After the disappointment of the previous evening where two winter league games were lost to the weather, tonight was a crisp, cold but dry night allowing Knaresborough 2 and Collingham to play their rearranged clash. Captain Paul White led his Boro troops into battle and was joined by Andy Little , Jan Blogg and Jeanette Bowden who are all great supporters of the Winter League. Collingham captain Tony Cutler was joined by Fiona Chantrey, who kindly stepped in at late notice, whilst youngsters Bradley Triffitt and Sophie Hunt were given an outing together after showing promise at coaching and various social events.
Brad and Sophie began on court one and they faced Paul and Jan. This would be a good test with Paul having been a regular in the Boro first team who had played in Harrogate division two last summer whilst Jan competed in both division two and three for the North Yorkshire outfit. Brad is a regular for Collingham and Sophie has been catching the eye with some impressive performances and the juniors were hoping to cause a shock. Brads game is built on hard hitting from deep and creating some good angles he was playing well. Sophie has great court coverage and enjoys the net. She has a great two handed backhand which was unleashing plenty of winners too. With Paul not able to get his favoured forehand into gear it was Collingham who made all as they led from pillar to post under the watchful eye of dads Mike and Doug on the sidelines. They were certainly impressed with what they saw as Brad and Sophie formed a more than useful partnership here. Jan is a crafty player and with speed around court and good anticipation she was proving a very difficult opponent. Paul is lethal given half a chance at the net and with some big serving this was a hard fought battle. However Collingham were not to be denied and a 8-4 victory was a very impressive result.
Tony and Fiona were making their competitive debuts together and they faced Andy and Jeanette. This duo were regulars with Harlow and now Knarsborough and have an excellent understanding and on court relationship. Andy has a crafty swinging serve whilst Jeanette will run down every ball with her all action style. Andy is also a big hitter and he was certainly punishing Tony and Fiona with some well positioned forehands. Fiona is a classy player whilst Tony uses his unorthodox shot selection to good effect. However Collingham were always on the back foot and couldn’t prevent Boro from running out impressive 9-3 winners.
Round two commenced with Boro ahead 13-11. The men’s rubber looked well matched and both teams looked confident. Brad and Tony have played many times together and they made a cracking start to move into a 4-1 advantage. Brad was having great success with his outswing serve from the advantage side and with Tony showing soft hands at the net the Collingham chaps were gaining in confidence. Paul and Andy are far too experienced to down tools however and they fought back strongly and with some exciting tennis on show this was a close affair. However showing great character Collingham managed to record the win with a narrow 7-5 success.
On court two Fiona and Sophie were also competing together for the first time after meeting at the Ladies second team practice last week. This would be a good challenge for them ahead of hopefully a successful summer season and they soon gelled together. There was plenty of long enthralling rallies with Sophie happy to play the long game and hit from deep whilst Fiona waited to pounce at the net. Fiona used her exquisite backhand to produce some clever winners whilst Sophie dictated the pace and wasn’t afraid to hit big when required. Jan and Jeanette were proving tough cookies though and with some amazing recovery shots and clinical winners ensured this was another close match. Finally Collingham celebrated a 8-4 victory which eased them into a narrow 26-22 lead with the finale to come.
Round three commenced and thankfully with no wind, conditions were perfect for tennis. The show court saw Brad and Sophie entertain Andy and Jeanette and it was the youngsters who were quickly out of the blocks as they stormed into an early 4-0 advantage. However Andy and Jeanette were not concerned and playing some great tennis of their own fought back to 6-5 down with the crucial last game to be served by Jeanette. It was another close one but fittingly as her mum arrived, she hit an incredible two handed backhand winner from out wide to clinch the point and ensure Collingham took the honours 7-5 after a real thriller.
With a six point lead things were looking rosy and with Tony and Fiona showing improved form from their opener against Paul and Jan it was looking like Boro would struggle to reduce the deficit. Now developing some understanding and upping their game, the Collingham due were proving a real handful and with Fiona content to make some lovely returns and Tony hovering at the net, they were certainly in no mood to lose this rubber. Paul and Jan gave everything but neither couple deserved to lose and a 6-6 draw was a fair reflection of events.
Therefore Collingham made in six wins and twelve points on the season so far as they ran out 39-33 winners moving them back into joint second in the table. A thoroughly entertaining evening and once again great credit to all the players for some outstanding tennis.
Despite the challenges of the season with bad weather and flooding ,hopes are high we will complete and these Friday night clashes are proving popular and a useful way of catching up on the schedule despite a few players mentioning it stops their regular wine and curry Friday night relaxation !!!
A great team performance from Tony Cutler, Fiona Chantrey, Sophie Hunt and Bradley Triffitt helped Collingham to victory this evening.
Many thanks to Andy Little, Jeanette Bowden, Jan Blogg and Paul White who, playing with wide smiles and good banter, ensured a cracking match tonight.