Well done Rufforth who picked up a second successive Winter League crown this evening.
With heavy snow falling Thursday morning the chances of any tennis been played at Castlegarth this evening looked a remote one. However with an afternoon thaw and some tremendous work from the groundstaff play got underway on schedule with Wetherby 1 hosting Rufforth. The visitors were looking for the victory to clinch a second successive Winter League title and arrived with a powerful quartet.
A great effort from Barry Johnson, Bradley Triffitt and Lucy Wright who spent an hour clearing snow and ice off the courts to ensure the match took place this evening.
Due to unavailability Nigel and Louise Williams kindly stepped in at the eleventh hour and were joined by Roger Fawcus making his first Winter League appearance of the season and Lucy Wright who has been the ‘go to girl’ for Wetherby this term and has been a god send for captain Mike Triffitt.
Despite the courts playing tricky the weather gods were kind with the evening remaining dry and temperatures staying above freezing. Fawcus and Wright took on James Edmond and Sue Yoward with the Rufforth couple representing the strongest duo seem this winter. Youngster Edmond has a big physical presence and was able to combine power and strength with a wonderful deft touch to entertain the admiring crowds. Yoward has played in six of the seven games and once again showed why she is arguably the leading lady on the Winter League circuit with some impressive tennis. Fawcus and Wright however were playing well and ensuring this rubber would be hard fought. Fawcus too was dominant at the net and with Wright returning well from deep this turned out to be an entertaining contest. Ultimatley the visitors had too much guile and ran out 3-9 winners.
Over on Court Two Nigel and Louise Williams knew they would have their work cut out to tame Ed Ziegler and Denise Reilly who are both very accomplished and seasoned players. Both proved extremley difficult to beat and with some strong serving and great returning they were beginning to dominate. The Williams were enjoying this tough battle however and forced a number of games to deuce but just couldnt quite get over the line in crucial points. Eventually class told and the consistent Rufforth pair ran out 1-11 winners.
With Rufforth already buidling a useful lead round Two began. Williams and Wright are great friends off court and were certainly going to enjoy their ladies battle with Yoward and Reilly. Once again there was some big hitting and great rallies with both couples giving their all. The favourites though always carried the greater firepower and at the crucial points were able to deliver which in the end was the main difference. Rufforth ran out 2-10 winners.
On Court Two the mens rubber turned into a titanic battle and in all honesty was perhaps the best mens match seem in the Winter League this season. This looked a mouthwatering clash on paper with both pairs highly ranked and full of quality. There was some hugh serving and great returning with the quartet all producing moments of brilliance. Some breathtaking rallies had the watching crowds gasping in awe as the rubber swinged from end to end. Nigel Williams produced an incredible return to produce a stunning winner after crossing halfway over to Court Three and that shot summed up the whole game. Eventually honours were shared in a 6-6 draw after a truly wonderful spectacle.
So with the match now won the final round began but the quality on show certainly didnt dampen. Wright and Fawcus were still enjoyng themselves and their match with Reilly and Ziegler was close. Fawcus was playing his first competative game for a while and would certainly come on for the run whilst Wrights never say die attitude meant she chased down many seemingly lost causes. But as we all too often see the cream rises to the top and once again the canny visiting pair recorded a 4-8 success to cap another good evening.
On the showcourt Nigel and Louise took on Edmond and Yoward and were looking forward to this test. Louise was certainly returning well and her powerful forehand that was seen to great effect in Harrogate Division 5 last season was equally effective raised in class. With Nigel producing some quality at the net and the pair showing a great understanding they had the Rufforth top seeds on their toes. Yoward is one of the strongest female servers around and she is also deadly accurate with both her cross court returns and down the line winners. Edmond is extremely hard to pass at the net and this was a great test for the Wetherby duo. The hosts couldnt quite convert on numerous deuce opportunites and Rufforth ran out 2-10 winners.
So at the conclusion of a great contest it was the champions who recored a 18-54 success and with it regained their Winter League crown after an unbeaten campaign.Well done to the visitors who have been a credit to their club and in captain Kate Lewis had someone who has certainly made my job easier with her excellant communications and great nature.
For Wetherby this was a step too far but victory in their final game will represent a good season. Thanks to all on show for turning out when the weather looked to have won and a special mention to Louise Williams who stepped in when others darent and despite having to play up and bridge a quite considerable gap was impressive tonight and showed what an improving player she continues to be.
So just the two games left this term with Boroughbridge and Boston Spa meeting next Wednesday both looking to finish runners up behind Rufforth whilst a win for Wetherby 1 over Wetherby 2 would see them finish on 10 points and possibly a chance of second too so still a important last two games.
Tonights winners from Rufforth lined up from left to right with Ed Ziegler, Denise Reilly, Sue Yoward and James Edmond.
Brave runners up Wetherby 1 were Roger Fawcus, Lucy Wright, Louise Williams and Nigel Williams.