The junior season kicked off tonight and Castlegarth hosted both U14 and U16 games. A good crowd of watching parents were able to bask in the sunshine and warm temperatures to witness Wetherby U16 take on their Rawdon counterparts whilst the U14 hosted old rivals John Charles from Leeds.
The mainstay of last seasons Under 14 squad have now moved up to Under 16 level and the famous four of Angus Harte, Dan Wright, Charlie Dixon and Ed Grogan were on show for the hosts. With court space at a premium Harte and Wright opened up in the doubles entertaining Henry Blaky and Fabian Javed on Court One. This match provided excellent tennis for the galleries with even the upstairs balcony attracting many viewers tonight. The opening set was a real dog fight with both teams having chances to win. There was some tremendous baseline action from all four players on view and this was an extremely tight contest. Finally Wetherby prevailed 5-3 4-0 after perhaps knocking the stuffing out of their opponents following such a close first set. They turned up the power in the second and made less errors and used the width of the court to good effect.
On Court Two Charlie Dixon and Ed Grogan paired up and they played Melody Seifzadeh and Grace Kencastle. The cheeky home chaps were certainly enjoying themselves in the sun with some excellent tennis and in all honesty were always well on top. As their confidence grew they began dominating the net and punishing the slightest error from the visitors and were worthy 4-1,4-1 winners by the end.
The four singles rubbers followed at various stages as the team shared court space with the U14 team and it was Angus Harte and Henry who once again entertained on the show court. This really was an excellent contest with both players producing moments of real quality. The flowing angled shots of Harte and the tremendous back hand defensive play from Blaky had the crowd on the edge of their seats but Harte is a useful prospect with a nice temperament and he finally ran out a 4-1,2-4 10-3 winner in a three set thriller.
Ed Grogan followed next on Court One and he too played some excellent adventurous tennis to wear down Grace Kencastle. Grogan was always in the ascendancy but Kencastle battled well throughout before falling 4-1,4-2.
Charlie Dixon was playing Melody Seifzadeh and although looking comfortable he was never really able to dominate enough to shake his dogged opponent off. Melody hit some well positioned forehands to keep Dixon on his toes although the Wetherby man did finally make the winners enclosure with a 4-2,1-4,10-8 victory after a very close final set tie break.
On Court Two the classy Dan Wright was matching Fabian Javed shot for shot and with no quarter given this match was tense. However Wright demonstrated a strong resolve and produced some killer winners to prevail 5-1,5-4.
An excellent contest played in a superb spirit saw Wetherby ultimately run out 6-0 winners but well done to a gracious Rawdon for making them fight every inch of the way.
A beaming and proud coach Paul Archer alongside Ed Grogan on his right and Dan Wright to the left.
With the U14 team having lost all its big guns it was down to the up and coming youngsters to step up to the plate and take over the baton. Last year Wetherby and John Charles had kicked off the season with a 3-3 draw and this contest promised to be just as tight with the visitors having to replace their starts of last season too.
Bradley Triffitt and Henry Brown teamed up against Sophie Hobson and Joe Pass in the opening doubles and made an excellent start. Controlling the set throughout they played some error free tennis with a simple style to run out cosy 4-0 winners. However that seemed to shake up the visitors who began the second much more positively and certainly turned the tie on its head. Hobson was starting to cream some forehands and after taking a set to find her length was dragging the Wetherby boys all around the court. Triffitt and Brown were left helpless as John Charles won the second set 2-4 before edging home 9-11 in a thriller of a tie break.
Next door on Court four Sam Spencer and Sam Pratt were playing Kyla Mwakasungura and Maya Schottler and this tie was to prove the longest of the evening. What the two Sam’s lack in height and stature they certainly make up in tenacity and heart and in a yo yo match that ebbed and flowed it was difficult to say who would prevail. Kyla is an imposing figure and has a fantastic forehand that she used often to good effect and the tie was poised at 1-1 going into the tie break. Both teams had chances but it was the Sam’s who came good to prevail 5-3,4-5,10-8 after a marathon session.
Triffitt took on Hobson in the singles but after been a regular at seed four found the leap to seed one a tough one. As in the doubles ,Hobson proved equally as tough an opponent and with more room to unleash her forehand Triffitt spent most of the time defending and hoping for unforced errors from the John Charles top seed. He remained strong and fought valiantly but finally succumbed 1-4,4-5 despite having chances in the second set.
Henry Brown was in determined mood to put side the disappointment in the doubles and was quickly out of the traps against the dogged Joe Pass. Brown is a big physical unit and demonstrated a powerful game plan to win 4-2,4-1 in a thoroughly professional manor.
The match was poised at 2-2 with the Sam’s still to play and the tie going down to the wire. Sam Pratt was enjoying himself on Court Four however and was attacking at will as he unleased many powerful baseline shots, many with angle. Poor Maya Schottler was unable to stop the barrage and Pratt ran out a comfortable 4-0,4-1 winner.
So the match would be decided on Court Five with Sam Spencer against Kyla Mwakasungura. Kyla was dominant and Spencer spent the match defending. He did put enough pressure on his opponent to make the tie close but Maya proved too strong and despite Sam’s best efforts he probably ran out of steam following the marathon doubles earlier. John Charles clinched the rubber 2-4,2-4 to ensure honours were rightly even following a 3-3 draw.
A real entertaining evening of tennis was on show tonight and it was a real pleasure to see the courts full with youngsters playing at such a high level. This is the future for all three clubs on show tonight and it certainly looks a promising one .
Thanks to all the adults and parents for their support and good luck for the rest of the season.
Sam Pratt and Bradley Triffitt enjoyed the evening and were happy with a draw from a 3-3 result tonight.