The Wetherby men’s second team were in action Sunday morning at Castlegarth when they played host to local rivals Boston Spa. Conditions were excellent with dry courts and sun to make it a very pleasant morning indeed. Division Five of the York and District tennis league looks an intriguing section this season . Wilberfoss look the class act and are expected to finish as champions but with Bishopthorpe struggling at the bottom and already odds on for the drop, it leaves the remaining six clubs battling it out in a mini section of their own.
Wetherby came into this crucial game following two wins and three losses, although one of those were to champions elect Wilberfoss, which actually left them in third place and challenging at the right end of the table. Spa also had two wins from four but had not scored as well and Wetherby were still favourites today.
Experienced duo Mike Abel and Mike Connolly went out at seed one for the hosts and this all action and aggressive pair looked in determined mood as they entertained Ralph Griff and Jordan Gregory. They were in top form from the outset to produce some scintillating tennis as they went about dismantling their beleaguered opponents. Not giving an inch they steadily built up a useful winning margin and 10-2 certainly reflected their dominance. Marc Bickers has been excellent this season . A regular for the Harrogate One mixed team, the men’s third team star has also guided them to an opening three victories and with injuries today Mike Park was only too glad to be able to call upon him for the second team here. He teamed up with a regular second team member Ollie Boyes Park who continues to improve year on year and with the youngster still developing he remains a fine prospect. This pair can both produce some hard hitting from deep and serve with an extra ping so opponents Peter Mcreesh and Steven Lewis were expecting a tough opener. The Wetherby men didn’t disappoint as they struck up an instant rapport and dominated throughout. Both were finding space at the net to exploit and this killer instinct left them with time and space to control matters. They ran out comfortable 9-3 winners and Wetherby were in cruise control. Captain Mike Park relegated himself to seed three and joined up with youngster Sam Moore who is enjoying his debut season with the team. They took on Marc Mottishead and Chris Pearson . This provided to be the closest rubber so far with both pairs evenly matched and the contest likely to be won by whoever made the less errors. Park is a wily character and used his great experience to nurture youngster Moore along. Playing the long game and attacking when appropriate, he kept the hosts in the tie with some thoughtful tennis. With Moore taking his chances well and hitting some excellent winners the tie was in the balance. The Spa men battled manfully but just came up short as Wetherby prevailed 7-5 to take a more than useful 26-10 advantage into round two.
With work to do to close the gap Mcreesh and Lewis knew they had to be confident and gamble. Taking risks but playing with aggression, they stole the initiative quickly and left Park and Moore struggling at the start of their match. The hosts were unable to sustain their first round efforts and with errors creeping in surrounded 3-9 to allow Spa to close their lead. Bickers and Boyes Park however soon restored parity and with their partnership blossoming they produced some more wonderful stroke play to take the scalp of visiting numbers ones Griff and Gregory 8-4. Abel and Connolly were also going through the gears and turning up the tempo although they were involved in a titanic struggle with the battling Mottishead and Pearson. The Spa third pair may not have the weaponry of other pairs on show but they made up with an incredible never say die attitude which won them many points from hopeless causes. They determinedly battled all the way to the line and thoroughly deserved their 6-6 draw.
The advantage was now 43-29 but with the visitors only reducing the deficit by two Wetherby knew it was theirs to lose and they were in no mood to allow their rivals back.
Abel and Connolly were always in control as they took on the Spa second seeds and after a good rubber took the honours 8-4 to accumulate a very useful 24 points on the morning. Bickers and Boyes Park followed them in with 24 as well after they maintained a very consistant performance with a narrow 7-5 win over seed three for Spa whilst although finding Griff and Gregory slightly too streetwise, Park and Moore knew a narrow 5-7 loss was no disgrace and would ensure Wetherby ran out comfortable 63-45 winners to record an excellent 9.5 v 2.5 overall success.
This victory moves Wetherby up to the giddy heights of second place although third placed Riccall are only 5.5 points behind with two games in hand. The team go to bottom side Bishopthorpe next weekend looking to maintain momentum in a season that could yet see them involved in a promotion push.
Well done today to all concerned and good luck to our friends at Boston Spa for the remainder of your campaign.