The outcome of Team 3’s season would be decided with two matches against North Merchiston opposition – on Tuesday night they took on North Merchiston 4 and two nights later they were scheduled to play North Merchiston 5. They needed a point from those matches to possibly win promotion (game difference would then come into play) or two points would see promotion guaranteed.
Julian Taylor, Ian Hislop and Hannah McDonell faced off against Graham Booth, Slawomir Bess and Julia Domagala. First up was Ian v Slawomir and this was a one sided contest comfortably won by Ian in three straight ends. Hannah then played Graham and although she looked like she’d worked out how to play against Graham’s dodgy rubber, when it came to the big points Graham triumphed and he levelled the scores at 1-1. Julian then restored the advantage with a straight sets victory over Julia. Matches 4 and 5 were to prove crucial. Hannah came back from the loss of the first end v Slawomir to win in four whilst Ian found himself 2-0 down against Julia. Ian found a way and a 12-10 deciding end win was tough on Julia who had played some lovely table tennis. 4-1 up and a point was there for the taking as Julian faced Graham in match 6. Julian showed oodles of patience as he ground out the important win and secured at least a point for the home side. The doubles then saw Julian and Hannah take on Graham and Julia. At 1-0 and 9-5 up in the second, the game looked comfortably to be going the way of the Penicuik pair. But the visitors then reeled off 7 of the next 8 points for a 12-10 win. The third end was equally as tight – this time it was Julian and Hannah who held their nerve for a 12-10 victory and when the home pairing won the next 11-5, the overall victory was secured and with it promotion gained to Division 1 for next season. All three players won their final singles comfortably, only Ian dropping an end against Graham – a 9-1 win for a delighted Team 3.
No pressure then for their last match of the season on Thursday with Hannah suggesting that they could get Team 4 or 5 players to play up for them allowing Team 3 to “party”!!! She’s spent too much time with Abby we think! As it was, the last match was anti-climactic as North Merchiston conceded on the day, unable to field a team. A great season for James, Ian, Julian and Hannah. 22 matches played and only two defeats – both to the deserved League winners, Murrayfield. Team 3 will probably rue their second loss to the champions at Ladywood in early March – at 3-1 and 4-3 up they had a real chance to pull off a win and that would have made the title chase very interesting. As it was they finished four points behind the winners and three points clear of third placed Edinburgh Uni. Well done to them.
Finally in Week 27 we had our handicap cup semi final against the same trio from Murrayfield that won the division 2 title. The selection committee stuck with the same players that had won the Quarter final against Murrayfield Opposition, Colin Green, Jim Jack and Aidan Craig. First up was Colin v Rory Thomson – Colin was giving the youngster a 7 point start in a race to 18. This was a classic handicap cup match – Rory won the first two ends 18-14, 18-11 and looked in complete control. But back came Colin with an 18-16 win followed by an 18-14 fourth end victory. The final end proved how good the handicaps were – it went the distance, deuce at 17-17. Colin took the next point and won the match courtesy of an edge! Jim then took on William Wang. This match was always probably going to come down to how consistent the Murrayfield youngsters could be against our highest handicapper – Jim had an 8-0 advantage in a race to 14. When Jim won the first end things were looking good. William, however, is another young player who has significantly improved this season. He fought hard as he recovered to win the next two games 14-12. The fourth end could have gone either way but a 17-15 win for William levelled the tie. Aidan then took on Nichole Lee in Match 3. Aidan’s improvement this season has seen his handicap drop to just +2 - that’s low for a division 4 player but credit to his excellent season. Nichole, playing two divisions above Aidan gave him a 7 point start in a race to 16. Another classic ensued. Nichole won the first two ends 16-11, 17-15 and looked in control. As with match 1 on the night, however, the Penicuik player then reacted to win the next two ends 16-12, 17-15. Another fifth end marathon, but this time, unlike match 1, it was the Murrayfield player who got over the line. Match 4 saw Colin take on William – the magic number needed to win an end here will bring back memories of the good old days – 10-0 to William in a race to 21. Colin squeezed over the line in the first 21-19 but then lost the next 21-16. That was followed by a 22-20 win for Colin and the Midlothian side looked like they might level the match. Ends 4 and 5 changed that positivity. William played some great stuff, and the handicap cup is such that if you get off to a bad start against a player with a big lead against you, recovery can be impossible – 21-6 in the fourth seemed to dent Colin’s confidence and William ran away with the decider 21-13. 3-1 down and Penicuik were in trouble. Match 5 pitted Aidan against Rory. An 8-0 advantage in a race to 17. The first two ends were shared but Aidan then showed his quality to win the final two ends 17-13, 17-10. Penicuik back in it at 3-2 down. Match 6 saw Jim back to the table against Nichole – by this time it was already after 10pm – handicap games can take a while!! This was the only match that didn’t go beyond three ends – Nichole has great consistency and is strong on both wings – Jim got close but couldn’t quite get far enough ahead to pile the pressure on his opponent – his 10-0 start was clawed back efficiently by Nichole in each end as she triumphed 18-16, 16-14, 16-14. The pressure was now really on as Penicuik fell 4-2 behind. Aidan v William was the match with the closest starting scores – only a 5-0 lead for Aidan in a race to 13. His opponent, like his teammates, plays two divisions higher than Aidan and this was always going to be tough – it was close. William won the first 14-12 and he repeated the score in the second to put the Murrayfield side on the brink of victory. Back came Aidan with an excellent 14-7 third end win – could he repeat it? The fourth end went to deuce, but it was William who came out on top 15-13. A great effort by the Penicuik trio who gave their opponents a good run for their money. It’s about time someone else won the handicap cup isn’t it? Have we mentioned our excellent record in this event? Winners in the 2018/19 season, semi-finalists 2019/20, no event 2020/21, winners 2021/22 and semi finalists 2022/23 – we’ll give ourselves a pat on the back for that record.
And so, to our final player of the week award. Undefeated nights for Julian and Ian and good performances in the handicap cup by all three players. Julian and Ian both finished the Division 2 season comfortably in the top 10 of the Individual averages. Ian’s come back from 2-0 down to win in Match 5 of the night really took the pressure off the side as they fought for promotion. But this week the award is going to someone who didn’t actually play – the Team has been captained terrifically throughout the season by this man. He’s always on hand, whether playing or not, to give advice and guidance and he’s kept everyone happy (well excluding opponents obviously – they seem to dislike him with a passion)! Well done to Team Captain James. Even though he dropped out, we’re confident he would have contributed just as much to the side’s victory this week and overall in the season he’s played the most games of all four players.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Our appeal against Murrayfield’s ridiculous claimed walkover win was considered by the committee. Well, we say considered – given that Team 1 had secured their status in the Premier with their win against ESC, our appeal was thought to be unnecessary!! Wow! That’s one way to deal with appeals – ignore the issue completely. Ah well, we suppose it avoids the need for any conflict, or does it???
Graham Booth from NM 4 has apparently been trying all season to get in our controversy of the week section! He pulled up Julian this week for UMPIRING in a white T-shirt. Ok that’s not quite how it happened but Julian was just about to umpire when Graham pointed out that he hoped he had another top to wear other than his very clean and bright white one! When he did play he had to keep his hoodie on!
And finally, we can’t finish off without another go at umpiring – our handicap cup team reported that they were most unhappy with one of the youngsters from Murrayfield who whilst umpiring, in their words, looked completely bored out of their mind and disinterested. We know that they’re young and they have to learn but if they can’t do it properly yet, don’t let them do it at all. All it did was cause one of our players to lose focus – our player’s problem obviously as a player should be able to ignore other matters and concentrate on the game – but it can be difficult.
Ah well – our summary of the season and our end of season awards Report will follow at some point over the next couple of weeks. Another season over for PTTC. More fun and games enjoyed, more upset and distress caused, more friends made (and some lost) – we can’t wait for next season for more of the same!!!