Whitewash in women’s tennis derby

LAST WEDNESDAY YORK women’s 2s swept aside York St. John’s 1s in all six games (four singles and two doubles) on St. John’s outside courts at a temperature just above freezing to gain vital points which could ensure their safety come the end of the season.

The University of York’s team, comprising of captain Heloise Vinette, Ellie Longman-Rood, Georgie May Scott and Virginia Stichweh, dropped but one set in a 12-0 victory – a repeat of the scoreline when these two teams met last March.

Nevertheless, the victory was less decisive than the end-result might suggest, with York St John taking 42 games compared to York’s 72. St John’s Rhiannon Fage, maintaining excellent control over the ball, managed to take the first set from Ellie Longman-Rood.

Yet, in the following two hard-fought full sets, Longman-Rood’s strong forehand prevailed, ending, what was certainly the longest match of the day, in a 4-6 6-4 victory for Longman-Rood. Emma Sharp, after losing the first set 0-6 to Virginia Stichweh, recovered in the second, establishing a (frankly scary) 4-4 draw. The second set was marked (at least from my point of view) by Sharp’s short cross-court shots, landing just inside the singles sidelines. The second set ran to twice the length of the first set, with many games trapped in the infinite loop of deuce and advantage. The game ended 6-0 6-4 in Stichweh’s favour.

Meanwhile, York’s captain Heloise Vinette faced a very strong first serve on part of her opponent, Becky Rundle. However, Vinette took the victory 6-3 6-4, thanks to her characteristic topspin ground-strokes, giving her opponent two unfortunate options: be driven behind the baseline or hit more loopy, easy-to-deal-with shots.

Finally, Georgie May Scott played her match against Georgina Lunn; a match marked on both sides by a high consistency. A long, energy-sapping exchange of rallying ensued in each game; but Scott maintained the upper hand, winning the match 6-1 6-4.

After reigning supreme in the tiring battle, Scott said: “It was a really good game and we enjoyed each other’s company, too. We had a good talk.”

This exhibits the very friendly atmosphere in which the games took place. The smell of chocolate from the nearby Rowntree factory was one of the only comforts against the bitingly cold weather.

The doubles, played after the singles, ended within two-minutes of each other, with identical results: 6-4 6-2, earning York the final four points.

“I think we communicated better, that’s why we won the doubles,” said Vinette after the end of the match.

“We had a great team spirit which has been present all season and has been an influential component in what has been a great year for the team.”

It was the second victory of the year for York 2s and one which pulled them level with Leeds Beckett 4s in the number of wins, steering them away from the relegation zone in the BUCS Northern 3B tennis league.

The division is not exactly characterised by an equality of strength between the teams. Both York and York St. John’s had come off 12-0 losses against York 1s and Durham 5s, respectively.

York St. John 1s will have to beat Hull 1s in their next fixture if they want to avoid replacing their opponents at the very bottom of the league as the season comes to a close with relegation looming.

Meanwhile, York 2s next face Durham 5s, so far undefeated and at the top of the table, on home turf on14 March in the last match of the season. It will not be an easy affair for the York 2s, however, with the reverse fixture finishing in a con-vincing 12-0 defeat. But they will be going into the fixture next month with renewed momentum from this derby whitewash