Wetherby 2 Just Edge Knaresborough In Winter League Thriller

A dry and calm evening at Castlegarth and with temperatures a little higher than of late we had good conditions for the  Kendall’s sponsored Winter League clash between Wetherby 2 and Knaresborough. Felix Evans was a late withdrawal with injury so a big thanks to promising junior Gabe Mead who stepped in to partner Fiona Chantrey whilst Philip Longstaff and Marise Richfield completed the quartet for the hosts. Boro fielded captain Paul White and Mel Sobberton at one with Nick Jackson and Jeanette Bowden at two. This looked a competitive fixture and so it proved.

Fiona and Gabe have done well before together and this calm and clinical duo are a good match. They faced a tough challenge against Paul and Mel, who had shone for Knaresborough first team, in the HDTL Division three last summer. This was a cracking contest with plenty of lung busting rallies and backs to the wall defence. Wetherby started well and raced into a 3-0 early lead but once Boro found their rhythm they began to make inroads. Mel is one of the stronger ladies at Knaresborough and it’s easy to see why as she is very competitive and refuses to give up on any points. Hitting hard from deep and making some excellent winners she helped the visitors claw their way back. Paul is always strong at the net and happy to rally from the baseline but with Gabe continuing to improve and carefully choosing his shot selection, there was little between the pairs. Fiona was a steady and reliable presence but a 6-6 score line left everyone smiling and was a fair reflection of events.

On court two Philip and Marise had done well in the summer in HDTL Division four and again this duo are well suited with a good understanding. They faced Nick and Jeanette. Nick spent the summer playing for Boro in HDTL Division Six but was having little problem closing the gap in class as he produced many moments of superb tennis. With great soft hands his net play was very eye catching and with Jeanette chasing down everything at the baseline this was a contest to saviour. Philip was a rower for Reading and is one of the fittest performers on the circuit and with Marise showing her usual elegant touches there was again little between the teams. Finally Wetherby just edged a thriller 7-5 to leave themselves 13-11 ahead after round one.

Gabe and Philip would take some beating for the hosts in the men’s rubber and so it proved as they had plenty of weaponry against Nick and Paul. The Wetherby men were proving hard to pass and with both serving well and finding time and space , started to move through the gears. There was no waving the white flag for Boro though and once more some exquisite net play from Nick kept Boro in the contest. Despite the best efforts from Paul it was Wetherby who ran out cosy 8-4 winners.

The ladies rubber on the show court was proving an excellent watch and no surprise we once again had a very close affair. At 4-4 it was anyone’s but them Mel and Jeanette hit a purple patch with some great teamwork to forge ahead 7-4. However Fiona and Marise crucially took the last to reduce the gap to 7-5 which meant overall Wetherby had doubled their advantage to four points and lead 26-22.

Mel and Paul knew they would need to keep the scoreboard ticking over against Philip and Marise on court one but the Wetherby duo were looking confident and contained to impress. Nip and tuck tennis and once more this rubber could have gone either way but Boro celebrated a narrow 7-5 victory to close the overall gap to a mere two points.

However any chance the visitors would be taking the points back to North Yorkshire were dashed as on court two Gabe and Fiona were turning up the power and moving efficiently through the gears. They raced into a 5-0 early lead but credit their opponents who fought tooth and nail and pegged back the hosts top duo who finally ran out 8-4 winners.

This meant Wetherby clinched a 39-33 success on a great evening of local tennis. Plenty of positives for both clubs and its always great to catch up with our neighbours at Knaresborough who have long been supporters of the Winter League.

Well played Philip Longstaff, Marise Richfield, Fiona Chantrey and Gabe Mead who helped Wetherby 2 to a narrow success this evening.

A cracking effort from Knaresborough and a big thanks to Mel Sobberton, Paul White, Jeanette Bowden and Nick Jackson for providing great opposition.

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