The Kendall’s Wetherby Winter League concluded tonight as champions Wetherby 1 hosted Harlow. Rufforth 1 have still to play Rufforth 2 in Rufforth but this was the final fixture played at Wetherby. A lovely dry evening meant conditions were great for this finale. Bradley Triffitt failed a late fitness test so Andy Roberts kindly stepped in to partner Jill Abel whilst husband Mick paired with Helen Robinson. Harlow had captain Ruth Whaling leading her troops and she teamed up with John Berger whilst father and daughter combination, Andy and Simone Carrick, made up the quartet.
Helen and Mick have often partnered and the duo are always a tough nut to crack. They would need to be on their best form as Ruth Whaling is one of the strongest females at the Harrogate club and never takes a backward step. John Berger is a great team mate to have in the trenches as he always gives everything and this looked a close contest to call. The hosts began well and Helen was soon hitting some of her trademark forehands whilst Mick as always refused to be beat on enthusiasm. John was happy to cover every inch of the court and Ruth hit some booming returns from the baseline in this enthralling affair. Finally, Wetherby recorded a narrow but well deserved 8-4 success.
Andy and Jill look a useful pair and they took on the Carrick’s, who had been the leading duo in HDTL Division 5 last summer during their title winning campaign. Andy is a big hitter with excellent court coverage whilst Jill always shows tremendous spirit with her ground game the envy of many. The Carrick’s were struggling with the pace and power of the hosts and despite some lung busting rallies it was Wetherby who had a little too much class to take the rubber 9-3 which left them ahead 17-7.
The ladies match looked another intriguing event and so it proved with very little between the pairs. This was a tremendous match with each player refusing to buckle and some lovely tennis on show. Simone was hitting with great ferocity and the junior player continues to impress. Showing great teamwork she and Ruth looked confident but Helen and Jill have a wealth of experience to call upon and would ensure this tie went down to the wire. Finally Harlow were able to celebrate a 5-7 victory.
The mens rubber was equally competitive as Andy and Mick took on Andy and John. The Harlow men are great competitors and despite their underdog status love nothing better than to upset the odds. Andy was still hitting well and with Mick dominant at the net Wetherby sensed victory. However Harlow had other ideas and with no team deserving to lose a 6-6 draw proved a very fitting score line.
Wetherby now led 28-20 and were closing in on an eighth successive win but John and Ruth would ensure the tie still had life as they played particularly well in the last rubber. Both are such strong players and Harlow are lucky to have two great competitors on their books. Jill picked up an early knee injury which disrupted her play so great credit for a battling performance when others would have been waving the white flag. Andy made some eye catching returns and the Wetherby duo remained close enough that a 4-8 result still left them leading overall at 32-28.
All eyes were on Mick and Helen to close out the match and thankfully for Wetherby the duo were in good form and showing nerves of steel. Andy and Simone could not be faulted for effort bit they couldn’t match the weaponry of their opponents and in another exciting match up it was indeed the champions who secured an 8-4 win which gave them victory 40-32 to confirm an unbeaten season with a perfect eight wins from eight.
Always great to catch up with our friends from Harlow and a big thanks to captain Ruth Whaling, in her debut season, been so organised and always wearing a smile.
Congratulations to Andy Roberts, Jill Abel, Helen Robinson and Mick Abel for success tonight as they proudly show off the title winning plate.
Many thanks to Harlow players Simone Carrick, Andy Carrick, Ruth Whaling and John Berger for providing tough opposition in a thrilling match this evening.
The 2021/22 Winter League season was kindly sponsored once more by our friends Kendall’s jewellers , who can be found on the high street in Wetherby, and we are extremely grateful for their continued and most valuable support.
Nine teams competed, playing a total of 36 matches resulting in 2,592 games! The standard was particularly high this season with Wetherby able to field Cumbrian county captain Louis Glaves amongst other well established stars. Rufforth chased the hosts all the way and a thrilling encounter between the pair in early February ultimately decided the title as Wetherby secured a narrow 40-32 success in tricky weather conditions. Rob Berry and Mike Graham were arguably the most successful partnership, representing the runners up, and the duo constantly impressed with some breath taking tennis. Its easy to see why they are one of the leading pairs in the Leeds men’s division one.
The beauty of this league is that those up and coming players get to test themselves against quality opposition and the benefits are often then seen during the summer season when such players are back to regular levels during mixed, men’s and ladies competition.
Despite rivalries on court the good spirit and fair play shines both on and off the field of battle and bringing clubs together certainly helps forge strong relations between clubs in the area and who again meet during the summer campaigns.
The support of captains and players is vitally important and their time and effort is most appreciated in helping ensure the Winter league continues to grow and remains an important part of league tennis during the winter months.