Team 3 were first in action on Tuesday evening, 14th November as they travelled to Napier Uni to take on Corstorphine 3 in Division 2. After a good win in Week 8, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Bob Porteous were looking to get within three points of the Division leaders. Krys had, in Week 2 of the season, been unable to get his young kids looked after and so took them along to his match v Murrayfield – they had been a great boost to him, and he hoped that they would have the same impact as they faced another exciting night watching daddy play TT! Thanks to Corstorphine for accommodating us – Krys was at it again as he won his three and then left with the kids, avoiding them needing to watch Bob and Gary! After his departure the remaining duo continued the excellent play for the visitors as they too produced undefeated nights. Gary and Bob haven’t played together in the doubles so far this season but after a comfortable 3-0 win maybe they should be considered in the future. There were some close matches in this fixture but all of them went to the visitors as Team 3 recorded their biggest win of the season with a 10-0 whitewash win.
Thursday 16th November was a busy one for the Club with our remaining four teams in action – Teams 2 and 4 were at home against Murrayfield 5 and Edinburgh International 3 respectively whist Teams 1 and 5 were away against Murrayfield 3 and West Lothian 6.
With illness still affecting Hannah McDonell and with the unavailability of James Wighton, a new look Team 2 took to the table at Ladywood. David Melrose and Ian Hislop were joined by Steve Collins as Team 2 looked to put a halt to their poor run of form. Ian took on Haydn Jackson in the first match of the night – Haydn’s powerful topspin proved too difficult for Ian as the visitors got off to a good start. When Steve then lost to young Max Well (long pips on one side at his age – that’s unusual), David knew that he needed a win to keep the side in with a chance – he duly produced a good 3-0 win v Nichole Lee. Steve went to four ends in match 4 but fell to Haydn, and when Nichole triumphed over Ian, Team 2 were staring defeat in the face at 4-1 down. It’s never over though and the comeback started with a comfortable 3 end win for David v Max. That was followed by an excellent straight sets victory for Steve and David in the doubles before Steve then drew the score level with a four end win v Nichole. A 4 end win for David v Haydn in match 9 gave the hosts their first lead of the night – 5-4 up with Ian left to play against Max. Could Ian win to secure a terrific comeback victory? Not quite – a 12-10 fourth end loss resulted in a 5-5 draw, the hosts probably the happier team after their poor start.
The last outing for the Team 4 trio of Craig Linton, Richard Miller and Aidan Craig had seen them fall to their only defeat of the season so far (6-4 v Edinburgh University in Week 7) – they were looking to put that behind them as they faced Edinburgh International 3 in Division 3 at Ladywood. Their opponents were made up of the youth of Julia Domagala, supported by a huge amount of experience in Ken Benjamin and Jim Grahame. We remember Jim from the good old days where he regularly competed against the best. And we have a real soft spot for Ken for providing us with numerous items for our controversy of the week section over his many years as Match Secretary! The battle of the youngsters was first up, and it was Julia who came out on top. When Richard then lost to Jim, Team Captain Craig was needed to bring the hosts back into the match and he duly did so with a four end victory over Ken. The second round of singles saw an out of sorts Richard lose to Julia but four end wins for Aidan v Ken and Craig v Jim brought the scores level going into the crucial doubles. Aidan and Craig took on Julia and Jim and it looks like we need to spend some time on doubles tactics as they fell to a three end defeat. That heaped the pressure on the hosts for the last three singles. Richard took on Ken in Match 8 and Ken’s win secured a point for the visitors. Craig then had no difficulty in defeating Julia to keep the match alive. Aidan needed a win to secure a draw for the hosts but his opponent’s experience came to the fore as Jim secured a 6-4 win for the visitors – a really disappointing night for Team 4 but with Kristian unavailable in Week 10, the same trio will have a chance to redeem themselves this week.
Peter Aird was back from his travels as he joined Greig McDonell and Colin Green for their visit to Murrayfield 3 in the Premier Division. Team 1 have had a terrific start to the 2023 season, and they were looking to try and extend their winning form for another week. They were given a boost at the beginning of the night with only 1 regular playing for the Murrayfield outfit, Tomasz Bracha. He was joined by two division 1 players, young Angus Halliday and the not so young Colin Clark. The match was played out of order to enable young Angus to finish his matches and get home at some reasonable time. Although he never won any matches he took an end of Peter and was close in a couple of ends v Greig and Colin. With his three matches over, the attention turned to Colin C and Tomasz. Tomasz didn’t enjoy Peter’s style and fell in 3 before the two Colin’s took to the table – the Penicuik Colin won in 3. Tomasz had two terrific matches on the night – against Greig he went the distance, saved a couple of match points, and won 14-12 in the fifth. He also had his chances against Colin. At 2-1 up and deuce in the fourth he never really recovered from a horrendous missed smash as Colin won in 5. Both Peter and Greig defeated Colin and the doubles played at the end of the night saw a relaxed and cracking performance from Greig and Colin as Team 1 secured a 9-1 victory.
And finally in Week 9, Team 5 made the trip to Bathgate in Division 4 looking to bounce back from their 7-3 loss in their last outing in Week 7. Jim Jack, Rachel Petrie and Chamika Diyunugalge will probably want to forget about this match as quickly as they can. Jim was the player of the night for the visitors – his second and third matches both went to five ends but he lost them both, one of them 12-10 in the decider. Rachel will be kicking herself a little after the opening match of the night slipped away from her from 2-1 up, losing 11-9 in the fifth. That however was as good as it got for Team 5 as the West Lothian outfit marched into equal top in the Division with a 10-0 victory – the scoreline perhaps a little harsh on the visitors but even had those five-enders gone the other way the Bathgate side would have still been comfortable.
And so, to our player of the week award. This must be our most difficult decision of the season so far. SEVEN players are in contention, all having had undefeated nights in singles play. David, Krys, Gary, Bob, Craig, Peter and Colin. Peter and Colin are out of the running – two of their victories were against players playing up a division! David only lost one end out of ten played – but he’s gone on holiday mid-season without a thought for his team so he’s out the running! All of Team 3 were undefeated but in fairness they were against a side who are struggling a bit and find themselves at the foot of the Division 2 table. And so that leaves us with Craig – even though he was on a losing side, he played some great stuff and his consistency this season has been terrific – he sits at the top of the Division 3 averages with 13 wins from 15 matches played – Well done to Craig.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. We saved up some controversies from last week due to the vast amount of issues we had to get through! We’ve not been made aware of any yellow or red cards being used yet this season but there were probably two occasions where they should have been used last week! In one of our matches, a Penicuik player let their bat slip out of their hand – a rather forceful “slippage” which caused the bat to break. The game was being played in a friendly manner and whilst the opponent wanted our player to play on it was pointed out (by us) that in terms of the rules “a racket shall not be replaced during an individual match unless it is accidentally damaged so badly that it cannot be used”. Whilst the player could have tried to argue that the bat “accidentally” slipped, the PTTC player felt that had they played on and then won the match that would have been entirely unfair on the basis that the rules had been broken – we did the right thing and forfeited the match.
Contrast that with an incident at Bathgate involving our Team 4. A West Lothian player had, throughout the evening, continually hit his racket against his leg (in frustration/anger) until in the final match of the evening, he struck his bat forcefully once too often and the inevitable happened as the blade broke to the extent that it could not be used any further. Perhaps not knowing the rules, a replacement bat was provided, and the game carried on. Fortunately for us the Penicuik player won the match, and we don’t have to deal with whether the score should be allowed to stand! Whilst in both these instances it could be said that the players' intentions were not to break their bats, in both cases, it is clear to us that the breakage wasn’t “accidental”. It wasn’t as if the player had caught their bat on the edge of the table, or the player lost control of it whilst playing a shot. In both instances the actions which caused the break were deliberate. Whilst the result of the acts, we are sure, were not intended, that’s not the point. Neither incident resulted in our first “yellow or red card” of the season!
The match that keeps on giving is Team 2’s match v Murrayfield from Week 7. A minor point but one that players or coaches need to remember – in David’s last match of the night (which involved some ill feeling as previously reported in Weeks 7 and 8), David approached Greig after the first end finished, to have a moan about the issues which had arisen during that end. Greig spoke to David to effectively tell him to forget about it and concentrate on the match. Upon David returning to the table his opponent asked what the problem was. Greig, forever wanting to avoid confrontation, indicated nothing was wrong, he’d just given David a bit of advice – that was the wrong thing to say of course as the Murrayfield player pointed out that Greig’s name was not on the card as NPC, and he couldn’t therefore give advice! We need to ignore the fact that Greig hadn’t actually given advice about TT - he didn’t want to tell the Murrayfield player that actually the issue David had raised was the “in David’s view” unsporting behaviour of the Murrayfield player. We also have to ignore the fact that Greig had given advice earlier in the evening without any issue being raised and indeed in one of the matches where the same opponent was involved. Putting those issues to one side, however, the player had a point – if your name’s not on the card as NPC then you can’t coach / give advice – that’s what the rules say! Team Captain, James, had obviously just forgotten to put Greig's name down when filling out the card. An error that he won’t repeat – he sent a picture of Team 2’s next scorecard from their match v Corstorphine at Napier with Greig’s name down on the card even though Greig was some 40 miles away at home! A reminder to all, however, especially to our Club secretary, Brian, who often comes along on a Thursday to help out and give his words of wisdom to players, that if your name’s not down you can’t get involved!
Week 10 is upon us – only 4 more weeks until we break for Christmas!!