Then on Thursday night the same team were due to play against University – unfortunately, Craig’s knee injury flared up and add to that a dodgy shoulder after playing on Tuesday and the team were down to 2 players, Bob and Rachel. This was always going to be tough - 3-0 down and when both players lost their opening singles the match was all but over as a contest. Both players battled on though and Rachel had a fantastic 5th end win in her second match and Bob kept the match alive with his first win of the night. The hopes of a comeback were short lived however as the students won the doubles. The last two matches were shared resulting in the visitors winning 7-3.
The week had started with Team 2’s trip to North Merchiston on Monday night. The Penicuik side have struggled recently, and things weren’t to get any better away to one of Division 1’s top sides. A 10-0 hammering saw only three games go beyond 3 ends and two of those involved Abby Wighton who claimed player of the match for her good play. That was the only bright spark on an otherwise miserable night for Krzysztof, Gary and Abby. Team Captain Krzysztof summed up the match perfectly in his message to El Presidente – “we were rubbish, and I was the worst”!
In the Premier Division, Team 1 were determined not to draw another match – 4 of their last 5 games have been draws. In a week of player shortages, Greig and Colin had to call up James Wighton from Team 3 – and it was a good job they did after their opponents Edinburgh Sports Club turned up with just two players. 3-0 up before a ball was struck and when Colin won Match 1 on the night it was suddenly 4-0. James lost out in his first match and that was followed by a loss for Greig. When Scott MacKenzie took a 2-0 lead in the next match, the Penicuik trio were starting to panic. After Colin got his concentration back (more on that later) he worked out his opponent’s long pimples and secured at least a point for the home side. James lost his second match – 5-3. Greig then took a leaf out of Colin’s book – 2-0 down he came back to win the match 3-2 and give the hosts an unassailable lead. 7-3 was the final score, a result which (briefly at least) put the side into 5th place in the Premier Division.
At the same time, Team 3 faced Haddington 3 in Division 2. Hannah McDonell and Julian Taylor were joined by Ian Hislop looking to put some pressure on at the top of the table. Two of the first three matches went the way of the hosts before the next set of three matches all went the way of the East Lothian side, Julian having lost 12-10 in the fifth after being 2-0 up. 3-3 and the doubles would, like always, be crucial. With James not playing Hannah had to find herself a new partner – Julian stepped up and the Penicuik duo comfortably won in 3 straight ends. The best match of the night pitted Hannah against David Hayman. Having lost the first end, Hannah forced deuce in the second from game points down – the longer this end went on the more important it became – 7 deuces before Hannah eventually won it 18-16. That seemed to give her the confidence she needed as she picked up the third and fourth ends 11-7, 11-6. A point was secured, and Penicuik had two chances to secure the victory in Matches 9 and 10. Ian couldn’t do it against Mark McMullan who was undefeated on the night. All eyes on Julian as he took on the thus far winless Gordon Aien. Ah styles are funny things – Julian never looked comfortable as he fell in four ends – a disappointing end to the evening for the hosts after getting themselves into a winning position but 2 wins for Hannah, 1 each for Julian and Ian and a good doubles victory secured a point.
Team 5 were also in action on Thursday night as they travelled to Bathgate to take on West Lothian who sat equal top in the Division 4 table. This was a new look side as Chamika Diyunugalge, Sian McDonald and Roscoe Cairney hoped to push the league leaders. Sian was really unlucky in her opening encounter falling 11-4 in the fifth after leading 2-1. Match 3 also proved pivotal – It was Roscoe’s turn to force five ends, but he too lost out and suddenly Team 5 were 3-0 down. The next two matches also went the way of the hosts before Chamika won Match 6 to give some hope and when Chamika and Roscoe won the doubles the visitors trailed 5-2 with three singles to go. Unfortunately, only Sian could win her final match as Team 5 fell to a 7-3 defeat.
And so to our player of the week award for Week 10. Phil didn’t play this week – so his quest for the award can roll-over to next week. Bob had a terrific week with 5 wins out of 6 and Colin picked up another maximum – only against two players though so that doesn’t count. And for Bob, despite his 5 out of 6, it wasn’t enough to pick up wins for the team – so they’re both out of the running. Team 2 got whitewashed so it’s not going to be them! A mention is due to our three newest league players from Team 5 – they put up a good fight this week too. Team 3 secured a draw and Hannah picked up two cracking wins and a doubles victory to get that point. Hannah v David was definitely the most entertaining match of the week (so entertaining that a certain umpire was watching that rather than the game he was umpiring) - and for her overall performance this week’s award goes to Hannah - well done to her!
And now for our controversy of the week section. In Team 4’s match on Thursday night Bob was in the middle of a tight contest when Greig umpiring a match for his own team noticed Bob’s opponent taking a timeout. Bob looked a bit perplexed as he hung around aimlessly as Rachel looked on. It appears Team 4 definitely need a Rule book for Xmas – there are no timeouts allowed in the ELTTL – don’t just blame Rachel for this though – she was sitting beside James at the time who seemed to have his mind elsewhere – Greig was trying to get the message across to Rachel and James but by the time James realised a timeout had been taken it was over and the Uni player was ready to go again. The story gets better – this was the Uni player’s second timeout in the match having also taken one in the previous end. He then tried to take a third but at least on that occasion the message had got across and Rachel was able to point out that timeouts weren’t allowed! In fairness to Bob, he’s new to the league and the previous weekend had played in the Edinburgh banded event where timeouts had been taken. Ultimately, although Bob lost an end from a winning position after the second timeout, he went on to win the match and so the rule infringement didn’t make a difference. Shows the importance however of the Clubs making sure that their players know the rules.
And finally, we turn our attention to Team 1s match on Thursday night where we had a stand-up teammate argument between Colin and Greig to enjoy. Colin and Greig? Surely not? They’re best pals. Table tennis can do funny things to people! Now in fairness Colin will say that he had to put up with one of the worst umpiring performances he’s ever seen from Greig during his match v Scott McKenzie. And he might be right. Greig was perhaps a little distracted from what he should have been doing – he seemed to watch more points being played in the other end of the hall where Hannah was playing than on the table directly in front of him. He may well have got the score wrong on several occasions and needed assistance from Martin McKay sitting watching beside him as to who had won various points – shocking umpiring. When Colin lost the first end (not that Greig really noticed), he was seething. Greig went to give him some advice – oh dear! Colin pointed out that advice would be pointless given Greig hadn’t seen half the match and that he needed to get a grip (or words to that effect) and do his job properly as an umpire. There was maybe a little bit of anger and some poor choice of vocabulary thrown in for good measure! Now anyone who knows Greig will know how he hates confrontation, so he just went back to his umpire’s seat and stayed quiet…… Eh well maybe not! Whether his umpiring had been poor or not he pointed out to Colin that as the umpire he should be shown respect and demanded an apology from the player for his irrational rant! Oh dear! This wasn’t going to end well. An aggressive, volatile Aussie and Greig! Who would back down. Greig said he wasn’t going to umpire until Colin apologised. Colin said good and shouted on James to take over! Fortunately, James was too busy watching three timeouts being taken in Team 4’s match to realise what was going on. Greig threatened a yellow and then a red card. Colin had brought them along to show Martin what might happen if his language didn’t improve! Martin and Scott were watching on trying to hide their laughter at what was happening – Scott revelling at the possibility of a disqualification for his opponent! That would have been a first in the Edinburgh league surely! In the end, and as expected, the conciliatory approach was taken by Greig (he realised that a loss for Colin would see the team in real trouble!) and he returned to normal umpiring duties. His umpiring in the second end was exemplary – unlike Colin’s play – we think Greig’s calm, yet perhaps a tad condescending attitude had got to Colin a little – 8-0 down and Greig thought a granny was on the cards. Change of ends at 2-0 down, Greig went across again to offer advice – this time a much calmer exchange and lo and behold Greig’s words of wisdom were enough for Colin to come back and win in five! And by the end of the match the pair of them were back to being best buddies again and the incident would never be spoken about again – well until we write about it! Others may hold grudges – but this pair can’t afford to – not only are they best friends, but they’re also each other’s only friends!!
Ah how we love TT and all the drama that comes with it.