A cold but dry evening as Wetherby 2 entertained Knaresborough 1 this evening at Castlegarth. The hosts once more gave youth a chance with Elizabeth Hewett and Ed Grogan making another appearance whilst Sophie Hunt was joined by captain Richard Franks. Boro arrived with captain Paul White partnering Maggie Sekunda and Andy Little with Penny Sheard. This looked a well matched contest on paper and so it proved.
Richard and Sophie were pairing together for the first time as they took on Paul and Maggie. The chaps exchanged many baseline rallies and with both accurate and strong hitters, these often were very long. Sophie is improving each week and under the excellent coaching of Harry Full and Steve Plant is starting to produce some impressive displays on court in the Winter League. She is a really bubbly individual and playing with a smile on her face, always seems to be enjoying her tennis. She has a very strong serve and makes some important smashes at the net. With Richard happy to cover the court, the duo were producing some really strong tennis. Paul is a regular in the men’s and mixed first team and is a fully committed individual who gives his all in every game. Maggie is a crafty veteran and plays regularly in the ladies and mixed throughout the summer. She was happy returning and with a lovely touch at the net produced plenty of crucial winners. This always looked difficult to call and fittingly the honours were shared at 6-6 after an absorbing clash.
On court two Ed and Elizabeth always looks ultra chilled and they are starting to develop a great understanding which is seeing improvement in each match they play. Elizabeth is another with a strong serve and she really hits with venom from deep. She is not afraid to advance the net and is a player full of promise. Ed can also serve and hit hard and their rubber against Andy and Penny would be intriguing. Andy had led the Boro men’s second team to promotion in their debut season last term and sporting a new hairstyle and without the beard, had knocked several years off his appearance!. Penny is a lovely player and great club member at Boro and is often seen helping many of the teams out. She is difficult to read and her consistency was helping the visitors. Andy was nursing a back injury which didn’t help his service game but despite having to reduce the power, he was producing some clever spin that was reaping rewards. In another close affair it was Wetherby just prevailing 7-5 to take a narrow 13-11 advantage into round two.
The men’s rubber saw plenty of big hitting and some fantastic rallies with Richard and Ed enjoying their first appearance together. Paul and Andy have partnered on many occasions and it was hard to call the winner. The match ebbed and flowed before once again it was Wetherby narrowly winning 7-5 after a really tough tie.
The ladies were on the show court and providing good entertainment for the watching crowd. Declan Grogan had joined me on the sidelines and was thoroughly enjoying the action unfold. This was a battle of contrasting styles with the Wetherby youngsters trying to outwit the crafty Knaresborough veterens of Penny and Maggie. Early doors Sophie and Elizabeth were superb as their powerful game and great energy and fitness saw them storm ahead 5-0. However the Boro ladies knew if they could find some consistency they could grind their way back and gradually they began to erode the margin. This cat and mouse affair was very enthralling and with Boro catching them quickly ,Wetherby had to dig deep to hold off the late run to come out narrow 7-5 winners.
The final round began with the hosts holding a six point advantage as they led 27-21. Paul and Maggie knew they had to strike early against Ed and Elizabeth and they began brightly putting the youngsters under early pressure. However the Wetherby pair began to settle and with Paul advancing to the net, Elizabeth cracked a couple of exquisite forehand shots down the tramlines which drew applause from the galleries. Trying to keep the scoreboard ticking Boro were giving everything but a backs to the wall defensive show reaped enough as Wetherby were only defeated 4-8 and still held a two point cushion overall.
Richard and Sophie were playing some fine tennis on court one however and looked like they had been playing together for many years such was their excellent team work. Belying her tender years, Sophie was producing her best tennis of the winter and her all round game was superb and full of promise. Richard is a great partner and happy to do all the running he used the width of the court to keep the visitors at arm’s length. There were a number of energy sapping rallies and the quartet produced an excellent contest. However Wetherby were not to be beat and running out 8-4 winners they ensured they could celebrate a 39-33 success at the conclusion.
This proved one of my favourite Winter League matches this season and its satisfying when teams are so well matched and scores remain close right to the end. I cant congratulate the youngsters enough and it’s a real pleasure to see all the coaching and hard work paying off in a match situation for them all.
Well played Richard Franks, Elizabeth Hewett, Sophie Hunt and Ed Grogan who helped Wetherby triumph this evening.
Paul White, Maggie Sekunda, Penny Sheard and Andy Little fought hard and ensured Knaresborough battled all the way to the finish.