The weather once more threatened the Winter League fixture between Knaresborough 2 and Collingham but thankfully despite drizzle the game was completed. This was a clash between the bottom two but such is the close nature of this year’s event that only five points separated top from bottom.
Boro captain Paul White came with a strong quartet as he was partnered by the excellent Fran Bakes whilst the canny Dan Wilson teamed up with improving daughter Ellie. Collingham were without all bar regular man Bradley Triffitt who took over the captaincy for the evening. He was joined by Autumn Cup partner Katie Barrett whilst Winter League organiser Mike Triffitt came in and was partnered by Lesley Haley from Boston Spa.
Bakes and White took on Triffitt senior and Haley on court four and were well in contention at 2-2 after the opening service games. However the Boro duo began to show the form that had seem them win promotion with the Knaresborough summer first team who finished runners up in Division Three, and the A team that clinched the Division Four crown. They played some excellent tennis and were very consistent throughout. Paul is a useful server and a giant at the net whilst Fran has incredible court coverage as she chased every seemingly lost cause down, often producing some memorable winners. Lesley was showing her class with some lovely touches at the net whilst Triffitt kept Collingham in many rallies with some good defensive work. However the Collingham pair were unable to convert on many advantage situations and finally the favourites ran out cosy 9-3 winners.
On court five Dan and Ellie took on Bradley and Katie and this too was a close opening affair. Dan was instrumental in helping the B team to title success in Division Six during the summer and is a regular on the Winter circuit. Ellie is a fast improver and with a lethal forehand was making some lovely winners. Dan used his craftiness to keep the scoreboard ticking over nicely. Brad was also hitting well from deep whilst Katie enjoyed success at the net. However the Knaresborough pair had a little too much in the tank and took the rubber 8-4 to give the hosts a nice 17-7 opening round advantage.
The second round was therefore crucial if Collingham were to stay in the contest and thankfully they came out all guns blazing. Katie and Lesley were quickly into stride and were soon enjoying themselves. Left hander Haley was certainly using the width of the court well and producing some excellent winners. Fran and Ellie however were also proving a tough nut to crack as they both returned well and this was proving a fascinating contest. Katie was determined to see Collingham home and eventually they came out on top with a deserved 8-4 success to reduce the overall deficit to six.
Mike and Brad were on court five taking on Dan and Paul knowing they too must produce their best form. With Brad hitting some great forehand winners and Mike happy to keep rallies alive and strike at the net they stormed out the traps to lead 6-2. However Dan and Paul were both influential members of the Knaresborough men’s team that had finished mid table in Division Four of the same section that Wetherby Second team had suffered relegated from and would be tough opponents throughout. Paul was upping the tempo and starting to dominate the net and with the Triffitt’s unable to sustain their strong opening the score was been eroded away. Finally Collingham did take the rubber 7-5 to great delight from both Mike and Brad.
Going into the final round the Knaresborough lead had been reduced to 26-22 and we were all set for a grandstand finish. On Court five Mike and Lesley made a cracking start to forge ahead 3-0 but with the drizzle incessant Boro came back to move ahead 4-3. Mindful, of needing to win however the couple refocused and with Lesley once more showing some exquisite touches at the net they managed to finish with a flourish to take the rubber 8-4 which left the score all square. However over on court four Bradley and Katie knew they faced mission impossible to lower the colours of Paul and Fran and despite a brave effort they could never trouble the top seeds. Fran was relentless once more covering every inch of the court and when the opportunity arose Paul was lethal both from close range and deep. Brad tried hard to match his power with some more excellent angles and Katie showed some lovely touches and strong net smashes to keep the pair alive. A final 10-2 reverse was harsh but sealed a 40-32 victory to lift Boro off the bottom swopping places with Collingham.
A big thanks and appreciation to all on show and a very big thanks to Katie and Lesley for stepping in to assist Collingham this evening. Your presence was very much appreciated by both Mike and Bradley. The rearranged match between second placed Boston Spa and third placed Wetherby 1 is scheduled for next Tuesday before a break for Xmas and New Year.
Well played Knaresborough who had from left to right – Dan Wilson, Ellie Wilson, Fran Bakes and captain Paul White.
Gallant runners up from Collingham were Katie Barrett, Captain Bradley Triffitt, Lesley Haley and Mike Triffitt.