Ashby - Will Gee (0), Ray Mounfield (1), Tim King (1), Rachel Rowe (1)
Cheltenham - Richard Thompson (1), David Foulser (1), Tony Forbes (2), Dave Mundy (2)
Will Gee and Ray Mounfield lost to Richard Thompson and David Foulser 4-7, 7-2, 6-7
Tim King beat Dave Mundy 7-3,7-6
Rachel Rowe lost to Tony Forbes 7-3, 6-7, 5-7
Will Gee beat Richard Thompson 7-2, 3-7, 7-3
Ray Mounfield lost to David Foulser 5-7, 7-2, 3-7
Tim King beat Tony Forbes 7-2, 7-5
Rachel Rowe beat Dave Mundy 7-4, 7-6
The Ashby would not have been human had they not felt some confidence turning up to a home tie against opponents having lower rankings player for player. However, the morning leg proved that the contest on the court is all that matters.
Tim King and Rachel Rowe did live up to expectations in each taking their first games with a fair degree of comfort. However, in the doubles, Cheltenham showed resilience and bucked the trend; first game to Richard Thompson and David Foulser. This led to the first turn of tide: Ashby coming back strongly in the doubles and, on the singles court, Dave Mundy (against Tim) and Tony Forbes (against Rachel) taking early two-hoop leads.
From 3-5 down, Tim did revive to 5-5 but lost at hoop 11 and only won at hoop 13. He won have done so in real style had he actually run the hoop having put black in an on-side position, just too angled to be simple at 8 feet [Ashby 1 - Cheltenham 0]. Rachel faced the bigger barrier of a 3-6 deficit. However, she played bravely to force the game to hoop 13, where Tony then kept a cool head to level at one game each. Shortly afterwards, the doubles reached the same point.
A small crowd had gathered and was able to watch the unfolding drama of two deciding third games. The doubles stayed tight, the sides exchanging alternate hoops. But Tony took another early lead, once again reaching an advantage of 6-3. A further repeat of pattern and Rachel looked set to take the leg to an all-deciding hoop 13. This time though Tony found his winning hoop at 12, inflicting a rare defeat on Rachel in her Inter-Club career [Ashby 1 - Cheltenham 1]. Attention could now turn to seeing which side the result of the doubles leg would make happier at lunch.
Everything remained very tight and no-one was surprised when the doubles went to the 13th hoop. Will Gee just failed to make a perfect approach and after Ray Mounfield and Will both missed 7-yard chances for glory, David Foulser was able to give Cheltenham the advantage in the match [Ashby 1 - Cheltenham 2].
Just five players (Mike O'Brian being the one unavailable on this occasion) have participated in the last twelve Inter-Club matches for Ashby over the past three years. At some point, each player has had to make a telling contribution, so all have the confidence to know that they can trust those around, concentrate on their own success and have no fear of personal failure. But there is still excitement and tension along the way. This time, Tim and Rachel led the charge. But with the same intruiging repetition of patterns as in the morning. Each won a comfortable first game and then suffered early two-hoop leads to Cheltenham in the second.
Tim had to come back from 3-5 (again) and then survive a jump shot from Tony trying to take a 6-4 lead. But by this stage, Tim was hitting a high percentage of his clearances at seven to fourteen yards and keeping good control; ones at hoops 11 and 12 kept Tony at bay [Ashby 2 - Cheltenham 2].
Rachel had to struggle even further against Dave. She levelled at hoop 12 and then of four approach shots to the 13th, only Dave's second one reached the playing side. However, Rachel held her nerve in the exchanges that followed [Ashby 3 - Cheltenham 2].
Once again, attention turned to Court 3, where both legs went to deciding third games. Richard did especially well in taking the second game against Will. As things unfolded, Cheltenham never quite came close to making Ashby too nervous. Will and Richard were playing ahead of Ray and David; Will took an early comfortable lead and Richard never looked like getting back. Ray and David remained closer. But as Will looked more and more secure, Ray tired, allowing David to stretch ahead. Will won first though to achieve the match victory [Ashby 4 - Cheltenham 2], leaving David to pick up a consolation win by running hoop 10 from beside hoop 9 a few minutes later [Ashby 4 - Cheltenham 3].
Cheltenham left praising the catering but no doubt determined to score success on the courts when the two clubs are next drawn together and Ashby have to make the journey down south.