Witches and Ghouls were the order of the evening on Halloween last night and on a mild evening Wetherby 2 and Starbeck dared to venture out in the Winter League. Wetherby had gone down to Collingham in an exciting but narrow loss whilst Starbeck were playing their first game of the season after losing their match with Boston Spa to the weather. Both teams had struggled to attract a team but at kick off full squads were in and action got under way.
Wetherby captain Janine Smith once again teamed up with eager new club member Dexter Waud after the pair had shown promise in the Collingham defeat. Smith is happy to patrol the net whilst Waud uses his good court coverage and fitness to marshal the baseline. They faced a stern test however as opponents Chloe Miller and Chris White had played major roles in helping Starbeck B to the Harrogate mixed Division Four title last summer. White is super fit and covers every inch of the court in effortless style and the left hander was hitting hard and proving difficult to contain. Waud however was loving the challenge and responded with some big hitting of his own and with Smith taking control at the net the Wetherby duo were holding their own. Miller was proving a more than useful partner for Starbeck and this rubber proved extremely competitive and close throughout. A 6-6 draw was a fair reflection and left Wetherby delighted.
Liam Lindley was seen playing for the men’s third team last year and his big serving all action style had impressed. He was making his winter league debut with the experienced Gill Rowe who has seen action over the years in the Harrogate mixed leagues. Playing together for the first time they met the classy Katie Draper and hardworking Pete Lawley. Draper has been a regular in the Starbeck mixed first team which finished an excellent fifth in Division One last year and she would prove a tough opponent all evening . Lindley is all action and his aggressive style caught Starbeck a little by surprise. A big server he moves well for a big man and was certainly making a useful impact. Rowe was producing some lovely returns and her graceful, calm and composed style was a real compliment to Lindleys. Lawley had played a couple of matches for Starbeck C in Division Six and was thoroughly enjoying having the impressive Draper alongside him. Once again this proved a fascinating rubber and eventually the experience and perhaps street wise approach of the Starbeck duo allowed them to sneak a tight one 5-7 which left the match in the melting pot after round one.
Smith and Rowe took to court against Draper and Miller knowing they were heavy underdogs but playing with a freedom that allowed them to express themselves they certainly gave a hugh effort. With Smith hitting well and making some lovely smashes, the Wetherby girls were not going down without a fight and Rowe was enjoying herself raised in class. Draper and Miller were having to produce some good tennis to stay ahead and eventually they proved too strong but only secured a narrow 5-7 success.
Waud and Lindley were meeting and playing together for the first time but these relatively new members were very much up to the challenge. Left hander White and Lawley were perhaps a little more consistent and despite more booming Lindley serves and some big hitting from Waud the Starbeck men proved crafty and with White playing some lovely short shots they managed to prevail 4-8.
Round three began with the visitors ahead by 8 and it was going to be hard for the hosts to recover the deficit.
Rowe and Lindley were soon into stride however and playing superbly together they had Miller and White on the ropes. In a contest that ebbed and flowed the Wetherby couple gave everything and eventually they pulled off a tremendous win to surprise their higher rated opponents Miller and White 7-5.
This left Smith and Waud trying to recover the now 6 point gap but despite their best efforts Draper and Lawley were in no mood to surrender. Draper took control and playing sensible tennis with few errors quickly got the visitors ticking. Lawley was gaining in confidence and together the visiting pair began to take control and ultimately ran out cosy 3-9 winners to help Starbeck record a deserved 30-42 victory.
A good evening therefore which saw Starbeck move into joint top but in third place on points difference. They take on Boroughbridge next whilst Wetherby 2 are back in action next Tuesday against champions Rufforth.
A big thanks to all tonight and very well played everyone.