Despite the indifferent weather two matches were played on Thursday evening in the Winter League. Wetherby 1 were finally able to start their campaign as they played Knaresborough 2 in this rearranged clash. Boro arrived with a strong looking quartet with Dan Wilson joined by daughters Izzy and Ellie and Tony Graham completing the squad. Wetherby lined up with Steve and Christina Plant whilst captain Mike Triffitt was joined by Helen Robinson. Wetherby would start as favourites but this looked an intriguing contest .
Dark clouds were hanging over Castlegarth as play commenced and quite a lot of the evening endured rain but the players to their credit continued on thankfully. Steve and Christina have been regulars at the club since joining recently and they have certainly made a positive impact. Steve looked confident as he strode onto the show court having lifted the Mark Jackson end of season trophy last Sunday. He and Christina are a useful combination but would have their work cut out against the excellent Tony Graham and improving youngster Izzy Wilson. The rubber was a real roller coaster affair with little between the pairs. Tony was serving well and hitting hard from deep. He has a useful spin game and excellent court coverage. Izzy may only be small in stature but she canes the ball around aggressively and found some lovely angles. The Boro duo finally prevailed 7-5 after a titanic battle.
On court two Mike Triffitt and Helen Robinson teamed up for their first competitive match together and they too would be involved in another tight battle against Dan and Ellie Wilson. The Wilsons are certainly tough opponents and with Dan covering every inch of the court and hitting some impressive winners the duo were quickly out of the blocks. Youngster Ellie is a powerful player with a terrific forehand and she is lethal at the net, especially in dispatching a number of cracking smashes away. Triffitt was content to keep the ball in play and Robinson hitting harder was creating some excellent angles to keep Wetherby in the contest. Little between the quartet but finally it was Knaresborough again who ran out narrow 7-5 winners to take a 14-10 advantage into round two.
With the rain now making things decidedly difficult and players having to tread carefully, Helen and Christina were enjoying their debut together on court one. They soon gelled and with both playing aggressive began confidently. This was actually a great advert for ladies doubles as the Wilsons were equally as powerful and there was some superb winning shots unleashed. Perhaps the only difference was the experience Wetherby brought to the table and with a little more consistency ,allowed them to seal an 8-4 success which levelled the overall scores.
On court two Triffitt and Plant were teaming up for a second occasion and are regulars at social so were confident of putting on a good show once more. However it was a cagey opening with Tony Graham and Dan Wilson and the scores were level after each players opening service game. Wetherby knew they needed to up the tempo and in Steve Plant had a player who could certainly move through the gears, However mindful of the conditions he was playing with great authority and taking opportunities carefully when they arose. With Triffitt a useful ally the pair started to get the scoreboard moving and with some clever play finally managed to run out 9-3 winners that suddenly turned the match in the hosts favour.
Going into the final round Wetherby now led 27-21 and knew a steady finish would secure victory. However Tony Graham and Izzy Wilson looked determined to keep Boro in the contest and they quickly moved two games clear against Triffitt and Robinson. Izzy was hitting with real venom and made a number of breath taking winners and with Graham adopting clever tactics this was going to be hard for the Wetherby duo. Luckily Robinson used her class to start pushing her opponents deeper and was able to create some more lovely angles. Triffitt held strong at the net and they eased their way back into contention. The final 6-6 tie was a good reflection of events and left Wetherby the happier.
With a six point advantage Steve and Christina were in a strong position and with Steve ever so consistent and Christa making a number of well executed winners from close range the duo were guiding Wetherby home nicely. Dan and Ellie were certainly not going down without a fight and once more hit some tremendous winners. But with another man of the match performance Steve had too much weaponry and the Plants sealed an 8-4 success to help guide Wetherby to a 41-31 victory.
Despite the rain this was a really close affair which was always in the balance and credit to all on show.
Well done to Steve and Christina Plant alongside Helen Robinson and Mike Triffitt this evening.
Captain Tony Graham joined by Ellie, Izzy and Dan Wilson for Knaresborough.
Over on court four and five, Winter league favourites Boston Spa were taking on Collingham. Spa had opened with victory over Starbeck and once again had a strong team out this evening. New captain for this year Kate Butterfield led her troops into battle and was joined by Pauline Belt, Peter Smith and Richard Whaley.
Collingham were missing their regular ladies so June Hudson kindly stepped up along with Jill Abel whilst Tony Cutler and Bradley Triffitt once more completed the team.
Cutler and Hudson took on Belt and Whaley and it was soon apparent that debutant and new member at Boston Spa Richard was a little bit special. He looks to be an excellent recruit for Spa and played some terrific tennis throughout the evening. With no weaknesses he and Belt stormed ahead and made all giving their opponents very few opportunities. The Collingham due at least avoided the whitewash and had to settle for a 11-1 defeat.
Jill Abel and youngster Bradley Triffitt were making their competitive debut together and faced a baptism of fire against the experienced and classy Spa pair Kate Butterfield and Peter Smith. However Triffitt has really enjoyed his adult introduction in the Winter League and in Abel had a great partner with a wealth of experience. The Collingham pair began well and were certainly not overawed and produced a real battling performance. Bradley was adopting his usual tactics and unleashing his best weapon , namely a lovely angled forehand , which produced great success. Abel was a rock at the net intercepting on many occasions and the duo had a good little partnership developing. Of course Peter and Kate were also making their presence felt but a 6-6 draw left Triffitt and Abel highly satisfied.
Of course realistically this was damage limitation for Collingham against such a powerful Spa outfit and Jill and June, despite so many long rallies, were up against the odds against Kate and Pauline. The Boston girls were confident and playing extremely well. Allowing few opportunities they ran out 11-1 winners.
Brad and Tony likewise were feeling the full force of Smith and Whaley but did give their all in trying to stop the onslaught. A 9-3 reverse allowed the Collingham men some success and satisfaction.
So Boston were now well on course and in keeping the scoreboard ticking over were improving their points difference. June and Tony playing with a freedom were enjoying their final round and managed to hit some quality winners. They didn’t have the consistency to threaten a shock but a 9-3 defeat was good reward for a big effort. Peter and Kate played some lovely tennis however and were worthy winners.
Brad and Jill were also enjoying themselves and relishing testing themselves against strong opponents. Pauline and Richard are certainly that and were playing some eye catching tennis. However this blossoming partnership were playing competitive tennis and this rubber was well fought. Some lovely rallies ensued before a Boston victory of 8-4 meant they moved top of the Winter League table following a 54-18 victory.
Once more great credit for battling the weather but there was enough dry time to enjoy the evening.
From left to right Pete Smith, Kate Butterfield, Pauline Belt and Richard Whaley who guided Boston to victory.
Bradley Triffitt, Jill Abel, June Hudson and Tony Cutler who fought bravely for Collingham.