Starbeck Clinch Last Gasp Winter League Success

Another dry evening at Castlegarth and with the wind speeds far lower than Tuesday, it meant reasonable conditions for this Kendall’s Winter League clash between Wetherby 2 and Starbeck. Captain Richard Franks teamed up with regular partner Fiona Chantrey for the hosts whilst Mike Park was joined by Louise Williams who was making a welcome return to Winter league action. Starbeck had captain Di Lang making her seasonal debut and she was joined by the exciting Nick Craggs whilst the improving Patrick Sunley teamed up with promising youngster Emma Meakin.

This looked a very well matched contest on paper and so it ultimately proved!

Richard and Fiona took on Di and Nick on the show court and this turned into a war of attrition with no quarter given. Di has been competing at a decent level for many years and this classy individual still has a useful bag of tricks in her armoury whilst Nick is difficult to read and was indeed the top player in the HDTL Division three which Starbeck were crowded champions of last summer. Some enthralling rallies and impressive winners and a 6-6 draw was a good result for the hosts as they fought back from 3-6 down to share the spoils.

On court two Mike and Louise have partnered on many occasions and this experienced duo were hoping to use this advantage against their younger opponents. Mike has a nice serve and reads the play so well with his strong anticipation skills. Louise has long boosted one of the strongest forehands at the club and showed why again tonight with some punishing returns. However Patrick continues to impress and his serve is particular quick and often difficult to return. Emma is a strong competitor and very consistent and she looked comfortable throughout. Finally the Wetherby couple just had the craft to take a narrow rubber 7-5 which left the hosts leading 13-11 after round one.

Fiona and Louise took on Di and Emma in the ladies match on court one to allow cameraman Bradley Triffitt to film Knaresborough king James sixth form colleague Emma Meakin for her PE A Level course work. Emma didn’t disappoint with a very accomplished display and she and Di were very consistent and equally competitive. They were always ahead and despite a gallant effort from the Wetherby ladies they struggled with the pace and power of their clinical opponents which saw Starbeck record a cosy 3-9 success.

Mike and Richard were doing their best to address matters on court two as they enjoyed a great battle with Nick and Patrick. The Starbeck men often looked in control of the rallies but with Richard and Mike defending superbly, it was Wetherby who showed the greater calmness and using the space well employed a very effective game plan. They exploited gaps and made many wonderful winners which saw them run out very impressive 9-3 winners which left the scores at 25-23 heading into the finale.

Fiona and Richard took on Emma and Patrick and this was a real roller-coaster affair as the match swung both ways. Pat contained to hit serves with venom whilst Emma showed up well at the net and looked confident. Richard and Fiona played their part in this absorbing contest and no one could argue that a 6-6 draw was a fair reflection.

All eyes were now on court two where Di and Nick looked eager to take glory for Starbeck. Both were playing smart tennis and letting the ball do the work, patiently waiting and biding their time to make many winning shots. Mike was producing some deft touches at the net and Louise was continuing to peg back her opponents with some eye catching returns and at 4-6 the tie was in the balance. But crucially Di stepped up and increasing the tempo helped secure the final two games in true captain style which meant a dramatic come from behind 35-37 overall success after this 4-8 rubber victory.

Another entertaining and down to the wire contest between two very well matched teams and thanks for the considerable effort from all eight players.

Congratulations to Emma Meakin, Patrick Sunley, Nick Craggs and captain Di Lang for some super tennis in victory tonight.

A big effort just came up short but thanks to Mike Park, Louise Williams, Richard Franks and Fiona Chantrey for providing great entertainment with some tremendous tennis.

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