A cool but dry evening at Castlegarth tonight meant perfect playing conditions for the derby clash between Wetherby and Boston Spa in the HDTL Division 2. Wetherby had started their campaign with victory at Thirsk last week and were able to welcome back more of their usual squad with debuts for Adrian Lobley and Andy Roberts. Boston had been beaten Wednesday night at home to Bedale and surprisingly five of the players on duty then were backing up again so they would certainly be feeling in later in the evening.
Adrian has been arguably the best player in the Bardsey men’s first team for many years and has joined Wetherby this season to play mixed. He paired with Sue Jacklin as they faced Jordan Gregory and Lorraine Pearey. Adrian and Jordan are quite similar in style with both very clever players using spin and patience to good effect. Sue has a lovely forehand and this left hander hits the ball very well indeed. Lorraine is a more than useful hockey player and one of the fittest and most competitive females on the circuit and this battle was proving very exciting. Finally a narrow win for the visitors 5-7.
Andy Roberts had previously played at Dacre but this was his first opportunity in a Wetherby shirt and he paired with Rachel Hill who has moved over from the York 1 mixed team this season to compete in the Harrogate league. Andy is an all action style player and with great court coverage, a big serve and a potent forehand is certainly a good recruit for captain Helen Robinson. Rachel has been a leading figure at Wetherby for many years and her soft hands and lovely net play have brought her great success at the club. They took on Richard Whaley and Kate Gilman with Richard needing no introduction as he is the Wetherby men’s first team captain!. This was another good advert for division 2 with both pairs in good form but Wetherby just looked the sharper and carrying more weaponry ran out 8-4 victors.
Helen Robinson and Marc Bickers are always a good pairing to have on the team sheet and this well-established duo entertained Dan Granon and Dominique Morrisey on court three. Dan is rarely seen in mixed but this tall and ranger player was looking good and his backhand was very impressive. Dominique is often seen flying the Boston flag and she is always a tricky opponent. There was little between the pairs but with Marc covering everything and Helen finding some lovely angles, the hosts took the honours 7-5 to give Wetherby a narrow 20-16 opening round advantage.
Andy and Rachel prepared for another tough encounter as they faced Jordan and Lorraine but Andy looked determined to use his powerful game to lay down a marker. Jordan is always calm and happy to play out his patient and tricky game and with the ladies very strong this was always going to be too close to call. No one could argue a 6-6 draw was not a fair outcome after a lovely rubber.
Marc and Helen were looking forward to taking on Richard and Kate and the hosts knew their opponents would be well briefed on what to expect. Richard and Marc were enjoying their duel and some long exciting rallies ensued. Once more another close finish but Wetherby ran out narrow 7-5 winners.
Adrian and Sue both adopted excellent tactics in their game with Dan and Dominique and with great consistency and efficiency, quietly went about their business. They needed to be mentally strong as Dan was returning some lovely backhands cross court but they defended well to record an excellent 8-4 win moving Wetherby further clear 41-31.
Jordan and Lorraine welcomed Marc and Helen down to court one and they knew they needed a win to reduce the arrears as the final round began. Despite fatigue setting in Jordan was determined to take the chance and playing superbly he and Lorraine were battling away nicely. Marc and Helen continued to press but were unable to prevent a 4-8 loss.
However suddenly Wetherby made the match winning move and it was Adrian and Sue who were gelling well and now moving impeccably through the gears hitting top form. Richard and Kate were powerless to prevent the Wetherby top dogs, who hardly put a foot wrong, to record an eye catching 10-2 win after some tremendous tennis.
With the pressure now off Andy and Rachel were involved in a close affair with Dan and Dominique and considering this was the first match played by the Boston duo together they certainly did exceptionally well tonight. Nothing between the teams and a 6-6 tie meant Wetherby ran out 61-47 winners in a match played in great spirt despite the keen rivalry between the clubs.
Wetherby move up to second place alongside Bedale, who have also started with two wins, but David Lloyd top the section after three straight wins and their squad looks strong this term. No promotion or relegation this summer but a trophy to the divisional winners means plenty of incentive to aim for.
Thanks to everyone for their contributions tonight and good luck to both clubs in their remaining fixtures.