Wetherby U14 travelled to Sandal this afternoon for their second match of the season following a draw at Rawdon last weekend. A pleasant day greeted the players at the Wakefield based club with parents happy to enjoy the warmer climes and watch the action unfold from the lawns. With Gabe Mead and Brook Sutton absent, Sam Pratt made a welcome return along with George Brown.
Sandal have four hard courts with a lovely clubhouse in between and with another two courts ready for upgrade at the end of the year this is a nice location.
Pratt had already played football during the morning but the player is renowned for having a good engine and was pitched in straight at seed one to take on home top dog Adam Luke. This would turn out to be an epic battle lasting an incredible seventy five minutes!. Both players proved quick around the court but with neither venturing towards the net this became a battle from the baseline. Pratt attacked well and hitting hard took a stranglehold of the opener winning 1-4. Back came Luke and with extremely long rallies this second set became a war of attrition. The pair were locked at 4-4 so a tie break to seven was needed. Pratt led 4-6 but facing two match points the Sandal man fought back to save those and go on to take the tie break 8-6 which forced a deciding set. This was a tie break to ten and if Luke thought he had broken the Wetherby man’s resolve he was in for a shock. Pratt showing great temperament came roaring out of the traps and dominating throughout made his extra fitness count to record an impressive 1-10 win to give Wetherby a great win.
Of course by this time the three other singles games had all concluded. Bradley Triffitt had enjoyed a singles win for the U16 the night before and was on a high but he was soon brought down to earth against ten year old Vanessa Mueller who proved one of the best female talents at this level I have seen in a long time. The Sandal second seed had looked good in the warm up and contained that form as the game began. What she lacked in stature she made up in ferocity and class and serving quickly and accurately and hitting extremely hard from deep she was spraying the ball around impressively. Triffitt was serving equally as well and matching many of the hard hitting deep baseline returns this was a very good contest indeed. However Mueller was finding some exquisite angles and began to move ahead in the opener finally running out a 4-2 winner after the pair were locked at 2-2. Changing tactics Triffitt started to advance to the net and although having reasonable success he couldn’t stem the flow of winners from Vanessa. Once more she ran out a 4-2 winner for a worthy win but both players should be applauded for a very high standard of tennis.
Sam Spencer had started slowley on court three and found the tall Lucy Bray quite a handful. Bray was hitting well and exploiting the space and with Spencer always playing catch up Sandal took the opener 4-2. But Spencer was not deterred and dominating the second he began to play some eye catching tennis and ran out an impressive 0-4 winner. Now full of confidence he began the third set tie breaker well once more and with the shots flowing nicely he recorded a super 2-10 success for another Wetherby win.
George Brown is a lovely left handed player and one of the most polite on the circuit. He faced Rohan Bhimsatia on court four and looked confident. He was quickly away and playing with a real freedom. The Sandal fourth seed was struggling to adapt to playing a left hander and Brown was playing with great variation. He deservedly took the opener 1-4. The second proved much closer with little to separate the pair. Rohan was suddenly starting to exert the pressure and at 3-3 the tie was in the balance. However Brown found his first set form late on to take back to back games and record a 3-5 success which crucially gave the visitors a useful 1-3 lead with just the doubles to follow.
Spencer and Brown were eager to grab the one point needed to secure victory for Wetherby and they quickly settled and showing good team work raced into an early lead and not allowing Rohan and Lucy any chances took the first set 1-4. This looked even more important as over on court two Adam and Vanessa had built up a 3-0 lead over Sam Pratt and Bradley in the doubles. However the Wetherby men realised they needed to avoid Mueller at all costs and moving away from the net and both playing deep they found their new tactics reaping instant reward. In a flash they were all level at 3-3 and with Triffitt serving well and Pratt producing some fantastic lobs the whole game was about to turn on its head. Amazingly the Wetherby lads won two more games to take the opener 3-5 and suddenly Wetherby were in the driving seat for overall success. Bray and Bhimsatia were not going down without a fight however and realising they were in last chance saloon they upped the tempo and suddenly began firing down a number of impressive winners. They took the second 4-1 and now it was game on. Triffitt and Pratt however were suddenly starting to dominate their opponents and with the two covering every inch of the court they were looking a very strong pairing. The beleaguered hosts had no answer and with errors creeping in the Wetherby men were in no mood to surrender and romped to a 0-4 second set victory racking up nine games on the bounce. With victory assured Spencer and Brown were also starting to get on top in the tie break and with news filtering through to them that the pressure was off they relaxed to take the decider 5-10 with Spencer playing some lovely smashes at the net and Brown covering the back of the court equally well.
Wetherby therefore ran out impressive 1-5 winners but that was harsh on the hosts as the match had in truth been far tougher and tighter. It did show how determination is so important and not letting heads drop the Wetherby quartet were rewarded with a fantastic win. With a draw and a win from their first two games Wetherby will return to Castlegarth hoping to cement a top two finish and qualify for the playoffs.
Another great contest and thanks to Sandal for hosting and to another good away support from the parents on the side lines.
From left to right captain Bradley Triffitt, Sam Spencer, George Brown and Sam Pratt.
A good following from Wetherby cheering the lads on to a memorable success.