Tuesday had seen windy weather but dry conditions as Wetherby B and Thirsk B did battle for a place in the semi final of the Autumn Cup restricted competition. Wetherby had won 4-0 at Harrogate Racquets D last week but with Dawn Steel and Marise Richfield absent Rachel Butterworth and Louise Beasley stepped in to partner Kevin Duckenfield and captain Mike Triffitt.
Thirsk had received a bye into the quarter final and sent a strong team. Captain Guy Baragwanath had been the clubs leading points scorer for Thirsk B in Division 5 of the summer leagues whilst Anne Titchmarsh had been a regular in that section too. Becky Robson had been one of the leading ladies for the Thirsk A team which had narrowly failed to gain promotion from Division 3 whilst Dave Johnston had seen plenty of action in that same section. This left the visitors as slight favourites in what looked an intriguing clash.
With the wind slowing down and the sun shining, Kevin Duckenfield and Mike Triffitt opened proceedings on court two against Guy Baragwanath and Dave Johnson and as they say in footballing terms, this was certainly a game of two halves. The Thirsk pair were quickly out of the traps and with some big hitting from deep and some tremendous court coverage Guy was certainly looking very impressive. Partner Johnson produced some clever play and in all honesty the Wetherby pair were struggling for a foothold. In what seemed like a flash they had been well beaten 0-6. A pep talk from ladies first team player Lucy Wright playing on court one however seemed to spur the chaps into action and they came out fighting in the second. Duckenfield began to let loose and serving with venom and hitting big from deep Wetherby began to click into gear. Triffitt was happy to play a consistent game with plenty of well executed returns and covering the whole of the court he and Kevin were playing some impressive tennis. The shell shocked visitors had no answer as the hosts levelled after a 6-1 success. This set up a Championship third set tie break to 10 to determine the rubber. Thirsk moved 1-4 clear but Wetherby battled back to lead 7-5 and with the winning line in sight held their nerve to record an unlikely 10-6 victory.
Over on court three Rachel Butterworth and Louise Beasley were enjoying one another’s company and playing exceedingly well. They had taken the opening set against Anne Titchmarsh and Becky Robson after a cosy 6-3 win but the Thirsk ladies had battled back well to level following a 3-6 success. This left the rubber to be decided on another third set championship tie break. This turned out to be a real thriller with both pairs producing some memorable tennis. A number of long rallies were played out and with Butterworth paroling the baseline and hitting well from deep Wetherby looked determined to seal victory. Beasley was producing some lovely smashes at the net and was proving difficult to lob. However Robson and Titchmarsh were equally tenacious and the watching crowd were certainly enjoying the action. In all honesty there was very little to separate the teams and both had chances to clinch victory. Finally after a marathon the hosts prevailed 16-14 in a classic encounter.
That looked to give Wetherby a massive boost as they led 2-0 going into the mixed doubles final round. Kevin and Rachel now moved to court one to take on Becky and Dave whilst Mike and Louise entertained Guy and Anne on court two. The lights were on and the rain was now beginning to fall which would make conditions difficult but none of this appeared to disrupt the players. No surprise that both matches would be fought tooth and nail with no quarter given . Kevin continued to serve well whilst Rachel was hitting so many lovely forehand returns but the classy Thirsk pair were matching them and at 4-4 the first set was in the balance. However Dave produced some impressive net winners and with Becky ever so consistent Thirsk took the opener 4-6.
Things were equally as tight next door where the teams battled it out and with no pair taking control the opener would see a tie break after a 6-6 stalemate. Once more it was hard to split the teams but Wetherby just stayed ahead and finally took the honours 7-4 after Beasley really turned on the style with some clever cross court winners.
Kevin and Rachel were looking to level matters on the show court and just like the first set the second was just as competitive. The tennis on show was testament to all concerned especially as the rain and wind were playing havoc and controlling the ball and moving were becoming quite a task. It was going to take a moment of magic to break the deadlock but once more after a 6-6 deadlock another tie break was needed. A brilliant performance from Butterworth and Duckenfield saw them level the tie and they knew a championship tie break to 10 was now needed to settle the outcome.
Back on court two Triffitt and Beasley were going along nicely and if anything the conditions were helping the hosts as their clever and slower short game was proving difficult to handle. Guy was certainly not giving up the ghost and in such wet conditions his court coverage was incredible. Louise was continuing to dominate the net and some of her smashes were out of this world. Triffitt pinned the visitors back with lobs and deep balls and with some clever spinning cross court returns the pair were moving ahead. They led 5-1 with the winning post in site but back came Thirsk to take the next . However a final last push saw Wetherby clinch the rubber and the match with a 6-2 success. As news filtered through to Kevin and Rachel there was much relief and they narrowly lost the tie break 8-10 which thankfully was now immaterial.
Wetherby therefore clinched a 3-1 victory to set up a semi final with opponents as yet unknown. A big thanks to tonight’s gallant runners up from Thirsk who never threw the towel in and in all honesty there was very little between the sides as the number of tie breaks confirmed along with a finish time that was almost 10pm!
Well done to Kevin Duckenfield, Louise Beasley, Rachel Butterworth and Mike Triffitt on tonights fantastic win.
A great effort from Anne Titchmarsh, Guy Baragwanath, Becky Robson and Dave Johnston who ensured tonights match was ever so close.