A good crowd watching on as Wetherby A won this evening.
On arguably the warmest and hottest day of the summer so far, Wetherby A entertained Bedale hoping to maintain their promotion push in Division Five of the Harrogate and District League. Captain Barry Johnson was able to pick a strong looking team and despite Greg Vince and Mike Richards absent, Mike Park stepped in from the reserve list to bolster the ranks even further.
Wetherby had won three and suffered just the one reverse at champions elect Harrogate Spa whilst the visitors arrived with just the solitary win when they had defeated bottom side Harrogate Racquets last week.
Johnson teamed up with regular partner Fiona Chantrey and they faced the experienced duo of John Lever and Val Dickinson. Both the Bedale players have played at a very good standard in their prime and still pocessed a very canny and crafty game that had the Wetherby seed ones under pressure. Lever was a strong server and an excellent smasher and he repeatedly made short work of any loose high balls. With Dickinson having a very strong baseline game which she used to attack particularly well with, this contest was very competitive and entertained another good home crowd on the side lines. Once again the wine was flowing as supporters lapped up the lovely weather. Eventually after a titanic struggle the pairs couldn’t be separated and a 6-6 draw was a good reflection of the rubber. Mike Triffitt and Louise Williams were over on Court Two and they played Jan Lever and the youngster Adam Bentley. This was to prove the longest tie of the opening round with most games reaching deuce and many taking a while to resolve. Bentley used his left hand game to good effect to keep the ball active in play and used the width of the court very well whilst Lever was strong at the net and remained calm under pressure. With the Wetherby duo not firing on all cylinders the game was scrappy and finely poised at 4-4. However Triffitt increased the tempo and with Williams finally unleashing some accurate cross court bombs from the baseline they reeled off the final four games for a cosy and rewarding 8-4 success. Mike Park is a regular as captain of the men’s second team but it’s a while since he has played any competitive mixed doubles. Teaming up with Dawn Steel, who always gives a hugh effort and is reliable and consistent, made this look a useful partnership today. They took on the crafty Bob Sampson and Jenny Dilley. Sampson has a very unorthodox style and his short game and slower pace left Park struggling and forced into too many early errors. Steel was proving too strong for Dilley however and her relentless returns began to frustrate the visitors. With Park finally finding his rhythm and returning deep with power the Wetherby duo wrapped up a comfortable 9-3 win.
Round one had been good for the hosts who led 23-13. The sun continued to beat and with more sun tan lotion been applied and many of the players wearing hats Johnson and Chantrey set about Sampson and Lilley on Court Three. They were made to struggle with too many unforced errors but once Johnson got his potent back hand into full gear they started to control the tie. With Chantrey cleverly dictating the pace with a number of well executed returns the duo were finally able to clinch a 8-4 success. Triffitt and Williams moved over to the show court and looked in determined mood to produce the goods. They were mineful of a strong visiting pair but made a good start to lead throughout. Looking focused and calm they adopted an aggressive style to meet the challenge head on and as the visitors began to wilt in the sun and become frustrated the home pair sensed blood. With Williams battling manfully with some excellent court coverage to pull many a lost cause out of the fire they ensured it was the visitors who produced the errors. Triffitt served as well as he has all season and sent some really punishing and powerful efforts down and backed by a partisan home support the duo were thoroughly enjoying themselves. They finally ran out impressive 10-2 winners which helped put the team in a very strong position indeed. Park and Steel were also finding it a slog on Court Two against Bentley and Lever and there was some good tennis on show from both pairs. Ultimately Park was too prove the difference and his powerful game was too strong for a gallant Bedale couple. With Steel ever so reliable the duo ran out 8-4 winners.
An Excellent round had all but wrapped up the overall result with Wetherby stretching their advantage to 49-23. They were now looking to boost their points tally as Johnson and Chantrey Joined Bentley and Lever on the middle court. However testament to a very consistent evening for the Bedale couple who once again made Wetherby pull out all the stops and earn their win. Once again it was only 8-4 in favour of the hosts with the visiting pair top scoring on 12 for the evening. Triffitt and Williams were oozing confidence as they steeped out on Court Three. With the promise of a glass of Prosecco in Bar 3 with the evening supper an added incentive offered by Triffitt, this was all Williams needed to remain focused and conjure up added reserves of energy! The pair made a quick start and with Triffitt maintaining a strong serve and a deft short game that drew many welcome points from a number of drop shots the pair were in control. Williams was strong at the net and with her trade mark forehand reaping dividends the prosecco was looking more and more likely. The scoreboard was ticking over nicely and a final margin of 10-2 was just reward for an accomplished performance and a nice 28 point contribution on the evening. It was Park and Steel’s turn to entertain the watching galleries on the show court and they didn’t disappoint. Despite the contest having a close feel as the action unfolded, Lever and Dickinson were now running on empty and the Wetherby duo were in no mood for mercy as they tightened the screw and hammered in a number of nails. They produced some breath taking tennis to run out 11-1 winners for the largest winning margin of the night and join Triffitt and Williams on 28 points.
A final score of 78-30 was perhaps a little harsh after a big effort from the visitors but Wetherby had shown a killer instinct and a willingness to keep the points tally accruing . They consolidate second place in the table and move two points clear of the chasing pack ahead of another home tie next Thursday when bottom side Harrogate Racquets are the visitors.
Well done to all concerned tonight in another good team performance and a big thanks to Mike Park for stepping in at short notice to add a touch of class and help ensure a good win.
Louise Williams and Dawn Steel enjoying their ‘winnings’ following some excellent scoring tonight.
Tonight’s winning team from left to right were – Louise Williams, Dawn Steel, Mike Park, Barry Johnson and Mike Triffitt with Fiona Chantrey absent but completing the line up.