Wetherby A were on their final road trip of a successful season in Division 5 this evening as they travelled up to Ripon. The visitors were looking for a twelfth straight win and sent a strong team whilst the hosts were comfortably in mid table and will be playing at this level next year. Once again the weather was kind with temperatures high and conditions were rather too hot and muggy on reflection. However the players were not complaining as battle commenced.
Wetherby top seeds Richard Franks and Fiona Chantrey were on court one and they took on David Latto and Colette Wilson. David is leading the Ripon player stats whilst Colette sits fourth so this promised to be an intriguing opener. There was indeed little between the pairs with the crafty Latto using his spin game to reap plenty of winners whilst Wilson has a delightful strong forehand which was often punishing and produced many winners too. Fiona and Richard are used to a fight however and looking unperturbed just managed to edge this one 5-7. On court two Kevin Duckenfield and Christina Plant took on Rod Grant and Maureen Packer under the watchful gaze of Steve Plant and Bradley Triffitt who were supporting the team from the sidelines this evening. Rod was making his first appearance of the season and has one of the best backhands seen at this level this term . Maureen is a real handful and hits a crisp forehand so this would be very challenging for the Wetherby second seeds. Keven and Christina were thankfully both serving well and with Kevin strong at the net and Plant showing good court coverage, they remained well in contention. They had to call on all their reserves however to just prevail 5-7.
A sign of how strong the Wetherby line up this evening, was that Mike Triffitt and Louise Beasley were able to appear at seed three and they faced Mark Bainbridge and Helen Hutchinson. They got off to a cracking start taking the first four games but Mark is a big server and hard hitter and was beginning to find his form. South African Helen is a real terrier and energetic player and was running down everything and the hosts began to make inroads. Despite an inconsistent effort, Triffitt and Beasley still had too much for their opponents and were happy enough to record a 4-8 success which left Wetherby ahead 14-22 going into round two.
Richard and Fiona looked determined to show their true colours and unfortunately for Rod and Maureen they were on the receiving end of a very impressive performance from the division’s top rated duo. Showing great understanding and composure the Wetherby couple held all the aces and with some eye catching tennis ran out impressive 1-11 winners. Kevin and Christina were also back on form as they took on Mark and Helen. Both dominated serving and volleying and using the width of the court ground their opponents down to run out 3-9 winners. Steve and Brad had moved out of the sun over to court three and were rewarded with an excellent contest between Mike and Louise who took on David and Colette. Again the Wetherby pair made a good start and led 0-4 but they couldn’t kick on and the hosts top pair were playing some attractive tennis. At 3-5 this tie was in the balance but step forward Louise Beasley who began to dominate the net with some impressive smashing that drew plenty of applause from the watching crowd. With Triffitt happy to lob and frustrate, Wetherby finished the stronger and Mike and Louise looked delighted to run out 3-9 winners after an energy sapping rubber.
The leaders now had built up a useful looking advantage which had been extended to 21-51 and looked poised for victory. Richard and Fiona wasted little time confirming it as they quickly went about their work against a tiring Mark and Helen. The Wetherby top dogs were still full of running and with endless energy wrapped up a 2-10 win which gave them 28 on the evening. Kevin and Christina were also enjoying themselves and relishing the faster pace that David and Colette were producing, matched their opponents and played some tremendous tennis. They were able to make a number of well executed winners and a 2-10 win meant a super 26 overall. Mike and Louise brought down the evening’s entertainment and completed the hat trick of the last to finish on court in each round as they faced Rod and Maureen. With plenty of long rallies and deuce games they had to dig deep but were up to the task. Rod certainly kept Louise on her toes with some excellent back hand returns but Louise produced some wonderful back hand cross court drop shots to ensure Wetherby stayed ahead. With Triffitt producing more booming lobs and clever serving the visitors enjoyed a 2-10 win and with it an excellent 27 for a hard nights work.
The secret to a successful season has been the excellent team spirt and solid contributions all round and tonight was no exception as Wetherby produced one of their best performances against useful opponents where points had to be really earnt. A final score line of 27-81 was harsh on the hosts but just reward for great consistency from the visitors who did indeed record a twelfth straight victory to extend their lead at the summit to 8 points. However second placed Thirsk now have three games before Wetherby play again at home to David Lloyd so that gap could be down to just two points and the top two meet at Castlegath on the final day so the title race is still very much on the line!
Thanks to Ripon for proving tough opponents and lovely hosts and to Brad and Steve whose support was much appreciated and ensured the team never gave up and recoded a nice winning margin.
A delighted Richard Franks, Louise Beasley, Christina Plant, Fiona Chantrey, Kevin Duckenfield and Mike Triffitt are all smiles after victory tonight.
Action on courts two and three this evening where some tremendous tennis took place.
Bradley Triffitt and Steve Plant enjoyed the tennis and the sunshine as they cheered on the team tonight.