After recent flooding and the worry of further flooding following court clearing on courts four and five, it was with much relief that the Winter League resumed this evening. Despite a windy and cold evening the rain stayed away to ensure dry conditions as Wetherby 1 hosted Knaresborough 1.
Wetherby had regular Winter League competitors Christina Plant and Andy Roberts at one whilst Richard Franks and Louise Beasley were at two. Boro arrived with captain Paul White teaming up with his regular summer partner Fran Bakes whilst Andy Little and Penny Sheard, who are often seen during the Winter League season, were at two.
So despite a chilly evening at least all on show were battle hardened Winter League regulars and it was Andy and Christina who resumed their blossoming partnership on court four as they entertained Paul and Fran. The visiting pair were often seen in Harrogate mixed division two last term so this would be a good test for Andy and Christina. Andy has been a very welcome addition to the fold after joining from Dacre and will be extremely useful to the summer teams no doubt. He and Christina made a solid start and led 3-1 but this was an excellent contest with both pairs showing some real quality. Andy has a quick serve and a vicious forehand whilst Christina is also solid with her service game and was making some crucial interceptions at the net. Paul is often seen leaping like a salmon with his dominant net play whilst Fran is ever so quick around court and always happy to chase any seemingly lost cause down. There was little to choose here and Wetherby just hung on to record a narrow 7-5 advantage.
Richard and Louise are always extremely chilled and the pair have great temperaments. They took on Andy Little and Penny Sheard. Andy had captained the Knaresborough men’s second team in their debut season to promotion in the summer and this tricky server and big hitter from deep is always a tough opponent. Penny is another lady who covers the court extremely well and she disguises a number of well-placed winners. There was some intriguing tennis on show therefore and the match was proving difficult to call. Richard was starting to up the tempo however and with some well-placed winners of his own combined with Louise’s stylish play, the Wetherby couple ran out 8-4 victors.
So Wetherby led 15-9 going into round two. Andy and Richard are a strong pairing and they were looking forward to their clash with Paul and Andy. There was certainly plenty of big hitting on show and no quarter given by either team. Roberts was producing some impressive whipped backhand returns which forced the Boro pair back deep on their own baseline whilst the quick work of Franks kept the hosts ahead. Paul and Little were also creating space to hit plenty of winners themselves with White again strong from close range. This was a very hard fought affair which Wetherby just prevailed, winning 8-4.
Christina and Louise were regulars in the ladies second team but they have really developed during the winter to form one of the strongest partnerships at the club. The duo are both strong servers and hit hard and low and they are extremely difficult to beat. Fran Bakes was certainly making them pull out all the stops however and with Penny Shard using her trickery well,this was close. However Wetherby began to move through the gears and Christina was finding great energy to retrieve and then produce a number of eye catching winners. Louise was also in top form and dominating the net she ensured little was coming back from the Boro side of the net. A rubber filled with exciting rallies finally went the way of the hosts 9-3.
Wetherby had now put themselves firmly on course to join Rufforth 1 at the summit and leading 32-16 could see the finish line. Paul and Fran were determined to make sure things were not straight forward however as the pair began to really impress with some superb tennis. With great teamwork they quickly moved clear against Richard and Louise, who could never really get a foothold. The boro finished on a high after running out 3-9 winners which helped reduce the arrears.
Andy and Christina were playing well on court five however and would ensure that Wetherby would not come unstuck. Some more long enthralling rallies ensured and each player had plenty of reason to celebrate after a solid showing. Andy provided the bit of class however and with Christina still consistent the pair were 8-4 winners to see Wetherby home 43-29.
It’s always a pleasure to welcome our near neighbours from Knaresborough and matches are always hard fought and played in a great spirit. Tonight was no exception and a big thanks to them for coming over and proving stern opposition.
Wetherby are back on court this Thursday when they welcome close rivals Boston Spa with the pair both chasing title success after suffering just the one loss each. That promises to be a mouthwatering clash indeed.
Congratulations to Richard Franks, Louise Beasley, Christina Plant and Andy Roberts for helping Wetherby to success tonight.
Some strong play from Paul White, Penny Sheard, Andy Little and Fran Bakes made for an entertaining evening thanks.