Many familiar faces from the successful Wetherby Winter League were on show this evening competing in the Starbeck Winter League where the hosts entertained the All Stars who are made up of players whose club don’t have an official entry in this seasons event. It was a perfect evening for tennis with mild temperatures and calm conditions under the lights and on Starbecks recently installed fantastic new artificial surface.
Starbeck were captained by Chris White who has successfully led Starbeck B to the title in Division Four of the Harrogate and District Tennis league last summer. He was joined by fellow title winners John Berger and Chloe Miller whilst Katie Draper was a regular with Starbeck in Division One.
The All Stars lined up with Boston Spa duo Peter Smith and Lesley Haley who have been the cornerstone of their successful climb up the Harrogate leagues to Division Two where they now play whilst Starbeck Division One lady Di Lang captained the side and was joined by Mike Triffitt from Wetherby where he enjoyed promotion from Division Five last season.
Miller and White took on Lang and Triffitt in the opening mixed clash and this was to prove a thoroughly entertaining and competitive affair. There was little between the pairs with a real contrast of styles on show. Left hander White is a useful server and hitting well from deep is not afraid to patrol the net and has many disguised drop shots. With excellent court coverage he is a very difficult opponent. Miller is also a strong competitor and with some superb forehands was letting rip with a number of killer shots from the baseline. She too served well and the home pair were playing well. Lang however is used to playing at a high level and was certainly showing why with some clever tennis and great consistency. She too was serving well and with some ferocious hitting of her own and many well disguised winners she was certainly enjoying herself. Triffitt was also enjoying the high standard and with some unorthodox play and plenty of deep lobs, the All Stars pair were certainly holding their own. As the match developed there was never more than a game between the sides but finally the All Stars managed to forge ahead as the line drew near and ran out narrow 5-7 winners.
On Court Two Berger and Draper met Smith and Haley and this too would prove another extremely tight encounter. Berger has a number of excellent shots in his weaponry and with Draper unnerved and hitting with pace and power they were soon into stride. Smith and Haley however are a crafty pairing and know one another’s game so well. They made sure they would be difficult to beat adopting error free tennis and with great consistency began to edge ahead. Smith has an all round game that involves big hitting, excellent recovery play and a superb deft touch at the net and eventually they too ran out narrow but well deserved 5-7 winners.
Round Two began therefore with the visitors holding a narrow four point advantage. Smith and Triffitt began their debut match together in confident manor despite knowing that Berger and White were the current Harrogate and District League Restricted men’s doubles champions. However the contrasting styles of Smith and Triffitt was to prove an excellent combination and with Smith strong and dominant at the net and Triffitt producing error free and thought provoking play they certainly more than held their own. The Starbeck men were struggling to contain Smith and as frustration set in the All Stars men seized the initiative and finally ran out good 4-8 winners.
On Court Two the ladies rubber also saw the All Stars holding the advantage with the highly rated Lang and Haley having too many big guns for a brave Miller and Draper. There were some long rallies and excellent winning shots on show but the consistency of the All Stars pair was too good and finally they prevailed 3-9.
There was suddenly daylight between the sides and with a fourteen point advantage it would need a dramatic collapse from the visitors to lose. Miller and White looked determined to end the evening on a high however and despite Smith holding the Indian sign over White the Starbeck man suddenly produced his best tennis of the evening. With a relaxed style he began finding time and space to dictate play and this also gave partner Miller renewed confidence as she too began upping the tempo. Haley was battling away and Smith despite not managing to recapture his earlier form was still proving a handful. A 7-5 success for the hosts was well deserved but Smith and Haley knew they had done virtually enough to guarantee success for their team.
Lang and Triffitt were reunited for their final mixed match as they took on Draper and Berger. They made a sluggish start to trail early on but gradually forced their way back into the rubber with some tremendous hard hitting from Lang who unleashed with deadly accuracy much to the delight of an impressed Triffitt. The Wetherby man forced Starbeck back deep time after time and with some good short play had his opponents scuttling around the court. With Lang showing no let up she and Triffitt began to force the issue and turning the screw they ran out 4-8 winners for a satisfying success.
A great evening of tennis played in excellent spirit finally saw The All Stars live up to their name by securing victory 28-44. Thanks to all who competed tonight and the evening was rounded off by a celebratory drink at the Half Moon in Knaresborough which I can certainly recommend .
All Stars duo Mike Triffitt and Di Lang celebrate a good nights work on court.
Peter Smith and Lesley Haley in good spirits after success.
Gallant runners up for Starbeck from left to right were – Katie Draper, John Berger, Chloe Miller and Chris White.