Conditions were sunny and warm this afternoon at Castlegarth as the men’s third team hosted Kirkstall in this Division six clash. The visitors were struggling to name a team but eventually sent over a good four which ensured a very competitive and tight encounter. Paul Godden has been missing in action for a while and although only 80% fit today was given a run out with once again many of the squad unavailable. New member Liam Lindley, who has managed a solitary promising run out for the Wetherby B mixed team when he played well against runaway leaders Spa, came in for his debut with captain Mike Triffitt one of six absentees in the squad.
Godden teamed up with regular player Barry Johnson, who was looking to bounce back from the disappointing midweek defeat for his mixed A team at Academy. The duo took on Simon Gaines and James Maskill from Kirkstall and the first set proved very close. Godden was serving well ,despite not reaching the speeds he would normally send down, and with Johnson comfortable at the net the duo were gelling quickly, However the visitors were confident and played some enterprising tennis of their own. Eventually the extra class of the Wetherby pair allowed them to sneak a narrow 7-5 success. The second set was just as even but this time it was the visitors who held the upper hand and proved hard to peg back. They played error free tennis and were good value for their 4-6 win to leave the rubber all square at 1-1.
Another regular and extremely important member of the side is Marc ‘the magician’ Bickers and he teamed up with the debutant Lindley. Liam has a very impressive service game which is both powerful and deadly accurate and although sometimes erratic, was more than holding his own as play developed. The visiting pair of captain Jonny Catley and another debutant Tony Stipetic were slow out of the traps and allowed the big hitting Wetherby men first run which they gleefully accepted. With Bickers happy to attack from deep both men hit some ferocious baseline returns which the Kirkstall pair had little answer to. Eventually after a very professional performance Wetherby were comprehensive 6-0 winners. Catley is a useful player and has scored well for his team this year and now Stipetic started to impress after a shaky opener to prove far more competitive in the second set. There was little to separate the pairs but Wetherby dug deep to run out narrow 7-5 winners and collect a useful 2-0 win.
So as round two began Wetherby held a 3-1 advantage requiring two more sets to take the match. Godden was hoping to ease himself back slowly but had found the going tough in the opener but was manfully battling away although clearly not 100%. His serve was still a useful weapon and his return of serve also a bonus.However Stipetic and Catley were now playing extremely well and beginning to dominate. They ran away in impressive fashion to take the opening set 1-6. Johnson was now holding things together and coming into his own, especially with his powerful backhand returns and strong net play. The Wetherby pair gave it their all and were well in this set but couldn’t close the gap and went down narrowly 4-6 which gave the visitors a 0-2 lead and levelled the match at 3-3.
Bickers and Lindley were also having to dig deep in their game with the Kirkstall first pair who were making things extremely tricky for Wetherby with a very spirited display. The sun had proved a problem for all the players and with the temperatures soaring the conditions became energy sapping. Lindley was enjoying his first competitive men’s action but was having to look deep for extra reserves. Luckily Bickers is super fit and was still on the bridle as he covered the court in effortless fashion. A narrow but extremely crucial 6-4 success for the hosts edged them ahead and with the visitors unable to continue in the second set a 6-0 default meant a narrow 5-3 overall win .
A great afternoons tennis and a big thanks to Kirkstall club captain Tim Clement for working tirelessly all week to recruit a four and to those players today for such a brave and excellent performance. For Wetherby a sixth consecutive win keeps their 100% record intact and takes them back to the summit. Pudsey can regain the leadership when they host third placed Wakefield tomorrow in a very important and intriguing clash before Wetherby visit Horsforth on Tuesday looking to make it a magnificent seven!
Well done to the team today and especially Paul Godden who played despite injury concerns and Liam Lindley who made a very encouraging and important debut. Regulars Johnson and Bickers contributions were also greatly appreciated and the team battled hard to secure victory.