Wetherby 1 hosted Harlow this evening in the Winter League and despite rain during the day that relented allowing the match to go ahead with temperatures a barmy 10 degrees for this time of the year most welcome!
Harlow have been a great addition to the league this term and were playing their fifth match of the competition having opened with two wins, a loss and a draw. Mindful they would be facing their toughest test to date captain Andy Carrick was able to call upon family members Ryan and Simone to boost the ranks along with Eva Kettlewell who is a very promising youngster.
Wetherby had established duo Lucy Wright and Adam Turner from their Harrogate summer mixed division two side whilst Richard Franks and Louise Beasley paired up at two after enjoying title success in division five, albeit with different partners.
Lucy and Adam knew they would have to be at their best against brother and sister Ryan and Simone Carrick and this proved to be an intriguing rubber. Ryan had enjoyed a great summer season helping guide David Lloyd Harrogate to the Mixed division one title where he finished the campaign as the leading male player . He also collected the prestigious Men’s open doubles crown in the Harrogate summer tournament with partner Richard Bancroft who he later defeated in the Men’s singles final so is clearly a very good player indeed. Simone played an influential role helping Harlow to runners up and promotion from division six where they were just pipped to the title by Wetherby B. Adam looked excited to test himself against Ryan and the pair were exchanging some tremendous rallies from deep with the balls taking a real hammering such was the venom both players were delivering. Lucy was happy to patrol the net and made some crucial interceptions whilst Simone is more comfortable on the baseline which allowed Ryan to make many excellent net winners himself. Showing a nice deft touch Ryan was able to guide the Harlow pair to a narrow 5-7 win in a very high standard rubber.
Over on court five Richard and Louise were settling into their match with Andy and Eva and once more there would be little between the pairs. Eva has been improving tremendously and she seemed to enjoy the hard hitting action here. She had secured the Girls junior summer title and with a powerful forehand is certainly one to watch. Andy is a terrific campaigner and great battler and gives everything on court. He is strong at the net and not afraid to cover every inch of the playing surface. Richard and Louise are very consistent and with strong mental strength and calm personalities they are useful members at the club. Richard is a strong baseliner and with Louise dominant at the net the duo had a good game plan. This was always going to be tight however and so it proved with honours even at 6-6 following a superb battle.
So as round two begin the visitors were ahead 11-13 with all to play for. The father and son combination of Andy and Ryan were teaming up for the first time in many years but they were soon into stride against Adam and Richard who were debuting together. Left hander Adam was happy to exchange rallies with Ryan once more but with Andy more confident at the net than Richard Harlow had the slight edge. No quarter given by either pair but Harlow just carried too much firepower and craftiness and were deserved 4-8 winners.
Wetherby were hoping to gain some much needed points in the ladies rubber with the experienced home pair of Lucy Wright and Louise Beasley an impressive looking combination. They faced youngsters Simone and Eva and there was certainly some excellent tennis on show once more. The Harlow girls were happier at the baseline and with Lucy and Louise strong net players this proved to be the big difference between the teams. The final score line was a little harsh on the youngsters but a 9-3 victory for Wetherby meant the match was all tied at 24-24 heading into the finale.
The crowd were on the edge of their seats as the drama unfolded and this turned out to be the closest of finishes and the must dramatic Winter League conclusions of the current season. Louise and Richard knew a huge effort was needed against Ryan and Simone but they made a cracking start to lead 4-3. Ensuring their error count was low was crucial and they were threatening a massive shock. Over on court five Adam and Lucy were in dreamland as they showed excellent teamwork to forge ahead 7-0 and Wetherby were on the verge of overall victory. However the visitors were not going to lie down and suddenly began an incredible fightback. Ryan began to dominate and proving almost unplayable he and Simone rattled off five games on the bounce to take the rubber 4-8 leaving Harlow four ahead on the scoreboard. Andy and Eva had suddenly found some form too and with three games secured the match was in the melting pot. All eyes were on the players as Lucy Wright started to serve the final game of the evening with Wetherby 8-3 ahead and needing one for overall victory. Harlow knew success would level the match so there was plenty at stake. End to end stuff with Lucy twice holding serve before finally the hosts top guns did deliver a knockout punch and with a 9-3 success ensured the hosts were 37-35 winners after a fantastic and spell bounding encounter.
A big thanks to all on show for the entertainment this evening and another terrific Winter League contest.
Congratulations to Adam Turner, Lucy Wright, Louise Beasley and Richard Franks who held their nerve to secure a dramatic win.
A great effort from Ryan Carrick , Eva Kettlewell, Simone Carrick and Andy Carrick came up agonisingly short after an amazing comeback late on.