Team 1 were also in action catching up on a postponed fixture against North Merchiston 2 in the Premier Division. After playing the last two matches without his regular teammates, Colin Green welcomed back into the fold Greig McDonell (still struggling with a knee injury) and Peter Aird, returning from his travels to South America. Colin had agreed that to get the match played he would overlook the rule that states a player not registered at the time of the original fixture cannot play in a rearranged one. That allowed NM2 new recruit, Lewis Hills to play as he joined Geoff Hunter and Quentin Renau. The match started well for Greig against Lewis – an 11-3 first end win and the knee was fine – halfway through the second and he was hobbling around like he'd been shot in the kneecap – some magic spray from Colin helped a little but he never recovered and lost his three matches. That left the outcome in the hands of Peter and Colin. Peter had a terrific night, dropping only one end in his three singles. Colin won his first two matches and at the time of playing the doubles the hosts held a 4-2 lead. Greig was over the moon when Colin asked him to play the doubles – the basis of the decision was that Greig didn’t move in the doubles anyway so there’d be no risk to the knee! A 3-1 victory proved Colin right. The last match of the night saw Colin take on Lewis. There was some terrific play from both, but Colin got over the line 12-10 in the fourth. A 7-3 victory to round off the first half of the season for Team 1 – they suffered three losses in consecutive weeks, all when playing understrength. Put those matches to one side and it’s been a terrific season so far for Team 1 – they sit in third place in the Premier, their highest ever position in the topflight at the halfway point in a season. Peter and Colin both sit in the top 10 in the individual averages and if Peter can cut down on his travels in the New Year, who knows, maybe the second half can be just as fruitful.
Finally in Week 13, Team 2 of David Melrose, Steve Collins and Ian Hislop took to the table looking to improve on their first half 5-5 draw against ESC, in a match brought forward from January. Ian lost match 1 but a comfortable win for David was followed by an equally comfortable victory for Steve against the experienced Chris Shaw to give the home side the advantage after the first round of singles matches. The second set of matches saw David and Ian lose, but a win in match 6 for Steve brought the match level at 3-3 going into the vital doubles. A win in the doubles for the hosts would have gone a long way to potentially securing a point at least and they had their chances. 7-11, 11-9, 3-11 and the momentum was with the visitors, however, a terrific fourth end went down to the wire and when Steve and David won that 15-13 it appeared the confidence and momentum had definitely gone in their favour. They looked in control in the decider. 9-7 up, they somehow managed to lose it 11-9 and with it the confidence seemed to disappear from the team. David then lost to Chris from 2-1 up and although close, Steve fell in straight sets to Alexander Asyunkin and the match was over as a contest. Perhaps if the match had been on the line there would have been more pressure on Stella Hughes in the last match of the night, but Ian remained winless as the hosts fell to a disappointing 7-3 defeat. It’s been a tough season so far for Team 2. After two draws in the first two matches of the season, they’ve only managed to pick up one further point in their next 8 matches and find themselves at the foot of the Division 1 table. Look on the bright side, however. The only way is up, isn’t it??
A quick mention of our Junior and Senior Xmas Tournaments at Ladywood on Saturday 16th December. Run on a handicapped basis, it was great to see some terrific play from the juniors. After a shocking start to the day, Oliver turned things round when the knockout stages were reached, defeating Murray in the quarter final, Cara in the semi-final and then in a brilliant final defeating Aidan 11-9 in the deciding fifth end. Hard luck to Aidan who had reached the final giving all of his opponents big starts and had pulled back from 2-0 down to force a decider. In the senior event, the handicaps worked well with lots of close matches but it was Greig and James who competed in the final, Greig running out the winner. A big well done to Hannah for organising and running the events - stressful when she didn't know who was going to turn up but well worth it in the end.
And so, to our player of the week award. Peter and Colin were both undefeated this week and have been excellent throughout the first half of the season. How can we split them – we can’t! So, this week’s winner (perhaps a little controversially), has to be Greig! The game was in the balance when he was “ordered” by Team Captain Colin to play the doubles – struggling with a knee injury, his terrific ability to hardly move yet somehow move enough to allow Colin to slide past him (sometimes in front and sometimes behind) to play some unbelievable winners throughout the match was a sight to behold! As he often says, Colin may have played all the winning shots, but doubles is a team game and Colin needed Greig to refuse to hit high balls and to stoically block his opponents off the table, to enable Colin to look so good. And of course he won our Xmas tournament! Well done to him.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Normally each year we don’t have anything controversial in the week before Christmas – but we have a match in Week 14, so we’ll just do a little bit of a controversy this week. Team 2’s match this week only took place as a result of that lovely Team Captain, James Wighton feeling generous (perhaps overly so) and agreeing to bring forward a match from the second half of the season so their opponents (ESC) could have a full side out. ESC would have had to play understrength if the match had gone ahead in January as scheduled, Chris Shaw being unavailable for that one. Team 2 are struggling. Points are like gold dust! They’re probably lacking a bit in confidence. There is, as we know, no requirement on any team to accept a request for a match to be rescheduled. This then was surely the perfect opportunity to “take advantage” of the fact that a team was struggling to get a full side out – a team who they had drawn with in the first half of the season. Would this have been their chance in the first match in January to get a win under their belts? Maybe it would have been but that would have been controversial and perhaps not in the spirit of the game. Good on all of Team 2 (who were consulted about bringing the match forward and unanimously agreed to do it). They don’t want to win against weakened teams – they want to win fair and square. Let’s just hope that if James needs a postponement in the second half, whoever their opponents are, take a similar view to Team 2! In the end nothing controversial at all about Team 2’s decision – well unless it costs them at the end of the season!!
One match left before Xmas (Team 4 in action on Thursday night) – a quick report on Week 14 will follow at the end of the week.