying themselves with plenty of fun and laughter on show. Once again Bell was happy to play deep with Smith marauding around the net and both produced some excellent tennis against higher rated opponents. They won’t often face a pair as laid back and confident as Douglas and Lang however and the Starbeck ladies were a joy to watch at times as they used the full width of the court to full effect. After a really good match Starbeck recorded a 4-8 win.
With the contest almost won as the visitors led 16-32, the final round began with the fog clearing slightly but the rain starting to fall to make conditions difficult underfoot.
Smith and Vince entertained Lang and Nodding’s and there was a whiff of an upset as the favourites held a narrow 4-5 lead. With the Wetherby couple forcing a number of errors from their opponents they were growing in confidence but the Starbeck duo dug deep to finally run out winners 4-8 after holding their nerve during the final three games.
Bell and Triffitt were struggling against Douglas and White who had started to turn up the heat on a cold evening and raced into an early 0-5 lead. However Bell is a determined player and not one to be downhearted and she was the driving force behind a mini recovery. With Triffitt managing to find success with repeated lob winners they dug deep to make a game of it before finally succumbing 4-8 as the rain really started to fall heavier.
A final winning scoreline for a superb Starbeck quartet of 24-48 but well played to the Wetherby team for competing and making the favourites pull out all the stops. Once again a really good atmosphere with no contentious calls or disputes and it was a credit to all players they turned out on such a miserable evening but they certainly didn’t let the weather spoil such a great evening of tennis.
Starbeck move joint second with Wetherby One and Boroughbridge and although Rufforth look champions elect, the race for the runners up berth should be extremely interesting.
Tonight’s winning Starbeck team from left to right – Jo Douglas, Chris White, Captain Di Lang and Chris Noddings.
Gallant runners up representing Wetherby 2 were from left to right – Trish Bell, Greg Vince, Captain Janine Smith and Mike Triffitt.