Wetherby U16 began their new season away at Chapel Allerton this evening. Wetherby had managed a 3-3 draw in this fixture last term but were missing star men Dan Wright and Angus Harte so arrived as underdogs. Ed Grogan moved up to captain at seed one with Henry Brown debuting at two, after been a valuable member of the U14 team that reached the finals last year, and Tom March played at seed four. With men missing U14 captain Bradley Triffitt stepped up and came in at seed two.
Rhys Cruz had been a member of the Chapel U14 team that had won the competition in 2017 and he has now stepped up to seed one for the U16. He took on Grogan and showed what a hugh talent he is playing some aggressive and powerful tennis. The Wetherby man fought valiantly but had little answer in the face of an onslaught and tumbled 4-0,4-1.
Bradley Triffitt took on James Connell on court two with the Chapel man having a good season at both U16 and U14 level last year. The big hitting left hander would prove a useful opponent for Triffitt who used his steady game and consistency however to very good effect in the opener. Frustrating his opponent who was beginning to see his error count creep up, Triffitt grew in confidence and took the first 0-4. Quickly opening a 0-3 lead in the second things couldn’t be going better but two quick fire games from Connell brought him back into the contest before Triffitt took the next for an excellent 0-4,2-4 success.
On court three there was a really intriguing doubles rubber taking place which certainly had the watching parents on the edge of their seats as the drama unfolded. Joe Ellis and Katie Barlow for the hosts were playing Henry Brown and Tom March. Brown is a big imposing player with great athleticism and covers the court well and with March a consistent companion ,Wetherby took the first set 3-5. Back came the Leeds team with Ellis showing some lovely touches and some well placed winners. Barlow was playing well on the backhand and after a tiebreak they levelled following a 5-4 win with the tie break score 7-2. A final set tie break to ten was therefore needed to settle the match and holding their nerve it was Wetherby who kept mistakes to a minimum as they ran out 5-10 winners to take the overall lead at 1-2.
Triffitt and Grogan were already playing their doubles with Cruz and Connell and it was Cruz again who was proving the star turn. Hitting extremely hard and accurately he had the Wetherby duo struggling although the contest was tight. With Triffitt rallying well and Grogan taking charge at the net this was developing into a great match but the hosts came through 5-3. Undeterred Wetherby pressed on in the second and making a quick start began exerting pressure. They took the second 2-4 to set up a tie break decider. This time it was Chapel who began better and really starting to turn the screw they raced into a big lead before taking the rubber 10-5 for a 2-1 success.
With the overall score at 2-2 all eyes were on the remaining two singles. Unfortunately Brown had tweaked a calf and his movement was affected. Playing such an accomplished player as Ellis made things difficult and the Leeds youngster played impressivley during a 4-0 opening set victory. Brown fought back and trying to force this issue advanced to the net. However Ellis remained calm and playing with great authority took the second 4-2 to put the hosts back in the lead at 3-2. Only Tom March could save the day for Wetherby but he was finding Katie Barlow a tough nut to crack. The Chapel player was certainly playing with plenty of energy and taking the ball early was creating room which she exploited well. Match battled manfully and with both players exchanging many rallies this was proving absorbing. However Barlow who strong at the net and smashing well was gaining the upper hand. She finally prevailed 4-2,4-1 to see Chapel Allerton home 4-2 after an excellent contest.
Thanks to our welcoming hosts with Coffee and biscuits greatly received. A real good advert for junior tennis and congratulations to all on show for not only some wonderful tennis but some excellent sporting behaviour in a very well contested encounter. It’s great to see some top talent emerging and the coaching staff at both clubs should be roundly applauded. Well done to the parents for good support from the side lines and good luck to both during the rest of the season.
Wetherby entertain Adel next Friday at Castlegarth.
Still smiling despite defeat were from left to right – Bradley Triffitt, Ed Grogan, Henry Brown and Tom March.