With the courts back in action following court cleaning and the weather dry, Castlegarth hosted a Winter League double header this evening. The top two teams, Wetherby 1 and Rufforth 1 met in what promised to be a mouthwatering clash with both chasing the title. Wetherby 2 were also in action as they hosted Harlow.
Rufforth arrived with six straight wins under their belt and James Edmond teamed up with Kathryn Elliot Smith at seed one with Tom Shouksmith and captain Sue Yoward at two. For Wetherby Jamie Perkins and Angela Crossley made their seasonal debuts whilst regulars Adam Turner and Lucy Wright were at seed two.
Wetherby knew only victory would give them a chance of remaining in the hunt for the crown and Angela and Jamie looked confident ahead of their clash with James and Kathryn. The Wetherby duo are one of the strongest on the York mixed league circuit but hadn’t featured together since the summer. They started brightly however with Jamie oozing class as he covered the court seemingly effortless and hitting hard and finding the gaps. He advanced to the net with real authority and was certainly impressing. Angela has a lovely backhand and her consistent returns and strong volleys meant the hosts were soon racking up the points. James is arguably the strongest man at Rufforth and has been a great supporter of the Winter League over the years. He and newcomer Kathryn had caught the eye during the summer together and the club have high hopes for the pair. Kathryn had been excellent in helping Rufforth 2 to success last week over Collingham but this was a sharp rise in class which she was certainly enjoying. The visitors were chasing everything and James was producing some lovely deft touches from close in. However Wetherby were not to be denied and entertained a good crowd running out cosy 9-3 winners.
Over on court two Adam Turner and Lucy Wright resumed their successful partnership as they faced powerful duo Tom Shouksmith and Sue Yoward. Lucy had struggled with injury during the last month but seemed far easier around court tonight as she was quickly into top gear. Adam was hitting some amazing two handed backhand winners and the aggressive tennis was reaping reward. Tom and Sue and a very strong paring but were struggling to combat the Wetherby duo. Tom has a very strong serve and hits some ferocious returns from deep whilst Sue uses her tall frame to be extremely difficult to pass at the net. Wetherby seemed fired up and remained ever so consistent running out 9-3 winners to give themselves a useful 18-6 advantage after the opening round.
The men’s rubber was one of the best matches ever witnessed at the club with both teams producing some sizzling tennis which left the crowd royally entertained. The balls took a hell of a beating as each player hit with so much venom. Some astonishing rallies followed and a full repertoire of shots were on show. Wetherby were performing well with left hander Adam complementing Jamie and the duo produced many jaw dropping winners. James and Tom were equally as aggressive for Rufforth but perhaps lacked the consistency of the hosts. This really was a superb exhibition however and although Wetherby were 9-3 winners each player deserves rich applause.
The ladies contest was also played to a high standard and there was no quarter given here either. Angela and Lucy have a good understanding and with excellent on court communication were very organised. Kathryn was chasing every ball still and her energy and enthusiasm around the court was certainly very helpful for Ruffoth. Sue was booming down plenty of very quick serves and again she was dominant at the net. There really was little between the pairs but once again it was Wetherby left celebrating after a narrow 7-5 victory.
Wetherby were almost over the line as they led 34-14 but there was no letup in the quality on show. The air was starting to turn decidedly chilly with a slight frost but this didn’t stop the entertainment either.
Lucy and Adam knew they couldn’t take the foot off the pedal if they were to beat James and Kathryn and this proved a titanic tussle. James was producing some amazing shots around the net with his soft hands ensuring many winners whilst Kathryn showed no sign of slowing down despite her energy sapping court coverage. Adam and Lucy were playing well but Rufforth looked determined to take a rubber and they just had the narrowest of advantages as they ran out 5-7 winners in another enthralling encounter.
Over on court two Jamie and Angela were putting the icing on another superb performance as they were enjoying themselves against Sue and Tom. Plenty of end to end rallies but the consistency of the hosts had to be seen as they found the space with some sharp angles to keep the visitors at bay. Showing no signs of fatigue they completed a great nights work with a rousing 10-2 success which left Wetherby victorious 49-23.
Wetherby move four points clear of Rufforth at the summit although the York based side have two games in hand and remain slight favourites for the title with the potential to improve their points difference. Wetherby have one match left against Tadcaster next week them must sit back and await their fate!
Thanks to Jamie Perkins, Angela Crossley, Lucy Wright and Adam Turner for some breath taking tennis tonight.
Gallant runners up James Edmond, Kathryn Elliot Smith, Sue Yoward and Tom Shouksmith who gave everything tonight.
Wetherby 2 were in action against Harlow who have been a welcome addition to the Winter League this term led by captain and organiser Andy Carrick. This looked to be a very tight affair once the teams were announced with Jill Abel and Andy Roberts at seed one and Sophie Hunt and Dave Rowlands at two for the hosts. Andy was a late call up after withdrawals and he played with Pauline Knight at two with the gentle giant Cassius Petrovan joining up with Rosemary Carter at seed one for Harlow.
It would take a brave man to call this match and so it proved.
Jill and Andy were meeting for the first time but they needed little introduction as they were quickly away against Rosemary and Cassius. Andy has been a great signing from Dacre and already been a regular at the club with a number of Winter League appearances under his belt. Jill was certainly enjoying herself too and the pair quickly developed a good understanding. Cassius is one of the leading men at Harlow playing a significant role in the men’s teams promotion last summer. He is a commanding player using power and strength to good effect. Rosemary is a classy veteran and she used great skill and craft to produce many winners. However Andy was starting to exert and with some big hitting and clever positional play he and Jill were able to celebrate a debut success running out 9-3 victors.
On court four Sophie Hunt and Dave Rowlands were also playing together for the first time but knew they would have a tough tie against Andy and Pauline. The Harrogate clubs pairing have many years’ experience in mixed tennis and this would prove significant against their young and inexperienced opponents. Sophie has been a breath of fresh air at the club as she has shown great improvement throughout the winter. Dave is another newcomer and this happy chappy is also showing signs that he will be useful in the future. However league tennis can be a tough learning curve and the Harlow duo were showing no mercy as they efficiently went about their business. Despite a gallant effort the hosts were no match as they succumbed 1-11 leaving Harlow ahead 10-14 after the opener.
Andy and Dave became quickly acquainted and started their men’s rubber against Andy and Cassius. Dave was enjoying the big hitting and looked far more comfortable than in the mixed. With Andy showing his class the pair were playing well and putting their opponents under pressure. With Cassius hitting hard from deep and Andy as always a danger at the net,there was some cracking tennis on show but Wetherby ran out 8-4 winners to level the match overall.
In a night of debuts, Jill and Sophie met and this proved a canny partnership. Jill used all her experience and guile to ensure the pair were well organised and with Sophie serving plenty of winners and using her court coverage to good effect the Wetherby girls started brightly. Rosemary and Pauline are a tough nut to crack but they were unable to cover as much ground as their opponents who ran out 8-4 winners to give Wetherby a narrow 26-22 lead with one round to play.
Sophie and Dave were looking to improve on their first round effort but Rosemary and Cassius are a confident duo and surged into an early 0-6 lead. However credit the Wetherby pair for not throwing in the towel and they suddenly hit a purple patch where they began to settle and play some super tennis. Rolling off five wins on the bounce they were on fire and although unable to complete a remarkable comeback, a narrow 5-7 defeat was a pleasing and a much appreciated effort.
All eyes were on Jill and Andy who knew the hosts lead was now just two points. However showing no fear they continued an impressive nights work as they were always ahead against a battling Andy and Pauline. The Wetherby top guns carried far too much weaponry and were 8-4 winners thus ensuring a home victory by 39-33.
Thanks to everyone for participating this evening.
Andy Roberts, Jill Abel, Sophie Hunt and Dave Rowlands helped Wetherby 2 to a great come from behind victory tonight.
Thanks to Cassius Petrovan, Rosemary Carter, Pauline Knight and captain Andrew Carrick for a terrific battle this evening.