A lovely summer evening greeted the players as Wetherby A hosted Thirsk B at Castlegarth this evening in what looked a tough game to predict. Both clubs were on four points after five games and this was going to be a crucial result. The team news however provided welcome news for Wetherby with last week’s star pair for the visitors Richard Lister and Elaine Cook not involved having played for Thirsk A the previous evening. Wetherby therefore were slight favourites as play got under way.
Kevin Duckenfield and Dawn Steel opened on court one and were looking to maintain their promising partnership. They took on Guy Baragwanath and Anne Titchmarsh and this proved to be an intriguing affair. Little between the pairs and with some free flowing tennis a 6-6 draw proved a good reflection of events. Captain Barry Johnson began at seed two and was joined by Louise Beasley who had helped the team to victory at Boroughbridge previously. They started brightly against David Titchmarsh and Louise Morgan Williams and raced into a 5-2 lead. The visitors however battled back gamely to once again ensure a tie with another 6-6 draw. Walter Skubiak had played well the previous week and was partnered with Louise Williams at seed three as the duo took on Ben Watson and Jackie Wonders. The Thirsk duo are the highest rated pair so far this season and it was easy to see why with Watson hitting low and hard and Wonders craftily finding the space to roll off a number of winners. Williams was serving well and with Walter hitting some tremendous angles this was a clash to savour. Finally the strong visiting pair took the honours in a tight tussle 5-7 which left Thirsk slightly ahead 17-19 as round two commenced.
Duckenfield and Steel moved over to court three to play Watson and Wonders and it was no surprise that once more there was hardly anything between the couples. Some big hitting from the men and astute short play from the ladies with the inevitable 6-6 score line the final outcome. Walter and Louise were gelling well and playing with confidence and they were enjoying their battle against Titchmarsh and Williams. It’s not often two players with the same name are in opposition as was the case here but it was the Wetherby Williams who was gaining the upper hand whilst Skubiak was starting to dominate his opposite number as Wetherby ran out 8-4 winners. Johnson and Beasley were entertaining the galleries on the show court and with some clever play the Wetherby duo were always ahead against the Thirsk number one seeds. Johnson was exploiting space with his famous backhand whilst Beasley returned well and made enough excellent volleys at the net to keep the hosts ahead. They ran out 8-4 winners which suddenly left the hosts leading 39-33 with all to play for in the finale.
Johnson and Beasley were struggling against Watson and Wonders with errors starting to creep in they faced a battle to stay in the contest. The Thirsk couple mindful of the need to reduce the arrears were playing well but credit to the Wetherby pairing for staying in the contest in a rubber the visitors triumphed 4-8. However they needn’t of worried as Kevin and Dawn was playing their best tennis of the evening on court two as they began to motor. Showing a wonderful chemistry the duo played some excellent tennis and had too much weaponry for a tiring Thirsk pair as they ran out impressive 9-3 winners to all but cement the Wetherby success. Walter and Louise were also playing well with some eye catching tennis on court one and never looked in danger of defeat. With Guy struggling with back pain, Walter took full advantage with some long punishing rallies and some deadly winners whilst the consistent Williams took her opportunities well at the net. They shared the spoils from a 6-6 tie which left Wetherby claiming the vital two points 58-50.
With three wins from their opening six games Wetherby will be delighted as they look to establish themselves in Division four after promotion last term. With home games against a strong looking Ripon outfit and a much improved Harrogate Spa next at Castlegarth tonight’s win gives the team a bit of breathing space and hopefully the side can manage another victory from these two important matches.
Thanks to Thirsk for providing good opposition in a well fought tussle and we look forward to the return later in the campaign.
A special mention to the watching Mike Abel who not only provided alcohol for his fellow viewers but made a number of impressive ball retrievals to ensure a full complement of balls were in use tonight…well done Sir!!
Thirsk lady Louise Morgan Williams alongside Wetherbys Louise Williams with another Louise,Beasley making up the trio.
Apparently all three amazingly were christened Anne Louise as well!!!
Well done from left to right to Walter Skubiak, Barry Johnson, Louise Williams, Kevin Duckenfield, Dawn Steel and Louise Beasley for securing victory tonight.
The Harrogate 1 first team made the trip over to Harlow knowing they too faced a crucial match . With two points from their opening five matches the side were looking for a win on the road against a team that had just one win from their five games. Absence meant the hosts had to promote Chris Milnes, Loopy Parker and Jeanette Bowden from their side in Division three and ensured a strong looking Wetherby team would be big favourites this evening. The visitors were also boosted by the return of star man James Landau and he and Sue Perkins were in sparkling form helping themselves to an impressive 26 point haul including a 1-11 dismantling of the home third pair.
Helen Robinson and Marc Bickers are a great combination and they started at seed three in a partnership that looked full of quality. They notched an eye catching 22 points with some wonderful ground strokes to ensure Wetherby would always be taking home the points. Captain Sue Jacklin made a welcome return from injury in her first match of the campaign with Mike Butterworth and they too added another vital 13 points to an ever increasing total which finally meant a 47-61 away day success.
Well done to all on show this evening and although the four clubs above Wetherby are strong , the team have enough squad depth to put daylight between themselves and the relegation zone and try make a significant impact at the top end this term.