Thankfully a dry evening at Castlegarth as Wetherby 2 entertained Starbeck in the Winter League tonight. The hosts had Andy Roberts on debut following his transfer from Dacre and he partnered Christina Plant with Ed Grogan and Elizabeth Hewett continuing at two after a promising debut in their previous match. The visitors arrived with regular Grant Dorward partnering Lizzie Rigby for a rare appearance in winter whilst Stephen Cameron and Mel Metcalfe formed a jolly pair at seed two.
This looked an intriguing and closely matched tie and so it proved.
Christina and Andy were meeting for the first time but looked a strong duo as they began on court four against Grant Dorward and Lizzie Rugby. Grant is a solid summer Harrogate mixed division three competitor whilst Lizzie topped the clubs ladies standings in division four last season. This had all the ingredients of a fascinating opener and it didn’t disappoint. Andy has been the scourge of Wetherby on many occasions whilst representing Dacre and is a strong baseliner and big server. Christina is also happy in those departments and the pair looked comfortable together. Trying to take control of the net would be the key to this contest and Grant was enjoying plenty of success hitting some ferocious smashes. It was easy to see why keen badminton player Lizzie is a tough opponent and she was playing very well indeed. There was little between the pairs before Wetherby just managed to nose ahead and run out narrow 7-5 victors in a thriller.
On court five Ed and Elizabeth were looking to build on their encouraging Winter league debut as they faced Mel and Stephen. The Starbeck duo are no strangers to each other after playing many occasions last summer for the Harrogate outfit. Mel is a lovely left hander with great baseline ability and some crafty lobs whilst Stephen is easy going and uses the width of the court with lovely shot placement. Once more this would prove ever so tight with Ed impressing with his excellent groundstrokes and Elizabeth chasing down plenty of seemingly lost causes. It was fitting in such a tremendous battle that honours were shared therefore after a 6-6 stalemate leaving Wetherby two points ahead leading 13-11.
Round two saw Christina and Elizabeth team up for their first outing together and the ladies would face a stern challenge against Mel and Lizzie. No surprise there was once more little to separate the quartet with some long and exciting rallies the order of the day. Christina was serving well and with Elizabeth also finding her range it was the hosts who stole the initiative and just managed to record a narrow 7-5 success.
The men’s rubber was all blood and thunder with all four hitting with real venom. Grant continued to also impress at the net and Andy knew he would need to match his opponent in that area. Andy also thundered down plenty of unreturnable serves and with Ed progressing nicely the pair were able to eke out a 7-5 winning margin leaving the hosts to improve their advantage to six now leading 27-21.
Starbeck were certainly not waving the white flag as the finale began but with temperatures dropping the players were eager to keep moving. Grant and Lizzie sensed they needed to win big to keep the visitors in the hunt and using their vast experience and match savvy tactics started quickly against the Wetherby youngsters. Ed and Elizabeth were powerless to stop a barrage of attacking flair from the Starbeck top guns and unable to get any real foothold were always on the defensive. They fought bravely and this will be hugely beneficial in their long term education but a 1-11 success for Starbeck suddenly had the match in the melting pot.
Thankfully for the hosts Andy and Christina were aware of developments next door and showing great composure were moving along nicely against Mel and Stephen. Andy really is a very sharp player and the club have secured a real talent with his capture. Christina was certainly enjoying his company on court five and playing with great freedom the pair were gelling nicely. A great rearguard performance from Starbeck just couldn’t hold the impressive Wetherby top seeds however who ran out cosy 10-2 winners enabling the hosts to claim victory 38-34 .
Congratulations Andy Roberts, Christina Plant, Elizabeth Hewett and Ed Grogan on victory.
A brave effort from Stephen Cameron, Mel Metcalfe, Lizzie Rigby and Grant Dorward.
A big thanks to all on show and also to some great efforts off the court too. With Andy needing a dog sitter, step forward Ellie Triffitt who played a blinder during the early stages before Elizabeth Hewett’s mum took over the baton to not only watch her daughter in action, but show off her undoubted dog handling talents to ensure Acorn also enjoyed his evening at the club!