Following today’s successful open day hosted by head coach Angela Crossley and Jo Coverdale, attention switched to league matters with Wetherby B hosting Ripon B in Division Five of the Harrogate and District mixed doubles. The visitors arrived having opened the season with successive wins and despite missing star man Shaun McKeag were still favourites to maintain a 100% winning start.
Captain Ian Teasdale was offered the luxury of resting himself and was also buoyed by the return of Anne Lillywhite following a short injury absence. Walter Skubiak who had top scored with Janine Smith in the recent win at Burton Leonard once again started at seed one and with Smith playing for the ladies second team, Judith Crossley came in for her seasonal debut. She effortlessly stepped into the fold and with Skubiak a popular and very easy player to partner the duo set about the evenings work. They certainly had to battle in the opening set as Ripon Number one’s Carol Tetlow and Chris Alpin are a useful combination. They raced into a 4-1 lead but the hosts battled back with the tenacity of strong baseliner Skubiak and the delightful controlled smashes and volleys of Crossley ensuring they secured a share of the spoils following a 6-6 draw.
Doug Harrison returned from another of his many jaunts abroad to partner Ann Jones and the pair continued the good form they had shown in the opening contest with Wetherby A playing some more excellent tennis here.They battled relentlessly against Jo Sailsbury and Peter Atherley who have both been extremely influential, albeit with different partners, in Ripon’s early season success. They continued that good run with a narrow 5-7 win here too.
Anne Lillywhite was chomping at the bit to return and many were surprised but delighted to see her back so quickly. She teamed up with David Rhodes who had been part of the winning Wetherby side last week. He and Lillywhite were in tremendous form from the outset against the beleaguered Ripon duo of Maureen Packer and David Waterhouse who found the step up from Divison Six playing with the C team a bridge too far as they were put to the sword 11-1. Lillywhite produced some stunning ground strokes and with Rhodes offering a calm influence on court coupled with some delightful back hand short play, the duo were loving every minute.
This ensured Wetherby begin round two with a useful 8 point lead. Harrison had suffered a crashing fall into the netting,reminiscent of Paul Godden playing for the men’s team earlier this morning, and was clearly shaken although he was happy to only suffer bumps and bruises. He and Jones remained consistent and both deployed a crafty short game to good effect taking plenty of pace off the ball to frustrate their opponents.Tetlow and Alpin struggled to dominate as they may have hoped and after a tremendously hard fought affair honours were even at 6-6. Whether it was over confidence or a steep raise in class but Anne Lillywhite and David Rhodes were soon brought back down to earth against the impressive Salisbury and Atherley. The Ripon pair take no prisoners and duly despatched the Wetherby couple 3-9 to breath fresh life into the contest. However once again Packer and Waterhouse were struggling and Skubiak and Crossley sensing blood were in no mood for mercy as they turned the screw once more to emulate Rhodes and Lillywhite with another 11-1 rout.
The tie was beginning to run away from the visitors with Wetherby now extending their advantage to 12 with the last round starting. Fair play to the Ripon number threes who upped their game to make a real go of it and only just lost out 7-5 against Harrison and Jones. This meant things could get interesting especially as Salisbury and Atherley despatched Skubiak and Crossley 4-8. However that was ultimately a crucial four against a strong pair and with David Rhodes and Anne Lillywhite capturing their earlier form and securing a fantastic 7-5 win over the visitors number ones it was time to celebrate with Wetherby running out winners 60-48 on the evening. This lifts them to joint top on four points although Wetherby A and Spa have played a game less. The big two clash in Harrogate on Wednesday so something will have to give and this section is proving intriguing with only one team likely to have a 100% record come Wednesday evening after the early exchanges.
Well done to both teams for providing a good session of entertainment and best of luck to Wetherby B who are next in action a week on Wednesday when they visit Academy C. Captain Teasdale may have a nice selection poser on his hands, if only for the excellent teas on offer at the Academy!!!
Elsewhere the ladies second and third teams were in action but after successful promotion campaigns last season will find things decidedly tougher this. The second team were at Dunnington 2 who looked favourites on paper but once again the curse of the injured player struck the visitors with the unfortunate Ginny Hinds pulling a quad. The tie was nicely balanced as the teams entered the final round but with Hinds clearly struggling and unable to compete she and Jill Abel had to concede 12-0 after trailing by 6.Earlier the pair had secured 10 points.
Marise Richfield and Janine Smith found the conditions far from ideal and despite a spirited showing and two close rubbers were well beat in their opener but added a further 11 points to the tally.
Captain Fiona Chantry led from the front and paired up with the returning and experienced Trish Bell. The duo dominated with two victories and a draw to post an impressive 23 point haul. Wetherby were therefore beaten 64-44 in a game which would have been far closer without a 12 point concession.
Onwards and upwards and the team remain confident and will look to regroup when they host Boston Spa next Saturday at Castlegarth. Hard luck today and better luck next week for sure.
The third team were missing players due to both Ann Jones and Anne Lillywhite playing in the mixed match. They faced a tough season opener away at Adel who had been in Division One last term. Bev Lynn and Katie Barrett teamed up and despite two defeats managed a narrow 7-5 reverse in one set .Catherine Keighley partnered Mary Fiddler who came off the bench but again the Adel ladies were too classy and despite many close games and plenty of deuces the hosts were convincing 8-0 winners on the evening.
This was always going to be a very hard task but hopefully a good introduction to tennis at this next level will leave our ladies better prepared for future contests. They entertain Chapel Allerton on Friday, although that also promises to be extremely tough with Chapel posting an opening day 7-1 victory at home to Pool last week. Good luck .
The first team were also unable to win on Saturday when they lost 47-61 at home to York 1. The visitors had won the title last year with a 100% record and 14 wins so this was always going to be tough for Yvonne Mannall’s team. A competitive match and relatively close score was encouraging however and shows the team are still able to go head to toe with the top sides in the section. They travel to York 2 next weekend eager to get back on track.