A lovely evening greeted Harrogate 1 and York 2 tonight as Helens Hellraisers did battle with Abel’s Army in this mixed clash. Jill had seen a number of withdrawals from her original squad but was still able to field a competitive six although they started underdogs against the Hellraisers.
On court one Steve Plant and Sue Perkins continued their partnership but faced a tough opener against Roger Fawcus and Charlotte Todd. Charlotte was still on a high after lifting the ladies singles crown last Saturday whilst Roger was serving quick and dominating at the net. Steve and Sue were on the back foot and finding it difficult to stop their opponents supremacy. However Steve is also an excellent server and with Sue hitting some crisp returns they ensured the contest was competitive. However Roger and Charlotte were not to be denied and ran out cosy 4-8 winners.
On court two Steve Jones paired with Louise Williams and they faced experienced duo Adam Turner and Lucy Wright who have fashioned a great partnership on court. Adam is a quick left hander with a difficult serve to contain whilst Lucy is eager around the net and a confident baseliner. There was certainly some terrific rallies in this rubber and Louise was producing some stunning returns and clearly enjoying the challenge. Steve used his trickery to good affect but the duo were always going to find it hard to combat the pace and power of the Hellraisers pair. Jones and Williams gave it everything but couldn’t prevent the visitors taking the spoils 3-9.
Court three saw captains Jill and Helen in opposition with Marc Bickers once again partnering Helen and Bradley Triffitt getting a late call up to partner with Jill. Brad had caught the eye on Sunday when scoring 28 for Tony Cutlers Blades outfit but this was a significant rise in class. He and Jill looked confident however and with good understanding were playing well. With both happy to hit hard from deep and producing some good net play they were well in this tie at 4-4. However Marc upped the pace and with Helen showing terrific skills on her excellent backhand, they began to take control. Showing a touch of class they ran out 4-8 winners after a good contest.
So round two commenced with the Hellraisers six points ahead and Roger and Charlotte were looking to close that gap even further as they arrived on court three to face Helen and Marc. However their opponents played some incredible tennis and remained strong throughout. Enjoying the quicker pace , Marc unleased some impressive returns and Helen was eye catching around the net. Roger was still proving hard to handle and his all action style ensured many points. Charlotte was finding some nice angels but this was close throughout and a 6-6 draw was a fair reflection of events.
Jill and Brad knew a big effort was needed once more against Lucy and Adam but they made a terrific start and raced into a 4-1 lead. But Adam turned up the tempo and with Lucy running down every ball the duo began to turn the screw. They battled back strongly to move ahead 6-5 and with everything to play for in the finale, Lucy held her serve to enable her and Adam to take the honours 5-7.
Steve and Louise were to feel the full wrath of Steve Plant and Sue Perkins on the show court as the Hellraisers top duo found their top form to deadly effect. They produced plenty of error free tennis and with clinical finishing kept the scoreboard ticking over. Great credit to the Army duo who didn’t throw the towel in but they were unlucky to meet the top dogs in this form. Plants serve was unplayable and Sue found space to exploit the gaps and finally they ran out 1-11 victors.
The visitors were now in the driving seat and on court two Adam and Lucy were looking forward to the challenge of Roger and Charlotte. This proved an excellent rubber with both couples in fine form. Each looked determined and this resulted in some splendid tennis. With points hard won and no quarter given it was fitting that honours were shared at 6-6.
Steve and Louise were keen to finish the evening on a high and made Marc and Helen pull out all the stops in their match. Steve was having plenty of success with his serve, which produced plenty of winning points and with Louise hitting deep with great success they made sure this would be a very close encounter. Marc was hitting well and using the width of the court and Helens returns came back with interest. Eventually the visitors just shaded the tie 5-7.
Jill and Brad made their way over to the show court knowing a huge effort was needed to contain Steve and Sue. However the underdogs started well and led 2-1 and only trailed 3-5 playing some enterprising and confident tennis. There was some long rallies and well crafted winners but the big guns began to show their class with some punishing clinical tennis. Steve was a threat at the net and placed some lovely winners out wide and with Sue strong they took the final four games for a 3-9 success and an impressive 24 points on the evening.
So it was the Hellraisers who celebrated a 41-67 victory over the Army but once again there was plenty of positives on an excellent evening of tennis. Thanks to all who were involved and it was nice to see all the courts in action and even play under floodlights once more.