It was perhaps unlikely that this match would reach the level of excitement and drama of the last one – and so it proved to be.
The first team were at The Northern on Tuesday. On first were the top ranked players; Julian Tomlinson versus Adrian Waller (Below Left). In a close first game, Adrian managed to ease ahead. Unfortunately, right at the end of the game Julian, in his eagerness to intercept the ball, got a bit too close to Adrian who caught him with his racket just above his right eye. It was purely accidental but there was a small cut which needed attention at the end of the game. When the match resumed, it was more of the same. Despite not being at his best, Adrian always had something in hand, and he closed out the next two games to win the match 0:3.
On the other court, Matt Roberts faced Ameel Talib. Matt took control of the fist game with Ameel looking ill at ease. In the next game, it was the reverse to make it one game all. Growing in confidence, Ameel won the third game 1:11 and he romped ahead in the fourth (Above Right). Then as the finishing line approached, he began to get nervous at the prospect of his first win and Matt closed right back up. Happily, he composed himself and got the two points he needed to secure a well-earned victory.
Josh Taylor was next on the show court with Andy Whipp (Top). Andy has been awesome this season but this night he was missing his shots. Josh took the first game 11:7. Andy battled back to turn the tables in the next game. By now it was becoming a scrappy affair with a lot of let balls due to Josh not clearing the ball sufficiently. Andy won the fitful third game 9:11 but Steve Eccles was losing patience with the players. With a bit more space in the next game, Andy got his rhythm back and was able to secure the match and the tie.
New face to the 1st Division, Finn Withington, was up against Emily Whitlock. Finn is clearly going to be talent in the future having been Lancashire Junior Champion and doing well in the British Nationals this year. Emily won a close first game 14:12 (Below Left). Finn won the next 11:7 and the next 11:2. Finn was scoring easily with his excellent drop shots to the front left and Emily was slow to read them. Emily won the fourth 10:12 with Finn making unforced errors too. Emily got ahead in the fifth, but Finn levelled at 10:10 as Emily failed to take her chances. Another mistake gave Finn the lead. In the next rally, Emily hit what looked to be the perfect lob to the back-right corner. Finn made a superb retrieve that looped high to the front with virtually no pace on it and tight to the side wall. It was so good; Emily could not get the ball up. Brilliance or fluke? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Finally, it was Julianne Courtice against Adam Taylor. Adam was not at his best and his play came in fits and starts. It was frustrating to watch, and the games were decided by the proportions of each. To be fair, Julianne could see Adam was struggling and so she chased everything down. It was 2 games all, before Adam started to find some consistency but, in doing so, he was able to close out the final game 11:5 (Above Right).
In the end, we ended up dropping only 1 point but the team made hard work of it. So, we stay in touch with Grove Park, who also won, and inch a little further ahead of Liverpool. Next week, it is Southport and Birkdale at home. A good win is needed here to keep the pressure on.