Wetherby A travelled north to Boroughbridge this evening hoping to bounce back from last week’s home defeat against title favourites Knaresborough. The team had won their opening fixture on the road at Harrogate Spa and were quietly confident of remaining unbeaten away from home tonight. Dawn Steel and Debbie Vines were absent so Louise Beasley and Rachel Butterworth kindly stepped in.
Boroughbridge have opened with two defeats and were hoping to break their own duck. The players arrived at the picturesque surroundings of Aldborough which was bathed in sunlight although temperatures were chillier than of late. Three modern carpet courts with floodlights make the set up very eye catching indeed.
Wetherby began with the ever reliable Kevin Duckenfield at top seed and he was joined by the classy Louise Beasley. The pair had looked impressive during pre season practise and gave the visitors a strong looking pressence. They took on Boroughbridge number one duo Jamie Jarman and Helen Bell who have been in good form this season. Jarman is a regular for Boro in their Wetherby Winter Legaue side and is certainly a character both on and off the court!. This proved a tough and uncompromising opener with no quarter given by the quartet. Some big hitting from deep coupled with excellent volleying from Duckenfield proved a useful weapon whilst Beasley was very elegant as she created some lovely angles and some low dropping and looping returns. Left hander Jarman is a powerful opponent and was hitting ferociously whilst partner Bell was also creating some splendid sharp angles and hitting confidently. Eventually the spoils were shared at 6-6 leaving both couples happy. Over on court two Mike Triffitt welcomed the return of regular playing partner Louise Williams after her trip to Madrid and she was eager for action. They took on home captain David Cunliffe who partnered Mandy Holmes.Cunliffe is a very accomplished player but was making his first start of the season and was a little rusty in the opening exchanges. However he and Holmes still raced into a 3-1 lead before Triffitt produced some strong serving to close the gap . Wetherby then hit a rich vein of form with Williams finding some nice angles using her lethal forehand and with both Wetherby players covering the court well they managed seven matches on the bounce before finally running out impressive 4-8 winners. Captain Johnson teamed up with another graceful player in Rachel Butterworth and they settled in on court three for their evenings work. They took on Neil Jackson and Carolyn Collins with Jackson making his first start of the campaign. The Wetherby duo clicked from the outset and with Butterworth very consistent and Johnson attacking aggressively the couple were moving the scoreboard nicely. Showing great team work they produced plenty of winners and with great variation had the hosts on the ropes. A final score line of 2-10 meant a great opening round for Wetherby who led 12-24.
Sun glasses were still the order of the day as the sun made for difficult serving conditions but Duckenfield and Beasley were still playing some eye catching tennis against Cunliffe and Holmes. Cunliffe was starting to move through the gears and with his partnership with Holmes now blossoming this proved to be another tough encounter. The standard was high with many points extremely hard fought. Beasley, who has a similar style to ladies second team captain Fiona Chantrey, is very calm and calculating on court and with military precision was certainly punishing her opponents. However with both teams still on fire they ultimately couldn’t be split and another 6-6 draw was achieved for the Wetherby top dogs. Williams and Triffitt now took on the home third pair but this proved a frustrating rubber as the pair were never really able to fully get going. Credit some excellent court coverage from Neil Jackson however who chased down many a lost cause to keep the hosts well in the rubber. Playing partner Carolyn Collins is one of the most polite and pleasant opponent I have come across and she too produced many moments of real quality. Although Triffitt and Williams were always fairly comfortable they couldn’t get into any rhythm but still ran out cosy 4-8 winners to keep the visitors nicely ahead.
Johnson and Butterworth took on Bell and Jarman with Johnson in particularly relishing the hard hitting battle with Jarman whilst the ladies produced some more great angles and plenty of long rallies. Another very good contest producing some high quality tennis before a 6-6 draw was a good reflection of events.
So as round three began Wetherby had increased their lead to 16 points leading 28-44 and knew victory was now well within their grasp. Duckenfield and Beasley kept up the decent standard and now playing Jackson and Collins were able to exploit the space and keep the scoreboard ticking over in the visitors favour. Not letting the hosts into the contest the pair were relentless and carried far too much weaponry for there to be any sniff of an upset. The couple certainly saved the best till last and with an 1-11 success contributed an excellent 23 points tonight. Williams and Triffitt knew they now faced their toughest challenge but made a flying start to lead 0-2. However Jarman began upping the tempo and with some hugh hitting he and Bell began to take control. The Wetherby couple were not outclassed though and with some backs to the wall defending stayed in the rubber with a final deficit of 8-4 causing minimum damage. Johnson and Butterworth must have known events were going well for their team and knew victory was now in the bag. They were enjoying themselves against Cunliffe and Holmes who in fairness were improving rapidly as each round went by. The duo were now looking extremely strong and with great variation and control of the net they always had the upper hand. A 7-5 success was just reward for a great effort from them although did nothing to effect the overall score. Therefore Johnson and Butterworth helped themselves to an excellent 21 points on the night and helped Wetherby secure victory 44-64.
With two wins from their opening three games Wetherby A can be extremely pleased after promotion last season and they face another tough challenge at highly fancied Dacre a week on Thursday. A great team effort this evening set the foundation for a cosy success and gives optimism that the team can achieve their goal of stabilising this campaign.
Thanks again to Louise Beasley and Rachel Butterworth for giving the side a touch of class tonight and their respective partners certainly appreciated their strong presence. The team actually join three other sides at the summit in the early table although Knaresborough can go two points clear when they play their match in hand at home to Ripon on Thursday.
Tonights winning team from left to right was Mike Triffitt, Louise Williams, Kevin Duckenfield, Barry Johnson, Louise Beasley and Rachel Butterworth.
Gallant runners up for Boroughbridge saw Helen Bell, Many Holmes, Carolyn Collins, David Cunliffe and Jamie Jarmon whilst Neil Jackson was already hotfooting it to the pub!
Players mingle and enjoy their after match food and drink in the lovely setting of the Ship Inn.