Wetherby 2 hosted near neighbours Collingham tonight in the Winter League. Wetherby had opened their campaign with victory over Boroughbridge and were looking to go top of the early table. A dry calm evening greeted the players although temperatures were low and dipped as the night progressed.
Wetherby captain Richard Franks was joined by Ginny Hinds whilst there was a Winter League debut for Ben Gold who was partnered by Ann Jones. Collingham captain Tony Cutler paired up with Maryla Gledhill and Bradley Triffitt and Liz Douthwaite were the other duo. This looked a tough game to call with the teams very well matched.
In a tactical switch Cutler played at seed two and he and Gledhill opened on court five against Gold and Jones. The Wetherby couple had played social tennis but this was their competitive debut together. Ben is a hard hitter and has good court coverage and he and Ann quickly settled into action. Tony and Maryla are no strangers and have partnered on numerous occasions and this promised to be a close battle. Gold was content to play deep and using his strong forehand was hitting plenty of winners. Ann was the perfect foil as she was very consistent and kept the ball in play. Tony used his famous slice to good effect which kept the Wetherby duo on their toes whilst Maryla has a lovely deft touch at the net and cleverly made a number of winning shots. In all honestly little between the couples but eventually Wetherby ran out narrow 7-5 winners after a tremendous tussle.
On court four Triffitt and Douthwaite knew they would need to produce their best to hold Franks and Hinds. The Wetherby couple are both strong baseliners and there is arguably no one fitter at the club then Franks, who has the nickname Duracell after some amazing long rallies and matches this summer and in the end of season club tournament. Liz is a lovely player and is also very consistent and she was happy to keep returning whilst Bradley was hitting some lovely forehand winners and crucially advancing to the net to keep Collingham well in this tie. In fact as the visitors began to dominate the net they grew in confidence and with Triffitt mixing power with some crafty drop shots it enabled Collingham to finish strongly to record an impressive 4-8 success.
As round two began Collingham therefore led 13-11. The men’s rubber was always going to be tight and so it proved. Cutler and Triffitt led throughout but Franks and Gold finished the stronger and with Franks producing another all action display the captain was inspirational in securing a 7-5 victory. The ladies rubber was equally competitive but this time it was Collingham who would secure the narrow victory as they won 7-5 meaning Collingham retained a narrow two point advantage at 25-23.
So as the temperatures began to drop the action on court really heated up with all to play for in this absorbing contest. Ginny and Richard were quickly away against Maryla and Tony and soon took control. They were 6-1 ahead and starting to turn the screw with some impressive hard hitting. Hinds was exploiting the space and hit some fantastic forehand winners and Collingham looked in danger. Over on court four Bradley and Liz led 3-2 in a tight rubber with Ben and Ann and it was looking like Wetherby were timing their comeback to perfection. However youngster Triffitt knew now was the time to kick on and needing to keep the scoreboard ticking over he started to up the tempo. With Douthwaite ever so consistent and Triffitt hitting plenty of winners they started to move clear and the match result was going down to the wire.
Back on court five Tony and Maryla were desperately trying to stay in their tie and producing some backs to the walls defending managed to secure an important further two games but fell 9-3. The Collingham number one duo now knew they must win big and with Triffitt continuing to dominate the net and have plenty of joy from a crafty short game the Collingham pair were relentless. Ben and Ann gave it all as they tried to respond but finally the visitors secured an impressive 10-2 victory which saw Collingham secure a first win in the Winter League this term 38-34.
A big thanks to all on show and especially to Ginny who stepped in late and produced some wonderful play. There really was little between the teams and this was a great advert for the competition. Six teams are joint top of the current table on two points in what is shaping up to be the closest title battle in many years.
Congratulations to Collingham captain Tony Cutler and his team who lined up from left to right with Liz Douthwaite, Maryla Gledhill and Bradley Triffitt.
A brave effort from Wetherby 2 with captain Richard Franks, Ginny Hinds, Ann Jones and Ben Gold.