The big top of the table clash in Division five took place at Thirsk tonight as Wetherby A arrived as leaders but with only a slender two point advantage over their nearest rivals. With top pair Richard Franks and Fiona Chantey absent along with Louise Beasley it meant captain Barry Johnson took over at seed one with Dawn Steel. Kevin Duckenfield and Christina Plant slotted in at seed two with Mike Triffitt at seed three alongside Debbie Vines who was making a welcome return to the mixed scene.
Thirsk were able to field their top two man with Guy Baragwanath partnering Amanda Page at one, Ben Watson with Sara Knox at two and Dan Magee and Dorothy Price completing the team. They were missing leading ladies Louise Morgan Williams and Jackie Wonders however.
With road accident delays, Mike and Christina arrived late and were straight into action without a ball been hit. Barry and Dawn took on the Thirsk top pair Guy and Amanda and this produced a fascinating cat and mouse affair. Guy is a tall and stylish player with a good serve and likes to dominate the net. Amanda is very consistent with good court coverage and they were proving solid opponents. Dawn is always ultra consistent and she ensured the Wetherby couple remained in many tight rallies whilst Johnson was able to put away some nice volleys at the net. Little to separate the quartet and a 6-6 draw left both teams happy. Kevin and Christina have formed a strong partnership this season and have given the team real firepower. Both are big servers and can hit hard. They don’t like to prolong the rallies and were enjoying the battle on court two. The stocky Ben Watson is also a very hard hitter from deep and with Sarah Knox showing some lovely touches this was a high class affair. Finally after a great contest the visitors just prevailed 5-7. On court three Mike and Debbie teamed up and needed no introduction. Debbie is now back to full fitness and was enjoying herself back in mixed league action. She is very consistent and was exploiting space well to keep Wetherby in the tie during the early skirmishes. Triffitt’s game is also built on consistency and he was happy to pin Dan and Dorothy deep to the baseline. However Dan was producing some wonderful lobs and seemed to have the measure of his opponents. Dorothy was strong at the net and at 3-3 things were very tight. However Triffitt began to take control of the net and with Thirsk now making too many unforced errors the Wetherby due seized their chance to finally secure a useful 4-8 advantage.
Wetherby led 15-21 and this crucial battle at the summit was certainly living up to expectations. Johnson and Steel now took on Watson and Knox and both enjoyed the increased tempo. Ben was unleashing some terrific forehands but Wetherby resounded and starting to take control. They proved the steadier and ran out deserved 4-8 winners.
Kevin and Christina now took their opportunity to showcase their heavy artillery and in truth were dominant against Dan and Dorothy. The beleaguered Thirsk duo had no answer to the constant barrage from the visitors who very impessively took the rubber 2-10. Mike and Debbie knew they would have to play very well to contain the host top dogs. However they were certainly not overawed and showing great teamwork and battling qualities remained competitive . This was a really good encounter and with the score line close throughout Wetherby looked the happier after a 6-6 tie.
Indeed the leaders had now taken control and led 27-45 knowing the victory line was also in sight. This was very apt considering Thirsk tennis club is found in the middle of Thirsk race course!
Barry and Dawn now faced a contrast of styles as they had to contend with the tricky Dan and Dorothy. The Thirsk pair proved a tough nut to crack and frustrated their opponents. Barry and Dawn just managed to prevail 5-7 however and added 21 points to the Wetherby total. Kevin and Christina enjoyed their last rubber against Guy and Amanda. There was some eye catching tennis on show but with no quarter given the hosts made it three consecutive draws with another 6-6. This left Kevin and Christina the top scorers on the evening with a great 23. On court three this was a battle of the powerful Ben and Sara against the crafty duo of Mike and Debbie and at 5-4 there was little between both couples. However Triffitt and Vines looked determined to finish the better and with Triffitt allowed to dominate the net as his opponents sat far too deep he was able to benefit from Vines terrific returns to help Wetherby to a 5-7 victory which gave the third pair an excellent 21 points. A big thanks to Debbie for stepping in for her seasonal debut in the mixed in such a crucial game and using all her experience to help the team to an incredible seventh consecutive success as they ran out winners 43-65. This moves them four points clear at the summit at the half way point of the season. They face the bottom two clubs Knaresborough and Harrogate Racquets next looking to maintain the momentum.
A great evening of tennis in glorious sunshine with the hosts putting on a lovely tea afterwards to round off proceedings.
Well done to Kevin, Barry, Mike, Dawn, Debbie and Christina who fought well to come out victors in tonights crucial encounter.