For the new season a new look Report concentrating less on the top end of the League and more on the teams in Divisions 3 and 4 – well for one week anyway!
The season was kicked off by a new look Team 6 of Julian and Sonny Taylor (both new to the league) and Rachel Petrie – she’s been around for ages it seems!! They travelled to take on North Merchiston 6 hoping to get their season off to a flying start. When Sonny lost the first match of the night and then saw dad Julian go 2-1 down in match 2 it looked like being a long night for the team. Julian, however, showed his fighting qualities as he battled back and held his nerve to win 12-10 in the fifth and deciding end. Rachel then produced an excellent performance to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. Up next was Sonny who went one better than dad by coming back from 2-0 down to win 13-11 in the fifth end. At 3-2 up after Rachel lost her next match, Julian decided to show young Sonny that anything he could do….. 2-0 down (11-3, 11-3) and something must have clicked as he came storming back to win his 2nd deuce in the fifth match of the night (12-10). The doubles, as is so often the case was crucial –the father and son duo seem to like getting their money worth and this time they relinquished a 2-0 advantage before steadying the ship to win the decider 11-5. Four five end deciders all went the way of the visitors and Julian secured the win for the Penicuik trio (6-4) with a 3-set win in the final match of the night. A terrific start to the season for Team 6.
On the same night, Division 4 winners from last year, Craig Johnson, Sean Lennon & Millie Bennett visited Edinburgh Sports Club for their first ever match in Division 3. They were warned by all about the step up a division being difficult / the big gulf between the two divisions / not to get too despondent etc. etc. What a load of nonsense said Team 5 – a 10-0 win to get their season off to a flier! One week in and they sit top of Division 3 – we’ve taken a screenshot for posterity!
A new look Team 3 started their Division 1 campaign against Edinburgh International 3 at Ladywood. With Chris Markey unavailable, Mr Scrabble Man, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz and Gary McDougal called up young Sonny from Division 4. After wins from Gary and Krzysztof gave Penicuik a 2-1 lead after the first round of singles matches, games 4 and 5 on the night were pivotal – Gary defeated Ken Benjamin in 5 ends before Sonny came back from 2-0 down against Robert Inder to win the next three ends – the match was over as a contest after the doubles fixture went the way of the home side – Gary was player of the night winning all 3 singles, Krzys won 2 and Sonny 1 in an excellent 7-3 victory.
Week 1’s good news sort of ends there…
Team 1 had a completely new look as they started their Premier League campaign – with neither Stuart Gow nor Colin Green playing this season, Greig McDonell was joined by his old mucker from Lasswade days, David Melrose. From within the Club it was decided to let youth have a go at the Premier Division as Abby Wighton was promoted up from last year’s Team 3. First match against ESC 1 was always going to be difficult. Greig and David both won 1 in the resultant 8-2 defeat - Abby played some terrific stuff though – positive for the future. The controversy of the night came in the doubles fixture where David seemed to think that Greig was actually going to move out his way during the match – it’s been a few years since he last played with El Presidente!!
Team 2 also had a new look as Clive Liddiard, James Wighton and Charlie Brindley travelled to take on a strong looking Edinburgh International side (relegated from the Premier Division last year). Another 8-2 defeat but the positive of the night was Clive’s win against Babu – a player who he has never beaten before. Only two of the eight losses were in straight sets so there are positives to take from the night.
Team 4 comprising John Bald, Brian Bailey and Louis McLeod is another new look team. They started their Division 3 campaign without John (could he not have got an earlier flight back from France!) - Stuart Bennett from Team 5 deputised. On the night, only Brian got on the scorecard against North Merchiston 5. He won all three of his singles in his side’s 7-3 defeat. Stuart and Louis both lost a match deuce in the fifth and by such small margins the match was lost.
Finally, in a busy week for the Club, yet another new look side, Team 7, started their League campaign. Phil Daly, George Wilson and Kristian Skotzen took on Haddington 4 in Division 4. Phil won all three of his singles whilst George won 1 in a narrow 6-4 defeat. New boy (well not so much of a boy) Kristian enjoyed his first taste of League action and was unlucky not to get on the scoreboard – some more match practice under his belt and he’ll have no problem progressing as the season goes on.
And so to our Player of the Week award – a massive 7 players undefeated this week – all of Team 5, Julian form Team 6, Phil from Team 7, Brian from Team 4 and Gary from Team 3. We’ll knock out Brian and Phil as they didn’t add a doubles victory and sorry to Millie – she didn’t get the chance to play in the doubles. That leaves us with last years most improved player, Craig, TV Star Sean, Gary and newbie to the League Julian. For the way in which he came back and the importance of his wins to the overall result, the first award of the season has to go to Julian – a terrific start to the season – Well done.
Last year we managed, with a little bit of difficulty, to virtually have a full season of weekly controversies – we don’t think we’ll manage that this year…………. Or will we? Before the season even started the various clubs in the league were issued with the “Not allowed to play up” List. Oh dear – that could cause some issues. Ratings Central to the fore again. In our case, we had a decision to make at the beginning of the season regarding Team 1 – no Colin, Stuart or Iain Johnstone to pick from – we chose Abby. The ruling:
Charlie Brindley (965) and Clive Liddiard (952) of Team 2 are more than 100 points stronger than Abby Wighton (834) of Team 1. Therefore, Clive and Charlie are not allowed to play up.
Whilst there’s no doubt that Clive and Charlie, according to ratings Central are better than Abby, this is a computer programme telling us this! With no disrespect to Clive or Charlie, they’re probably not going to improve as much at their age as Abby may - the potential that 18 year old Abby has is hugely greater in our view. Both the Club and Abby recognise that it is likely she will struggle to come to terms with the Premier Division - if we were a bigger club with more Premier standard players it wouldn’t be an issue but we simply don’t have a pool of players capable of stepping up to the premier standard. Having thought about pulling our team out of the premier, David then came on board and we decided to give it a go. How else do we bring youngsters on other than throwing people like Abby in the deep end – something the Club have been reluctant to do in the past, probably to the Club’s and the youngsters detriment. It does seem very unfair that in such circumstances we will be punished for trying to bring on a young player like Abby.
Never mind though there seems to be an appeal process – news to us – maybe we’ll leave that for another week!
Ah it’s great to be back!