Wetherby B made a quick return to action yesterday when they entertained Harrogate Racquets at Castlegarth. After a narrow reverse at Academy they were hoping to bounce back against a Racquets team who came down from Division four last term and have lost key personnel and now find themselves at the bottom following four straight defeats.
Doug Harrison stepped up to seed one to continue his productive partnership with Ann Jones and they took on the visitors top pairing of James Adeley and Clare Beavan. The Racquets duo both served well and adopted an aggressive net based game. Harrison and Jones knew the only way to counter was a mixture of unorthodox play and a disguised short game which they applied to good effect. The visitors became frustrated with the slower pace which forced them into errors and as the contest became tight it was Wetherby who triumphed 7-5.David Rhodes,fresh from a one hundred percent record with the men’s third team the day before, had dried off sufficiently after a match played in very wet conditions to continue his mixed partnership with Anne Lillywhite. They started at seed two and took on the crafty Racquets duo of Mike Brown and Jane Walker. This pair have been the one shining light in a disappointing campaign for the Harrogate based outfit and were currently top scorers on the season for the club in Division five. They were pretty consistent throughout and the ability to cut out unforced errors meant they always had the upper hand. Rhodes adopted his deft short game and Lillywhite her attacking baseline approach but Wetherby were narrowly beaten 5-7 after a good rubber.Captain Ian Teasdale played at seed three with Helen Browne who came off the subs bench for her first start of the season. They took on Brian Quinn and Ali Gould. Teasdale is adept at picking on weakness and he quickly asserted from the start to punish any error a spirited Quinn and Gould made. With Browne clearly enjoying her first outing the Wetherby pair quickly gelled and led from pillar to post to run out cosy 8-4 winners.
This match was always going to be close and following the opening round the hosts led 20-16. Harrison has been playing long enough to know when to attack and with Quinn and Gould next up he and Jones set about this weaker pair from the outset. The class of Harrison and the wonderful returns from Jones went it was the visitors who made the errors and could never get to grips with the Wetherby duo who produced some excellent tennis to record a very useful 9-3 success. However just when Wetherby thought the contest was turning firmly their way they were brought quickly back down to earth following a performance of the evening from Adeley and Beavan. This pair really turned on the style and their aggressive play ensured they dominated throughout against a bewildered David Rhodes and Anne Lillywhite. The harder the Wetherby couple tried the less effective they became and it really was a futile attempt anyway as Racquets were literally unplayable. A 1-11 away success swung the game on its head and right back in the melting pot. Captain Teasdale was hoping to reduce the deficit but with Brown and Walker a tough nut to crack and favourites for the rubber the best he and Browne could achieve was damage liability. They took a useful four from a 4-8 loss but this left the visitor now ahead 34-38 with the final round to play.
Rhodes and Lillywhite were chomping at the bit to return to the court and address their dissapointing previous round showing. They looked calm and focused as they began against Quinn and Gold and they were happy to win 8-4 to bring the match result all square at 38-38. Teasdale and Browne then produced their best of the evening and caused a real shock when lowing the colours of Racquets top seeds Adely and Beavan 7-5 in a titanic rubber which the Wetherby pair had to dig extremely deep to win. The Wetherby duo produced some excellent backs to the wall stuff to surprise their opponents and put the hosts ahead 45-43 with just the one rubber left. Harrison and Jones were the last couple on court and luckily for them were oblivious to what was developing elsewhere. The Wetherby top pair were battling to contain Brown and Walker and it was anyone’s guess who would finally come out on top. However with Brown and Walker racing into a 4-0 lead and then 6-3 the contest looked lost and the visitors were all set to bag a first success of the season. However if ever a couple can be relied upon to battle all the way to the line then Harrison and Jones are high up that list and they were in no mood to surrender tamely. Mustering one final surge they took the last three games to salvage a vital 6-6 draw and help secure a famous 55-53 overall winning margin.
This was really all about team work with all six players playing influential roles and part of a very close success. The visitors had helped make this one of the most thrilling ties of the season and one couldn’t help feel symphony for them after it was so near yet so far once more. It surely can’t be long before they get their heads in front on this performance however.
Wetherby B now move up into third place and on the same points as Wetherby A who play their game in had later this week at home to Bedale on Thursday evening. The B team are next in action a week on Wednesday when they visit champions elect Harrogate Spa so can enjoy this prolonged break before walking into the lion’s den!
A blurred scorecard. Perhaps Doug Harrison had cracked open his Wine tasting evening supply a little too early hey!!!