The same trio for the hosts got off to a dreadful start with losses for both Bob and Gary. When Krys found himself 8-1 down in the deciding end against young Max Well, the writing was on the wall for the home side. Surely the match was over – Krys somehow got back in it and won the decider 11-9. It looked like Gary was then going to draw the scores level but from 2-1 up he lost match 4 and when Bob lost match 5, the visitors lead had extended to 4-1. Match 6 was crucial. More on the controversy later but in an eventful game Krys lost out in 5 and a point was secured for the visitors. With another bad night on the cards, Team 3 showed some fighting spirit – Gary and Bob won the doubles and there then followed wins for Krys and Gary and suddenly going into match 10, a draw was still a possibility. Alas it was not to be as the tricky anti-loop of Graham Muir proved too difficult for Bob. A 6-4 defeat and a real dent has been made in Team 3’s promotion chances over the last few weeks – one point from a possible 6 sees them drop to fifth place.
Team 2 of Steve Collins, James Wighton and Hannah McDonell had the unenviable task on Wednesday evening of travelling to Edinburgh to take on the runaway leaders in Division 1, Murrayfield 4. The Murrayfield outfit, even at this early stage, seem certainties to win the Division – their closest rivals are already 9 points behind them, and the Penicuik side started the night a staggering 21 points behind! This was not a match identified by team Captain, James, as a chance of picking up points. And so it proved! Although there were some good games the youngsters of Rory Thomson and Angus Halliday, guided by the experienced Lindsay Muir were too strong – the highlight of the night was some terrific play in the doubles from Hannah and Steve forcing a five set match against the “young guns”. They fell just short of the win – it was left to Steve in match 10 on the night to win the only game for the visitors against Lindsay – a 9-1 defeat and a deserved win for the top of the table side – in young Angus Halliday, Murrayfield appear to have unearthed another rising star – his play was beautiful throughout the night.
In the Premier Division, Team 1 were without the services of Peter Aird as they hosted West Lothian 2. Colin Green and Greig McDonell were joined by James Wighton and the visitors were also understrength, their best player, Ben Hart being unavailable. WL were unable to field a third player so advantage Penicuik from the start. James lost out in four in the first match of the night before Colin had an epic five end victory over the impressive Jamie Toner – his hitting off his anti-loop side was a sight to behold. Greig was then involved in another five end battle – at match point in the fifth he did a fresh air serve – before going down 14-12. A James loss was followed by a Colin win, and it was 5-3 to the hosts. With time running out (more on that later) Jamie did enough to defeat Greig and we won’t comment on the doubles, other than in our controversy section below!! A 5-5 draw was not what the hosts had expected!
Team 6 rounded off the week with a visit to Dunbar in Division 5 on Friday evening. The first half match had been very one sided with the East Lothian outfit triumphing 9-1. Sian MacDonald, Roscoe Cairney and Mat Dyluk made the trip east and found the Dunbar side to be equally as tough in the second half of the season! There were, however, some close games. Sian lost match 1 in four ends before Roscoe lost the next in five. Match 4 saw Sian come back from 2-1 down to win the fourth set 11-9 and then the decider 13-11 and the visitors were on the board. Mat’s last match of the night was a little bizarre – having only won 8 points in total over the first two ends he then decided to go toe to toe with his opponent and deuce after deuce after deuce followed in the third set. EIGHT deuces in total before Mat lost out 18-16! A 9-1 loss for Team 6 but some good performances against the Division 5 runaway leaders.
And so, to our player of the week award. It’s a tough one this week – Although Colin was undefeated in singles play, Team 1 only played against two players (and Colin had a nightmare as Team Captain – more on that later). Steve was the only winner for Team 2 with one win and Sian achieved the same for Team 6. Whilst Krzysztof won 4 out of 6 matches played he was very disappointed to fall from top spot in the individual averages - going into Week 18 he had 36 wins out of 39 but those two crucial losses saw him fall to third place in the averages and with his team picking up only 1 point out of a possible 4 this week we can’t give the award to him. Who does that leave us with? Let’s look at the Scottish National League at the weekend – the Club were in trouble after the first weekend of matches in Perth – rooted to the foot of the Division 4 table after two losses. A trip to Largs followed for the second round of fixtures and things improved. They then ended with another horror trip, this time to Saltcoats, on Sunday 4th February for the final matches. Greig and Colin steered the team to safety and a fourth place finish – Colin finished with a 90% win rate and Greig was undefeated with 100% - but hang on – the award doesn’t go to either of them – we still can’t get over their “controversial” night in the league below! The winner this week may not have had many wins, but this award is about more than that. He did have an important win against “Mr Walkover” whilst playing up for Team 1 (without it, Team 1 would have lost!) and he had a very busy week – he played six matches in the Edinburgh League, played both final matches in the SNL and is the only player that has played every round of fixtures in the National League. Add to that his fantastic commitment to Saturday morning coaching sessions and we’re surprised it’s taken us 18 weeks to give him this award – well done to James!
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Ladywood on Thursday night saw some angry and frustrated exchanges. In Team 3’s match against Murrayfield there were a couple of outrageous calls from the Murrayfield Umpire in the crucial match between Krys and Graham. The calls resulted in fairly heated discussions between the players and between Krys and the umpire. Both came in the deciding fifth set. The first one came after Graham hit a shot off the end of the table – he put his hand up to apologise. Apologise for what? He claimed the ball had clipped the edge of the table – suddenly the umpire said they thought they had heard a noise and gave the point to their Murrayfield teammate. Krys was in shock. He was absolutely adamant that the ball had been nowhere near the table. The umpire maintained the position that although the touch had not been “seen”, there was a definite noise and hence the point to Murrayfield – are we playing cricket? Claims from the bowler of an edge come to mind – of course no TV replays available at Ladywood. Patrick who was standing watching the match almost in line with the end of the table said afterwards that the ball had been nowhere near the edge – he had the best view of everyone. Is hearing a noise sufficient to enable an umpire to award a point? One of the worst calls ever made according to those watching!
As if that wasn’t bad enough for Krys, later in the end Graham played a shot which sailed off the end of the table – as the ball was sailing long the Umpire shouted let because they thought another ball was coming into the court (it didn’t actually make its way into the court). Krys moved on expecting the umpire to turn the scoreboard in his favour – oh no – a let had been called so a replayed point was necessary. Krys couldn’t believe it – the point was over when the let call came – he felt his opponent would agree with him – yikes! Not a chance of agreement – the umpire called let and so a let should be played said his opponent! This left a very sour taste in the mouth for Krys – he felt his opponent should have done the decent thing and told the umpire that the point was over – not a bit of it! He insisted on a let, much to Krys’ bewilderment. The view of Krys was that winning was more important than playing honestly and fairly. The Murrayfield player went on to win the fifth end and an exasperated exchange of views then followed!
Now any regular readers of this article will be aware that whilst we are often critical of others, when the need arises we will happily have a go at our own shortcomings! So here we go! As we indicated earlier, Team 1 hosted a two man team at Ladywood on Thursday night. The hall had originally been set up with four tables (2 Teams in action – two tables each). Team Captain Colin, however, decided to “make a night of it” and rearranged Team 1’s half of the hall so that one table would suffice for their match. Greig queried the situation with Colin and suggested that the match should still be played on two tables despite there only being two opponents. No was the answer to that suggestion. There were a couple of other club members in attendance who could have helped with the umpiring if two tables had been used. Never mind there’s only 7 matches to get through in 3 hours. When Team 3’s match ended, Greig asked them to leave one of their tables up in case Team 1 needed it. With 3 games still to go, Greig again suggested that play move onto two tables – we’ll be fine was the response. You know what’s coming…..
The penultimate match of the night saw Greig take on Jamie with the doubles still to follow – Team 1 were 5-3 up but somehow were already under time pressure. Greig got off to a horror start and lost the first two ends. Clock watching had well and truly kicked in and with the 10pm deadline fast approaching panic set in. It was already after 9.40 pm. Colin (somewhat tongue in cheek, we think) suggested that Greig could just concede, and they could go straight to the doubles. Greig thought about conceding but decided to play on. When he won the third end matters became desperate! They might get away with staying on past 10pm but if the match went to a fifth end there was no way the doubles would get played. Now to be clear we are taking nothing away from the excellent play of young Jamie Toner – he played some terrific stuff but as the fourth end went on and on and on with some long tactical rallies it became obvious that Team 1 were in real trouble. A four end defeat which took far too long, and it was straight on to the final match of the night with the clock ticking on.
It was well past 10pm as Greig and Colin got themselves 2-0 up. Five more minutes was the plea from the home side – no was the answer to that request – and fair enough – the Club knows where it stands in relation to time constraints. Despite the request to finish, they played on incurring the further wrath of the Centre staff and they had a chance to win it. As the clock ticked towards 10.20pm the match had to be conceded. The staff member was irked (and we apologise to her for the inconvenience) - she had a home to get to and was very late in getting the centre closed. Greig was seething – not at his opponents but at his Team Captain! How on earth could Team 1 have got themselves into this situation – they had played against a two player team and ended up having to concede because they didn’t have enough time to get the fixtures completed – unbelievable stupidity according to our Club President or words to that affect! (The actual words used are not printable!). It proves that there is simply no way, these days, to get a 10 game match played on one table with time constraints like ours – we couldn’t even get 7 matches completed! Another fallout between the Aussie and our President – what’s new there! But by Sunday they’d made up – they had to or the 2 and a half hour journey to Saltcoats for National League would have been unbearable!! Lesson learned hopefully for the future that, as all Club members should know, we should always listen and always do what our Club President says - he knows best apparently! Unbelievable!
On to week 19 we go.