Tuesday evening witnessed the semi final of the inaugural Autumn Cup restricted event played at the Ripon tennis centre between Ripon B and Wetherby B. Wetherby travelled with the same four that had beaten Thirsk B in a dramatic quarter final clash last week but with Summer League Division Four leading pair Chris Partridge and Judith Thompson in opposition the hosts started big favourites.
A pleasant mild and calm evening meant conditions were perfect on the excellent carpet courts. Ripon had beaten Wetherby on the final day of the summer season to relegate the Castlegarth based outfit but Ripon themselves just fell short in their battle for promotion. The absence of Chris James was a big factor in the North Yorkshire outfit missing out but he was available tonight and teamed up with Colette Wilson who was the leading lady for Ripon C in their Division 6 title winning team.
The Men’s rubber was played on court 6 and featured Partridge and James taking on Kevin Duckenfield and Mike Triffitt. This would prove a fascinating battle of styles and in the opening set the pairs couldnt be separated at 3-3 in the early skirmishes. However Partridge always looked likely to move through the gears and with a crisp and deadly backhand started to dominate. James is a an imposing left hander and was hitting hard from deep and the pair finally ran out cosy 6-3 winners in the opener. Duckenfield once more served well and with Triffitt defending well and playing some crafty tennis the visitors were still not out of the rubber. However buoyed by that first set success the hosts settled and started to up the tempo and despite plenty of close games proved a little too classy for a 6-2 second set success.
Over on court 5 Judith Thompson and Colette Wilson entertained Rachel Butterworth and Louise Beasley who had played very well last week in victory. They were up in class here as Thompson is a very accomplished player but the opener was close with some tremendous rallying on show. Finally Ripon prevailed 6-4. However the Wetherby girls were certainly not downbeat and moving their opponents around well stormed back in the second set to run out impressive 1-6 winners. This set up a Championship tie break to 10 which would crucially swing the match in Ripon’s favour. In a real battle the hosts managed to run out 10-7 winners after an excellent rubber to give themselves a nice 2-0 advantage.
It was now looking a very big price a Wetherby comeback as Kevin and Rachel took on Partridge and Thompson with the Ripon pair due to collect their trophy for winning the Harrogate Tennis Summer Restricted mixed doubles title in June at Fridays end of season presentation. They began to show why they are so highly rated and with excellent teamwork were forcing the pace. However Duckenfield and Butterworth are no strangers on court and were also holding their own so much so that the opening set went to a tie break. Unfortunatly for Wetherby they couldn’t convert a number of chances and went down 7-6 .
Over on court 6, Beasley and Triffitt were battling hard to stay in their rubber with Chris James and Colette Wilson. There was little between the pairs with the big hitting of James proving hard to handle. However Mike and Louise weathered the storm to finally prevail 4-6 to keep the tie alive. In a close second set Ripon bounced back to record a 6-4 success which meant a Championship tie break would decide the winner. With the wind now starting to become a factor, players were having to be careful with returns and Ripon were soon in the driving seat at 6-2 ahead. However Mike and Louise remained calm and worked their way back before Colette served at 9-8 for the match. Wetherby stood firm and with great resolution took the next three points to record a welcome 9-11 success to make the overall score 2-1 to Ripon.
Back over to court 5 and Kevin and Rachel knew they needed not only to take the set but make up the games deficit to qualify. Despite a valiant effort the hosts proved too strong to win 6-3 and with it the match 3-1.
A really good advert for the Autumn Cup played in a sporting spirit and congratulations to Ripon who advance to the final. They will meet either West Tanfield or Wetherby C who meet a week on Thursday at Scott Lane.
From left to right Chris Partridge, Judith Thompson, Colette Wilson and Chris James celebrate a good nights work.
Gallant runners up Kevin Duckenfield, Rachel Butterworth, Louise Beasley and captain Mike Triffitt who enjoyed a great run to the semi final.