Wetherby A mixed team in Harrogate Division Five have made a strong start this season and were looking to make it four consecutive wins as they entertained Mashamshire this evening. Sunny but cooler conditions greeted the players and with a difficult wind the players would need to really think about shot selection. The hosts welcomed top pair Fiona Chantey and Richard Franks back after they missed last week’s win at Northallerton while there was a seasonal debut for long serving Dawn Steel who has been absent with illness.
Chantrey and Franks took on Mashamshire top dogs Lara Theakston and leading points scorer Tom Johnson and this looked an intriguing clash. Tom is a wily veteran with a crafty game plan and with a wonderful left hand forehand was producing some real quality. Lara was a super foil and strong player herself and the hosts knew they would need to be in fine form to repel the threat. Richard is enjoying a great season both in mixed and men’s and growing in confidence as each week passes he really is a very useful member of this seasons squad. Chantrey, who was sorely missed when the team suffered relegation last year, looks determined to get the club straight back up and the duo quietly and clinically went about their business. With great understanding and teamwork they ran out 9-3 winners in a rubber that really entertained a decent sized crowd on the sidelines.
On court two Mike Triffitt and Louise Beasley resumed their partnership after a useful 24 secured last week. The pair however had failed to sparkle and decided to change things this evening with Louise moving to the backhand. They took on Hannah Bowes and Neil Hutchinson. Neil served well in his opening service game but Mike and Louise were quickly away and in truth never looked back. Beasley were loving the backhand and back to her old magic form she dominated proceedings with a very high level performance. Controlling the net and hitting with power she was unstoppable and with Triffitt happy to play the anchor role and watching on contently, the pair were moving along nicely. Hutch is a nice player and has the ability to hit hard from deep and move confidently to the net. Lara was also hitting well from deep particularly on her forehand but Louise wouldn’t give the hosts a look in. The final score may have flattered Wetherby but they played error free tennis and took their chances in an excellent 11-1 success.
Kevin Duckenfield and Dawn Steel are old friends both on and off court and looked delighted to be reunited back on court. They faced the very consistent duo of Clare Allinson and Simon Kitching. The Masham third pair are masters of rallying and were happy to frustrate their opponents with many useful returns. Simon covered every inch whilst Claire produced some incredible lobs which were often hitting the baseline. This would need to be patient tactics for Kevin and Dawn and they were up to the task as they recorded a narrow 7-5 victory to help Wetherby to a cracking start as they led 27-9 going into round two.
Mike and Louise moved down to the show court where another big performance would be needed to take the scalp of the visitors top pair. Boosted by a strong home support they raced into an incredible 6-0 lead on the back of some breathtaking tennis and looked set for a big score. However Tom was not yet ready to throw in the towel and started to produce a number of deft drop shots which suddenly had the hosts floundering. Lara was finding some lovely angles and suddenly the winning margin was down to just a single point as Triffitt served the final game of the contest. Thankfully for the hosts he held firm and with Beasley strong at the net the pair took the rubber 7-5.
Kevin and Dawn were appreciating the run out and faced Hannah and Neil. The Masham second seeds did not let their opening round loss affect them and now were starting to find their length and line. Lara was now hitting the line more frequently and playing some eye catching winners whilst Neil’s power was there for all to see. This was proving a war of attrition and a 6-6 draw was a true reflection of events. Richard and Fiona now took on the Masham third seeds and what another long rubber this turned out to be. Renowned for grinding opponents down, Richard certainly met his match in Simon who was certainly going toe to toe with the higher rated male. Fiona was seeing many returns coming back with interest and with Claire not over fazed this was a test of mental strength for Wetherbys top seeds. They finally ran out 9-3 winners once more but certainly were pushed extremely hard.
At 49-23 Wetherby had the finishing line in sight but Lara and Tom would keep the hosts waiting. They played extremly well and were rewarded for a consistent night of tennis as they defeated Kevin and Dawn 4-8. Kevin has been living the life away in Spain this week whilst with Dawn returning after a long break the final round proved tough for them against such strong opposition. They contributed a useful 17 points on the evening however. It was left to the dependable Franks and Chantrey to bring home the bacon as not surprisingly they completed a hat trick of 9-3 wins as they proved too strong for Hannah and Neil. The Mashamshire pair certainly improved as the night unfolded and were a little unlucky with the score line. Some good tennis from both pairs before Richard and Fiona secured an excellent 27 points for their side. Mike and Louise faced what turned out to be another test of mental strength and resolve as they moved down to court three to face the consistent Claire and Simon. For Triffitt, renowned for lobbing and long rallies this proved a taste of his own medicine as he met in Simon someone who could match these tactics and often did better. Louise couldn’t dominate proceedings here either and the Wetherby pair were in danger of defeat as they trailed 1-3 then 4-5. Knowing they had to win the final three games they stepped on the gas and turned up the heat. With both players now making kamikaze runs to the net , their adventurous policy was reaping dividends as they moved ahead at 6-5. With Triffitt once more looking to serve out the rubber they were confident but credit the visitors who took a 0-40 lead. Remaining composed Triffitt hit a couple of strong unreturnable serves and finally the couple made it three victories on the evening with a tight 7-5 success. Credit Simon who must have covered twice as much ground as any other player tonight and for Claire who produced a constant punishing lobbing game that threated an upset.
Wetherby therefore completed a 69-39 victory in their toughest game of the season which leaves them top at the summit with promotion their aim this year for sure.
Once again lovely opponents from Mashamshire who on another night could have made the scoreline much tighter and who will soon start climbing the table judged on tonight’s efforts. We look forward to meeting up in the return and thanks for tonight.
The photography wasn’t as sharp as their play on court but well done Louise Beasey, Richard Franks, Mike Triffitt, Fiona Chantrey and Kevin Duckenfield with Dawn Steel absent for a great win tonight.
Neil Hutchinson, Claire Allinson, Lara Theakston, Hannah Bowes and Tom Johnson with Simon Kitchen absent proved tough opposition tonight.
Wetherby are currently dominating the divisional player statistics with seven of the current top eight from Castlegarth. Louise Beasley has the honor of siting at the top of a list that currently contains 87 names!. She will be missed next week as she travels to Paris for the French Open but the team will look to beat Ripon to maintain their title push.