Overcast but humid conditions this evening as Thirsk B entertained Wetherby A in Division four of the HDTL mixed. Both clubs had been promoted last season but are enduring very different campaigns in the higher section with Wetherby sitting at the summit after four wins whilst Thirsk are bottom after failing to win any of their opening three matches. Leading pair Richard Franks and Fiona Chantrey were absent for the visitors so Philip Longstaff stepped in and was accompanied by the evergreen Marise Richfield.
Thirsk picked their usual suspects so there were no surprises once the team sheet was in and it was Ben Watson and Louise Morgan Williams entertaining Jonathan Tyler and Christina Plant on court one to start proceedings. The Wetherby duo are enjoying a good first season together and are a quiet yet very efficient pairing. Ben has just returned from injury and is one of the hardest hitting men in this section whilst Louise is very consistent and has good court coverage. An exciting and well fought rubber with the power and consistency of the visitors giving them the edge to secure a 4-8 success.
Bradley Triffitt and Louise Beasley moved up to seed two and faced youngsters James Brading and Kitty Brown. I sat with Kitty’s parents who enjoyed their evening watching the action unfold and were very proud of fifteen year old Kitty’s never say die performance. She showed great promise and hit some lovely forehands but she and James couldn’t find the consistency to trouble their higher rated opponents. James is a left hander and found some incredible angles on his returns but all too often didn’t have the patience to keep the scoreboard ticking over. With Brad mixing pace, power and craft and Louise as sharp and clinical as ever at the net it was Wetherby celebrating a 2-10 victory.
Philip and Marise were making their debuts together although Marise has many years of experience in league tennis and her calm and easy going nature meant she always looks comfortable on court. Phil hits hard and is happy to cover large areas of the court but the pair had their work cut out against Dan Magee and captain Amanda Page. Dan is a more than useful cricketer and captains the Thirsk first team and he was ultra-fit chasing down many lost causes with eye catching speed. He has featured twice for Thirsk in Division two this season and can be a handful. Amanda leads from the front and produced some excellent retrieval work and this rubber was close throughout. No complaints at 6-6 to leave both pairs happy.
Round two started with Wetherby holding a 12-24 advantage and looking to build on that. Jonathan and Christina now faced James and Kitty and once again it was a repeat of the opener with Wetherby carrying too much weaponry and securing victory 3-9. Brad and Louise enjoyed their match with Dan and Amanda and there were plenty of long enthralling rallies before the visitors prevailed 4-8. Philip and Ben were also enjoying their duel on court three with many wonderful cross court battles whilst Louise and Marise showed some lovely touches. It was another rubber for Wetherby however who extended their lead to 23-49 with the winners enclosure firmly in site and very apt with the tennis courts located in the centre of Thirsk racecourse!
Credit to Dan and Amanda who once again gave everything in an eye catching performance for the hosts against Jonny and Christina. Little between the pairs but with Christina bossing the serve and Jonny hitting hard from deep they wore down their opponents to secure a narrow 5-7 victory and an excellent twenty four points for their efforts.
Brad and Louise continued to impress and the understanding between the duo improves each week and they are a force at this level. It was tough going against Ben and Louise though as the Thirsk couple made their opponents work hard for victory but a 3-9 success wrapped up a good nights work and with it the reward of twenty seven points. Phil and Marise had improved each round and the finale was no different as they turned on the turbos and really excelled. It was tough on James and Kitty who were smiling till the end but couldn’t prevent a 2-10 reverse leaving the Wetherby third seeds celebrating a very impressive twenty four points in total.
A great evening and a match played in a super spirit but Wetherby’s 33-75 victory sees them move four points clear at the summit, although second placed Harlow do have a game in hand. Wetherby now have a week off as the nature of the divisional structure with seven teams means two bye weeks for clubs this summer. They are next in action away at Harlow on Monday June 28th and face arguably their toughest test to date as Harlow were seen as many people’s preseason title favourites and this promises to be a cracking encounter.