Wetherby 1 Maintain Winter League Title Push

After recent flooding and the worry of further flooding following court clearing on courts four and five, it was with much relief that the Winter League resumed this evening. Despite a windy and cold evening the rain stayed away to ensure dry conditions as Wetherby 1 hosted Knaresborough 1.

Wetherby had regular Winter League competitors Christina Plant and Andy Roberts at one whilst Richard Franks and Louise Beasley were at two. Boro arrived with captain Paul White teaming up with his regular summer partner Fran Bakes whilst Andy Little and Penny Sheard, who are often seen during the Winter League season, were at two.

So despite a chilly evening at least all on show were battle hardened Winter League regulars and it was Andy and Christina who resumed their blossoming partnership on court four as they entertained Paul and Fran. The visiting pair were often seen in Harrogate mixed division two last term so this would be a good test for Andy and Christina. Andy has been a very welcome addition to the fold after joining from Dacre and will be extremely useful to the summer teams no doubt. He and Christina made a solid start and led 3-1 but this was an excellent contest with both pairs showing some real quality. Andy has a quick serve and a vicious forehand whilst Christina is also solid with her service game and was making some crucial interceptions at the net. Paul is often seen leaping like a salmon with his dominant net play whilst Fran is ever so quick around court and always happy to chase any seemingly lost cause down. There was little to choose here and Wetherby just hung on to record a narrow 7-5 advantage.

Richard and Louise are always extremely chilled and the pair have great temperaments. They took on Andy Little and Penny Sheard. Andy had captained the Knaresborough men’s second team in their debut season to promotion in the summer and this tricky server and big hitter from deep is always a tough opponent. Penny is another lady who covers the court extremely well and she disguises a number of well-placed winners. There was some intriguing tennis on show therefore and the match was proving difficult to call. Richard was starting to up the tempo however and with some well-placed winners of his own combined with Louise’s stylish play, the Wetherby couple ran out 8-4 victors.

So Wetherby led 15-9 going into round two. Andy and Richard are a strong pairing and they were looking forward to their clash with Paul and Andy. There was certainly plenty of big hitting on show and no quarter given by either team. Roberts was producing some impressive whipped backhand returns which forced the Boro pair back deep on their own baseline whilst the quick work of Franks kept the hosts ahead. Paul and Little were also creating space to hit plenty of winners themselves with White again strong from close range. This was a very hard fought affair which Wetherby just prevailed, winning 8-4.

Christina and Louise were regulars in the ladies second team but they have really developed during the winter to form one of the strongest partnerships at the club. The duo are both strong servers and hit hard and low and they are extremely difficult to beat. Fran Bakes was certainly making them pull out all the stops however and with Penny Shard using her trickery well,this was close. However Wetherby began to move through the gears and Christina was finding great energy to retrieve and then produce a number of eye catching winners. Louise was also in top form and dominating the net she ensured little was coming back from the Boro side of the net. A rubber filled with exciting rallies finally went the way of the hosts 9-3.

Wetherby had now put themselves firmly on course to join Rufforth 1 at the summit and leading 32-16 could see the finish line. Paul and Fran were determined to make sure things were not straight forward however as the pair began to really impress with some superb tennis. With great teamwork they quickly moved clear against Richard and Louise, who could never really get a foothold. The boro finished on a high after running out 3-9 winners which helped reduce the arrears.

Andy and Christina were playing well on court five however and would ensure that Wetherby would not come unstuck. Some more long enthralling rallies ensured and each player had plenty of reason to celebrate after a solid showing. Andy provided the bit of class however and with Christina still consistent the pair were 8-4 winners to see Wetherby home 43-29.

It’s always a pleasure to welcome our near neighbours from Knaresborough and matches are always hard fought and played in a great spirit. Tonight was no exception and a big thanks to them for coming over and proving stern opposition.

Wetherby are back on court this Thursday when they welcome close rivals Boston Spa with the pair both chasing title success after suffering just the one loss each. That promises to be a mouthwatering clash indeed.

Congratulations to Richard Franks, Louise Beasley, Christina Plant and Andy Roberts for helping Wetherby to success tonight.

Some strong play from Paul White, Penny Sheard, Andy Little and Fran Bakes made for an entertaining evening thanks.


Court Cleaning Updates

Unfortunately Wetherby Tennis club was flooded Sunday evening and we awoke Monday to all five courts under water. Thankfully with no further rain during the day, the water thankfully receded leaving slight debris and contamination on the courts which we have witnessed during previous floods. The plan is now to start court cleaning and we are once again employing our regular cleaning firm. They intend to commence work on Wednesday morning Feb 12th on courts four and five initially. However with a poor forecast for the weekend and more storms due we have reluctantly postponed the cleaning of courts 1-3 until further notice. Therefore we will operate with just courts 4-5 for both this week and the next now unfortunately. All the Winter League action is cancelled this week and Angela Crossley’s coaching team will be in touch direct with those on various coaching courses as the week unfolds.   No play is possible at present and we will advise members when courts reopen thanks.

Wetherby 1 Stay In Title Hunt After Narrow Success

A dry evening tonight at Castlegarth and thankfully the wind had dropped too as Wetherby 1 played host to Starbeck. Roger Fawcus had impressed on his last outing and was back this evening and he teamed up with Christina Plant who kindly came in late for the injured Lucy Wright. Marc Bickers made a welcome first appearance of the season and he partnered his regular summer league lady Helen Robinson.

Starbeck arrived with captain Di Lang making her first start of the campaign whilst there was also a welcome return for Winter League stalwarts Chris and Ali White whilst Robin Womersley, who had played a starring role for the visitors in their win over Collingham last week, was on duty again here.

Helen and Marc began against Di and Chris on court one and it was soon evident this would be a fascinating contest. Di Lang had helped Starbeck to title success in Harrogate mixed division two last summer whilst Chris was the leading player in both Starbecks mixed team in division three and the men’s second team in division four. They are a vastly experience duo and complement each other well. The hosts knew this would be a tough battle and used their good understanding to impress. Marc has been showing up well at social recently and was excited to make a return to competitive tennis. With a strong serve, hard hitting forehand and great court coverage he was quickly into stride and with Helen finding her rhythm and some lovely backhand play they were quickly away. Chris is a strong player and the canny left hander was producing some eye catching winners whilst Di used her excellent anticipation skills to good effect. This was an enjoyable rubber for the watching crowd and many rallies drew applause before Wetherby ran out 8-4 victors.

On court Two Christina Plant has been enjoying her Winter League outings and this ever reliable player now teamed up with Roger Fawcus. They took on Robin and Ali. Robin had been in scintillating form last week for the Harrogate club but this was a more difficult task and his battle with Roger looked mouthwatering. The two big hitting men exchanged many rallies and with both happy to advance to the net they both showed off their excellent net play with many angled winners from close range. Christina has been one of the most impressive lady servers this season and once again she was firing down aces. Ali White was a virtual ever present in the ladies first division during the summer and had helped the team survive in a very tough league. She is quick around court and has a strong forehand. There was little between the pairs early on before Wetherby moved ahead 6-3. Starbeck took a further two games with the hosts running out narrow 7-5 winners in another excellent contest.

Round two commenced with Wetherby 15-9 ahead and the match very much in the melting pot. The mens rubber certainly lived up to expectations and was played to a very high standard indeed. Marc was playing extremely well and with a low error count he and Roger moved ahead. There was some impressive winners from both teams however and the visitors started a comeback. Robin continued his good form and with a varied game always had the hosts second guessing whilst Chris was using the width of the court to ensure Starbeck were now starting to get on top. Roger and Marc both hit some big serves but ultimately it was the Harrogate club who claimed the spoils with a narrow 5-7 success.

The ladies rubber on court two was just as close and once again it was going to be hard to predict a winner. Both teams were playing well and the partnerships looked strong as they traded blows. Both were happy to hit deep and looking for errors it was real cat and mouse stuff. Christina looked confident at the net and with Helen happy to hit low and hard from deep Wetherby just had the edge. Di and Ali were not throwing in the towel and Wetherby just prevailed 7-5 at the finish line.

Therefore Wetherby led 27-21 after maintaining their six point advantage as the final round loomed. Ali and Robin looked determined to make inroads into that deficit and making a fast start found themselves 1-5 ahead and threatening a big win. Marc and Helen had to dig deep to ensure the rubber would not get away from them and thankfully with great consistency they battled back. As had been the pattern all evening this tie suddenly became close and with everyone fighting to the death it was Starbeck who were winners, but only 5-7.

On the show court with the lead reduced to just four points Roger and Christina had made a super start. Looking seasoned campaigners together they showed great teamwork to produce many memorable moments. Christina, who had been playing in Harrogate mixed division five last term, showed she is a player of huge potential and effortlessly went about her business. Roger is always a lovely partner in the mixed and his strong presence on court inspired the duo. They were looking to run away with this one but Di and Chris were not about to wave the white flag and running down every return began to ease back into the contest. At the conclusion Wetherby were the happier as they held onto a 7-5 victory which gave them a final winning margin of 39-33.

This was arguably one of the most impressive and easy on the eye contests of the Winter League season and it was clear to see why all on show are playing at a good level in the summer. It was great to catch up with old friends from Starbeck and we look forward to welcoming you back at Castlegarth in the near future.

Wetherby move to with two points of leaders Rufforth with the clubs duo to play a week on Thursday February 13th in what promises to be an epic battle which will certainly be worth watching. A win for Wetherby can catapult them back into the title race whilst success for Rufforth would all but seal the crown.

Congratulations to Roger Fawcus, Christina Plant, Marc Bickers and Helen Robinson on victory.

A great effort from Robin Womersley, Di Lang, Ali White and Chris White ensured a tight and enjoyable match thanks.

Starbeck Show Their Class

It may have been a dry night with temperatures not too cold either, but the strong wind meant conditions were extremely difficult in tonight’s Winter League clash between Collingham and Starbeck. Collingham captain Tony Cutler was back from holiday and resumed his partnership with Katie Barrett whilst with Louise Beasley away, Christina Plant kindly stepped in to partner Bradley Triffitt despite suffering with cold.

Starbeck arrived with a strong quartet with men’s first team stars David Tripp and Robin Womersley making their first appearances of the Winter as was mixed first team lady Katie Draper. kindly guesting from Rufforth Philippa Page completed the squad.

Christina, sporting a smart pair of earmuffs, and Brad took on Robin and Katie and knew this would be a big rise in class. The Starbeck duo were playing three divisions higher in the mixed during the summer although the Collingham duo are improving. It was great credit to the players that so much excellent tennis followed as this really was the wildest weather of the current season. A crashing fall over on court five saw debris almost take out coach Steve Plant and the wind was howling around Castlegarth with chairs flying around along with various other bits! Robin is a very classy player and with an impressive service game and superb court coverage was proving dominant. Katie is a lovely player and very consistent and the pair were moving through the gears and starting to pull clear. Christina however provided a memorable service game of her own which produced two aces and two more unreturnables and with Brad settling and whipping some nice forehand winners they reduced the arrears before the visitors clinched a 3-9 victory.

On court two Tony and Katie were enjoying themselves and using their crafty game plan to good effect, using the elements to slow proceedings and frustrate the visitors. Tony’s spin serves were causing havoc whilst Katie produced some lively net play. David Tripp was Starbecks leading man in their successful team who play Division 2 in the York men’s league and he is very calculating and methodical in his approach. Philippa has twice stepped in recently for Starbeck and the Rufforth 2 captain can always be relied to give everything with her all action style. There was little between the teams but Starbeck had a touch of class to enable them to run out narrow 5-7 winners

So Starbeck led 8-16 going into round two. The men’s rubber on court one would be a good challenge to see how far Tony and Brad have come this season and they would need to produce their best to be competative. Robin played many times in men’s and mixed last season and his effortless approach and big hitting from deep showed why he plays at the top level locally. He and David have a good understanding and were always tough to pass. Brad and Tony have partnered many times together and the duo were fighting hard. Tony was leaping like a salmon covering the net whilst Brad was happy to look for some nice angles from deep and keep the visitors penned back to their own baseline.  A 4-8 defeat was no shame and the Collingham chaps took plenty of positives.

The ladies rubber on court two was going in the way of the hosts and despite her cold, Christian Plant was in scintillating form. Her serve was often unplayable and she and Katie were playing extremley well together. The couple are one of the nicest pairing on the circuit and were doing their best to reduce the overall deficit. Katie and Philippa were meeting for the first time and playing their part in some tremendous long rallies. However the hosts had the edge and not afraid to advance to the net they ran out cosy 9-3 winners.

With round three commencing the wind was finally easing and Starbeck led 21-27. Brad and Christina knew they would need to win big on court two to give themselves a small chance of turning the tables and they began brightly. The pair were producing some strong play with big returns and good court coverage. David and Philippa were trying to repel wave after wave of attacks from the hosts and managed to stay afloat. Christina continued her good work with her service game and a more controlled finale from youngster Brad reaped dividends as they ran out 9-3 victors.

However on the show court Robin and Katie were proving a masterclass as they showed Tony and Katie why they had played crucial roles in helping Starbeck to the Harrogate Mixed division two title last summer. Robin continued to impress with his strong all round game and he was able to punish any stray return or loose ball with clinical efficiency. Katie was also splendid and the beleaguered Collingham duo just couldn’t get a foot hold. They were rewarded with two games which was just deserts for their valiant efforts and a 2-10 scoreline was the final outcome.

Starbeck therefore ran out 32-40 winners and as the players made their way back to the clubhouse incredibly conditions were suddenly completely calm!. So a big thanks for all tonight’s players. It was great to see some new faces on court from Starbeck and of course a big thanks to Philippa for stepping in at such short notice. Plenty of positives for the hosts who enjoyed the challenge of facing players they won’t get the opportunity to in the summer and hope to see many back during the rest of the winter league season.

Congratulations to Robin Womersley , Katie Draper, Philippa Page and David Tripp who ran out deserved winners this evening.

A valiant effort in defeat from Collingham with Tony Cutler, Katie Barrett, Christina Plant and Bradley Triffitt enjoying their night.

Peter Baldwin – Rest in Peace

Long standing Wetherby tennis club member Peter Baldwin sadly passed away last week. Peter was a great supporter of both social and team tennis throughout the years as well as being a regular at many social functions. He will be remembered for his great stories and tales from days gone by as well as a ferocious forehand that was the scourge of many opponents.   

His memorial will be on Monday February 10th at Stonefall Crematorium in Harrogate at 1-40pm and afterwards at Wetherby golf club at 3pm. If you would like to attend you will be very welcome.

Fiona Chantrey

Youngsters Help Wetherby 2 To Winter League Success

A cold but dry evening as Wetherby 2 entertained Knaresborough 1 this evening at Castlegarth. The hosts once more gave youth a chance with Elizabeth Hewett and Ed Grogan making another appearance whilst Sophie Hunt was joined by captain Richard Franks. Boro arrived with captain Paul White partnering Maggie Sekunda and Andy Little with Penny Sheard. This looked a well matched contest on paper and so it proved.

Richard and Sophie were pairing together for the first time as they took on Paul and Maggie. The chaps exchanged many baseline rallies and with both accurate and strong hitters, these often were very long. Sophie is improving each week and under the excellent coaching of Harry Full and Steve Plant is starting to produce some impressive displays on court in the Winter League. She is a really bubbly individual and playing with a smile on her face, always seems to be enjoying her tennis. She has a very strong serve and makes some important smashes at the net. With Richard happy to cover the court, the duo were producing some really strong tennis. Paul is a regular in the men’s and mixed first team and is a fully committed individual who gives his all in every game. Maggie is a crafty veteran and plays regularly in the ladies and mixed throughout the summer. She was happy returning and with a lovely touch at the net produced plenty of crucial winners. This always looked difficult to call and fittingly the honours were shared at 6-6 after an absorbing clash.

On court two Ed and Elizabeth always looks ultra chilled and they are starting to develop a great understanding which is seeing improvement in each match they play. Elizabeth is another with a strong serve and she really hits with venom from deep. She is not afraid to advance the net and is a player full of promise. Ed can also serve and hit hard and their rubber against Andy and Penny would be intriguing. Andy had led the Boro men’s second team to promotion in their debut season last term and sporting a new hairstyle and without the beard, had knocked several years off his appearance!. Penny is a lovely player and great club member at Boro and is often seen helping many of the teams out. She is difficult to read and her consistency was helping the visitors. Andy was nursing a back injury which didn’t help his service game but despite having to reduce the power, he was producing some clever spin that was reaping rewards. In another close affair it was Wetherby just prevailing 7-5 to take a narrow 13-11 advantage into round two.

The men’s rubber saw plenty of big hitting and some fantastic rallies with Richard and Ed enjoying their first appearance together. Paul and Andy have partnered on many occasions and it was hard to call the winner. The match ebbed and flowed before once again it was Wetherby narrowly winning 7-5 after a really tough tie.

The ladies were on the show court and providing good entertainment for the watching crowd. Declan Grogan had joined me on the sidelines and was thoroughly enjoying the action unfold. This was a battle of contrasting styles with the Wetherby youngsters trying to outwit the crafty Knaresborough veterens of Penny and Maggie. Early doors Sophie and Elizabeth were superb as their powerful game and great energy and fitness saw them storm ahead 5-0. However the Boro ladies knew if they could find some consistency they could grind their way back and gradually they began to erode the margin. This cat and mouse affair was very enthralling and with Boro catching them quickly ,Wetherby had to dig deep to hold off the late run to come out narrow 7-5 winners.

The final round began with the hosts holding  a six point advantage as they led 27-21. Paul and Maggie knew they had to strike early against Ed and Elizabeth and they began brightly putting the youngsters under early pressure. However the Wetherby pair began to settle and with Paul advancing to the net, Elizabeth cracked a couple of exquisite forehand shots down the tramlines which drew applause from the galleries. Trying to keep the scoreboard ticking Boro were giving everything but a backs to the wall defensive show reaped enough as Wetherby were only defeated 4-8 and still held a two point cushion overall.

Richard and Sophie were playing some fine tennis on court one however and looked like they had been playing together for many years such was their excellent team work. Belying her tender years, Sophie was producing her best tennis of the winter and her all round game was superb and full of promise. Richard is a great partner and happy to do all the running he used the width of the court to keep the visitors at arm’s length. There were a number of energy sapping rallies and the quartet produced an excellent contest. However Wetherby were not to be beat and running out 8-4 winners they ensured they could celebrate a 39-33 success at the conclusion.

This proved one of my favourite Winter League matches this season and its satisfying when teams are so well matched and scores remain close right to the end. I cant congratulate the youngsters enough and it’s a real pleasure to see all the coaching and hard work paying off in a match situation for them all.

Well played Richard Franks, Elizabeth Hewett, Sophie Hunt and Ed Grogan who helped Wetherby triumph this evening.

Paul White, Maggie Sekunda, Penny Sheard and Andy Little fought hard and ensured Knaresborough battled all the way to the finish.