Wetherby 2 entertained Knaresborough 2 this evening in the Winter League. Both clubs are near the foot with no hopes of challenging for the title so the game could go ahead without any pressure or fear!. Wetherby sit one place and one point above their visitors in seventh position so that was the prize to aim for this evening. A warm and mild night greeted the players although drizzle later meant tricky underfoot conditions.
The hosts had captain Richard Franks at seed one and he was joined by the classy Fiona Chantrey whilst Mike Triffitt and Louise Beasley completed the quartet. For Boro, captain Tony Graham was once again in attendance and he was joined by Sheree Ashman with another regular Dan Wilson paired with Jacqui Bedford who was making her Winter League debut. This looked a well matched contest on paper and so it was to prove.
Chantrey and Franks were making their competative debut together and took on Tony and Sheree who are often seen together for the visitors. Tony is a tremendous player who will be stepping up to Division Two in the Summer leagues after promotion last season. He is a big server with a wide variety of shots and excellent court coverage.Sheree is the perfect foil with her tidy short game and good court awareness and they would take some stopping. Richard has certainly improved his service game over the winter and coupled with his usual excellent baseline game and ability to cover every inch of the court would certainly make life difficult for Tony. Fiona is a lovely elegant player and with great consistency rarely puts a foot wrong. This had all the ingredients of a fascinating tussle and so it proved with some exciting well fought tennis on show. Graham however was to prove the difference and finally he and Sheree took a narrow 7-5 victory.
Over on court five Louise and Mike were hosting Dan and Jacqui and once again there looked to be little between the pairs. Dan had a great season last summer and continues to improve. He has a useful all round game and is able to dispatch any loose balls impressively. Serving well and with great authority around the court he was playing extremely well. Jacqui was also more than holding her own and chasing down many a lost cause she was proving tough to pass. The Wetherby duo were struggling for any rhythm but at 5-5 remained well in the contest. However Boro finished better to take the final two games for a well deserved 7-5 success which left the visitors 10-14 ahead after the opening round.
Mike and Richard took on Dan and Tony on court five and the rubber saw some eye catching tennis with some long well fought rallies. Franks was happy to baseline whilst Triffitt watched the net and the pair were in with a shout at 3-3. However the Boro duo carried more weaponry and any mistake were pounced upon and finally they kicked on to run out worthy 8-4 winners to increase their overall lead to eight.
Louise and Fiona were therefore looking to reduce the arrears on court four and this partnership had a nice feel about it. Both ladies are relaxed and calm and with great mental strength they were soon into stride. They were both returning well and producing some wonderful winners leaving Sheree and Jacqui often chasing shadows. However the Boro ladies are very gritty and were not going down without a fight and they ensured the hosts would have to work hard. Finally Wetherby took the honours 9-3 which left the score at 23-25 and a nail biting final round ahead.
The rain was showing no sign of easing up and the ability to play a nice drop shot was going to very well received here. Triffitt was happy to adopt those tactics and was having some success, especially with some crafty cross court efforts. With Beasley in good form after the ladies the duo had high hopes but once again Tony Graham was proving a very tough nut to crack. He and Sheree, with great teamwork and understanding, were proving irresistible and they forged ahead 5-2. Wetherby knew they could ill afford to let the scoreboard run away and battled away but at 7-3 things were turning decidedly towards the visitors. Over on court five things were looking far rosier with Richard and Fiona is excellent form as they raced into a 6-0 lead. The pair were developing a blossoming partnership and looked unplayable. Dan and Jacqui were not found wanting in effort but they were finding it difficult to stem the flow of winners. They did manage to secure two games but with Wetherby recording a 10-2 victory suddenly the match had taken a twist as the hosts now led 36-34. Back on court four the final two games suddenly became ever so important and a big effort was needed to rescue more games from Beasley and Triffitt. Thankfully both found late energy and they held firm to take the last two games and reduce the deficit to 7-5 which ultimately meant a 38-34 final scoreline in Wetherbys favour.
Once more a lovely evening with great tennis in an excellent environment with all on show a credit to their respective clubs. It was cruel on Knaresborough who led for most of the contest but ultimately a very eye catching effort from Richard and Fiona proved the difference. It was great to have Chantrey back in the fold as she picked up an excellent 24 points on the evening to earn the Wetherby man of the match award. For Knarsborough Tony Graham scored 22 and was the star man on the park in all fairness.
Thursday will see a double header with Champions Rufforth facing Boston Spa whilst Wetherby 1 play Starbeck in a top of the table clash to savour.
Well played captain Richard Franks, Fiona Chantrey, Louise Beasley and Mike Triffitt for Wetherby this evening.
A great effort from captain Tony Graham, Sheree Ashman, Jacqui Bedford and Dan Wilson who fought bravely for Knaresborough.