In Division 1, Team 2 started the week off for the Club as they travelled to Bathgate to face West Lothian 3. Although not panicking yet, Team 2 need to start picking up points and their best chances of doing so should come against teams in the lower half of the table. This match was identified as one of those matches. Gary McDougal and Charlie Brindley were joined by Ian Hislop playing up from Team 3 in place of Team Captain, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, who appears to have been holidaying during the season again! When Ian squeezed home 11-9 in the fifth against young Jamie Arnott, the mood of Team 2 was very positive. The next two matches, however, were to prove crucial on the night. Charlie battled back from 2-0 down to force a fifth end against Stuart Gibson only to lose out in the decider. That was then followed by Gary losing a 2-1 advantage to lose out 11-9 in the 5th against Andy Wyles. Had the tide turned? Ian proved he can hold his own in this Division with a victory against Stuart to tie the scores at 2-2, but from there the home side only lost one more end in singles play and they added the doubles in 5 to run away with the victory by an 8-2 scoreline. Team 2's next two matches will surely prove pivotal to their season - both are against teams who also appear to also be in relegation trouble, Fife and Corstorphine 2.
Team 4 also faced a trip to Bathgate as they took on West Lothian 6 in Division 3. Their strongest team was out on this occasion with the return of Team Captain Julian Taylor to join Tony Brentnall and Sonny Taylor. This was a fairly straightforward night for Team 4 - only 4 ends were lost in the nine matches won by the visitors. Sonny was the only one to lose out on the night as Team 4 secured a good 9-1 victory.
In what appears to have been a week full of Penicuik v West Lothian matches, West Lothian 9 visited Ladywood on Wednesday night to face Division 4 table toppers, Team 5. This match had a family ring to it with father and daughter duo Stuart and Millie Bennett v father and son pairing of Tommy and Jamie Toner. They were joined by Craig Johnson for the home side and Neil Webb for the visitors. When young Jamie defeated Craig in Match 1, Team 5 knew they were in for a tough night. Millie levelled the scores before Neil then gave the visitors the advantage again. In the battle of the youngsters, Millie secured an excellent victory against Jamie and when Craig and Stuart both then won their encounters, the home side led 4-2 going into the doubles. As is often the case, the doubles was crucial – Craig and Millie looked in control at 2-1 up but Jamie and Neil fought back to force a deciding fifth end. That game went all the way, a 12-10 victory for Millie and Craig. The pressure was then off a little but as Millie became embroiled in another tense five setter, dad Stuart lost to Jamie and it looked like the match was going to go the distance. Millie held her nerve, and with El Presidente watching on, she played the shot of the night at 9-9 in the fifth – an outrageous forehand winner against what looked like some decent backspin from her opponent – she secured the next point as well to give the home side a 6-3 advantage. Craig was then able to relax in his last match which he won comfortably to give a final score of Penicuik 7 West Lothian 3. An entertaining match which could quite easily have ended up as a draw.
Elsewhere in Division 4, Team 6 travelled to East Lothian as they took on Haddington 4. Craig Linton, Louis McLeod and Rachel Petrie were looking to improve on their 6-4 loss to Haddington 5 from the previous week. On that occasion, Louis had been the star player for the Midlothian side and he once again led the team well and won both of his opening matches. A win from Craig resulted in the match being tied at 3-3 going into the doubles. Unlike Team 5's doubles performance, Craig and Louis couldn’t quite get over the line as they lost out 11-9 in the fifth. A crucial win for the home side which seemed to relieve some of the pressure for them. The last 3 matches on the night followed the exact same pattern – Haddington won the first end only for the visiting trio to all win the second end – the third and fourth ends, however, all went the way of the home side as Team 6 suffered a 7-3 defeat.
And finally in Week 11, Team 7 lined up with George Wilson, Phil Daly and Hannah McDonell as they hosted Edinburgh International 5. Had it not been for two 6-4 defeats at the beginning of the season Team 7 would have been right in the mix for promotion from Division 4. They again showed their variety of playing skills on Wednesday night – George bamboozled his opponents with his good serves, controlled attacks and very steady pushing when required, Hannah showed her all out attack game (she doesn’t seem to know how to push – bizarre given who her father is!) and Phil played his normal eh…. how does Phil win games actually? He strolled through the night with the loss of only one set and with George undefeated on the night and Hannah winning two (a 12-10 in the fifth loss to Danny Ward spoiled a perfect night) the hosts won the singles matches by an 8-1 scoreline. George and Hannah also combined for a rare 3-0 win in the doubles to give Team 7 their 3rd win in a row, a win which lifts them to their best position in the League table since this Team was founded last season, 5th place. If Team 7 can come through their next two matches unscathed against West Lothian opposition that really will put the cat amongst the pigeons!
And so to our Player of the Week Award for Week 11. Julian and Tony were undefeated for Team 4 as was Millie for Team 5 and George and Phil for Team 7. Tony didn’t play in the doubles and for Team Captain Julian failing to pick him, they’re both out of the running! Millie played a blinder this week and without doubt wins the “shot of the week award” but she’s won this award twice already this season. So, it’s between George and Phil – both only dropped a single set this week, both to the same player. George also won the doubles – but hang on a minute, we’re told that George was pulled through that match by his partner who also in the past 7 days has had great success away from the Club – sorry Phil and George! 2 and a ½ wins in the league were surpassed by winning the Glasgow Open Minor Girls Title at Drumchapel last weekend and then securing a Scotland Cap with a runners-up finish in the Schools Competition at Bathgate on Saturday – there can really only be one winner – well done Hannah for a terrific couple of weeks.
And finally, our controversy of the week section.
Club Secretaries received an email last week from the League regarding recent disputes about services. We covered a “friendly” exchange between our Team 3 and NM 4 in last week’s report and we are glad to be able to confirm that this email is not directed at that match. What we are told by the league is that it is up to the umpire’s judgement as to whether or not a serve is legal. We are also told that everyone who plays in the League MUST know the service rule and that we seem to be guilty of too lax an interpretation of the rule.
So, this week all our teams have been briefed on the rule and told to be bold and strong in their decision making when looking out for a 16cm throw up of the ball, having first made sure that the ball has been resting freely on the open stationary palm of the server’s free hand! Oh, and also make sure to look out for those players who hide the ball whilst it’s in the air. Oh, and also make sure the ball is behind the server’s end line when it’s struck! Oh, and when you’re checking that the ball is thrown up at least 16cm remember to check that it is thrown up “near vertical” and that no one is trying to put spin on the ball. Oh, and once it’s struck, make sure the server’s free arm and hand are removed from the space between the ball and the net. Eh? What? Really? Good luck to us all in taking a less lax attitude towards that rule – and when some young kid is umpiring make sure you give them a hard time if they don’t pick up on any of the above – not during the match obviously but as a lesson to them after the match – and clearly do it in a nice way, unlike what seems to have happened in whatever match the League are talking about in their email when they mention the following:
“It is not acceptable for one player to accuse another of cheating; if there is any “fault” it’s the umpire’s for not exercising control and being decisive; Players should exercise restraint and good manners throughout. At the earliest opportunity after any dispute a cooling off period should be followed by a resolve not to pursue any form of retaliation or vendetta; It is most definitely not acceptable for a player to threaten (or worse) another player, and the umpire has the authority (and responsibility) to use yellow or red cards and to report the behaviour to the League Referee.”
Jings, this must have been a real humdinger of a match!! In our view, any player who has threatened another (or worse), whatever that means, should be reported to the League and should be suspended. Talk of retaliation and vendettas! If anyone wants to share with us what went on in this match feel free! We’re not sure, however, of the helpfulness of the League’s guidance on this matter:
“Umpires should take their responsibilities more seriously, not just in matters of legal service, but in exercising control of matches, including player behaviour”
That is obviously much easier said than done – not everyone is like our own Nastiest Team Captain, James Wighton – always looking for a fight, always argumentative, difficult to get along with etc. etc. etc. Most of us play TT for fun – whilst rules absolutely need to be enforced, in an amateur sport where a youngster might be umpiring a match between two grumpy OAPs can we really expect the umpires to control the players’ behaviour? Who knows what the answer is – meantime, we’ve borrowed a couple of Yellow and red cards from the local football team and 12-year-old Hannah has them packed with her bat for her match v West Lothian on Thursday!
Until all teams have to actually field a qualified umpire, these types of issues are always going to arise. We’re just thankful that we’ve got a group of level headed, fun loving and easy-going Club members, other than James obviously!
TT was never like this in the good old days, was it?? Hmmm – maybe it was…..
Roll on Week 12.