Team 1 faced another top of the table Division 1 clash, fresh from their 9-1 victory over title contenders Murrayfield 4 in Week 9, Greig McDonell, Colin Green and David Melrose teamed up for the second consecutive week as they travelled to face Edinburgh International 2. After the first round of singles matches, the visitors held a 2-1 advantage with wins for Greig and Colin. The pattern was repeated after the second round of matches as Greig and Colin won again for a 4-2 advantage. The doubles was crucial and for the first time in a couple of years Greig and Colin took to the table to face Toby Waterhouse and Andrew Mannion – 4 tight sets later and Penicuik had secured at least a point as they took a 5-2 lead. Colin seems to have forgotten what it’s like to play with Greig in the doubles – at various points he was heard to complain about an apparent lack of movement from his partner – Greig on the other hand was heard to comment on how easier the match would be if Colin could keep the ball on the table! Good job they won in four! Cruising at 5-2, Greig and Colin then played their last matches simultaneously – at 1-1 in Greig’s match with time running out David was summoned to get the final match of the night underway – all 3 matches on the go – Greig lost ends 3 and 4 to Toby and was finished in time to see Colin do exactly the same against Babu! Suddenly 5-4 and David, winless on the night, was 1-0 down to Andrew. Some reassuring words were needed at the change of ends – Did you win David asked Greig – eh no! Oh – did Colin win? Yes, came Greig’s response – we’ve won the match just relax and enjoy it! And enjoy it he did as he came back to win the final match of the night, blissfully ignorant that his win secured both points for the visitors and maintained their unbeaten record!
Meanwhile at Ladywood, Team 2 faced Haddington in their Division 1 encounter. Gary McDougal, Charlie Brindley and Krzysztof Laszkiewicz were seeking their first win of the season and after Krzysztof lost the opener in 5 tight ends, an out of sorts Charlie then lost match 2 before Gary got the side on the scoreboard with a “deuce in the 5th win” in match 3. As with Team 1, the pattern was repeated in the second round of singles, unfortunately for the home side that meant a 4-2 deficit going into the doubles. When Krzysztof and Gary lost out in that match, a point was the best which could be hoped for – unlike Edinburgh International v Team 1, however, this match was never in doubt as the visitors won all 3 final singles to run away to an 8-2 victory.
Week 10 was a busy one for Team 3 in Division 2. On Wednesday night they travelled to North Merchiston 4 and in a tight match there were a couple of crucial 5 set games which were pivotal. After a loss for Chris Markey in Match 1, Ian Hislop and Abby Wighton gave the visitors a 2-1 advantage. Chris then made it 3-1 before two mammoth matches which went the distance. Fresh from his win in Match 1 v Chris, Slawomir Bess looked like he was going to cause an upset v Abby as he took a 2-1 advantage. Abby was having none of it, however, as she roared back to win ends 4 and 5. Nick Thomas then looked to have worked out Ian’s difficult style as he came back from 2-0 down to win ends 3 and 4. Ian regained his composure, however, to sneak home in 5. Those two wins were to prove crucial and after a win in the doubles for Ian and Abby the match was over as a contest. Abby rounded off an unbeaten night for her with a win in Match 8 before two 5 set victories for the hosts resulted in a 7-3 victory for Team 3.
A couple of nights later and Team 3 travelled to face Edinburgh University. A Friday night and surprise surprise the youngest team member, 19-year-old Abby seemed to have other plans!! We blame her father for not putting his foot down! With Chris unavailable, Ian and James were joined by Louis McLeod from Division 4. Imagine their luck then when they turned up to find that University could only field a two-player team – a win was surely on the cards and when Ian won the first match of the night the visitors effectively held a 4-0 lead. Matches 4 & 5 on the scorecard were to determine the outcome. The Uni’s number 1, Amadeus Chen came back from 2-1 down v Ian to record a 5-set win and that was followed by James letting the momentum slip, he having recovered from 2-0 down to 2-2, as he also lost in 5 ends. Suddenly, a defeat was a possibility! Thank Goodness Ian and James secured a good win in the doubles – that assured them of a point and that was all they were getting as James & Louis both lost their last matches by a 3-1 scoreline. We suppose it could have been worse – a full team for the Uni would have potentially resulted in a loss – the point dropped, however, spoiled what had otherwise been a brilliant 14 days for Team 3. On the 2nd of November they sat with 4 points and were in a lowly position in the League table – by the 16th of November, 3 wins and a draw later, Team 3 have climbed to 3rd with 11 points – a terrific fortnight for them.
In Division 3, Team 4’s season has been a little inconsistent so far. They promised much at the beginning of the year but defeats to Murrayfield 9 and Haddington 3 and a draw in Week 9 v NM 5 seems to have put them out of the promotion battle. They faced Murrayfield 8 at Ladywood on Wednesday. Team Captain, Julian Taylor returned to the team to join Sonny Taylor and Gavin Hunter but not even his presence could prevent another narrow loss for the home side. After some really unlucky losses it was good to see Gavin get on the scoreboard as he defeated Haydn Jackson, playing up from Team 9, but arguably the visitors most talented player. That win was added to by wins for Sonny and Julian v Bob Sterling and a doubles victory before Julian faced Haydn in the last match of the night – a win for Julian would have secured a draw for the home side. As it was, Julian fell just short as he lost 11-8 in the fifth – an unlucky 6-4 defeat for the home side.
As Team 1 played Edinburgh International 2 on Wednesday night, they were joined by Team 5 who faced Ed Int 5. Father and daughter Bennett returned to action as they joined forces with John Bald. Team 5 enjoyed the same luck as Team 3 when they discovered that their hosts’ 3rd player had got mixed up about the match and they would therefore only face a two-player team. Unlike Team 3, however, Team 5 took advantage as they recorded a 7-3 victory. 3 wins for John, 2 for Millie and 1 for Stuart were added to by a doubles victory. With other results again falling into place for Team 5 they maintain their position at the top of the Division 4 table, although their next two matches see them take on WL 8 and 9, both of whom are battling it out for a promotion spot.
Team 6 had been buoyed by their draw in Fife in Week 9 and were looking to go one batter as they hosted Haddington 5 at Ladywood. Craig Linton and Louis McLeod were joined by Adam Woodhouse and they knew that a win would result in them pulling level with their opponents in the Division 4 table. Two crucial 3-2 wins for Louis against the young David Hayman and then the very old Martin Hayman kept Team 6 in with a shout. A defeat in the doubles however, meant that with two matches left, the scores were tied at 4-4. Craig and Adam were unable to pull off the win and instead, wins for David and Liam Govan in Match 10 secured a 6-4 victory for the visitors.
And finally in Week 10, Team 7 travelled on Thursday night to Royal High to take on Murrayfield 10 in Division 4. A different trio this week for Team 7, as after a couple of weeks of partying, in came Hannah McDonell in place of Phil Daly – she joined George Wilson and Kristian Skotzen as Team 7 looked for consecutive wins for the second time this season. In the first round of singles, when Hannah lost 11-8 in the fifth and Kristian lost out in 4 ends, it was left to Team Captain George to steady the ship with a straightforward 3 set victory. Hannah and George then won their second singles matches, but a defeat for Kristian meant the scores were tied at 3-3 going into the crucial doubles. Hannah and George combined well to win in 4 ends and the advantage lay with the visitors. As Kristian won Match 8, Hannah was involved in another long 5 set match but this time she came out on top to secure the victory. George made the score line even better as he finished off an undefeated night and Team 7 recorded a good 7-3 win.
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 10. Only four players were undefeated in singles play this week - Abby, John, Louis and George. Louis lost the doubles and his team lost - sorry Louis., you're out the running. Remarkably the other three were also successful in the doubles. How do we split them? Despite another undefeated night, George was again unable to win the Player of the Match award! That’s what happens when you play with an ever smiling attacking 12-year-old! John’s undefeated night is slightly misleading – he only had two singles matches – so this week’s deserved winner is Abby for her important 3 ½ points in a 7-3 victory for Team 3 – well done Abby.
Anything controversial this week? Team 3’s match v NM 4 was seemingly quite tense from the start! Match 1 saw Chris Markey in action and after only a couple of points it seems Chris made certain complaints about his opponents serves – firstly this was apparently due to his opponent not having his hand flat – not sure if that was sorted but a couple of points later and it was suggested that the ball was not being thrown up the requisite height. NM Umpire ignored any calls for intervention. As tensions were running high it was then the turn of the NM player to complain about Chris’ serve – oh my goodness – this could get out of hand. According to Abby, the bickering went on every few points between the protagonists! Who would want to be an Umpire. In the end NM came out on top, but a rather frosty atmosphere was generated by the arguing which had taken place.
This is one of our all-time favourite issues in our Weekly reports – Umpiring! We’ve harped on about it for years – can you really expect an umpire to put his neck on the line in a situation such as this – if the Umpire was “qualified” then there really isn’t any argument to be had. When we last checked though, the number of qualified Umpires in the Edinburgh League can be counted on one hand (and we don’t think you need all your fingers)! Then there’s the issue of service in general. Last season we had a bit of a go at a certain Haddington umpire for calling a fault in a Division 4 match for an illegal serve – no warning, no guidance, no education as to the issue – but hey the rule is the rule. And probably that’s how it should be – but let’s face it, if we actually got a top umpire to look at our serves every week, we’re fairly sure the majority of us would be pulled up on something!
In the same match, one of the new league rules reared its head. No surprise that our Nastiest Team Captain, James was involved (wasn’t he meant to be our nicest captain?). James was there to support the team and to no doubt give daughter Abby a lift. He had taken his bat and at one point he went on to a free table to give Abby a hit. Hold on a minute said NM – you can’t have a knock up.
“Only a fellow member of a player’s team for that fixture or nominated non-playing captain/coach may offer playing advice to a player once a fixture has commenced. Any such advice must be limited to one minute between games. No player may practise between matches with any person not part of the team for a fixture, once it has commenced.”
Good on NM for reading up on the rules – but hold on – maybe we can appeal – is James not “part of the team for a fixture”. Where does it say he has to be a “playing part of the team”! Maybe that’s stretching the interpretation of the rule too far.
The good news is that as far as we understand it despite various tense moments during the match, it was generally played in good spirit and everyone shook everyone else’s hands and there were no hard feelings by the end. Seemingly the match finished with a group hug between the teams (maybe James made that last bit up!)
Roll on next week….