Prior to the start from left to right we had Tom Pearson, Barry Johnson, Mike Triffitt, Janine Smith, Doug Harrison, Ann Jones, Walter Skubiak, Katie Barrett, Anne Lillywhite and Ian Teasdale standing with Rachel Butterwith and Fiona Chantrey crouching.
On a glorious sunny evening Wetherby B entertained Wetherby A in the opening game of the Harrogate and District Mixed doubles League Division Five. The B team selected from their original squad but the A Team were left with just three of their chosen eight due to injury and holiday commitments so Janine Smith was called up from the reserve list and Tom Pearson came in from the men’s third team and Rachel Butterworth from the ladies second team.
The sun was out but there was still a chilly wind in the air which made playing conditions slightly tricky as battle commenced. Unfortunately an early injury to Anne Lillywhite,who pulled a leg ligament and was therefore unable to continue, meant the match unfortunately slipped away from the hosts . Lillywhite and Ian Teasdale had been trailing Mike Triffitt and Janine Smith 7-2 at the time of withdrawal but the concession of the remaining three games couples with a further 24 in two lost rubbers effectively ended the contest. Before that and after a cagy start with the scores at 2-2,Triffitt and Smith upped the tempo to produce some controlled tennis and were poised to record victory on court three.
A disconsolate Anne Lillywhite on the sidelines after injury cut short her evening. Well done to Trish Bell who was on hand to administer the ice pack.
Over on court Two Pearson and Butterworth playing for the first time made a slow start. Pearson was in fact playing his first competitive mixed doubles encounter and after trailing 6-3 they fought back well as the penny started to drop to share the spoils at 6-6.
On the show court golden oldies Doug Harrison and Ann Jones were showing that even in the twilight years they remain a force to be reckoned with at this level. The duo played a controlled game and with Doug later described as having ‘soft hands’ using them to full effect with some delightful drop shots and cross court winners they made Barry Johnson and Fiona Chantrey from the A team pull out all the stops. Eventually the favourites prevailed 4-8 but not without a fight in an absorbing contest which was watched by a good crowd from the side lines.
The match continued without Lillywhite and Teasdale and Harrison and Jones were once again seen to good effect against Triffitt and Smith. They led 6-3 after playing error free tennis before a late rally saw the visitors take a share of a 6-6 final score line. This was the first match where the Harrogate league have adopted the 12 game scoring system used by the York league and this game typified how even at 6-3 down there was still chance of drawing level.
Wetherby A number one seeds Johnson and Chantrey showed their undoubted class against a gallant Walter Skubiak and Katie Barrett as they produced a classy performance to run out cosy 10-2 winners.
With the result sealed the final round begin with Pearson and Butterworth recording a 8-4 win over Harrison and Jones. Pearson started to fire down some big serves and seemed to be really enjoying himself although Harrison reminded him how a clever short game could still find the youngster wanting!
On Court One there was a tight affair with the score remaining close throughout between Triffitt and Smith and Skubiak and Barrett. Triffitt had used the lob to good effect in the previous two matches but found trying to keep Barrett away from the net a much harder task and she gobbled up numerous chances in impressive style. However the visitors did finally prevail 5-7 with Smith starting to find her form late on with some great defensive net play producing some welcome winners.
A final winning margin of 29-79 obviously flattered the visitors but they would in all honestly probably have still ended up victorious without the injury judging by the results of the other games played.
Once again a nice spread to celebrate at the end with the highlight a wonderful chocolate cake provided by Ian Teasdale’s better half. Well done and thanks to Jean and if only most things in life were as consistent and reliable as these wonderful creations hey!
Well done to all concerned and good luck to both teams for the remainder of their campaigns.