The recent good run of pleasant weather continued in tonight’s Kendall’s Winter League as Wetherby 1 hosted near neighbours Knaresborough at Castlegarth. The hosts were looking for a third straight win that would take them into sole leadership at the summit. Jill Abel and Andy Roberts came in for season debuts whilst Helen Robinson partnered Mick Abel who was also making a first appearance of the campaign. Boro were missing captain Paul White but Tony Graham and Andrew Little ensured they were still strong and Mel Sobberton and Jeanette Bowden were their respective partners.
The evening remained dry but with a gentle breeze sometimes becoming more stronger, the players had to often judge their shots carefully to allow for this disruption. Jill and Andy started on court four against Mel and Tony and this promised to be a close affair. Andy had helped the Wetherby first team clinch the HDTL Division Two title during the summer whilst Jill is captain of the York second team who performed very well in Division three after promotion. Mel and Tony are useful members of the Boro mixed first team who finished third in Division three of the HDTL and will be hoping to mount a promotion assault next term. Tony is a strong server and hard hitter whilst Mel has been one of the leading ladies at Boro and made very important contributions in both their mixed and ladies teams. She is a good all-rounder and very consistent and there was some excellent tennis on show during this tremendous battle. Andy is always a difficult opponent and hits with great zest from the baseline whilst Jill is a great predator at the net and her control was very important on many occasions with some well placed winners. Fittingly a 6-6 draw with neither pair deserving to be on the losing side.
Court five was just as close as Helen and Mick took on Andy and Jeanette. Helen captained the first team to their summer divisional crown whilst Mick joined Jill in York Division three. Andy and Jeanette have been a standing dish together for many years and often punch above their weight competing in HDTL Division three. With great understanding and team work they made life very difficult for the leaders and with Andy often referred to as the King of Spin, showing just why here with some bamboozling efforts, the Boro second pair were threatening a shock. Helen has a very strong backhand and with her forehand equally as deadly she began to make some brilliant returns to keep Wetherby in the contest. Mick as always was covering everywhere and with his positional play allowing for plenty of winners around the net once more the teams couldn’t be split and another 6-6 tie was seen.
All to play for at 12-12 heading into round two. The men’s battle was immense and it would take a brave man to call the outcome. Tony and Andy had played major roles in helping Boro men’s to Dales League success last summer and this duo have great understanding on court. Roberts and Abel were equally as organised for Wetherby and this rubber was exciting and action packed. Finally the hosts just sneaked a 7-5 win in an epic battle.
With Wetherby only two ahead the ladies sensed this was their time to shine and longstanding friends Jill and Helen looked confident striding onto court. With Mel and Jeanette making their debuts together the hosts looked to have the advantage and they were quickly away with some clinical finishing. Boro enjoyed success using the lob but both Helen and Jill were returning well and the power and pace was proving too much for the spirited visitors. A resounding 10-2 score line meant suddenly Wetherby were showing their title aspirations as they moved ahead 29-19.
Mel and Tony knew they needed the win and saved the best till last as they turned up the tempo with clinical precision. Tony was showing incredible agility to power down a number of eye catching smashes whilst Mel was a rock defending and returning everything thrown her way. At 4-4 the rubber was in the melting pot but after a big effort to repel the visitors, Wetherby started to fade. Tony was now in superb form and with Mel showing no signs of easing up Boro ran out cosy 4-8 winners to leave the deficit at just six games.
However Jill and Andy were showing all their experience against Little and Bowden and very quickly hit top gear. Roberts was unleashing the guns from deep and really pinning the Boro duo back whilst the soft hands of Jill continued to reap rewards at the net. Andy and Jeanette always battle till the very end and were giving everything but there was to be no stopping the Wetherby top pair who ran out impressive 9-3 winners to seal a 42-30 victory overall.
Always great to see plenty of smiling faces at the finish and all on show enjoyed the evening and can be proud of their efforts. Knaresborough are quickly back in action as they face Starbeck next Tuesday whilst Wetherby have a break until 2022 before facing Rufforth 2 on January 18th.
Thanks to Andy, ‘King of jumpers’ Roberts who along with Helen Robinson, Mick and Jill Abel were worthy winners this evening in a hard fought battle.
Great to catch up with Tony Graham, Mel Sobberton, a thin and lean looking Andy Little and Jeanette Bowden tonight who provided tough opposition in this thrilling encounter representing Knaresborough.