Team 2 have had a good start to their first season in Division 1 with two 5-5 draws. They travelled to take on Edinburgh International and hopes were high of adding to their tally from the first two weeks of the season. James Wighton and Hannah McDonell were dealt an early blow on arrival when they found teammate David Melrose to be “under the weather” and feeling less than positive about the night ahead. Hannah started off against Artur Labecki and gave him a real fright coming back from 2-0 down to send the match into a decider – she couldn’t stop Artur’s aggressive attacking in the fifth however as first blood went to Edinburgh International. Stan Stoodley then defeated James before David fell to Alastair Hill and it looked bleak for the visitors. When the next three matches were all won in 3 straight ends there was no coming back for the Penicuik side. With David not feeling great, James and Hannah turned out in the doubles and fell in four ends – a whitewash was on the cards – there were then two very close five enders – David fell to Stan 12-10 in the fifth before Hannah did what she had in the first match of the night coming back from 2-0 down to send the match into a decider – this time she held on with an excellent 13-11 win – the whitewash was avoided!! James couldn’t do anything in his last match as Team 2 fell to a heavy 9-1 defeat.
Meanwhile Team 3 hosted West Lothian at Ladywood in Division 2. With Charlie Brindley struck down with Covid and Gary McDougal on holiday, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz and Bob Porteous called up Craig Linton from Team 4 – West Lothian had lost their first two matches but, Mark Robertson, arguably their best player, hadn’t played in either of those matches and he made a difference at Ladywood winning all three of his singles matches, including a fifth-end win against Captain Krzysztof. Team 3 had their work cut out to find six wins elsewhere – they all defeated Dave Fraser and Krzysztof defeated Andrew Morrison in a close five set match. That was four wins but Andrew put away Craig and Bob in straight sets and so the doubles was going to decide whether this was going to be a draw or a loss for Team 3. Bob and Krzysztof won the first end against Mark and Andrew 11-7 and there was hope for the home side – some excellent attacking play however from the visitors turned the match around as they won the next three ends and with it they secured a 6-4 win for West Lothian. Although a disappointing result for Team 3, they were understrength and WL are a better side than their first two results would suggest.
On a busy night at Ladywood on Thursday, Team 5 were looking to get their first win of the season as they took on Heriot Watt University in Division 4. They too were shorthanded with neither Chamika nor Jim available. They called on the services of John Bald to play his first league match in almost six years, his last competitive TT having been in the 2017-18 season. We’re sure John won’t mind us mentioning that it’s been a tough few years for him – his health hasn’t been great and he’s suffered some serious illnesses since he last played for the Club – it was all the more pleasing therefore to see him back on the table last week as he joined Patrick Shanks and Rachel Petrie. Things were going smoothly for Team 5 as Rachel and Patrick both won their first two matches and going into the doubles they looked comfortable at 4-2 up. A loss in the doubles was then followed by Patrick’s final match of the night which was certainly memorable – 2-0 down and 9-6 down in the third he recovered for an 11-9 win before he faced match points at 10-8 down in the fourth – he turned that around as well as he won 12-10. Surely the momentum was with him as he then took on the decider – nothing was going to be straightforward – he had match points, but so did his opponent as this one went the distance – eventually a 16-14 scoreline went agonisingly against him and the match score was suddenly 4-4. It didn’t look good in match 9 as John lost the first two ends 4-11, 7-11 but he suddenly found more consistency and he won the next two 11-7, 11-7. The decider also went his way and he was over the moon to secure at least a point for the hosts. The final match saw Rachel take on Mrinal Punjabi who Patrick had only managed to defeat in five ends. Rachel was 2-1 up but when she lost the fourth by 11 points to 4, the momentum seemed to be with her opponent. At 9-9 in the decider Rachel played a good point to give her match point – a terrific forehand loop from the Uni player under pressure, however, brought the score to deuce but it was Rachel who won the next two to the delight of her teammates as Team 5 secured a terrific 6-4 win.
Finally in Week 3, Team 6 visited Edinburgh International in Division 5. Could they better their 9-1 Week 1 loss? When Roscoe Cairney won Match 3 on the night (11-9 in the fifth) they had a chance. The next 9 ends all went the way of the hosts and Team 6 were 5-1 down going into the doubles. Roscoe was joined by Mat Dyluk and they took a good first end 11-7 – had they won the second which went to deuce the outcome may well have been different, but as it was a four end defeat and the match was over as a contest. In only Mat’s second ever match, he is due credit for taking his last match to a deciding fifth end and was unlucky to lose out. Ian Millar’s last match was also his best but Roscoe’s win in Match 3 was the only win on the night as Team 6 fell to a 6-4 defeat. Team 6 do win something though this week – picture of the week goes to them – Roscoe pleased with his win while his teammates are wiping away their tears!
And so, to our player of the week award. It’s a tough one this week – Two players had undefeated evenings in singles play. Colin’s wins were vital to the first team’s 6-4 win. But he has opposition this week from Rachel – her wins were also crucial to Team 5’s 6-4 victory – her victory in the final match of the night was more dramatic – a deuce in the fifth win to secure the match victory – doesn’t get much better than that and the celebration from her and her teammates was brilliant. But hold on – what about the man who won the important match to enable Rachel to secure the win. As we’ve mentioned he’s had a rough time of it over the last few years with illness and it has been fantastic to see him back at the Club over the summer and then for him to decide (or as he says forcefully persuaded) to join the league teams – John rolled back the years in his crucial win for Team 5. Brilliant though it was the Committee are worried that if this player doesn't win this week’s award we would never hear the end of it! And in fairness she deserves it – well done to Rachel.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Everyone has been soooooo well behaved so far this season – maybe the threat of yellow and red cards (although we don’t have them yet) has been enough to calm players down a bit? Unlikely. Maybe we have all mellowed over the last six months – even less likely! For this week’s controversy we have to look away from the League and to the Veterans British League where our League 1st team of Peter, Colin and Greig (joined by Geoff Salter) played last weekend. It doesn’t seem to matter what level you play at, there will always be controversy about “let calls” or the lack of them. In their match against the brilliantly named Norton Commandos, Geoff was playing, stopped after receiving serve, put his hand in the air and called a let as his opponent hit a screamer past him – umpire didn’t see it but after a bit of a “discussion” the opponent agreed to play a let. Fast forward a few matches and the same “Commando” was facing Peter. Peter served, opponent returned and Peter hit a winner – his opponent then said to the umpire it had been a let. Umpire hadn’t seen it, Peter didn’t think it was a let but the Commando was adamant it was and at one point looked like he was going to turn into a real Commando as he unleashed a torrent of abuse at his opponent and the umpire! He lost the end and when he lost the match in the next end he was still going on about it, refusing to shake the umpire’s hand and having a go at Geoff (who was spectating) for having given him a let three matches before! Fair play should have resulted in the same courtesy being given to him by Peter. Did he have a point? The difference, which the umpire tried to point out to him before scurrying away to hide, was that there was no attempt by him not to make the return and it was only after the winner had been hit that the question was asked about a let! Had he put his hand up and stopped playing that may have been a different story! Should we just agree to a let in such circumstances? Not according to the rules. But fairness? Who knows. The philosophical Greig pointed out that the right decision had been made – he tries pretty much in every match he plays to claim a let after a third ball winner from his opponent!! Oh well all’s well that ends well – the Commandos lost the match and it was a good weekend for the “Border Reivers” who finished the weekend in second place in their Division.
On we go to Week 4.