Sunday saw Castlegarth bathed in sunshine as the teatime clash between Wetherby B and Harlow B opened the mixed season at Wetherby in the first game in the 2019 Harrogate Mixed competition. Wetherby were led by new captain Tony Cutler and Bradley Triffitt and Mark Freeman were making debuts.
Triffitt joined up with Anne Lillywhite who had enjoyed a tremendous season last term despite relegation to League Six. They faced a tough baptism of fire however against Andy and Simone Carrick. Andy is an aggressive player who is very strong at the net whilst daughter Simone had been playing much higher last season and has some lovely groundstrokes, especially from her forehand. Bradley has been improving over the Winter playing for Collingham in the Winter League and that experience would prove vital this evening. The Carrick’s made a strong start opening a 0-2 lead before Brad and Anne found their form to move ahead 4-2. There was little between the pairs and most games going to deuce. However Simone was cracking some unreturnable forehand winners from deep and with Andy now dominating the net they began to turn on the style. Despite a spirited performance from the hosts they were unable to prevent a 4-8 defeat.
On Court two captain Cutler was joined by the ever consistent Katie Barrett. The pair had been showing up nicely pre season and were soon into stride against another father and daughter combination in Paul and Eva Kettlewell. Eva is just 13 but produced some lovely ground strokes in a very promising performance. Captain Paul tried his best to combat the threat of the home duo but with Tony producing plenty of spin and Katie unpassable at the net the hosts ran out impressive 9-3 victors.
Mark Freeman has been a welcome addition to the club recently and is often seen at social. He teamed up with Ann Jones who needs no introduction and once more this duo began brightly. However Andy Poulton for Harlow is a very experienced player and with a very quick serve and hard forehand was starting to boss the action. Partner Ping Noble is a very elegant player and with good consistency the pair were looking more than useful. Little in this one before Harlow just prevailed 5-7 to leave the scores all square at 18-18 going into round two.
Tony and Katie found the going much tougher in their game with the Carrick’s who were starting to move nicely through the gears. They had too much pace and power for the hosts and ran out cosy 2-10 winners. Mark and Ann were looking to secure their first win together and looked determined against the Kettlewells who were playing much better than in their opening loss. A number of close games ensued and this was going right to the wire. Finally success for Wetherby 7-5. Brad and Anne moved down to court three where they were involved in a great battle against Andy and Ping. It needed a mentally strong performance from the Wetherby top seeds here and thankfully they were up to the task. Little between the quartet but with Lillywhite finally finding her rhythm and Triffitt hitting some excellent forehand winners they were delighted to run out 8-4 winners.
Going into round three it was all to play for with Harlow leading 35-37. The Carrick’s quickly moved 2-6 ahead of Mark and Ann but poor Simone had looked in discomfort most of the evening with stomach pains and after a break in play she was unable to continue, forfeiting the final four games which left the rubber tied at 6-6 and meant Mark and Ann had bagged a very useful 18 points overall. Bradley and Anne sensed this was their time to shine and they looked confident on court two looking to close the gap. Bradley was serving well and now starting to dominate the net. With more lovely groundstrokes the youngster was enjoying himself. Lillywhite also looked far more comfortable and with the scoreboard ticking over nicely the Kettlewells were struggling to stay in the contest. Finally the hosts claimed a very impressive 12-0 win which really tuned the match their way and saw them claim 24 points on the night. On court three Cutler and Barrett were also moving clear and with the visitors wilting Tony and Katie were clinical as they ran out 9-3 winners for 20 points on the night.
So Wetherby were victors 62-46 which took them top of the table after this opening clash. Well played to all on show and good luck to both teams for the rest of the season.
Katie Barrett and captain Tony Cutler looking pleased with their efforts tonight.
Well played Ann Jones and Mark Freeman who played very well to help Wetherby B to victory.
An excellant 24 points from Bradley Triffitt and Anne Lillywhite helped pave the way for a great start to the season.
And not forgetting the supporters who cheered the side on to victory and topped up their tans in the process!