Monday night saw Team 2 travel to Edinburgh to face North Merchiston 3 in Division 1. James Wighton, Hannah McDonell and David Melrose were looking to get some confidence back after a difficult couple of weeks. Their opponents, however, contained two very experienced players in Eddie Scott and Alan Nisbet, both with Premier League experience. When David lost the first match to Eddie in four, the signs weren’t good, but James then defeated Michal Jesionowski in a mammoth five set match – James likes doing things the hard way and got over the line 11-9 in the fifth. Alan lost the first end to Hannah in his first match but then won the next three to give the hosts a 2-1 lead. Match 4 probably should have gone the way of the Penicuik side, David losing out in 5 to Michal but Hannah then kept the visitors in it with an excellent four end win against Eddie. Matches 6, 7, 8 and 9 were all close and could have gone either way. James was 2-0 down against Alan in Match 6 but fought back brilliantly to force a decider. Unfortunately for the visitors, James got off to a dreadful start in the fifth and fell to a 3-2 defeat. The doubles also went to five ends – James and Hannah fell just short against the experienced Eddie and Alan. Hannah then lost out in five to Michal and the story of the night continued for the visitors as David lost in five to Alan in Match 9. Eddie rounded off the night with a win against James but the 8-2 scoreline in the Edinburgh outfit’s favour doesn’t do justice as to how close this match was. SIX matches on the night went the distance with the visitors only able to win one of those – despite the loss, however, the performance was promising for Team 2.
Tuesday night then saw Team 6 travel to the Gyle to take on Murrayfield 12 in Division 5. Roscoe Cairney, Mat Dyluk and Ian Millar have, if nothing else, been consistent so far this season. Three matches played and three 9-1 defeats going into their Week 6 encounter. Only one match on the night went beyond three ends – that was match 8 where Roscoe continued his consistency of winning 1 in each match played thus far – he had a good four end win to keep that record going. Mat and Ian, we have no doubt, will improve throughout the season – they can take some confidence from the fact that although neither of them won an end on Tuesday night, they both came close and were involved in “deuce games”, Ian losing one 14-12 and Mat losing one 12-10. Although consistency is a terrific thing to have, we would like to see you guys break that run in Week 7!
A further two matches took place at home on Thursday night. Team 3 hosted North Merchiston 4 in Division 2 and in the absence of Charlie Brindley and Gary McDougal, team captain Krzysztof was joined by regular Bob Porteous and Craig Linton, playing up from Division 3. The first two matches were shared with a win for Krzysztof but a loss for Bob. Match 3 was really topsy turvy as Craig took on Nick Thomas. An 11-3 first end win for Craig and he looked in control, but he then lost the second 11-6 – that was just a blip though as he won the third even more convincingly, 11-2. But hold on an 11-5 fourth end win for Nick and in the fifth the tables were completely turned as Craig fell to an 11-3 loss – what a strange game but a hugely important win for the visitors. Krys got the scores level again but that was followed by two four end losses for Bob and Craig – 4-2 down going into the doubles and the hosts knew they needed a win – the doubles went the distance, but it was the visitors who secured it in five and the writing was on the wall. Krys won his third of the night, but neither Bob nor Craig could win their final matches as the Penicuik trio fell to a 7-3 defeat – a real setback in their campaign to get promotion straight back to Division 1.
Team 5 hosted Corstorphine 5 in Division 4. After her player of the week award in their last match, Rachel Petrie was unceremoniously dropped by Team Captain Jim Jack for this encounter. Jim was joined by Chamika Diyunugalge and Patrick Shanks. This was Jim’s first match of the season, and he started well with a four end victory in Match 1. When that was followed by Chamika’s match 2 win, it looked comfortable for the hosts. Patrick has already this season been involved in some lengthy battles and match 3 was one of those games – 11-9, 12-14, 11-9 put him 2-1 up but his Edinburgh based opponent then won the fourth 11-5 to force a decider – it went the distance as an 11-9 win was recorded by the Corstorphine player. Chamika restored the two game advantage before Jim fell to the player who had defeated Patrick. Going into the doubles, however, it was 4-2 for the hosts after Patrick got on the board with a straightforward three end win. Chamika and Patrick combined in the doubles and as we say so often, the importance of the doubles cannot be overestimated. 5-2 or 4-3 makes a huge difference to the final three games of the night. The Penicuik duo came back from 2-1 down to give the hosts that 5-2 advantage. Just when the team thought they could relax, however, Chamika and Patrick then lost matches 8 and 9 and it left Jim to play match to try and secure a 6-4 victory. Jim says it was never in doubt! A good three end win saw the hosts over the line and puts the team into third place in the Division.
Finally in Week 6, Team 4 travelled on Friday evening to take on Murrayfield 10 at The Gyle in Division 3. Craig Linton, Aidan Craig and Kristian Skotzen have only played 1 match so far this season and that was a 10-0 win in Week 1 of the season. Three straight 3-0 wins got the visitors off to a flyer. Whilst a single end was lost in the next three singles, suddenly the match was over as the Penicuik side held a 6-0 lead. Craig and Kristian kept the run going with a 3-0 win in the doubles before Kristina made it 8-0. Match 9 and Craig, to everyone’s surprise, fell to a 3-1 defeat to Krzysztof Markowski. That was just a blip, however, as Aidan rounded the off the night with another terrific 3-0 victory. A 9-1 win to add to their 10-0 Week 1 victory – things will get harder for this side but at the moment they’re looking good.
And so, to our player of the week award. Krys, Kristian and Aidan all had undefeated nights in singles play this week. Of those three, particular credit to Aidan who completed his three matches without the loss of a single end – well done to him on a terrific performance. Ordinarily that would probably be enough for our player of the Week award but we’re sure Aidan will be challenging for that again soon. In a much tighter match where every game was vital to the outcome, Jim and Chamika both won two in their 6-4 victory against Corstorphine. Both of them won 6 ends and lost 4 in singles play – Jim won under pressure to bring home the win. But on this occasion the doubles was crucial and Chamika played a huge part in that – the opponents must have also thought he showed something more as they gave him player of the match – this week’s award goes to Chamika – well done to him.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Let’s have a go at ourselves this week. Team 3 have played five matches so far this season. They have the realistic goal of being promoted back to Division 1, having been relegated from there last season. They have a four man team, Bob being the only player who hasn’t played at a higher level. Of their five matches played they’ve fielded a “full team” on three occasions. They have twice had to call up a player from Division 3. Lo and behold they have won three matches and lost 2, the two losses being in matches where neither Gary nor Charlie have been available – for a team with a real chance of promotion that is a real setback. Now obviously we cannot say that had a regular played, the outcomes in the two “understrength” matches would have been different – a 6-4 loss and a 7-3 loss. Craig, who has played up twice from Div 3 is due a great deal of credit - he’s played some excellent stuff winning 1 in the 6-4 defeat and he came closest this week to adding to the 7-3 loss. But when a team is chasing promotion, in a division where there are some quality teams, surely every effort has to be made to get a “full side” out every week – whilst we appreciate there’s not much you can do about last minute difficulties or things which just can’t be rearranged, we do wonder whether trying to postpone matches where two regulars are unavailable would be better – of course there is no guarantee that a postponement would be given but…… Before Krys gets angry with our Reporter, this is not a “dig” at him as Team Captain – Division 2 is full this season with 12 teams and the schedule, unlike some other divisions, is full on. We can understand a desire to get the matches played and avoid disruption and the headache of trying to rearrange. We blame Gary - he has never paid attention to our Ban on holidays during the league season! Let’s just hope these matches don’t come back to haunt Team 3.
Speaking of the set-up of the Divisions, here we are going into Week 7 and Team 4 in Division 3 have only played two matches! Their division only has 10 teams in it and so has plenty of “free weeks” – add to that a match against Edinburgh Uni that was postponed due to the Uni’s late start (even though they didn't in fact need a postponement) and our Team 4 players have had little in the way of a “run of games”. Richard has enjoyed his 10 weeks away in the sun and has only missed a couple of matches! The position is worse in Division 5 where there are only 9 teams competing – a free week in Week 2, handicap cup week in Week 5, free weeks again in Weeks 8 and 9 and the first half of the season for this side will be over by the end of November. Whilst obviously it’s up to the Clubs to register their teams and no doubt there will be players who can’t play every week, looking at the number of registered players, we could easily, it would appear, increase the number of teams in the league to give all divisions a good number. Looking at Div 5, our friends from West Lothian have 9 players in their bottom team, Murrayfield have 8 and Edinburgh Uni have 10. That’s 27 players registered over three teams! PTTC would make a whole division out of 27 players! Looking back at old Handbooks (being published on the ELTTL Website) that’s another thing that has changed radically over the years – in the good old days if a club had 12 players you entered 4 teams! Ah how times have changed - Oh well, it is what it is, and we should be grateful that we have five divisions this season.
Week 7 here we come!