Another rain free night at Castlegarth and despite a cold and at times blustery evening, conditions remained good for a clash between Starbeck and Wetherby 1. It’s been a very busy time for the Harrogate based outfit who were playing their third game in just eight days and a big thanks to captain Di Lang for organising her troops so well.
Wetherby tennis club secretaries Jill Abel and Jeremy Reddish paired up at seed one and they took on Di Lang and Chris White who is a regular on the Winter League circuit. This proved an intriguing and close contest with a real battle of styles making for some entertaining tennis. Reddish is a strong server and hits hard, especially when unleashing some ferocious back hand assaults, whilst partner Abel is ultra-competitive and well organised and is tough to pass at the net with her excellent court awareness. The Wetherby duo needed these skills as Lang is very accomplished and alongside left hander White they were going to take some stopping. White is very quick around the court and used this tactic well and there was very little between the teams. A final share of the spoils at 6-6 was a fair reflection of events.
Over on Court 5 Lucy Wright, who had been in sparkling form last week when guesting for Collingham, paired up with the experienced Mike Abel and this looked a useful partnership indeed. They faced the lively Tom Hendry and the energetic Izzy Blower who had helped Starbeck to title glory in the Harrogate summer league Division four last year. However the Starbeck duo would have their work cut out here to stop the impressive Wetherby pair. Wright carried on from last week with some strong play from the baseline and good serving. She mixed up play craftily and created some wonderful angles which Abel was only too happy to gobble up at the net when the ball came back invitingly. Wetherby always just had the edge in this rubber and finally ran out 4-8 winners to leave themselves ahead 10-14 after the opening round.
Round Two saw a good battle in the ladies rubber with some more exciting tennis on show. Lang and Blower were soon into stride and seemed to be excelling together and they certainly had Wright and Abel back peddling. A number of long rallies and tight games ensued but Starbeck were to prove too strong and ran out 8-4 winners to keep the match alive.However Reddish and Mike Abel were using a wealth of playing years to up the tempo in the men’s match and were looking particularly strong and eye catching. Despite the Starbeck chaps best efforts they couldn’t contain an electric performance from the Wetherby men who used the width of the court to run their rivals ragged and ultimately run out 3-9 winners.
The final round meant that Starbeck would need to overcome a six point deficit as they trailed 21-27. Both rubbers turned out to be extremely close and very well contested and the quality on show was exceptional. Lang and White looked determined to go down fighting and were pushing themselves for victory. Likewise Wright and Mike Abel are always great to have in a battle and so this match turned into a real war of attrition. Each player produced moments of brilliance but Wetherby just had a little extra in the tank as they prevailed 5-7.
Jill Abel and Jeremy Reddish were certainly enjoying their evening together and this partnership was really starting to blossom. The power of Reddish was certainly in evidence once more and with Abel proving a more than useful assistant Wetherby were on top. Credit however to the youngsters as Blower and Hendry fought to the bitter end to ensure the scoreboard was kinder and they also produced plenty of attacking tennis. Finally Wetherby secured a 4-8 win to leave them victorious 30-42 on the night.
Another great advert for the Winter League and once again thanks to everyone for their considerable efforts this evening. Wetherby remain fourth in the table but join Boston Spa on six points and with a game in hand will look to climb above their close rivals. Starbeck have three to play and will be looking to finish the season strong to move into mid table. The top two Rufforth and Boroughbridge are both in action next week looking to extend their lead at the summit as we enter the final third of the season.
Tonights Wetherby winning quartet from left to right was Jeremy Reddish, Jill Abel, Lucy Wright and Mike Abel.
Excellent opponents and runners up Starbeck lined up from left to right were Tom Hendry, Lizzy Blower, Chris White and Di Lang.