The eagerly awaited second helping of the Derby clash between Wetherby A and B took place in the sun and muggy climes of Castlegarth this evening. The A team had won the opening fixture between the sides back in April 29-79, although they were helped on that occasion with 27 free points after Anne Lillywhite withdrew with injury. Both captain’s sat out tonight’s second leg with Barry Johnson suffering a slight back strain Mike Richards stepped in for his second start of the campaign and with Ian Teasdale also absent Pete Shipston, who has been doing very well in the men’s third team, made his seasonal debut for the mixed B outfit.
Mike Triffitt was delayed in heavy traffic, including a road closure on the way back from the Challenger tour event in Ilkley, and with partner Louise Williams also trapped in Collingham the pair just made it to the start time as the clock ticked down. They dropped down to seed three and opened up against Pete Shipston and Judith Crossley. Shipston has a lovely forehand and the left hander used it to good effect to reel off a number of impressive winners. With Crossley defending well and staying strong at the net the rubber was proving very equal and stood finely poised at 4-4. Williams and Triffitt were struggling to get a foothold and rueing their ill prepared pre match but gradually they at last found some form. Triffitt served two aces to go ahead 5-4 and with Williams exploiting space out wide with some booming forehands of her own the Wetherby A couple ran out 8-4 winners. Greg Vince and Dawn Steel started at seed two and they faced the evergreen duo of Doug Harrison and Ann Jones. Fresh from her exciting victory at the recent wine tasting event held by partner Doug the two took everything in their stride with not a care in the world. Jones proved tough to pass and with ‘soft hands’ Harrison once against displaying a lovely short game they had the A team duo on the ropes. Vince countered with some good baseline play and with Steel forcing some winners at the net the tie remained close. However the greater experience of the B team couple won the day and they prevailed 5-7. Mike Richards and Fiona Chantrey paired up as top seeds and they started well against Walter Skubiak and Anne Lillywhite. Richards was content to play from deep but was extremely efficient on his appearances at the net and produced a number of notable smashes out of the court. Chantrey was her usual clinical self and showing little emotion produced a very professional performance which combined excellent baseline work, strong net play and the ability to make very few unforced errors. Skubiak and Lillywhite battled manfully and produced memorable moments of their own but it was the A team duo who ran out cosy 9-3 winners.
So as round Two began the A team had opened up an eight point lead and led 22-14.Triffitt and Williams stepped over to Court Two to face the wily Jones and Harrison and knew they would need to be on guard to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Jones continued to defend well and with Harrison cleverly disguising a number of winners the A team pair needed to focus throughout. Williams was moving around the court well and in tandem with her famous forehand was playing extremely well. Triffitt was a menace at the net and gobbled up plenty of chances although Harrison reminded him on more than one occasion that he still could pick off the younger man ! This was developing into an intriguing rubber but with Triffitt injecting extra pace with his serve and Williams gaining in confidence they managed to run out narrow 7-5 winners. Vince and Steel moved over to the show court and they entertained the watching crowd against Skubiak and Lillywhite. Plenty of ferocious hitting from all the quartet meant chances were thin on the ground although Steel was quick to pounce on any that came her way at the net. Once again there was little to separate the pairs and eventually they couldn’t be split as honours were even from a 6-6 draw. Mike Richards and Fiona Chantrey made their way over to Court Three and took on Shipston and Crossley. The Wetherby B third pair were playing together for the first time and although they performed with heroics they found the rise in class a steep one here. Richards was oozing confidence and rattling off some impressive winners and with partner in crime Chantrey unruffled they began to move ahead. Shipston used his left hand forehand to keep the Wetherby A pair on their ties and Crossley covered well but they couldn’t resist much longer and as the tempo increased Richards and Chantrey ran out comfortable 10-2 victors.
The A team had put themselves in a strong position with the scoreboard showing them leading 45-27 and having a healthy eighteen point advantage. Richards and Chantrey were to find Jones and Harrison their toughest opponents and the A Team top pair had to rethink their game plan a number of times as this fascinating contest evolved. Harrison used his famous ‘soft hands’ to good effect and despite the aggressive all action style of Richards he was unable to take control. With Jones not giving an inch at everything Chantrey threw at her the rubber was tight and a 8-4 victory perhaps flattered Richards and Chantrey. Nevertheless this classy pair had accumulated an impressive 27 points on the evening and this would be a top scoring achievement that would help the A Team to eventual success. Shipston and Crossley managed to recapture their first round form against Vince and Steel who were never able to get a foothold over on Court Three. Playing with a relaxed style Shipston was very consistent as this left hander started to dominate. With great assistance from the rock solid Crossley they didn’t allow their A team opponents any leave way and dominated throughout. A 3-9 victory was impressive and helped the B Team improve their overall score line. Williams and Triffitt were enjoying the action on the show court and with Triffitt finally relaxing and Williams remaining extremely consistent they always felt in control. However Anne Lillywhite was arguably proving the hardest hitter and with a low error rate she battered a number of returns past the bewildered Triffitt who was often left exasperated as he tried to intimidate at the net. With Skubiak also hitting hard and deep the A Team couple could not rest on their laurels but ultimately they still had enough in the locker room to ease home. With Triffitt serving well once more and Williams comfortable on the ball they used an uncanny understanding to bamboozle their opponents and run out 8-4 winners to record a welcome and well-earned 23 points on the night.
With the score on the doors the A Team ran out winners 64-44 and maintained their second place in Division Five as they strive towards promotion. They have now opened a six point lead over the B team who can do the A team a massive favour if beating third placed Burton Leonard at home this Sunday. Leonard are four points behind the A team and the sides meet in a crucial encounter on July 13 at Scott Lane. Before that the A Team face a tricky trip to Academy next Wednesday where they will be missing star duo Richards and Chantrey. However the incentive is a win there will really see them well placed as the season enters its vital stage Good luck to both teams with their next games and well played to all on show tonight for providing good entertainment.
The two teams mingle over tea at Bar 3 after a tough encounter tonight. Round the table from left to right we have Louise Williams, Anne Lillywhite, Walter Skubiak, Doug Harrison, Mike Richards, Greg Vince, Ann Jones, Judith Crossley, Dawn Steel, Barry Johnson and Ian Teasdale. Mike Triffitt is behind the camera with Fiona Chantrey and Pete Shipston heading home before.