Another evening blessed with great weather as Tony Cutler took his Wetherby B mixed outfit north to face old rivals Harlow B. Both teams had been promoted last term with Wetherby taking the title but the hosts looked keen for revenge tonight and fielded a strong team. Both clubs were unbeaten with Harlow having won both their games whilst Wetherby had beaten Masham at home in their only outing.
Felix Evans is new to the ream this season and he stepped in at seed one to partner Anne Lillywhite. Both players are hard hitting left handers but complement each other very well and needed to be in good form as they faced John Berger and Simone Carrick. John was a member at Starbeck but is useful recruit for Harlow and has been showing up well in the men’s matches recently. Simone is one of many promising female youngsters and the hosts are unearthing plenty of junior talent at present. Little between the pairs here but Wetherby seemed to shade the big points and were delighted to secure a 4-8 success. Colin and Freya Lefley have also moved over from Starbeck and this father and daughter combo are both very strong competitors. They entertained Tony Cuter and Dawn Steel. Colin is an excellent server and is lethal at the net whilst Freya was producing some memorable forehands. Tony and Dawn are very experienced and knew how to take the sting out of their opponents and with great consistency were just able to record a 5-7 victory after a close affair.
Phil Wilkinson and Ann Jones were at seed three but with Harlow featuring three strong pairs knew it would be difficult to contain Andy Carrick and Lyn Saville. Andy has been very influential with player recruitment since joining at Harlow and the membership numbers are increasing and many players are enjoying team tennis. He had played for the mixed first team last night in division three but appeared to be showing no ill effects as he and Lyn were soon into stride. Lyn is very consistent from the baseline whilst Andy is a predator at the net and anything loose is generally dispatched. Phil and Ann were struggling to contain their opponents and despite a brave effort were on the wrong end of a 11-1 score line which left Harlow leading 20-16 after round one.
Colin and Freya then moved over to court one to try tame Felix and Anne and this match produced some high quality tennis. Plenty of big hitting and some incredible backs to the wall defending along with some eye catching retrieval work meant points were hard earned but it was Wetherby who took this 5-7 after a great tussle.
Tony and Dawn continued their good form as they played Andy and Lyn and once more a combination of efficient tactics and clever play frustrated their hosts. With Andy not dominating the net this time Wetherby were able to secure a 4-8 victory to help keep things tight overall.
Phil and Ann were hoping to improve their first round score and played very well against John and Simone. Phil was covering every inch of the court as he produced heroics whilst Ann stood firm in the face of an onslaught to produce some crafty winners of her own. Simone has a ferocious forehand and with some lovely angles made many eye catching winners whilst John is ultra-consistent. Harlow won 8-4 but the Wetherby third seeds were pleased with their reward and Harlow now only led 37-35 with everything in the melting pot.
Felix and Anne were once again looking for points as they played Andy and Lynn and in the main they were on top. However Lynn was frustrating the Wetherby duo and with her excellent returns and refusal to buckle she and Andy were not waving the white flag. The visitors took this rubber 3-9 but were left wondering if that would be enough to take the points back to West Yorkshire.
John and Simone against Tony and Dawn always looked very close to call and this was a fierce battle of whit’s with nothing between the pairs. Both can look at potential missed opportunities but it was Harlow who took the contest 7-5.
Colin and Freya were looking to outpower Phil and Ann but Wetherby were still full of running and making their higher rated opponents work hard. Despite been threatened to be blown off court the Wetherby pair produced some clever short play and disrupted the Harlow big hitters. Harlow did prevail 8-4 and this ultimately proved enough as in a real nail biter it was the Harrogate based side celebrating a 55-53 success to break Wetherby hearts.
A tremendous tussle throughout and thanks to everyone for such good entertainment that Brad and myself thoroughly enjoyed. Great to catch up with plenty of tennis friends and we look forward to the return fixture. With six points Harlow are the early pacesetters in Division Five although David Lloyd are breathing down their necks whilst Wetherby are quickly back in action as they welcome Boroughbridge on Sunday.