Winter League leaders Boroughbridge were looking to extend their advantage at the summit Tuesday evening as they drove South to face Wetherby 2. Once again they travelled with a strong quartet with captain Charlie Grasby teaming up with Chantal Lancaster and Jamie Jarman paired with Nicola Scott. All four players were part of the strong Boroughbridge squad that gained promotion from Harrogate Mixed Division Two last summer with Grasby and Lancaster the leading male and female players in the team.
Wetherby were able to field a competitive looking four themselves with first team men Nigel Williams and Marc Bickers boosting the ranks along with ladies second team duo Louise Williams and captain Janine Smith.
Smith and Bickers were teaming up for their debut together and took on Scott and Jarman in the opening mixed doubles. Bickers had made many appearance for Wetherby in the same Harrogate Division Two last season whilst Smith had been competing in Division Five. However this turned into a fascinating affair that was extremely close. Bickers is strong from deep and his excellent court coverage allowed Smith to patrol the net where she was seen to good effect. Jarman was proving a strong opponent however whilst Scott is a crafty player and very consistent. Finally the boro duo ran out narrow 5-7 winners after a good contest.
Nigel Williams was also seen on many occasions for Wetherby in Division Two whilst Louise tasted promotion with Wetherby A from Division Five. The husband and wife duo took on Lancaster and Grasby which was always going to be a massive ask. However they produced some attractive tennis to certainly keep their higher ranked opponents on guard. Grasby is improving each season and has been one of the leading Winter League players this term. He was enjoying his duel with Nigel whilst Chantal proved an able accomplice with some excellent tennis of her own. The couple showed why they will be gracing Division One next season with excellent teamwork and great play. Louise was hitting well from deep too and her punishing shots kept the Boroughbridge pair pinned back on many occasions. Eventually the visitors ran out winners 4-8 after another keen fought match.
With Round Two starting Bridge led 9-15 and looking to build on a six point lead. Nigel Williams and Marc Bickers looked confident of laying down a marker in the men’s against Charlie Grasby and Jamie Jarman and they attacked with aggressive play from the outset. Both men are powerful hitters and not afraid to advance to the net where they executed many winning smashes. They had Grasby and Jarman on the back foot with the visiting men struggling to gain a foothold. The Wetherby men looked assured as they secured a welcome 8-4 success to reduce the arrears.
However the Boro ladies Scott and Lancaster would prove a very strong partnership in their rubber with Louise Williams and Janine Smith. The gulf in class was going to be tough but the Wetherby ladies hit hard and with some aggressive play were trying to stay in the tie. However Bridge would prove a very accomplished pairing and with some clever consistent play were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over. They ran out cosy 2-10 winners despite the best efforts from the home ladies.
The final round started and thankfully after rain during the day the match was going to complete. The table toppers had extended their lead to 19-29 so the finishing line was now in site.
The Williams were determined to go out on a high and began promisingly against Scott and Jarman. Nigel was using all his experience to ensure he produced many punishing winners and with Louise enjoying the freedom of the park and executing confidently they were certainly enjoying themselves. Scott and Jarman responded with some attractive tennis of their own but were always just a little off the pace and couldn’t prevent a home 7-5 win.
Fortunately for the leaders Lancaster and Grasby had saved their best tennis for the finale and were now really moving through the gears. They really turned on the style which left Bickers and Smith struggling to contain the duo. Despite their best efforts they were unable to prevent a 3-9 loss but should be proud as they will unlikely face a stronger pair this winter.
Boroughbridge therefore moved onto six points and two points clear of the chasing pack following this 29-43 victory. A real big thankyou to all players for ensuring the match was played after weather looked to have derailed any chances earlier in the day and it was a credit to all that the game was played in a great spirit with good tennis on show.
It doesn’t get any easier for Wetherby as they host champions Rufforth next Tuesday whilst Bridge play Collingham in the final game before the Christmas break where they will be strong favourites to ensure they are still the Xmas leaders.