Team 4 were first in action as they travelled to Bathgate on Monday 6th November to take on West Lothian 4. Kristian Skotzen, Aidan Craig and Craig Linton made the trip west hoping to recover from their 6-4 loss the previous week. They faced Tommy Toner, Tommy Hamill and Aidan Kerr who sat at the top end of the Division 3 table. Aidan got the visitors off to the perfect start with a 3-0 win v Tommy T but the scores were levelled when Tommy H defeated Kristian in four ends. Craig restored the lead after the first set of singles games with a close 3-0 win. The second set of singles matches followed the same pattern, Tommy H this time defeating Aidan. The wins for Kristian and Craig took the score to 4-2 with the doubles to play. Kristian and Craig took to the table – good grief we couldn’t think of a more awkward pairing for anyone to come up against! Their dodgy rubbers, and some good play, saw them victorious in four ends and a point was secured for the Penicuik trio. The two undefeated players then played match 8 and it was Craig who came out on top in a convincing 3-0 win against Tommy H. The battle of the Aidan’s went the distance and well done to our Aidan coming back from 2-1 down to win 11-7 in the decider. Kristian rounded the match off with a good win in the final match of the night as Team 4 recorded an excellent 8-2 win.
The following night saw Team 2 travel to Napier University to take on Corstorphine 1. After a late call off due to illness from Hannah McDonell, James Wighton had to reorganise his evening as he joined David Melrose and Ian Hislop in a trip to face a side, who in fairness, could have chosen to take up a place in the Premier Division. The loss of their best player from last season, however, probably caused them to think that the Premier might have been a step too far this season. That said, they are once again at the top end of the Division 1 table and Team 2 knew they were in for another tough match. Ian was first up, fresh from just returning from his early winter hibernation in sunnier climates, but perhaps a bit rusty as a result. When his loss was followed by defeats for both James and David, Team 2 were in trouble. The next set of three singles matches went 2-1 in favour of the hosts, David getting the visitors on the board. 5-1 down and a miracle was needed – that miracle had to start in the doubles as James and Ian took to the table – hang on James and Ian?? That’s a pairing that hasn’t been tried so far this season and we may not see it again after they managed only 16 points in their 3-0 defeat. Match over as a contest and only pride was left to play for – James was the only winner for the visitors in the last three singles – well done to him on a good 3-1 win in the final match of the night. An 8-2 loss for Team 2 and after a promising start to the season (two draws in their first two matches) they’ve had five consecutive losses which leaves them at the foot of the Division. This division is tight though – 4th place is only four points ahead so hope remains that Team 2 can turn their season around.
The final two matches in Week 8 took place at Ladywood on Thursday night with the visit of two Haddington teams. Teams 1 and 3 hosted Haddington 1 and 3. Peter Aird wasn’t available for Team 1, so Greig McDonell and Colin Green called up new recruit Steve Collins to make his debut for the Club. Match 1 saw Greig take on his old foe from the 90s (is that really 30 years ago), and at 2-1 up and 7-3 up in the fourth an upset was on the cards – when that advantage was lost, Greig’s chance had gone as Pete came back to win in five. Steve meanwhile was struggling against the tricky Russell Frith and went down to a three-end loss. Colin got the home side on the board with a win against our favourite table tennis singer Matt Munro (we do the same joke every year) but at the same time Pete was showing he can still produce some unbelievable forehand loops as he defeated Steve. 3-1 down and the hosts were in trouble. The recovery started with wins for Greig v Matt and Colin v Russell – when that pair combined for a victory in the doubles, they held their first lead of the night. Colin v Pete and Steve v Matt then took place simultaneously and both went the distance. Steve looked out of it in the decider v Matt, 5-1 down at the change of ends he somehow pulled it back to win deuce in the fifth. Colin found himself 2-1 down but in the highest quality match of the night, he found a way to cancel out Pete’s attacking play as he secured a five-end victory. Those two wins took the pressure of Greig in the last match of the night which also went the way of the hosts. Six matches in a row saw Team 1 recover from 1-3 for a 7-3 victory.
Team 3 meanwhile were looking to bounce back from a poor couple of weeks in Division 2. Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Bob Porteous took to the table against a side who, according to the table were struggling a little. Bob lost to Gordon Aien in match 1 but wins for Gary and Krys gave the hosts the advantage after the first round of singles. Gordon kept his good form going with a victory over Gary in match 4 and when Sheikh Usman defeated Bob the Haddington side held the lead again. Matches 6 and 7 were crucial. Krys was a strong favourite to win against Magnus Wahernberg in Game 6 and after the first two ends went his way 11-2, 11-5 the writing was on the wall for Magnus. But hold on – suddenly Magnus won the next two ends 11-7, 11-4 and an upset was on the cards. Those two ends saw a total of approximately 150 pushes from Krys! In the decider, Krys was more aggressive and found his form as he squeezed home to level the match at 3-3. The doubles also went the distance. Krys and Gary played some good stuff in the decider though as the home side took a 4-3 lead going into the final round of singles. This match had swung one way then the other with 4 lead changes and never more than one match in it. A bit harsh on Haddington therefore when all three of the final singles went Penicuik’s way, including a very tense 11-9 in the fifth win for Bob v Magnus. 7-3 probably flattered the hosts a little but they’re back to winning ways and it was good to see Gary recover some form after a poor few weeks for him.
And so, to our player of the week award. Krys had another undefeated night in singles play but he wants to rule himself out of contention because of his pushing. Colin and Craig were our other undefeated players this week. Craig’s undefeated night saw him lose only one end in singles and he won the doubles with Kristian. Special mention to Kristian and Aidan from Team 4 – all three players sit in the top 5 of the individual averages for Division 3 – keep that going and they will be challenging at the end of the season. Colin showed some brilliant form, particularly against Pete and his undefeated night (unlike Craig’s) was crucial to Team 1s recovery. Colin v Pete saw some excellent play from both players with Colin playing probably his best Tt of the season to pull out the win. His start to the season has been impressive – 15 games played and 13 wins. For the quality of his play, he wins the award this week - Well done Colin.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. We mentioned last week that we had too many controversies to fit in one report and so this week we’re catching up on one from a few weeks ago. In West Lothian’s match with Murrayfield 2 there was an interesting “rules query” raised. Picture the scene, 3-3 and the doubles takes centre stage. During a rally, one of the Murrayfield players ends up sprawled out on top of the table, her torso effectively resting on the table but her hands out to her sides not touching the table. She also managed not to move the table. As she is in that position WL returns the ball which bounces just to the side of her and past her body, allowing her partner to somehow hit a winner. The umpire from Murrayfield gave the point to his teammates. WL didn’t agree with that, and a “discussion” ensued about how the point could be awarded where one of the players was effectively “lying on the table”. We don’t think we’ve ever come across such a scenario before and our immediate reaction, when the story was relayed to us, was that it must be a point against the player who had decided to go for a lie down on the table. But when we look at the rules, that seems not to be the case? We all know that you are not allowed to put your free hand on the table – that’s automatically a point to your opponent. In this case neither of the player’s hands or arms touched the table. There is also a rule about moving the table during a rally – that again didn’t happen. The ball somehow managed to land to the side of the sprawled out player and didn’t touch her or any of her clothing. Has any rule been infringed?? Answers on a postcard please but we think the right call was made. In the end it was agreed to play a let because the teams couldn’t agree on the position – we don’t know what the outcome of the replayed point was but ultimately it made no real difference as the Murrayfield pairing won the doubles comfortably – but imagine if it had been deuce in the fifth!
There was a lot of chat in Team 2’s match v Murrayfield a couple of weeks ago regarding the calling of a “let”. In the doubles, after a Penicuik serve, one of the Murrayfield players put his hand in the air thinking he’d seen a let. His partner returned the ball and David was just about to smash it when he saw the player standing with his hand in the air calling the rally to a halt. Neither of the Penicuik players had seen a let, the other Murrayfield player hadn’t seen it as a let and indeed returned the ball, and the umpire hadn’t called it as a let. David stopped and didn’t play his shot – the Umpire indicated that on the basis that David had stopped a let would be played – had he played a winning shot, however, should the point have been awarded to Penicuik? Later in the singles, David was up against the same individual who once again stuck his hand in the air after a David service calling a let that neither the umpire nor David saw. This caused some ill feeling between the players. The Murrayfield player was adamant that this is what happens at the top level of the game – if the player sees a let and puts his hand up then irrespective of the fact that the umpire didn’t call it, a let should be given. We’ve had a look at the Rules and the section on “lets” says the following:
The rally shall be a let: if in service the ball touches the net assembly, provided the service is otherwise correct.......; 126.96.36.199 if the service is delivered when the receiving player or pair is not ready, provided that neither the receiver nor his or her partner attempts to strike the ball;
Other than the definition above the only other thing we can find is Regulation 3 which indicates that the Umpire, amongst other things, is responsible for “deciding each rally as a point or a let”.
So where does this idea come from that a player can just call a let if he sees it as such? If anyone can enlighten us please do so – has it just become customary that if a player raises his hand then a let is “agreed”? If that is the case then our fully qualified umpire, Colin, will have to find a new catchphrase – his “I’ll call the lets” comment would be redundant! In this match the umpire from Murrayfield and our Club President sitting watching had to tell their own clubmates to get on with the match and stop arguing after the players had a stand-up row about the issue. Fortunately, they both stayed at their respective ends of the table. Not quite “daggers drawn”, but fairly close! David thought his opponent was deliberately interrupting play and was doing so in a manner to unsettle him. The Murrayfield player, we are sure, genuinely thought that the serves had been lets. In the end though we don’t think a let should be played just because one player stops a rally in the belief that there was a let.
And finally, for the first time this season we have to talk about postponements! Team 1 had issues this week. Peter was unavailable. That wasn’t enough to seek a postponement but when Colin was off work with illness the team were down to one regular. Colin made a request to Haddington for a postponement – refused. Should this really be controversial anymore? We are all entitled to refuse such requests – we always have been. But it does sour relationships a little. The nicest man in the league, Peter Lugton, was quick to point out that it had nothing to do with him – team captain, Russell’s decision! Pete’s just trying to maintain his title as the least controversial character in the League! As it turned out, Colin recovered sufficiently to play some excellent TT, despite being ill, and we were able to field a team of three after a last-minute debut for Steve. No hard feelings from us, apart from the email that’s gone out to all our team captains to ensure that any requests from our East Lothian friends for a postponement are flatly refused! (Only joking Haddington - we wouldn't be so petty, would we??)
Week 9 already – where have the weeks gone!