First up were Team 1 with a visit on Monday 27th November to the undefeated and defending Premier League Champions Murrayfield 1. This was always going to be a difficult match, but with Peter Aird still on his travels with work and Greig McDonell still injured following his match with Murrayfield 2 in Week 10, the task was pretty much an impossible one. Colin Green was the only regular as Ian Hislop was called up from Division 1 and Kristian Skotzen made his debut against the “big boys” playing up from Division 3. Colin took an end of his opponent in the first round of singles matches but that was as good as it got as the home side got off to the perfect start. The next three singles matches were even quicker – three 3-0 wins and the match was over as a contest. A couple of decent games in the doubles as Colin and Kristian got 8 and 7 points in ends 1 and 3 but that loss made it 7-0. The inevitable was on the cards, although Colin fought hard in his final match, losing out in five ends. A good experience for Kristian and Ian playing at the highest level possible.
Tuesday night saw Team 3 travel to take on Corstorphine 2 at Napier University. Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Bob Porteous had had a walkover win the previous week and that had put them on the same points as their opponents in equal third in the Division 2 table – a massive match then for both sides. The first two matches played simultaneously saw Bob take on Tommy Sutherland whilst Krzysztof faced James Grant. Both matches went the distance and could have gone either way. Bob fought back from 2-1 down and after three deuces in the decider he squeezed over the line 14-12. Krzysztof also found himself 2-1 down and the match could have been over in the fourth but after five deuces he forced a decider with a 16-14 win. Maybe that took too much out of him as he fell 11-7 in the fifth. Gary won his first match of the night in four ends to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. The second round of singles were equally as close. Bob went to five again, this time v James but this time he fell 11-9 in the fifth. Having lost a deuce in the fifth in his first match, Tommy this time came out on top with a 13-11 win v Gary. Krzysztof levelled the scores on the night with a win against Dave Hall. 3-3 with the crucial doubles to come. Krzysztof and Gary combined for a four-end win to give the visitors the advantage going into the last round of singles. Matches 8 and 9 followed a similar pattern to earlier games – two more tight and tense five-enders – James proved that he’s an expert under pressure as he triumphed 13-11 in the fifth against Gary. Dave had been winless on the night, but his game v Bob secured a point for the hosts – despite an 11-0 third end win for Bob, Dave bounced back to win the decider 11-8. It was left to Krzysztof to try and claim a draw for the visitors and he held his nerve with a three-end win v Tommy. 5-5 was probably a fair result in the end although the outcome could have been so different - Corstorphine’s five wins were all five enders! What a match – 44 ends of table tennis played. The hosts were probably happier than the visitors with a point.
Thursday night saw our remaining three teams in action. Team 4 of Craig Linton, Kristian Skotzen and Aidan Craig were in action against North Merchiston 6 in Division 3. On paper the hosts were the favourites starting some five places above their Edinburgh opponents. Aidan got the team off to a good start with a four end win before Kristian lost out in a tight three end match. Craig restored the lead with a comfortable win in Match 3. Kristian gave the hosts a two game advantage with a win in match 4 and when Aidan did well to win a fifth end decider in match 5 and that was followed by Criag maintaining his good run of form in Match 6 it looked like plain sailing for the hosts, 5-1 up and a point secured. The doubles kept the Edinburgh side alive, and the night was to turn on the next two matches which took place simultaneously and both of which went the distance. Craig started as a big favourite against young Alfie Primrose, who was winless going into his final match of the night. At 2-1 up, Craig was embroiled in a mammoth fourth end which could have gone either way – after SEVEN deuces, Alfie got over the line with an 18-16 win and he then sneaked the win, 11-9 in the fifth. Kristian meantime lost the first two ends of his match against James Crosland, 11-7, 11-7. He was in big trouble but somehow managed to force a decider – he held his nerve with a 13-11 win to secure that important sixth win on the night. With Aidan losing in four ends in his final match, a match that looked to be going only one way was only just won by a 6-4 scoreline. A good team performance though with all three players picking up two wins.
Also at home on Thursday night were Team 6 who hosted Corstorphine 6 in Division 5. Ian Millar, fresh from a trip to the Caribbean to get away from our awful weather, was back to join Mat Dyluk and Roscoe Cairney. Team Captain Roscoe has played six matches this season and has picked up one win in each of those six matches – a consistency that he would like to improve upon, but consistent, nonetheless. It looked like he was going to get the team off to a flying start in Week 11 when he came back from a 2-1 deficit with an 11-2 fourth end win in match 1. A terrible start, however, to the decider and he lost out in five ends. That was as close as he got against Corstorphine. Ian Millar meantime had returned from his "hot weather training" with an injury (apparently not alcohol induced but we're not convinced). He struggled somewhat as a result. When the doubles was also lost Team 6 were facing their first whitewash defeat of the season. Mat had lost his first two matches, picking up an end in Match 3 and as he faced his last match of the night the team were facing a 10-0 defeat – well done to him for an excellent 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 victory. A 9-1 loss in the end. One match left for Team 6 before the Xmas break.
Away from home on Thursday, Team 5 made the trip along the M8 to Bathgate to take on league leaders West Lothian 5 in Division 4. Jim Jack, Patrick Shanks and Chamika Diyunugalge had the unenviable task of trying to bounce back from a poor few weeks which has seen them slip down the Division 4 table – hopefully they could try to ignore the fact that they had lost 10-0 to the “apparently weaker” other West Lothian side in this Division in Week 9! Was the writing on the wall for the visitors? The best that the first three singles threw up was a solitary end for Patrick. The next set of three singles went exactly the same way. 6-0 to the hosts. Patrick and Chamika picked up an end in the doubles but a loss there made it 7-0. Could any of the visitors do a “Mat” and pick up a win to avoid a whitewash – unfortunately not! Team 5 has now played West Lothian 5 and 6 in the space of 14 days and their aggregate result was 20-0 – in fairness the West Lothian sides sit in 1st and 2nd place in the division so there will be easier matches to come hopefully. Their recent poor run of form has seen them slip to third bottom – no pressure but their Week 12 match against bottom of the table North Merchiston is beginning to look like a “must win”.
And so, to our player of the week award. Nobody from the Club had an unbeaten night in singles play – there were 2’s for Krzysztof, Kristian, Aidan and Craig. Special mention also to Mat, who secured the only win for Team 6, a comfortable straight sets win as well! Although he probably didn’t realise it at the time (and maybe a good job that he didn’t), the award this week goes to the player who came back from 2-0 down, and held his nerve for a terrific 13-11 in the fifth comeback win, and with it he secured the overall match win for Team 4 – well done to Kristian.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. A short one this week because we're full of Christmas cheer having had a Hannah Xmas special training session on Saturday followed by our "controversy free" PTTC Xmas night out on Saturday night.
Team 1’s trip to top of the table Murrayfield was ruined somewhat by the absence of two out of three regulars. Given that Colin didn’t win any, the result would, in all likelihood have been no different – just maybe a bit of a longer night. Maybe irritated a little by that, there was a bit of unnecessary, in Colin’s eyes, conflict when in his warm-up for his last match of the night he noticed the table move a little when he touched it. He looked down at the table to see that there was only one brake actually on. Colin, being the helpful chap that we all know he is, upon noticing that went round the table in an effort to put the other brakes on. He probably wasn’t expecting a reprimand for doing so – what do you think you’re doing, he was asked! We wouldn’t come and interfere with your equipment at Penicuik! Oh dear – a little touchy about something it appears. For the rematch, Colin wants to set up the tables as squint as possible and see if any of the opponents try to straighten them! We know what his comment is going to be if they try!
Probably as a result of that irritation, Murrayfield gave its player of the match award to Ian Hislop. He scored 45 points in 9 ends of table tennis, an average of 5 an end. He lost all the ends he played. Colin took Bouri Chen to 4 ends and Charlie McGowan to 5 ends. Remember a few weeks ago a Murrayfield player complaining about not getting the Player of the Match award despite being “statistically” the best player on the night! There’s no way that Colin wasn’t the best player on the night for us but hey, we recognise that these awards are based on other factors. Likeability? He had obviously annoyed the Murrayfield Team or their Team Captain with his behaviour. We’ve got no problem with that but the real controversy is if they decided it on likeability grounds they then gave it to Ian!! How must that make Kristian feel if Ian was more likeable than him! Only joking Ian – just like all the other Edinburgh teams we love you as well.
Week 12 believe it or not is scheduled to be the last week of regular League TT before the Christmas break. Roll on Xmas!