Wetherby 2 concluded their Kendall’s Winter League campaign as they hosted Rufforth 1 at Castlegarth last night. The weather gods continued to shine with another pleasant evening and I was joined by two away followers on the side-lines to witness the action unfold!
Adrian Lobley and Laura Delafield paired together for the first time at seed one whilst HDTL second team duo Fiona Chantrey and Bradley Triffitt were at seed two. The visitors fielded a strong quartet with ever present captain Rob Berry joined by leading lady Sue Slights and Mike Graham joined by Maggie Zhang who was making a quick return after playing for Rufforth 2 here on Tuesday evening.
Adrian and Laura took on Maggie and Mike on the show court and this proved a cracking and very entertaining contest. Laura is a willing runner and great competitor and with Adrian showing good defensive work and adopting some lovely back hand slices, the duo were looking to disrupt the big hitting Mike Graham. Maggie was proving a strong partner with her well placed groundstrokes pinning the hosts back whilst anything short was immediately dispatched in clinical fashion by Mike. Plenty of long enthralling rallies to entertain the galleries before the visitors took the rubber 4-8.
On court two Fiona and Brad were bracing themselves for battle knowing in Rob Berry they faced the ultimate competitor who literally is a wall!. Partnered by Sue Slights, who has been a great supporter of the league for many years, the Rufforth duo made the early running and as expected there were indeed some marathon rallies. Brad and Fiona were content to play cat and mouse but with Sue strong at the net , Rufforth were taking control and starting to dictate matters. This was a useful step up in class for the Wetherby couple who thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and experience so a 3-9 reverse came with many positives.
With the Winter League runners up ahead 17-7 going into round two it was already looking an even stiffer task but Fiona and Laura looked quietly confident as they teamed up to take on Sue and Maggie in the ladies rubber. This was to prove a nip and tuck affair with little between the teams and with Wetherby adopting adventurous tactics the visitors were been given a tough workout. There was plenty of smart recovery work from the energetic Laura whilst Fiona was proving ultra-consistent on the backhand and forcing errors from her opponents. Once more Sue was solid at the net and this ultimately proved the difference as she and Maggie ran our narrow 5-7 winners.
The men’s rubber was bizarre in that Adrian and Brad played some amazing tennis but came up against an insanely brilliant performance from Mike and Rob that left us all gasping in awe on the side-lines. Both the Rufforth chaps play for Sandal A in the Leeds men’s league division one , where they finished runners up last season, and it was easy to see why the pair were the top rated duo. Rob has incredible court coverage and reads the game so well whilst Mike Graham has the most ferocious two handed backhand seen at this level. The pair were very efficient and despite Adrian continuing to impress with some more lovely deft touches and Brad running around chasing everything ,they found themselves under continual attack. The hosts were delighted to avoid a whitewash as they celebrated a single game success but a very impressive performance from Rufforth ensured they now led 13-35 with victory assured.
Adrian and Laura finished with a mixed against Sue and Rob and once again there was no letting up from the visitors as they clinically went about their business. However, Wetherby were competitive and with Laura picking up more valuable match practise and Adrian happy to make Rufforth work hard they managed to keep the scoeline down to 3-9.
Brad and Fiona managed to drag themselves on court for their finale with Mike and Maggie and despite energy levels looking a little low made an electric start to lead 2-0. Mike Graham upped the ante to level at 2-2 but from there on this contest was tight and the visitors were unable to put any daylight on the scoreboard. The Wetherby pair continued to battle hard and forcing errors were threating a shock at they led 6-5. However, Maggie found some lovely angles and Mike ensured the tie finished all square at 6-6 which left the final result as 22-50.
A great night of tennis and many exhausted faces from the hosts but plenty of positives ahead of the summer campaign. For Rufforth 1 it’s been another strong season with just the derby fixture left against Rufforth 2. Only a Louis Glaves inspired Wetherby 1 prevented Rufforth from completing a clean sweep and thanks to captain Rob Berry who has been very well organised and always brings a smile and good banter to every match.
A gallant and brave effort from Fiona Chantrey, Bradley Triffitt, Adrian Lobley and Laura Delafield who gave everything in an enjoyable evening.