Wednesday night (1st November) saw Team 1 make the trip to Bathgate to take on West Lothian 1 who were in good form having won three of their first four matches, their only loss coming to Premier League title contenders North Merchiston 1. Greig McDonell, Peter Aird and Colin Green have also had an excellent start to the season, undefeated in their first three matches of the season – something had to give! Peter was first up against Dariusz Szymczak and when he won the first end 11-9 it looked like his “funny rubber” was going to cause Dariusz problems – the next three ends, however, went the way of the WL player. Colin’s first match of the night was against former teammate, David Simpson. Colin has a good record against David and all their matches seem to be terrific long five end battles – not on this occasion – a 3-0 win for David gave the hosts a 2-0 lead. Greig then took on Alicja Czarnomska and battled back from 2-1 down to force a deciding fifth end – he was in complete control at 8-3 up in the fifth (or so his teammates thought)! Somehow, Alicja pulled it back to 8-9 before a good piece of luck for Greig gave him the win. When the next two matches went the way of the hosts, the Penicuik trio trailed 4-1 and were in real trouble. Colin defeated Alicja in 4 ends to reduce the deficit. A terrific doubles performance from Colin and Greig brought them back to within 1. Matches 8 and 9 were played simultaneously - Peter won his match in quick fashion and the attention turned to Greig’s match v David. This was a long tight affair, Greig coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to force another fifth end decider. His fitness, he claims, let him down in the fifth as he ran out of energy against the impressive David who finished the night undefeated. Colin v Dariusz was the last match in the Hall and with the Caretaker lurking to close up, this was destined to go the distance – a terrific fifth end win for Colin resulted in a 5-5 draw on the night, probably a fair result.
Thursday night saw three matches take place at Ladywood. Team 2 of James Wighton, Hannah McDonell and David Melrose hosted Murrayfield 7 at Ladywood in Division 1. When both James and Hannah lost their opening matches in straight sets, the hosts knew they were in for a difficult night. David got the side on the board but further losses for James and Hannah left the home side struggling at 4-1 down. David cut the deficit and then combined with Hannah for an excellent four end victory in the doubles. Suddenly there was only one game in it and when Hannah won match 8 the scores were tied at 4-4. David had the chance to secure a point against his opposite number but a loss of concentration, after what he felt was some deliberate mind games by his opponent, saw the Edinburgh side retain the lead. James then played Match 10 and was 2-0 up and on his way to securing a point. The third end was disastrous, but his chance would come in the fourth which went to deuce. An agonising 12-10 loss was followed by a slow start in the fifth and although he battled hard to get back into the end, he fell to an 11-8 defeat. A 6-4 loss for the Penicuik trio who felt they at least deserved a point.
After their good start to the season, Team 4 were in action against Edinburgh University 4 in Division 3. Richard Miller came into the side to join Aidan Craig and Craig Linton. When Richard and Aidan lost their opening matches in straight sets, Team 4 knew they were in for a hard night. Craig got the hosts on the board in Match 3 but a loss in match 4 for Aidan kept the gap at 2. Match 5 saw Richard play some great stuff (the rustiness from his 12 week holiday in Spain wearing off) – a five end win for him was followed by Craig’s second win of the night and the scores were tied at 3-3 going into the doubles. Craig and Aidan looked down and out at 2-0 down but they battled back to win the next two ends 11-9. 11-5. The decider would prove pivotal to the outcome of the match. The home duo fell short after a rather controversial umpiring incident (more on that later). Aidan played his best TT of the night in Match 8 but couldn’t convert his better play to a win. 5-3 down and a draw was still on the cards but a five end loss for Craig ended the hosts hopes. Richard won match 10 as Team 4 fell to their first defeat of the season, 6-4.
The final team in action at Ladywood was Team 6 of Roscoe Cairney, Mat Dyluk and Ian Millar. They hosted West Lothian 7 in Division 5. Our most consistent team in the League, but not a consistency they wished to maintain. They were hoping to break their run after 4 consecutive 9-1 losses. When Roscoe won match 1 things were looking really positive. Mat and Ian, however, couldn’t add to the score in the first round of singles matches. Game 4 saw Mat take on Stuart Herschell – two players who have only taken up competitive TT this season. 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 to Mat and the run was broken and not only that but Mat recorded his first victory of the season. Jump on to match 9 and Ian secured his first win of the season, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9. Mat also got an end in Match 8 against his opponent and for the first time this season our Player of the Night wasn’t Roscoe! A 7-3 defeat but a move in the right direction for Team 6.
Away from Ladywood on Thursday night, Team 5 travelled to Ocean Terminal to take on Murrayfield 11 in Division 4. Captain Jim Jack didn’t fancy the long trip by the looks of it and dropped himself – Patrick Shanks and Chamika Diyunugalge were joined by Rachel Petrie. The first three singles saw a loss for Rachel, a win for Patrick and a narrow four end defeat for Chamika (his fourth end loss went on and on before he finally succumbed 15-13). The second set of singles went the same way unfortunately as Patrick was the only winner. 4-2 down and the visitors were in trouble. When Rachel and Chamika lost the doubles only a point was available for the Penicuik trio. Unfortunately, only Chamika could win his last singles match as the visitors fell to a disappointing 7-3 loss. Whilst it probably wouldn't have affected the outcome, for some reason the games in this match were played out of the Scorecard order. For example the last match played was C v Y which ought to have been match 6 and the doubles was played second last! Our controversy of the week section is already too long so we're not going to dwell on this and ultimately our Team didn't object - but why on earth agree to that!!
Finally in Week 7 it was a Friday night outing for Team 3 as they travelled to the wonderfully named St Leonards Land to face Edinburgh University 3 in Division 2. Gary McDougal and Bob Porteous joined team captain Krzysztof Laszkiewicz in the trip to Edinburgh hoping to bounce back from their bad loss in Week 6. It started well for the visitors as Bob battled his way to a five end victory in Match 1. Gary lost match 2 but Krzysztof gave the visitors the advantage again with a good win in Match 3. Match 4 was tight – Bob forced a fifth end but just fell short in the decider as the scores were levelled. Krys continued his good form with a four end win, but Gary’s second loss of the night meant the doubles was, as always, going to be crucial. The visitors won the first end but couldn’t keep it going as they lost in four and for the first time the University held the lead, 4-3 going into the last set of singles matches. Krys levelled the scores with his third win of the night before it was left to Bob and Gary to try and get a victory to at least secure a point. Bob came closest with a four end defeat, but it was ultimately a disappointing drive back to Midlothian for the Penicuik side as they fell to a 6-4 defeat.
And so, to our player of the week award. Krys had another undefeated night in singles play but he blames himself for “playing rubbish” in the doubles and that loss cost the team at least a point. Special mention to Krys, however, who after 18 games played sits top of the Division 2 individual averages – 17 wins out of those 18 games is impressive – looks like he is going to need to keep that consistency going if Team 3 are to challenge this season. No other Penicuik player was undefeated this week – there were some good performances, Colin winning Match 10 against West Lothian for a 5-5 draw is worthy of mention. It’s not often that this award is won by a player who manages to win just one singles match, but this week two players recorded their first league wins – our winner sneaks the award on the basis that he also won an end in another match and was more comfortable in his win than his teammate was – it was terrific to see Ian win his first league match but the award this week goes to Mat – congratulations to him.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Loads to cover so we’ve saved up a couple for quieter weeks!! Umpiring issues first. In Team 4's match at Ladywood the doubles proved pivotal to the outcome. At 7-7 in the decider the match was in the balance. There was then a debate about the score! The Uni umpire was convinced the score was wrong and despite some protestations to the contrary 7-7 became 8-6 to the visitors – the problem here was that Craig and Aidan didn’t seem too confident about the score either! They never won another point after that as they fell to a disappointing 11-6 loss, no doubt caused, at least in part, by the confusion. Whether the Umpire was right or not remains debatable but if the home duo weren't able to challenge with any degree of certainty there was little that could be done - the lesson is clearly to pay more attention!
In the last match at Bathgate on Wednesday night between Colin and Dariusz, Colin’s grunting came in for some criticism. Colin chased down an impossible to reach ball – on his way to the ball and as he somehow reached it, he let out one of his “Novak Djokovic” grunts – the ball somehow came back towards his opponent – lots of air on it and would you believe it as it fell towards the table it caught an outrageous edge. David and Greig were watching from outside the Court and David wasn’t happy that the grunt had been far too loud and prolonged – he felt that the point should have been awarded against Colin – Alicja who was umpiring saw nothing wrong with it and in fairness Dariusz never questioned it and the point was awarded to Colin. Whilst we don’t think the point should go against Colin, should a let have been played “because the conditions of play were disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally”? There is certainly a lot more noise these days in games of table tennis. Lots of shouts after points are won, in between rallies etc. But grunting or yelping before and as a shot is played? Interesting stuff!
The next issue is one we have tackled many times in the past - Player of the Match awards. One of our opponents from Week 7 was somewhat cheesed off by the fact that he didn’t get the player of the Match award despite, as he put it, playing his best match ever in Division 1. Team 2’s decision obviously troubled him a little. So, we thought we would look at various matches this week to see the basis on which the POTM awards were given. If we start with Team 6’s match, the award went to Ian – now with respect to Ian he was not the best player on show for Team 6 on Thursday night, either in terms of the level of play or statistically the amount of ends won / lost. Why did he win the award? Maybe because he was the nicest player in the team? Maybe because he was more chatty than his teammates? Maybe because the opponents didn't look at it from a statistical point of view? Who knows? Team 5 played Murrayfield in Division 4 – Murrayfield gave the award to Chamika despite the fact that he won 1 whilst Teammate Patrick won 2? Chamika probably was the nicest in this match and maybe he got the award for that – he smiles all the time! In Team 2’s match, the best players on the night were clearly David Melrose for us and Jonas Falter for Murrayfield. That’s what the statistics say. Murrayfield filled in their award first and gave it to Hannah (she won 1 as opposed to David's 2) and in fairness played well in the doubles with David. The reason given by Murrayfield was that she prolonged and kept the match in the balance by winning match 8. We think, however, it probably had more to do with the fact that she’s lovely on the table (just like her dad) and her teammate David was involved in some “lively discussions” with an opponent. Team 2 gave the award to Artur Chodacki who won 2 of his three singles (Jonas was undefeated). The reason? Twofold apparently – some controversial moments from Jonas meant he didn’t pass the “nicest person test” but also because Artur came back from 2-0 down in the final match against James and turned it around to secure a 6-4 victory. Maybe there should be a box next to the POTM Award section on the Website where we have to give reasons for our selection!! Imagine the fun we could all have with that! Ultimately it is a bit silly for the Murrayfield player to argue that he should have been given the award when his own team did exactly the same by giving the award to “not the best player on the night” from a statistical point of view. We’ve said for a long time, that unless the POTM is selected in the same way as it is for National League (the computer does it) then this is never going to be solely based on who played the best TT – and we like it like that – gives us stuff to write about!!
And finally - a last minute inclusion after some video footage was watched of James v Artur in their deciding Match 10 - Artur is leading 9-8 in the decider. His service is a good one. James returns the ball high. Artur hits a smash to win the point. 10-8 and Artur wins the next point to win the match. Nothing controversial? Hold on - As Artur hits the smash his whole body bumps into and moves the table. We cannot believe that this wasn't picked up at the time. In terms of Rule 22.214.171.124 a player scores a point if an opponent, or anything the opponent wears or carries, moves the playing surface! Video footage shows it clear as day!! What was the umpire doing? The player surely realised he moved the table? Why didn't James notice it? We were robbed! Maybe we should have given the POTM award to Jonas after all! Check out the video on our YouTube channel.
Week 8 is upon us!