It may have been a dry night with temperatures not too cold either, but the strong wind meant conditions were extremely difficult in tonight’s Winter League clash between Collingham and Starbeck. Collingham captain Tony Cutler was back from holiday and resumed his partnership with Katie Barrett whilst with Louise Beasley away, Christina Plant kindly stepped in to partner Bradley Triffitt despite suffering with cold.
Starbeck arrived with a strong quartet with men’s first team stars David Tripp and Robin Womersley making their first appearances of the Winter as was mixed first team lady Katie Draper. kindly guesting from Rufforth Philippa Page completed the squad.
Christina, sporting a smart pair of earmuffs, and Brad took on Robin and Katie and knew this would be a big rise in class. The Starbeck duo were playing three divisions higher in the mixed during the summer although the Collingham duo are improving. It was great credit to the players that so much excellent tennis followed as this really was the wildest weather of the current season. A crashing fall over on court five saw debris almost take out coach Steve Plant and the wind was howling around Castlegarth with chairs flying around along with various other bits! Robin is a very classy player and with an impressive service game and superb court coverage was proving dominant. Katie is a lovely player and very consistent and the pair were moving through the gears and starting to pull clear. Christina however provided a memorable service game of her own which produced two aces and two more unreturnables and with Brad settling and whipping some nice forehand winners they reduced the arrears before the visitors clinched a 3-9 victory.
On court two Tony and Katie were enjoying themselves and using their crafty game plan to good effect, using the elements to slow proceedings and frustrate the visitors. Tony’s spin serves were causing havoc whilst Katie produced some lively net play. David Tripp was Starbecks leading man in their successful team who play Division 2 in the York men’s league and he is very calculating and methodical in his approach. Philippa has twice stepped in recently for Starbeck and the Rufforth 2 captain can always be relied to give everything with her all action style. There was little between the teams but Starbeck had a touch of class to enable them to run out narrow 5-7 winners
So Starbeck led 8-16 going into round two. The men’s rubber on court one would be a good challenge to see how far Tony and Brad have come this season and they would need to produce their best to be competative. Robin played many times in men’s and mixed last season and his effortless approach and big hitting from deep showed why he plays at the top level locally. He and David have a good understanding and were always tough to pass. Brad and Tony have partnered many times together and the duo were fighting hard. Tony was leaping like a salmon covering the net whilst Brad was happy to look for some nice angles from deep and keep the visitors penned back to their own baseline. A 4-8 defeat was no shame and the Collingham chaps took plenty of positives.
The ladies rubber on court two was going in the way of the hosts and despite her cold, Christian Plant was in scintillating form. Her serve was often unplayable and she and Katie were playing extremley well together. The couple are one of the nicest pairing on the circuit and were doing their best to reduce the overall deficit. Katie and Philippa were meeting for the first time and playing their part in some tremendous long rallies. However the hosts had the edge and not afraid to advance to the net they ran out cosy 9-3 winners.
With round three commencing the wind was finally easing and Starbeck led 21-27. Brad and Christina knew they would need to win big on court two to give themselves a small chance of turning the tables and they began brightly. The pair were producing some strong play with big returns and good court coverage. David and Philippa were trying to repel wave after wave of attacks from the hosts and managed to stay afloat. Christina continued her good work with her service game and a more controlled finale from youngster Brad reaped dividends as they ran out 9-3 victors.
However on the show court Robin and Katie were proving a masterclass as they showed Tony and Katie why they had played crucial roles in helping Starbeck to the Harrogate Mixed division two title last summer. Robin continued to impress with his strong all round game and he was able to punish any stray return or loose ball with clinical efficiency. Katie was also splendid and the beleaguered Collingham duo just couldn’t get a foot hold. They were rewarded with two games which was just deserts for their valiant efforts and a 2-10 scoreline was the final outcome.
Starbeck therefore ran out 32-40 winners and as the players made their way back to the clubhouse incredibly conditions were suddenly completely calm!. So a big thanks for all tonight’s players. It was great to see some new faces on court from Starbeck and of course a big thanks to Philippa for stepping in at such short notice. Plenty of positives for the hosts who enjoyed the challenge of facing players they won’t get the opportunity to in the summer and hope to see many back during the rest of the winter league season.
Congratulations to Robin Womersley , Katie Draper, Philippa Page and David Tripp who ran out deserved winners this evening.
A valiant effort in defeat from Collingham with Tony Cutler, Katie Barrett, Christina Plant and Bradley Triffitt enjoying their night.