Winter League champions Rufforth hosted Collingham at Castlegarth on a windy but dry evening. Captain Philippa Page arrived with Phil Sinton, Andy Ivel and Emma Whiting who were making their first appearances this term. For Collingham, captain Tony Cutler had regular ladies Liz Douthwaite and Maryla Gledhill but with youngster Bradley Triffitt absent through injury, dad Mike stepped in to replace him.
Douthwaite and Triffitt opened at seed one and took on Rufforth top dogs Page and Sinton. Phil had a good summer season competing in the York mixed division five where Rufforth narrowly missed out on promotion. It was easy to see why he had done so well as with some excellent well executed tennis he made a number of well-placed winners. Page was hitting well from deep and stayed in a number of long rallies with some tremendous court coverage . Douthwaite and Triffitt were matching them and at 4-4 the tie looked well poised. However the Rufforth duo upped the pace and finally managed to seal an 8-4 success to give themselves a nice start.
Over on court five Cutler and Gledhill took on Ivel and Whiting. Andy was also in the team that went agonisingly close to promotion during the summer and Emma played a number of matches in that division with him where in fact they were Rufforths leading pair. Whiting also brought a touch of glamour to proceedings and was sporting some impressive leggings which looked the height of fashion indeed! Her performance on court was just as sparkling and along with Andy they played some dazzling tennis. Working well together the pair looked confident and were soon on top. They didn’t allow their Collingham opponents many chances and clinically despatched those that fell their way. Running out cosy 9-3 winners it gave them a useful 17-7 advantage after the opening round.
Liz and Maryla are a useful combination in the ladies and were hoping to reduce the deficit against Philippa and Emma. This turned out to be a tremendous battle with nothing between the quartet. Ebbing and flowing it was always going to be difficult to call the winner and eventually honours were even after a 6-6 draw. However Rufforth were to virtually seal the match in the men’s rubber were Andy and Phil were in majestic form against Tony and Mike. The Rufforth duo played with great authority and error free and consistent tennis were running away with the contest. Tony used his spin game to stay in the tie and with Triffitt returning well they didn’t look outclassed but despite a number of tight games it was Andy and Phil who were able to find the winners and they sealed an emphatic 11-1 victory which left the champions 34-14 ahead.
With only pride left Collingham were looking for a good finish but Phil and Philippa were in no mood to take the foot off the pedal and they quickly surged ahead. Tony and Maryla had many good moments and certainly enjoyed the challenge but once more Phil showed his craftiness with some clever finishing and Rufforth ran out 9-3 victors.
Liz and Mike were still enjoying their debut together and were beginning to develop a reasonable understanding. They stood firm against Andy and Emma and this was proving an intriguing affair. Emma is strong at the net and with clinical finishing put away most things that fell her way. Likewise Andy was comfortable and was using the width of the court to keep Mike and Liz busy. Liz has a lovely forehand and was really testing the Rufforth duo with some hard hitting and with Triffitt finally getting success with his lobbing game and also covering the court well Collingham were still in this rubber. Finally they held their nerve in the last game to secure a 6-6 draw which left all four happy and Rufforth winners by 49-23. This takes them up to third place in the table and well poised to make a challenge once more. Another match played in great spirit and thanks to all on show this evening.
Well played Rufforth who lined up from left to right with Phil Sinton, Philippa Page, Emma Whiting and Andy Ivel
Runners up Collingham featured Mike Triffitt, Maryla Gledhill, Liz Douthwaite and Tony Cutler.