The weather gods were smiling Friday evening allowing the rearranged Winter League fixture between Wetherby 2 and Collingham to go ahead. Both teams endeavored to retain their same quartet from the original fixture and with only Debbie Vines absent that was almost possible. Collingham regular Katie Barrett returned in her place to partner Jonathan Tyler whilst Bradley Triffitt and Louise Beasley continued their blossoming partnership. For Wetherby captain Richard Franks teamed up with Anne Lillywhite whilst the exciting Dave Rowlands joined forces with youngster Iris Greaney who is enjoying her Winter League outings.
Brad and Louise are a confident duo and have shown excellent team work supporting Collingham this season. They took on Richard and Anne and this always looked a keen affair. Brad and Richard were trading some tremendous baseline rallies whilst Louise was ready to pounce at the net given the chance. Anne has always been a big hitter and her tremendous left handed returns have won her countless points during a long distinguished career representing Wetherby. Brad was producing some solid serving and with Collingham beginning to dictate matters the visitors moved ahead. However Richard is a fierce competitor and ensured this would stay close throughout. Finally a 4-8 success for Collingham after an entertaining rubber.
On court two Jonathan and Katie were making their debut together as were Dave and Iris. Dave joined Wetherby in the summer and his great personality makes him a popular chap. He is all action on court as he chases every ball down and covers every inch of the surface. Always wearing a smile he is great to have around. Iris has come through the junior ranks but is now stepping up to competitive action and is already reaping the benefits of this. She is a strong hitter from deep and confident with her service. She is looking to improve her short game and become more involved at the net. Jonathan is another new recruit and has already caught the eye at the club with his relaxed attitude on court and very efficient game. He serves well, hits hard and crucially is very effective at the net. He and Katie were soon into stride and gelling well. However things were tight early on before the visitors managed to forge clear to run out cosy 3-9 victors at the conclusion.
So with Collingham leading 7-17 round two began. The men’s rubber looked mouthwatering on paper and so it proved. This really was a great advert for men’s tennis with each player making a significant contribution. Plenty of thrilling points had to be hard won before Collingham just shaded the contest 5-7.
The ladies event however proved the main difference on the evening and it was Louise and Katie who put their experience and league game class to good use. Anne battled hard and Iris was returning with venom but they couldn’t match their opponents for consistency and with Collingham dominating the net they eventually won 0-12, albeit that was very harsh on the hosts.
So with the match almost won and a little drizzle in the air the final round began quickly. This proved to be the closest of the evening and both rubbers were always ever so close. Richard and Ann had enjoyed success together in the mixed two seasons ago and they were having fun back together in partnership. Jonathan and Katie continued their promising start together and in fairness it was the quality finishing that settled many of the games. Eventually a 6-6 draw was a fair result after a good battle.
On court one things were equally as tight and Dave and Iris certainly upped the pace with a really impressive performance. Dave is a left hander and his serves were causing real problems for Collingham. With Iris strong the pair were always ahead and the Collingham top seeds were left chasing the game. Louise couldn’t make her usual impact at the net and despite Brads excellent cross court returns, the amazing reactions from Dave saw him intercept on several occasions. At 5-6 down Brad served strong to level the tie and again no one could argue that 6-6 was a fair reflection of events.
Tonight really summed up the spirit of Winter League with all eight players enjoying their evening and playing the game with smiles and good sportsmanship. This can only be of benifit to Wetherby and with new players now on board and youngsters continuing to improve after been given chances, the future is looking very bright for the club.
Congratulations to Jonathan Tyler, Katie Barrett, Louise Beasley and Bradley Triffitt who braved the cold conditions to help keep Collingham at the top of the Winter League table.
An encouraging performance from Dave Rowlands, Anne Lillywhite, Iris Greaney and Richard Franks who contributed plenty to an excellant evening of tennis in a gallent Wetherby display.