Wetherby B were in action tonight when they travelled to Harrogate to face Academy C. With the ladies third team game a victim of the weather away at Pool, the team travelled in hope rather than optimism of actually getting on court. However despite the rain and unplayable conditions outside the game did go ahead as the players moved indoors. Academy do have a great set up with some wonderful facilities and the team were pleased and delighted to able to demonstrate their talents under a roof!
Wetherby have made an encouraging start to the season recording two wins and one loss whilst Academy had managed one win with two losses including a heavy defeat at Wetherby A. They have a large squad and rotate at will so one never quite knows what to expect when facing this outfit.
With conditions perfect indoors Wetherby number one duo David Rhodes and Anne Lillywhite faced opposite number John Benedict and Juliet Jones. Benedict is a wily and very experienced left hander with a strong forehand whilst partner Jones remained steady throughtout a hard fought contest. Lillywhite was equally at home battling from the baseline and with Rhodes showing a lovely touch with his short game this rubber went down to the wire. A share of the spoils at 6-6 was a fair reflection of an excellent contest.Wetherby veterans Doug Harrison and Ann Jones however are even more experienced and it takes a good couple to outfox this pair of wily characters too of course!. They faced up to Chris and Karen Nixon who are a very polite and courteous duo. Chris hits a wicked forehand whilst Karen is deceptively classy with a low error count and a good returner. However neither ever really got to grips with a Harrison master class performance where his mixture of drop shots and disguised back hands left his bewildered opponents flabbergasted. With Jones a wonderful foil and an expert at taking pace off the returns they frustrated the home duo to record an impressive 4-8 success.Captain Ian Teasdale teamed up with ladies second team player Marise Richfield who came in with Judith Crossley and Katie Barrett absent. They faced Alan Cunningham and Andrea Bethell. Despite been the third pair they were arguably the hosts strongest couple with Alan very steady and difficult to pass and Andrea producing some wonderful volleys during the evening. Their ability to remain consistent put them in a good position and despite Teasdale using his unorthodox game to keep the visitors in with a shout they were always playing catch up. Richfield was producing some lovely composed returns of her own and this quiet but focused individual was certainly not fazed. Another good battle but the greater power from the hosts saw them over the line 8-4.
An intriguing first round with a real mixture of styles on show had the scores level at 18-18.The second round began with Rhodes and Lillywhite playing the Nixon’s and they quickly decided that forcing the issue and injecting pace and power would unsettle the Academy pair. These tactics worked a treat and meant Wetherby ran out cosy 4-8 winners. Harrison and Jones knew they would have to draw on their reserves of energy against Cunningham and Bethell and true to form a number of epic energy sapping rallies ensued. This was another fine rubber and was so tight throughout. Eventually the hosts edged home 7-5 against the brave and gallant Wetherby couple.Teasdale and Richfield took on the Harrogate sides number one pairing and once again you couldn’t split the quartet as the match developed. Some lovely recovery work from the visitors ensured they made the hosts battle all the way to a very narrow 7-5 advantage.
The final round began and still the teams couldn’t be separated with the score standing at 36-36!.However the long games and extended playing time was going to start working against the visitors. Rhodes and Lillywhite found Cunningham and Bethell too hot to handle and in fairness the Academy two produced a very classy round of tennis which they dominated. A 9-3 winning score meant suddenly the hosts smelt blood and moved in for the kill. Harrison and Jones were once again involved in another titanic battle and rolled back the years to withstand everything that Benedict and Juliet Jones could throw at them. There was some very tired legs and limbs as the hosts just prevailed 7-5.That score was a popular one with four rubbers finishing that way and unfortunately for Wetherby Teasdale and Richfield fell to that score in their final tie. Richfield was enjoying the carpet conditions and producing some excellent baseline play whilst Teasdale was pleased that the roof was high enough to cater for his speciality lobs!.
Another big effort from all on show but the hosts produced the goods when it mattered and turned the game their way to finally prevail 59-49 in a really entertaining evening of tennis played in a wonderful sprit. Academy may not be top of the league on the playing front in Division 5 but they arguably lead the way off the court with excellent facilities and a particular fine catering department. The fine food was richly deserved on a memorable evening.
The B Team are back in action this Sunday at Castlegarth when Harrogate Racquets are the visitors. After relegation last term and the loss of key personnel, they have yet to taste victory in four outings and defeat on Sunday will leave them very much in a relegation dog fight.