A dry evening tonight at Castlegarth and thankfully the wind had dropped too as Wetherby 1 played host to Starbeck. Roger Fawcus had impressed on his last outing and was back this evening and he teamed up with Christina Plant who kindly came in late for the injured Lucy Wright. Marc Bickers made a welcome first appearance of the season and he partnered his regular summer league lady Helen Robinson.
Starbeck arrived with captain Di Lang making her first start of the campaign whilst there was also a welcome return for Winter League stalwarts Chris and Ali White whilst Robin Womersley, who had played a starring role for the visitors in their win over Collingham last week, was on duty again here.
Helen and Marc began against Di and Chris on court one and it was soon evident this would be a fascinating contest. Di Lang had helped Starbeck to title success in Harrogate mixed division two last summer whilst Chris was the leading player in both Starbecks mixed team in division three and the men’s second team in division four. They are a vastly experience duo and complement each other well. The hosts knew this would be a tough battle and used their good understanding to impress. Marc has been showing up well at social recently and was excited to make a return to competitive tennis. With a strong serve, hard hitting forehand and great court coverage he was quickly into stride and with Helen finding her rhythm and some lovely backhand play they were quickly away. Chris is a strong player and the canny left hander was producing some eye catching winners whilst Di used her excellent anticipation skills to good effect. This was an enjoyable rubber for the watching crowd and many rallies drew applause before Wetherby ran out 8-4 victors.
On court Two Christina Plant has been enjoying her Winter League outings and this ever reliable player now teamed up with Roger Fawcus. They took on Robin and Ali. Robin had been in scintillating form last week for the Harrogate club but this was a more difficult task and his battle with Roger looked mouthwatering. The two big hitting men exchanged many rallies and with both happy to advance to the net they both showed off their excellent net play with many angled winners from close range. Christina has been one of the most impressive lady servers this season and once again she was firing down aces. Ali White was a virtual ever present in the ladies first division during the summer and had helped the team survive in a very tough league. She is quick around court and has a strong forehand. There was little between the pairs early on before Wetherby moved ahead 6-3. Starbeck took a further two games with the hosts running out narrow 7-5 winners in another excellent contest.
Round two commenced with Wetherby 15-9 ahead and the match very much in the melting pot. The mens rubber certainly lived up to expectations and was played to a very high standard indeed. Marc was playing extremely well and with a low error count he and Roger moved ahead. There was some impressive winners from both teams however and the visitors started a comeback. Robin continued his good form and with a varied game always had the hosts second guessing whilst Chris was using the width of the court to ensure Starbeck were now starting to get on top. Roger and Marc both hit some big serves but ultimately it was the Harrogate club who claimed the spoils with a narrow 5-7 success.
The ladies rubber on court two was just as close and once again it was going to be hard to predict a winner. Both teams were playing well and the partnerships looked strong as they traded blows. Both were happy to hit deep and looking for errors it was real cat and mouse stuff. Christina looked confident at the net and with Helen happy to hit low and hard from deep Wetherby just had the edge. Di and Ali were not throwing in the towel and Wetherby just prevailed 7-5 at the finish line.
Therefore Wetherby led 27-21 after maintaining their six point advantage as the final round loomed. Ali and Robin looked determined to make inroads into that deficit and making a fast start found themselves 1-5 ahead and threatening a big win. Marc and Helen had to dig deep to ensure the rubber would not get away from them and thankfully with great consistency they battled back. As had been the pattern all evening this tie suddenly became close and with everyone fighting to the death it was Starbeck who were winners, but only 5-7.
On the show court with the lead reduced to just four points Roger and Christina had made a super start. Looking seasoned campaigners together they showed great teamwork to produce many memorable moments. Christina, who had been playing in Harrogate mixed division five last term, showed she is a player of huge potential and effortlessly went about her business. Roger is always a lovely partner in the mixed and his strong presence on court inspired the duo. They were looking to run away with this one but Di and Chris were not about to wave the white flag and running down every return began to ease back into the contest. At the conclusion Wetherby were the happier as they held onto a 7-5 victory which gave them a final winning margin of 39-33.
This was arguably one of the most impressive and easy on the eye contests of the Winter League season and it was clear to see why all on show are playing at a good level in the summer. It was great to catch up with old friends from Starbeck and we look forward to welcoming you back at Castlegarth in the near future.
Wetherby move to with two points of leaders Rufforth with the clubs duo to play a week on Thursday February 13th in what promises to be an epic battle which will certainly be worth watching. A win for Wetherby can catapult them back into the title race whilst success for Rufforth would all but seal the crown.
Congratulations to Roger Fawcus, Christina Plant, Marc Bickers and Helen Robinson on victory.
A great effort from Robin Womersley, Di Lang, Ali White and Chris White ensured a tight and enjoyable match thanks.