Another dry night in Wetherby this evening enabled another double header of Winter League action to take place. Champions Rufforth were playing Boston Spa on courts four and five whilst leaders Wetherby 1 were hosting second placed Starbeck who were just a point behind and looking to regain top spot. Wetherby were able to pick from strength and retained Steve Jones and Lucy Wright at seed one after the duo had been in scintillating form last week against Knaresborough 1. Roger Fawcus was also available and he was joined by Dawn Steel who replaced Louise Beasley who had helped Wetherby 2 to success over Knaresborough 2 on Tuesday. Starbeck arrived with Grant Dorwood and Steve Hubbard for the men and Katie Draper and Morvern McPartland representing the ladies which gave them a nice four.
Wright and Jones started on court one and faced Draper and Dorwood. The Wetherby duo are highly rated and the visiting pair knew they were big underdogs for this rubber. Lucy and Steve were quickly away and soon showing the form they displayed last time out. Showing great understanding and teamwork once more they produced an impressive error free performance which had the crowd gasping in amazement. Katie is a solid player and returns and covers the court well. Grant is a lovely left hander with a strong serve but he struggled under the lights and with the crafty play of an on song Jones. There were a number of enthralling rallies but with the Wetherby pair ever so consistent the visitors were unable to break through and the hosts recorded a 12-0 success.
On court two Roger and Dawn were teaming up for the first team as they entertained Steve Hubbard and Morvern McPartland. Steve is an aggressive player with some big hitting and strong net play. Morvern had impressed last time out for Starbeck when she helped the Harrogate outfit defeat Collingham but she knew she faced a stern task this evening. She and Dawn went toe to toe with some great rallying and once more some long rallies were the order. Roger is a very accomplished server and was booming some beauties down that proved unreturnable. His ability to serve and volley was key here and he was enjoying himself. However this proved a very exciting and close affair with both couples in good form. With little to separate them, Wetherby finally ran out narrow 7-5 winners which gave them a useful 19-5 lead ahead of round two.
Lucy ad Dawn took on Katie and Morvern on court two and this looked an intriguing match up. Once more some great baseline rallying from the four made for great viewing and this rubber always promised to go down to the wire. After a titanic battle it was the hosts who just prevailed 7-5 in a thriller.
On the show court the men were playing some top class stuff and Steve and Roger were demonstrating some eye catching tennis. Steve and Grant were their equal however for many of the rallies and it needed a well thought out game plan from Wetherby to forge ahead. With Roger showing no let up in the serving department and Steve making some lovely well executed winners they began to take control later in the rubber. The Starbeck men were certainly not going down without a fight and chased many a seemingly lost cause down. Eventually they fell 8-4 but this was a very entertaining affair.
Wetherby had put themselves in a very strong position therefore needing just three to win but Katie and Grant looked confident on the show court. Both played their best tennis of the evening with Katie really upping the tempo to hit some vicious winners from deep with great accuracy. Grant too was equally as forceful and playing in a more relaxed fashion certainly showed some wonderful touches. Dawn and Roger were still playing well but perhaps without the intensity of previous rounds and the visitors sensed blood. It was a close encounter but the visitors deservedly ran out 5-7 winners although Wetherby had dome enough to secure the overall win.
It was left to Steve and Lucy to add the icing on court two as they were again in majestic form. It was incredible how consistent they were and with such variation had so many shots in their weaponry. However Steve and Morvern were giving their all and time after time kept rallies going when all looked lost. They just couldn’t find a way past the host top dogs though and although harsh, were on the wrong end of a 10-2 reverse.
Wetherby therefore secured a 49-23 victory which took them three points clear at the summit and with the title very much in their own destiny. Wetherby must now beat Collingham next Tuesday to guarantee been crowned champions.
Well played Steve Jones, Lucy Wright, Dawn Steel and Roger Fawcus who helped Wetherby to success.
A great effort from Grant Dorwood, Katie Draper, Morvern McPartland and Steve Hubbard who lost nothing in defeat.
A big thanks to Dee and Shelby who kept me company on the side lines tonight.
Current champions Rufforth were not going to relinquish their crown so easily as they played Boston. In fairness Rufforth have not fielded their big guns this season but have still recorded three wins from four matches. They arrived with a completely new four from that which had beaten Wetherby 2 on Valentines evening. However Boston arrived with a very strong quartet with impressive ladies Dominique Morrisey and Pauline Belt joined by the young and hungry chaps of Steven Lewis and Richard Whaley.
Whaley and Belt teamed up against Carole Withers and Phil Sinton and this proved a contrast of styles but in the end a fascinating duel. The Rufforth pair proved very crafty and despite Boston having the greater firepower this finished 6-6. Dominique and Steven proved a useful duo and they were just a little too strong for the big hitting James Edmond and Liz Powell who fell 8-4 giving Boston a narrow 14-10 advantage after the opener.
The Boston ladies did look a cut above ahead of the ladies rubber as they play significantly higher than their Rufforth opponents and so it proved. Belt is a very useful player and has been competing at a good level over the years and she put this to good use here. With Dominique equally as effective, they had too much class for the battling Rufforth duo who couldn’t be faulted on effort but eventually were beaten 11-1. The men’s rubber proved one of the best seen this Winter with some absolutely fabulous tennis on show and this cracker was a joy to behold. It was Boston again who were in the winners enclosure 8-4 but what a tremendous battle they endured to record this success.
Boston were now approaching the finishing line and two narrow wins in the finale confirmed their supremacy 24-48. Boston move up to third whilst Rufforth drop to fifth although Rufforth have two games in hand so can still finish higher than Spa.
Steven Lewis, Pauline Belt, Dominique Morrisey and Richard Whaley proved a formidable quartet and were nice winners tonight.
Thanks to James Edmond, Liz Powell, Carole Withers and Phil Sinton for their considerable efforts this evening.
A big thanks to all sixteen players on show tonight for once again making this double header an enjoyable one.