Three of our teams were in action tonight but it proved a tough evening with all three suffering defeats. The Men’s third team had been promoted last season and opened their campaign away at Alwoodley. The squad has been strengthened but they were without many of their big guns although Nigel Williams, who has no games this week for either Harrogate 1 mixed or the men’s first team kindly stepped in to assist. Williams teamed up with debutant David Stephenson who had shown promise in the Winter League and the pair formed as useful looking partnership. Kevin Duckenfield made a welcome return to men’s tennis and teamed up with long standing member and close friend Tony Lewis who is rarely seen in league tennis but is an experienced performer.
However it was soon evident that Wetherby would be facing an extremely tricky evening as the hosts number one Ben Crichton soon began displaying some breath taking tennis. The left hander was simply unplayable and serving with ferocity and hitting as well as anyone as this level he began to destroy Wetherby hopes. Ably assisted by 13 year old Joe Darley the pair was easy on the eye and carried far too much weaponry for a battling and spirited Duckenfield and Lewis who fell 6-1,6-2. Over on Court two Williams and Stephenson were playing with confidence but Jamie Walters and Steve Donaghy were proving their equal and showing great consistency were starting to get the upper hand. Williams showed many classy touches and was hitting with great power and with Stephenson enjoying the good quality tennis this proved a great match for the watching gallery. However Alwoodley showed they mean business this year and ran out 6-2,6-4 winners to establish a halftime 4-0 advantage.
There was no joy for Wetherby in the second round with Crichton and Darley maintaining an impressive standard with Crichton in particular intercepting at the net with great authority. The Wetherby men once more gave everything but came up short 6-2,6-3. Kevin and Tony certainly did their best to try and put Wetherby on the scoreboard against Donaghy and Walters but after falling 6-3 in the opener they just came up agonisingly short when pipped 7-5 in the second to ensure the Leeds side ran out cosy 8-0 winners and stamp themselves as the team to beat in Division Five this term.
It did transpire afterwards in the locker room that Crichton in particular was a coach at Leeds Beckett University and capable of playing in Division One so Nigel Williams assessment of him proved spot on when he speculated that Ben would be better than any player that Wetherby could put out on court at any level. So hopefully Wetherby will not meet anyone of this standard until the return fixture but it does confirm what captain Mike Triffitt has been advocating in pre season that the Leeds League is very strong and the squad does need great depth to compete at this higher level.
Thanks to all on show this evening for a match played in good spirits and we wish our hosts all the best for their title bid. Wetherby next play St Chads on Saturday May 19 at Castlegarth.
Despite an 8-0 whitewash from left to right Tony Lewis. Kevin Duckenfield, Nigel Williams and David Stephenson enjoyed their evening and were still smiling afterwards!
Angela Wood had helped guide the York 1 mixed team to the title in Division Two last season but knew her troops faced a tough baptism of fire in Division One. They opened against Dunnington at Castlegarth this evening and picking from strength were hopeful of an opening day success. Dunnington had finished mid table last season and would prove tough opposition.
David Corbyn and Yvonne Mannall teamed up at seed one but with the left hander still suffering with an elbow injury the pair were not able to fire on all cylinders. Brad Swainston and Kate Reader proved a very accomplished duo for the visitors and managed to rattle up an impressive 23 points and with Paul Birch and Charlotte Mitchell at seed two going one better and adding 24 they set the foundations for what would ultimately prove a very close contest.
Captain Wood teamed up with the returning Jamie Perkins who has looked impressive pre season and the pair managed 24 points on the night with some excellent tennis which can only be a positive looking forwards this term. Charlotte Todd and Josh Bayliss completed the line up but once more with Todd not fully fit the duo couldn’t quite manage to hit top form and despite beating the York based third pair 9-3 Wetherby cane up agonisingly short at 53-55.
A performance full of promise however and one which gives hope that the team are capable of competing and maintaining their top flight status.
Wiggington are the visitors next Tuesday at Scott Lane and we wish the team good luck for that encounter.
Ian Teasdale had seen his Wetherby B mixed team lose their opener with Harrogate Racquets and a trip to face David Lloyd meant the opposition got no easier. Missing Doug Harrison and Katie Barrett the team travelled to a game played at Harrogate Spa whilst the David Lloyd courts are refurbished. Unfortunately the hosts selected a strong team, which is often the case at home, and the Dane Kjeld Rasmussen at seed one was in fine form. An aggressive player he is one of the section’s top performers and rattled up an impressive 24 points tonight alongside the crafty Andrea Bethell. Captain Alan Cunningham was David Lloyds star man and highest scorer last season and opened here with a useful 19 alongside Karen Nixon and in truth the Harrogate side would prove too strong for a spirited Wetherby side. This however was an improvement for Wetherby on their season opener and with Richard Franks showing the form often seen at social and Tony Cutler gaining in confidence, the signs are promising that the team will suddenly be troubling the judges. Old rivals Burton Leonard are next up this Sunday at Castlegarth and we hope Wetherby can make it third time lucky against their old adversaries.