The Wetherby men’s third team were in action this afternoon after seeing their seasonal opener washed out late on Monday evening when they should have played at Kirkstall. The forecast was poor today with heavy rain forecast this afternoon and Horsforth captain Robert Naylor kindly agreed to bring the start time forward an hour to give the teams more chance of completing the tie.
Rain was in the air as the game commenced with Marc Bickers and David Rhodes playing at seed one taking on visiting pair two Robert Taylor and Richard Kidd. Bickers could well turn out to be the signing of the season by Wetherby captain Mike Triffitt who quickly signed up the player once he was surplus to requirements with the second team. The tall and rangy player had produced a top scoring man of the match performance on Thursday when helping the Harrogate mixed one team to a first win of the season and he looked in confident mood as he breezed effortlessly around the court. Producing some wonderful powerful serving, not usually found at this level, he pegged back the Horsforth pair with pace and power. Partner David Rhodes was also in great form and rolled back the years to produce a number of deft short shots which complemented the aggressive style of Bickers. Rhodes himself had only played Thursday when suffering a narrow defeat with Wetherby B at Academy but he was certainly enjoying the extra time and space afforded with having such a strong partner. Bickers and Rhodes remained consistent throughout in recording a comprehensive 6-2,6-3 victory which gave the hosts an excellent start as they led 2-0.
Captain Triffitt was on Court Five accompanied by Wetherby A mixed captain Barry Johnson and this organised duo, who have partnered many times before, looked at ease in one another’s company. They knew they would need to reproduce their best form against Horsforth number one duo Kieran Igwe and Brian Hayes however. Igwe is a well built and real physical specimen who boomed down many unreturnable serves whilst Hayes is an imposing figure himself and took some passing. The visitors started the better and Triffitt and Johnson struggled to contain the big hitting pair. Triffitt was desperately trying to stay in the match with some excellent returns and the use of his customary lob whilst Johnson stood firm at the net in the face of a barrage of missiles heading his way. Eventually Igwe and Hayes secured the opening set 3-6.The rain was showing no sign of abating but with the players now accustomed to the conditions and the courts holding up well play continued. Johnson was starting to find the form he has been showing during an encouraging start to the mixed season and he and Triffitt began to frustrate their opponants with their unorthodox style. Johnson was using his backhand to great success and with Triffitt keeping the ball in play and inviting errors from the visitor the second set was swinging towards the home pair. They let slip a 5-2 lead to allow Horsforth to level at 5-5 but kicked on to take the next two games for a worthy 7-5 success to share the spoils at one set apiece.
So at the half way stage Wetherby led 3-1. Bickers and Rhodes moved over to Court Five to take on Igwe and Hayes and a close contest was expected. However the Wetherby men soon picked up the tempo from their first round win to take control from the start. The Wetherby top pair were really complementing one another with differing styles that worked excellent together and they took the opener 6-2. As the rain lashed down, fortunately the puddles that were appearing on Court Three were not replicated on Court Five and with the visitors wilting Bickers continued to pile on the misery hitting a number of impressive winners. Rhodes produced many a winner from the net and his backhand was a very useful weapon on display. The pair were keen to wrap up proceedings and ran out 6-3 winners to take the tie 2-0 before heading back into the clubhouse to dry out!. A blow for the third team will be Rhodes unable to play any further part this season with the sunnier climes of Spain now calling.
Triffitt and Johnson took on Naylor and Kidd and knew they had the ability to win if keeping the ball alive and reducing their own error count. Naylor was serving well and for a smaller chap leaping wonderfully at the net to power down any chance that fell his way. Kidd was struggling and could never get to grips with the Triffitt lob or the ferocity of the Johnson backhand. The Wetherby men were playing in a confident fashion and took the first set 6-3.With the scores nicely poised at 3-3 but with Bickers and Rhodes already securing the points to win the match, Wetherby knew they could relax and hopefully put the icing on the cake. By now conditions were barely playable but the quartet were determined to conclude the contest. As Horsforth heads dropped the consistency of Triffitt and Johnson was the key and they saw out the second set 6-4 to win 2-0.
A fantastic team effort with Bickers once again man of the match but really inspiring his team mates to greater heights it was job done and an impressive 7-1 overall victory.
For captain Triffitt, celebrating a 12 year wedding anniversary today too, this was a satisfying end to a turbulent week when at one point getting four players on the court was looking increasingly unlikely. The team are next in action away at Wakefield next Sunday who have opened their campaign with an 8-0 win at Pool so will once again provide stiff opposition.
A wet looking but happy four following todays terrific win. From left to right – David Rhodes, Marc Bickers, Barry Johnson and Mike Triffitt.
The gallant runners up were from left to right – Kieran Igwe, Richard Kidd, Robert Naylor and Brian Hayes.