Dry weather and no wind and rain was a nice bonus for Wetherby 2 and Rufforth 2 players who met at Castlegarth tonight in the Kendall’s Winter League. Captain Richard Franks partnered the promising Laura Delafield whilst Christina Plant and Gabe Mead formed an exciting duo. The visitors had energetic captain Philippa Page leading the quartet and she paired with Dan Russell whilst its always great to welcome veteran Phil Sinton who joined regular Maggie Zhang. This looked a close match to call once the team news was announced and so it was to prove.
Christina and Gabe took on Philippa and Dan but a lack of recent competitive tennis certainly was noticeable for the hosts as the pair struggled to get any rhythm and consistency going against a solid Rufforth opponent. Philippa is always all action around the court and with a never surrender attitude is always tough to beat whilst Dan is a good all rounder and covers plenty of ground . The Rufforth top dogs employed excellent tactics and ultimately wore down the Wetherby pair to record an eye catching 2-10 success.
Richard and Laura were competing together competitively for the first time but they soon gelled against tricky opponents Phil and Maggie. Phil has been a good supporter of the Winter League for many years and this tricky customer has lost none of his bag of tricks whilst Maggie is a good performer who hits well and again is a very capable player. This was proving an exciting affair as the pairs produced a great rubber with little between them . Finally, as is often the case, Richard used his strong mental strength to help conjure a narrow 7-5 victory which left Rufforth leading 9-15 after the opener.
Christina and Laura were also making a debut together but looked eager and confident against Philippa and Maggie. Both teams gave everything and there was some tremendous long rallies as all the players refused to buckle. Christina started to hit some venomous serves and with Laura very strong from the baseline they were content to play the long game. No surprise this went down to the wire and Wetherby were delighted to take the spoils 7-5.
Richard and Gabe had impressed together for the men’s Leeds team in a summer outing and were looking forward to testing themselves against Phil and Dan. Gabe has a lovely left handed forehand which produces plenty of winners whilst there are not many that can match Richards consistency and ice cool persona. The duo knew they had to produce and didn’t disappoint. Constantly putting their opponents on the back foot they were ultra-consistent and despite a spirited effort from Rufforth they had no response to the weaponry and guise of the home men who triumphed 10-2 which meant the hosts took a 26-22 advantage into the finale.
Christina and Gabe were looking to bounce back here but Phil and Maggie were soon striding clear playing some clever tennis. However refusing to panic at 2-5 down the Wetherby couple dug deep and with greater care began to close the gap. A nip and tuck finish saw the honours shared at 6-6 which left Wetherby still four points clear.
Richard and Laura were in no mood to allow a Rufforth comeback and in their rubber with Philippa and Dan were once again playing solid tennis. Richard was enjoying plenty of freedom at the net and made some impressive winners as Laura used her great fitness to patrol the baseline. Laura was a star performer in the York mixed third team last summer but continues to shine and will no doubt be looking to climb the ladder and play higher this year. She looked confident and it was no surprise she and Richard celebrated a fine evening with a 8-4 victory that gave Wetherby a 40-32 final winning score line.
Thanks to all for taking part this evening and good luck in your remaining fixtures.
Well played Richard Franks, Laura Delafield, Christina Plant and Gabe Mead in securing the points tonight.
Always in good spirits and a great effort from Maggie Zhang, Dan Russell, Phil Stanton and Philappa Page who ensured a close contest .