Title Favourites Pass Stern Opening Day Test

It felt more like Winter League weather as Wetherby A travelled north to face Harlow A tonight in the opening match of the HDTL Division 4. Both clubs were battling for the title last summer, which Wetherby finally won with Harlow in third, and there is always a keen rivalry between this pair.

Former Wetherby member Anne Gillies is the new captain at Harlow this season and she was joined by John Berger who is a regular on the circuit whilst Cassius Petrovan , fresh from helping Harlow men’s first team to success against Cawood yesterday , paired with Rosemary Carter. With Andy Poulton nursing an injury in stepped his son Leo, who was in sparkling form in the VOM league thrashing of Westfields last night, and he was paired with usual mixed partner Loopy Parker giving the team a strong look.

Wetherby arrived with captain Richard Franks alongside Fiona Chantrey whilst Brad Triffitt and Louise Beasley resumed together and with Jonny Tyler injured and Philip Longstaff away, Mike Park kindly stepped in to partner Christina Plant.

Andy Poulton joined me on the side-lines as this eagerly awaited clash got underway. Richard and Fiona have a longstanding partnership and the duo, who topped last season’s Division 4 scoring charts, were looking to make a good start against Cassius and Rosemary. Cassius is a crafty customer and hits well from deep whilst using his slice backhand to produce many nice returns. Rosemary is a strong competitor and is happy to keep a rally going so the Wetherby duo knew they were in for a tough battle. Richard was his usual model of consistency and with Fiona showing some delightful touches the pair were playing well. This was close throughout but the visitors finished the stronger to record a useful 4-8 success.

On court two Brad and Louise were looking to contain the power of Leo Poulton, who is the strongest man at Harlow, and with his fast and powerful serve proving difficult to play they knew it would be damage limitation. Loopy continues to impress with her controlled play and with Leo creaming a number of amazing forehand winners past his bewildered opponents, the Wetherby duo spent plenty of time defending. However, Louise is one of the strongest female net players in this section and anything short was duly despatched and with Brad moving smartly around court the pair were competitive. An 8-4 reverse meant more points heading into the Wetherby bag.

On court three Mike and Christina teamed up and were also involved in a hard fought battle with Anne and John. Anne has enjoyed plenty of match time since joining the Harrogate club and she is improving each year. John is a veteran of the league and always gives a whole hearted performance with his never surrender approach so this was difficult to call. However, Mike is a very calm character and with some big serving and strong net play coupled with Christina’s excellent serving, the visitors took the honours 5-7 giving the team a narrow 17-19 advantage.

Leo and Loopy moved over to the show court and with dad Andy watching on, Leo was in sparkling form once more against Richard and Fiona. Leo and Richard played out some tremendous rallies, but the Harlow youngster is so difficult to stop and despite their best efforts Wetherby were on the wrong end of a 9-3 score line.

On court two Brad and Louise were looking to address the scoreboard and started brightly against John and Anne with some enterprising play. Maintaining a good standard throughout, Louise was rewarded with some more excellent net play whilst with Brad content to operate from deep, the duo used their strong teamwork to move their opponents around well. A gritty display from Harlow wasn’t enough as Wetherby took the rubber 3-9.

Mike and Christina were now starting to gel and showing good positional play were always ahead against Cassius and Rosemary. Once more Christina’s serving game caught the eye and Mike picked up many close range smashes off them. Some splendid tennis resulted in an eye catching 3-9 win which extended the Wetherby lead to 32-40.

The title favourites were now poised to open with a win but there was still plenty of work to complete their mission and on court one John and Anne were in the form of their lives as they led Richard and Fiona 3-2 early on. John was covering every inch of the court and with Anne refusing to buckle and returning everything thrown at her, a shock was on the cards. Step forward Fiona now and she took control of the net whilst Richard manned the baseline and digging deep, they recovered to secure a 4-8 success.

On court three Mike and Christina were relishing facing Leo and loopy but a few quick serves from the Harlow top dog and some hard hitting from deep had them soon realising a big effort was needed. They didn’t buckle at the challenge and with Mike attacking the net and Christina producing some crafty play this was an intriguing contest. Eventually the hosts ran out 8-4 victors and with 25 points on the evening this was the highest score recorded.

Wetherby still led by 8 therefore and Brad and Louise had no intention of letting slip a golden opportunity. They made an electric start and giving Cassius and Rosemary no breathing space produced their best tennis of the evening. Louise banged down an ace and her net play was breathtaking as she produced a number of amazing smashes, hit with real venom. Finding some lovely angles she was bossing the show and with Brad a more than useful partner the pair ran out 2-10 winners and their 23 was rich reward for a huge effort .

Wetherby therefore had dodged a potential banana skin and secured a vital 46-62 success that gives them plenty to build upon. Always a warm welcome from Harlow and great to catch up with friends there and big thanks to Andy for his company watching. Special mention to Mike Park for effortlessly stepping in and producing a strong performance and this really was a very professional display from the visitors with three very good pairs on duty.   

The final score didn’t reflect how close a contest this was and the clinical performance to the end proved the ultimate difference between two good teams.

Well played Mike Park, Christina Plant, Bradley Triffitt, Louise Beasley, Richard Franks and Fiona Chantrey tonight.
Loopy Parker, Andy Poulton cheering from the sidelines, John Berger, Leo Poulton, Cassius Petrovan and Anne Gillies ensured a good night of competitive tennis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s