With Temperatures soaring the Winter League derby match between Wetherby 1 and Wetherby 2 was played in Mediterranean conditions and I even managed to ditch the hat and gloves for tonight’s exciting encounter!. Regulars Lucy Wright and Adam Turner were joined by Louise Beasley and Richard Franks for the first team with the second team able to send out four juniors. Ed Grogan and Elizabeth Hewett had to withdraw with Illness and with females short on the ground, Gabe Mead and Henry Brown formed one pair with Bradley Triffitt and Sophie Hunt the other.
Sophie is a relative newcomer to the club and has been showing up well in training. She has played twice previously in the Winter League and was partnering Bradley for their debut together tonight. They faced a tough task against Adam and Lucy who are one of the form couples of the Winter League this season and have a great understanding on court together. It was quickly evident that Wetherby 1 would have plenty of firepower and Adam served very impressively in the opening game whilst Lucy was hitting hard from deep with great consistency. This proved a very enjoyable contest on court 1 for the watching crowd with Brad also looking good from the baseline and using great court coverage to keep in many of the rallies. Sophie was also showing great strength at the baseline and eager to intercept at the net. She has a very decent service game which caused both her opponents trouble but couldn’t match the overall consistency of the higher rated first team duo. Adam was a joy to watch as he unleashed plenty of incredible forehand winners and his impressive net play always meant the favourites were ahead. Lucy is a very competitive player and showing great mental strength was intent on securing a big win. This was evident during her final service game where she saved six break points before finally securing success. With great credit the juniors ensured they took many of the games to Deuce but struggling to contain Adams pace and power they finally succumbed 10-2 .
On court two Henry Brown kindly filled in as lady 2 and he was joined by Under 16 partner Gabe Mead who at just fourteen is the youngest player seen in this seasons Winter League. Mead is a lovely left hander and often catches the eye at coaching with his aggressive hitting. Henry is also a decent prospect and the two would make life difficult for Louise and Richard. The Wetherby 1 pair are always confident and with a great freedom they were playing well. Richard bases his game on consistent returns and knowing when to strike whilst Louise is happy controlling the net and rarely serves a double fault. The boys were also enjoying themselves and happy to try hit hard they ensured this rubber would go down to the wire. However as has often been the case this season, Franks wont be beaten and he and Louise ran out slender 7-5 victors after a tremendous battle.
Brad teamed up with Gabe on the show court and they faced Adam and Richard in the men’s contest. Some exhilarating tennis followed which had the crowd on the edge of their seats with plenty of long rallies . Adam however proved the class and the standout performer as once more he shone. His service game was unplayable with many aces whilst the steady play of Richard kept the pressure on the juniors. Brad and Gabe have enjoyed plenty of success together at junior level and were enjoying the challenge raised in class but any error was punished and they couldn’t again match the consistency of their opponents, They battled manfully and were happy to secure 4 games but fell 8-4 at the finish.
On court 2, Henry and Sophie had started well against Lucy and Louise and were hoping to surprise the first team with some enterprising and free flowing tennis. This was certainly working in the early exchanges as they led 3-2 and threatening an upset. But Lucy and Louise are far too experienced to worry and remaining calm the duo worked themselves back into a lead they would never relinquish. Using the width of the court they had the boys on the back foot and with many a canny shot proved too strong running out cosy 8-4 winners.
So with Wetherby 1 now leading 33-15 it meant the finishing line was almost in sight as the final round began. It was so refreshing to not have to deal with any rain and although the wind was getting stronger the players were enjoying their evening. Lucy and Adam are one of the clubs leading mixed pairs and when they are on song the team always have a great chance of winning. They had to contend with some more big hitting from the juniors but Adam seemed to have an ability to second guess where his opponents were returning and with Lucy a powerful presence at the net they were looking impressive. Gabe and Henry were enjoying this battle however and were certainly not outclassed as they often produced some stunning winners of their own. An 8-4 victory for the top seeds was a fair refection after a good battle.
The last match on court one featured Sophie and Brad against Louise and Richard and this would prove a close and intriguing affair. The youngsters sensed they could perhaps produce a surprise win and there was little between the teams throughout. It’s always extremely difficult to place a winner past Richard Franks but working hard Brad and Sophie were keeping the score line close. Louise can be clinical at the net and with her lovely touch produced some exquisite winners. Sophie continued to impress with some booming serves and is certainly one of the most promising girls at the club. At 5-5 it was in the melting pot but Wetherby 1 were not to be beat once more as they took the last two games to record a narrow 7-5 success ensuring an overall winning margin of 48-24.
I must congratulate all on show tonight who provided great entertainment for the watching crowd which I also must add, is always boosted by watching parents when we have the juniors on show. They will have been highly impressed watching their sons and daughter produce some really encouraging play and one that bodes well for both their futures and the hope that they come through to challenge the adults in the summer teams. Lucy, Adam, Louise and Richard showed why they are so impressive however and once again a special mention for them all as they continue to support the Winter League with great enthusiasm.
Wetherby 1 move into third place on six points and with unbeaten pair Collingham and Rufforth 1 meeting on Thursday, it is certainly proving an exciting season at the summit this time around.
Well played Adam, Lucy, Louise and Richard for a very professional performance tonight.
A great effort from the juniors with Gabe, Sophie, Henry and Brad a real credit to the club following a tremendous evening of tennis thanks.
Happy parents watching their offspring this evening in much warmer conditions than usual too!