The men’s third team faced their most crucial match of the season when they entertained Wakefield at Castlegarth today. The threat of rain had left this match in doubt but luckily with an afternoon kick off the rain abated and the clash went ahead. For the visitors this was their final chance as trailing Wetherby by three points and having played a game more they needed to win to keep their season alive. Both clubs put out strong looking teams and as play got underway this promised to be a fascinating contest.
Josh Bayliss and Ollie Newsome formed a strong seed one for the hosts. Amazingly despite been in the third team squad, this was Newsome’s first appearance of the campaign whilst fellow youngster Bayliss was also making his first appearance from the subs bench today. They took on Wakefield seed two Vic Ahmed and Daniel Foran. The Wetherby youngsters were hitting hard but Ahmed is also a big hitter and strong server and with his error count low was staying in the rubber. Irishman Foran has a lovely disguised game and with soft hands plays a lovely number of deft shots. The opening set was tight but the youngsters found their rhythm to edge home 6-4. They looked far more comfortable in the second and despite another battling performance from the Wakefield chaps Wetherby ran out 6-3 winners to clinch a 2-0 win.
Over on Court Five captain Mike Triffitt paired up with Pete Shipston. Left hander Shipston is a relative newcomer to the club but this was already his third outing off the bench for the team. He decided to play backhand as did Triffitt and this unusual tactic perhaps caught their opponants Danny Franklin and James Field a little off guard. The Wetherby men are slower hitters but return impressively and never give up on a rally. Shipston was dominating the net playing arguably his best tennis of the season and with Triffitt using the lob and delicate cross court shots to good effect the pair were growing in confidence. At 5-1 up they looked safe but two quick games had them nervously leading 5-3 before they regrouped to take the opener 6-3. The visitors upped the tempo in set two and now more accustomed to the pace of the court and to the crafty tactics of the home pair began hitting with power and good depth to put the Wetherby men under severe pressure. The Wetherby duo couldn’t quite recapture their first set form and with Franklin now serving extremely well it was Wakefield who levelled the rubber 4-6 for a 1-1 share of the spoils.
Wetherby knew another set would give them a tie at worst but Bayliss and Newsome were hungry for two and quickly set about the Wakefield top seeds. Both youngsters were hitting extremely well from deep and with Bayliss in particularly proving impossible to pass at the net and smashing with great authority the two ran out cosy 6-2 winners. With a tie now assured attention switched to Court Five where Triffitt and Shipston were involved in a close rubber with Wakefield captain Viv Ahmed and Daniel Foran. Again Wetherby used a slower game to frustrate but the Wakefield men were equal to them and produced some excellent tennis and many wonderful winners. At 6-6 the pairs couldn’t be split but Wakefield were always on top in the tiebreak and took the opener 6-7 to leave the match score line at 4-2 to the hosts.
Luckily Bayliss and Newsome looked extremely confident and playing tennis of a real good standard they began to control from the outset of set two. This time it was Newsome who produced some excellent leaps and great accuracy to put away many smashes and the dispirited visitors in truth had no answer to the onslaught. A comfortable 6-0 success was wrapped up and this moved Wetherby into an unassailable 5-2 lead.
With the youngsters on their way Triffitt and Shipston began their second set knowing with the match won they could relax. However the pair took this too literally and trailing 5-1 were looking at a heavy defeat. However both began to claw their way back and with errors starting to creep into the visitors play the set suddenly began to get intriguing. The Wetherby men reeled off four games to level at 5-5 and with Wakefield heads starting to fall edged ahead 6-5. They managed to complete an excellent comeback with some more great tennis and a 7-5 victory was just reward for some enterprising play.
So another halve for Triffitt and Shipston ensured the final score was 6-2 to the hosts who can now celebrate promotion with three games left to play. With sixteen points they can’t be caught for second and will battle it out with favourites Pudsey for the title. Pudsey have a superior games percent, and in truth are unlikely to slip up, but runners up will be a great achievement for the team which has been stuck in the bottom section for many years. A big thanks to all the players today and to our sporting visitors from Wakefield who on this form will almost certainly finish third and be strong challengers next term.
For winning captain Triffitt this has been a great season but just reward for a lot of time and hard work to often even get a team on court. The team will battle to the end to keep Pudsey on their toes but for now they can enjoy their promotion champagne.
Todays winning team from left to right was – Captain Mike Triffitt, Ollie Newsome, Josh Bayliss and Pete Shipston.