A dry but blustery evening as Castlegarth played host to the Kendall’s Winter League top of the table clash between Wetherby 1 and Rufforth 1 tonight. This match is always mouth watering and eagerly awaited each season as the big two once again went head to head. Both had perfect records with the visitors two points ahead in the table courtesy of playing a game more. Rufforth were once more led by outstanding captain Rob Berry who was joined by regular partner and birthday girl Denise Riley whilst the always impressive Mike Graham teamed up with the returning Sue Slights.
Wetherby rolled out the big guns with Louis Glaves and Harry Full making seasonal debuts whilst Yvonne Mannall and Lucy Wright are regulars and both strong competitors.
A larger than usual crowd was in attendance as the action got underway with Louis and Lucy making their debut together and entertaining Rob and Denise. The Rufforth duo have been in sparkling form this season and Wetherby knew they faced a tough opener . The wind was proving extremely difficult but despite the testing conditions the action on court was electric with some tremendous tennis on show. Louis is the current men’s singles champion at Wetherby and his rocket like serve is almost impossible to break. Coupled with his terrific court presence and lightening speed he is certainly one of the top players around at this level. Lucy is an excellent partner and her battling qualities and never surrender attitude meant this couple were looking razer sharp. Rob was enjoying the challenge however and is one of the most consistent players in the area and always difficult to beat. With Denise giving her usual all action display this proved a very enjoyable watch for the court one gallery but Louis just gave the hosts that touch of class and he and Lucy ran out deserved 8-4 winners.
On court two Harry and Yvonne are no strangers together and can often be found helping the Wetherby mixed first team in the top section of the York league. However Mike Graham has been a real eye catcher for Rufforth this season and has arguably the strongest double handed backhand I have seen at this level and he once more used this potent weapon to good effect this evening. Sue has been Rufforths leading lady for many years but now lives in Malton so was making her first appearance of the campaign. Tall and with a strong serve she is a very classy performer and the visiting pair were making their opponents work hard. This proved another terrific encounter with little between the quartet. Fittingly they couldn’t be separated and shared a 6-6 draw to leave Wetherby ahead 14-10 going into round two.
The men’s rubber took place on the show court and was a superb advert for local tennis with some breath-taking action on show. Incredibly Louis and Harry were appearing together in a match for the first time but they soon were into stride against Rob and Mike. The extra pace and power of the Wetherby duo had the visitors on the back front and they were starting to dominate. However the Rufforth chaps have great team work and digging in began to find the time to exploit the space to close the gap. Plenty of amazing rallies but Wetherby were delighted to celebrate a 8-4 success.
On court two the ladies rubber was equally hard fought and again it would be difficult to call the contest. Yvonne was serving well for the hosts and her lethal and ferocious forehand was winning plenty of points. With Lucy producing very few errors the game plan was working well but Denise is a fox in the box at the net and she pounced on many occasions to finish with clinical precision. Sue was hitting deep and pinning the Wetherby ladies further back and Rufforth just managed to take the spoils winning 5-7 to keep the match alive as Wetherby led 27-21 going into the finale.
Rob and Denise knew they had to start well and looked determined as they quickly moved through the gears with some efficient tennis. Harry and Yvonne were on the back foot and with Rufforth playing high tempo tennis this was threatening to run away from the hosts. Getting a second wind Yvonne masterminded a comeback and with Harry making some nice left handed returns they were ultimately pleased to lose 4-8 against their impressive opponents.
This meant the lead was down to just two points but Louis and Lucy looked calmness personified as they took everything in their stride. Louis appeared to be serving even quicker and with his outstanding ability to soar like a salmon and hit some wonderful smashes, the hosts were relentless. Lucy held her serve with many deuce points and the queen of determination refused to buckle. Mike and Sue gave their all and again contributed to a high quality affair but it was Wetherby who ran out cosy 9-3 winners and took the overall win 40-32.
I can’t thank the players enough for such a brilliant night and despite the elements doing their best to disrupt it, tennis was the real winner. Two very good teams but Wetherby hit the summit as they secure a fourth consecutive win.
A solid performance from Louis Glaves, Lucy Wright, Harry Full and Yvonne Mannall clinched a vital win for Wetherby 1 this evening.
A brave effort and a big thanks to Mike Graham, Denise Riley, Rob Berry and Sue Slights who gave everything for Rufforth here tonight.
Nice to welcome the Rufforth supporters with friends and family of birthday girl Denis Riley cheering her and the team on. In a first too this must be the only time a pair of hot water bottles have been on display lol!!