Wetherby A began their new season in Division Four following promotion last term when they were runners up behind Harrogate Spa. The two met this evening at the Spa Tennis Centre where despite sunny spells the winds were high and temperatures low making it rather chilly.
Captain Barry Johnson was without Dawn Steel and Debbie Vines who are both recovering from injury. Marise Richfield, who is usually seen in the ladies teams, has joined this season and Louise Williams remains. They were joined by Trish Bell who kindly stepped up from the reserve list.
Bell was reunited with regular playing partner Kevin Duckenfield who has made a welcome return to the Harrogate League following a year spent in the York leagues. The two have many years of experience under their belts and certainly needed no introduction. The pair faced a tough opener as they faced Harrogate League secretary Carolyn Rothwell and Paul Toulman. Rothwell was her usual crafty self and found space well with some lovely returns. Toulman is a big unit and serving well he plays with power and aggression and is difficult to read. However Duckenfield was relishing the battle and been a strong server himself and an excellent smasher was the equal of his Spa rival. Bell was playing well and covering the court she continued her fine form from Saturday where she helped the ladies second team to success. This was a tight rubber however and eventually the visitors were delighted to triumph 5-7. Louise Williams was also in that successful ladies second team and she teamed up with regular partner Mike Triffitt with the duo having enjoyed a great season last term. Often seen at social the pair are now well accustomed to one another’s style and they took on Spa captain Marie Scrimger, who was standing in for the absent Martin Yates, and she was joined by Craig Chew who replaced the unavailable Andy Clayton. Chew is small in stature but he was booming down the serves and smashing with great authority. The Wetherby pair were having to battle hard to stay in the contest but with Triffitt also serving well and playing error free tennis and Williams unleashing her famous forehand to great affect they began to take charge. Williams was moving through the gears nicely and showing some lovely touches at the net the duo finally ran out cosy 4-8 winners. Captain Johnson teamed up with newcomer Richfield on court three and Marise too continued her fine early season ladies form with a confident display here. This duo have also had game time together and combined well to always be in control. Opponents David James and Pam Dight were enthusiastic but didn’t have the guile to contain an impressive Wetherby combination. James was certainly covering every inch of the court though and with Dight battling away manfully so many of the games reached deuce. However it was the visitors who converted more of the crucial points to run out worthy 3-9 winners.
Wetherby were in dreamland following round one and led 12-24. Duckenfield and Bell took on the hosts second pair Chew and Scrimger and were once again involved in a titanic battle. There was little between the pairs but Kevin used his class to secure points at crucial moments and with Bell still playing confidently they finally triumphed 4-8. On Court Two Williams and Triffitt made a slow start in their match with James and Dight and struggled with the hosts game plan. At 3-4 the rubber was tight but Williams started to find good width with her forehand cross shots and with Triffitt dominating the net the pair began to click into top gear. They finally proved too strong to record a 3-9 success and suddenly the excitement of an upset was on the cards. Johnson and Richfield knew they would have to work hard to contain Toulman and Rothwell and indeed this was a sharp rise in class. Toulman was certainly enjoying himself and his power was all too evident. With Rothwell happy to play a careful, error free round the Spa top seeds ran out 9-3 winners to keep the match alive.
With the score now reading 24-44 the winning line was in sight for the visitors and they strode onto the courts with the whiff of victory very much in their nostrils. It was Triffitt and Williams turn to try tame Toulman and Rothwell and despite a decent start they found the going a little too tough and were playing catch up most of the time. Toulman was showing his undoubted class and his big hitting was keeping the Spa duo on top. Williams and Triffitt battled away but couldn’t produce enough shots to trouble the hosts and they fell 8-4. Never the less it would prove a crucial 4 with only 7 now needed for victory. Johnson and Richfield made a great start to their clash with Chew and Scrimger and led 0-6. However the hosts came back strongly and Wetherby were pleased to triumph 5-7. With the match now won Duckenfield and Bell were adding the icing on the cake and they took the opportunity to rack up some points as they proved too streetwise for the gallant Spa third pair. A 2-10 victory was a great effort and confirmed the Wetherby top dogs as the top scorers on the night with an eye catching 25.
So the final score read 43-65 and with that excellent away win so ended Spa’s incredible two year unbeaten run that had seen them capture back to back titles in winning every match. As they say all good things must come to an end and Wetherby were delighted and very satisfied to be the team to lower the Harrogate colours this evening.
A match played in good spirit and thanks to the hots for an excellent tea afterwards and we wish them well for the rest of their campaign. Wetherby are next in action a week on Thursday when Knaresborough are the visitors to Castlegarth but this surprise two points will certainly give the team confidence to survive in the higher section.
Tonights winning team from left to right was Marise Richfield, Barry Johnson, Trish Bell, Louise Williams, Kevin Duckenfield and Mike Triffitt.
Runners up Spa lined up from left to right with Paul Toulman, Carolyn Rothwell, Pam Dight, David James, Craig Chew and Marie Scrimger.