The river Wharfe was rising, the rain was lashing and the wind was howling but despite all those elements the show must go on and thankfully Wetherby 1 and Boston Spa were determined to ensure tonight’s Winter League match between these close rivals went ahead. The hosts were looking for a quick double this week after beating Knaresborough 1 on Tuesday and welcomed Roger Fawcus and Helen Robinson back into the fold. Lucy Wright had been nursing injury but passed a late fitness test to pair up with Andy Roberts who had been impressive against Boro.
Spa captain Katie Gilman was joined by Peter Smith with the duo having helped Boston to success the previous evening in Starbeck whilst standing dish Pauline Belt is once of the classiest ladies on the Winter League circuit and she was joined by Jordan Gregory who has been a great supporter of the event for many years.
This promised to be an intriguing affair with both clubs having tasted defeat just once and still both in the title race. Helen and Roger have done well together recently and are forming a strong partnership. Roger had managed a pass out even on his wife’s birthday and he was in good form tonight, once again relying on a very powerful serve and some dominant net play. Helen is very confidence from the baseline and her consistancy was excellent tonight. The Wetherby top dogs would need to be at their best however as Pauline and Jordan are a match for most. Pauline is a tremendous competitor whilst Jordan uses his slice game to great effect and is also very useful at the net. This tie certainly lived up to expectations with no quartet given but the hosts managed to grab the final two games to run out very narrow 7-5 winners.
Lucy Wright and Andy Roberts were meeting for the first time but after a short warm up and quick introductions the pair were soon into stride against Kate and Peter. Lucy is extremely competitive and always gives her all whilst Andy has a strong serve and lovely backhand. Kate and Peter couldn’t match the enthusiasm of the Wetherby couple who looked determined to shine on debut together. They were gaining in confidence as the tie progressed and with some clinical tennis ran out impressive 10-2 victors to give Wetherby a handy 17-7 advantage going into round two.
Drizzle was proving frustrating but the players continued and managed to adapt well to the wind. Roger and Andy were also introduced for the first time and this duo looked to form a powerful pairing. Peter and Jordan have been partnering together for as long as I can remember and their contrasting styles has seen them enjoy great success over the years. This was a very good match with both pairs showing excellent form to entertain the watching crowd. Most points were hard fought and often finished off with aplomb. Little between the sides but again Wetherby managed to take the final two games for another narrow 7-5 victory.
Over on court five and aware that Boston were now trailing 24-12, Kate and Pauline knew they needed a big win to reduce the arrears and they set about achieving just that. There was some mammoth rallies and some outstanding play as each player covered every inch of the court as they desperately searched for points. Both pairs have played together many years and this was evident with some tremendous team work from both couples. There looked to be little in this rubber but Boston were nailing the crucial points and despite Lucy and Helen running themselves ragged, it was the visitors who prevailed 3-9 meaning the scoreboard read 27-21 with the last round to follow.
The temperature was dropping off court but increasing on it as the players were really fired up for battle in the finale. Lucy and Andy were finding the going much tougher against Pauline and Jordan with the Spa pair playing some vintage tennis. Jordan’s error count was incredibly low and Pauline continued to find extra reserves of energy. Andy was struggling to stamp his authority and the tie was slipping away from the hosts. Some more clinical finishing from Boston saw them run out 3-9 winners and suddenly the match was all square at 30-30.
Roger and Helen were entertaining Kate and Peter and thankfully for Wetherby were showing no sign of fatigue. The pair have really shone in Winter League this season and with super teamwork were like a well oiled machine as they clinically went about business. They had the uncanny knack of always finding space and making the right option and despite Boston’s huge effort it was ultimately to no avail. With a 9-3 success they ensured Wetherby would go two points clear at the summit following a nail biting 39-33 victory.
Considering the testing conditions this was a superb match and all eight players must be richly applauded for their outstanding efforts. Wetherby may have a two point lead but Rufforth have two games in hand so the clash between the pair on March 5th will surely be pivotal in the destiny of the crown this season.
Well played Roger Fawcus, Helen Robinson, Lucy Wright and Andy Roberts who guided Wetherby 1 to a crucial success this evening.
A great effort and some excellant smiles from Peter Smith, Kate Gilman, Pauline Belt and Jordan Gregory who pushed their hosts all the way this evening.