On a balmy summers evening the York 1 mixed team were in action as they took on Bishopthorpe in Division Two of the York and District League. Wetherby have made a terrific start to what they hope will be a promotion campaign and have won their opening three contests. With the visitors suffering two defeats this looked a good opportunity for the hosts to extend their winning run. However Thorpe’s two losses had been narrow ones and against David Lloyd and Rufforth who are both expected to be challenging near the summit. Coupled with Wetherby having to draw on reserves this evening due to significant absence it suddenly meant the tie had a much more closer feel about it.
Steve Jones was still suffering with injury so along with daughter Becky were both unavailable. Charlotte Todd ,Jeremy Reddish and David Woon were also absent which meant a first start for ladies second team player Emma Abel and man of the moment Marc Bickers who seemingly plays for most teams these days!
With no Woon, David Corbyn stepped in to partner captain Angela Crossley and this duo formed a strong and powerful seed one double act. Opponents Laura Rhodes and James Field are one of the sections better pairs too and this was to prove a real titanic battle. Some excellent tennis was on show to entertain a larger than usual crowd who were thoroughly enjoying the action along with soaking up the sun and warm temperatures. Corbyn had his left hand baseline power working to perfection and with Crossley strong at the net and providing plenty of baseline force herself the Wetherby top seeds finally prevailed 8-4. Youngster Josh Bayliss paired up with ladies first team captain Yvonne Mannall and they too had useful opponents in Ellie Page and Mick Miller who have started this season well despite the team failing to win. They stand sixth in the current standings for leading couple and were going to take some stopping. Bayliss is another left hand player and he combined well with the ever consistent Mannall. However the visiting pair continued their good form to run out cosy 4-8 winners. Abel and Bickers took on Rob Williams and Emma Cashmore and looked determined and confident despite this debut start. However they quickly found their feet at this higher level and were competitive throughout an extremely close encounter. This proved a very well matched quartet and the final 6-6 tie was a fair reflection of proceedings.
Round one closed with the match finely poised at 18-18. Crossley and Corbyn knew they had to pick up games against the Thorpe third pair and quickly set about adding to the Wetherby tally. Their high tempo and aggressive game plan worked a treat and they proved too strong to record a useful 9-3 win. Bayliss and Mannall however were to feel the might of Rhodes and Field who had won two of their three rubbers played this season before tonight. They are a well balanced and athletic combination and stretched the Wetherby pair with some marvellous stroke play. A 3-9 win for the visitors ensured the game was back all square again and the York side were to finish ahead following a 4-8 win for Page and Miller who had just a little bit too much guile for a spirited Abel and Bickers.
Wetherby had work to do trailing 34-38 as the last round began. The watching galleries were enthralled and with the wine flowing and the laughter increasing it certainly was an exciting atmosphere both on and off the court. Abel and Bickers took on the fearsome Rhodes and Field and knew this would be their hardest rubber of the evening .They were not surprised to find the Thorpe top seeds very much a step up in class and despite their best efforts couldn’t contain this impressive away pairing who ran out good winners 2-10. However just as all seemed lost and the tie was heading towards the away side Bayliss and Mannall rediscovered their best form and finally started to play a brand of tennis all on the side lines knew they were capable of. They played with a confidence and expressed themselves with some wonderful free flowing tennis that took their bewildered opponents by surprise to run out big winners 10-2 and keep Wetherby very much in the contest. Crossley and Corbyn were sensing that they could play an influential role but were also very aware that Page and Miller had the weaponry to lower their colours. The crowd were as tense as the players as a great battle was played out and in an ebbing and flowing rubber there was little between the pairs. Crossley and Corbyn upped the tempo and finished well however to run out 8-4 winners.
This meant that after a wonderful evening of tennis honours were indeed even and the sides shared a 54-54 draw that no one could really complain about. This may well prove a very useful point as Bishopthorpe are dangerous opponents with real quality especially within the top two seeds .
A big thanks to Abel and Bickers for meeting their challenge head on and contributing to a good team performance and Bayliss and Mannall certainly produced the goods late on to help secure a share of the spoils. For captain Crossley and Corbyn they could feel extremely satisfied to have won their three rounds when they had to remain ultra consistent in the face of a strong challenge.
The Wetherby lead has been extended to three points at the summit ahead of David Lloyds visit to Poppleton tomorrow . The team are next in action a week today when Sherburn are the visitors to Scott Lane and after the dramatic action tonight let’s hope for another good crowd to watch this next chapter.
An enthusiastic crowd gathered on the side lines glass in hand to enjoy tonight’s action.