Wetherby B are in a tight battle for promotion this year from Division Six of the Harrogate mixed leagues and were only ahead of rivals Harlow B and West Tanfield B on points difference. They welcomed Thirsk C to Castlegarth this evening. They retained the same team that had won at Bedale on Tuesday with the one change a welcome return for Ann Jones in place of the unavailable Judith Crossley. Thirsk were playing their second game in two days after a Friday night loss at Harlow and only David Titchmarsh and Jane Graham doubled up here. They gave seasonal debuts to Graham Banks, Christine Ward and Mike Nickson whilst leading lady Dorothy Price was a welcome returner.
With the earlier rain now threatening it came as no surprise the match had barely started before heavy rain forced the players off court. A twenty minute downpour before the players were able to return and thankfully no further rain allowed the game to be completed, sometimes even in glorious sunshine!
Bradley Triffitt and Anne Lillywhite continued at seed one after picking up a useful 26 away at Bedale and they looked determined to score big again. They quietly and efficiently went about building a large score line although David Titchmarsh and Jane Graham ensured they didn’t have things all their own way. David is a veteran of 44 years on the circuit and back in the day graced division one. He was serving well and showed plenty of craftiness at the net. Jane was solid from deep and covering plenty of ground this rubber saw some eye catching rallies. However the visitors were unable to prevent a 12-0 success for the hosts. On court two captain Tony Culer joined forces once more with Katie Barrett and the duo were always happy. They took on the lively Mike Nickson whilst the consistent Dorothy Price showed why she was enjoying a good season with some clever winners. The Wetherby pair started well but were pegged back mid match and eventually settled for a 8-4 victory. Lindsay Edgar teamed up with the returning Ann Jones and they began on court three against new pair Graham Banks and Christine Ward. Christine is a former member at Wetherby and is a classy player. Banks was happy to return and keep the rallies alive and with both Thirsk players proving hard to pass they began to take control. Showing good teamwork they were always ahead whilst despite some strong smashes from Lindsay, it was generally a frustrating rubber for the hosts which Thirsk secured 4-8.
Wetherby therefore went into round two leading 24-12. Cutler and Barrett made their way to the show court and looked confident against David and Jane. Tony was serving big with some eye catching aces and using spin had his opponents in a twist on many occasions. Katie was strong at the net and the duo were enjoying themselves. David and Jane contributed to a good rubber but it was Wetherby who ran out cosy 10-2 victors. Lindsay and Ann were looking far more relaxed against Mike Nickson and Dorothy Price where Lindsay really started to shine. He used great athleticism to make many high smashes and with power and precision was really bossing events. Ann was now returning to her ultra-consistent game plan and in all honesty the visitors were struggling to keep the hosts at bay. They dug in to keep things close but couldn’t prevent a 8-4 win for the Wetherby third seeds. Bradley and Anne Lillywhite had moved down to court three and knew they would have to use the width of the court to move their lively opponents around. Graham was terrific is his returns and Christine happy to battle but in Bradley Triffitt the team has someone with real power and excellent court coverage. Knowing when to hit hard and then drop shot, he and Anne were tremendous with Lillywhite hitting some absolute beauties on her lovely left hand backhand.Showing great concentration they once more secured a 12-0 victory.
The match was almost won with Wetherby ahead 54-18 and the hosts were now looking to improve their individual stats. Lindsay and Ann were involved in another close affair on court one but David and Jane had a little too much league experience and were able to just hold on for a 5-7 success. Ann Jones thoroughly enjoyed her evening however and produced some memorable moments which left the home pair pleased with 17 for their efforts. Tony and Katie had bagged 26 last time out and would match that here as they overcame another strong challenge against Graham and Christine. The Thirsk pair were impressive again and will surely only improve for this run and should prove valuable members of the squad for the rest of the season. Cutler was dominating again with his serve and with Barrett benefiting at the net it was indeed 8-4 to Wetherby.
All eyes were now on court two where Bradley and Anne were moving along nicely but daring not to dream as they attempted the perfect evening. Mike and Dorothy were certainly not lying down and some amazingly long rallies had the crowd on the edge of their seats. The hosts top pair had to survive several scares along the way but at 11-0 going into the final game the heartbeat of the duo was almost heard in the clubhouse. They fell 30-0 down and them 40-15 but battled back to deuce. They had match point to complete the whitewash but then had to save two more game points before at sixth time lucky they finally hit the jackpot to celebrate an amazing third 12-0 success to give themselves an unprecedented 36-0 score for the evening.
Wetherby therefore completed a 79-29 victory which takes them two points clear at the summit as they look to make a swift return to Division 5. Thanks to the visitors for proving good sports and we look forward to the return fixture. Harlow and West Tanfield have midweek chances to join Wetherby again at the top before the team travel to Almscliffe on June 19 for their next fixture. With Anne Lillywhite on holiday and missing that clash, she and Bradley can enjoy the 36 point haul for even longer of course!
Bradley Triffitt, Anne Lillywhite, Ann Jones, Lindsay Edgar, Tony Cutler and Katie Barrett celebrate another win this evening.
Tom Harrington was in great form earlier in the day and he and wife Norma were welcome supporters on the sidelines tonight.