With Greig McDonell protecting his average (sorry we mean protecting his shoulder injury) he was replaced by Colin Green who joined forces with David Melrose & Iain Johnstone as they faced Haddington 1 in Division 1. The reverse fixture with the same 6 players taking part had resulted in a 5-5 draw, Team 1’s only dropped point of the first half of the season. With the Division’s top player, Carsten Giebeler in action for the visitors, Team 1 knew they were going to be in for another tough night. Colin had defeated Carsten at the Edinburgh Open just the previous week, but it appears that Carsten prefers playing in the evening - he once again strolled through his matches only dropping one end to David in match 9. When Iain lost to Russell (having defeated him in the first half) Team 1 was up against it. That was 4 wins for the visitors - the doubles was therefore crucial but despite threatening a comeback, David and Colin fell in 4 ends. Colin’s win v Russell kept the game alive and the final match of the night saw Iain take on Lorenas with both players winless to that point. The Omens weren’t good for the hosts - in the 1st half, Lorenas had defeated Iain and Iain hadn’t exactly been on his game thus far. Having taken the first end 11-7, a crucial second, after a mini-comeback from Lorenas, was won 11-9 and there was no second chance given as Iain ended the night with a victory to secure a 5-5 draw for Team 1. On the balance of play, this was probably a better result for Team 1 than for Haddington - 2 wins each for Colin and David and 1 for Iain preserved the hosts undefeated record.
In Division 2, James & Abby Wighton were joined by Ian Hislop as they took on title chasing and undefeated Murrayfield 6. In the first half of the season Abby had played well with two wins in a 7-3 loss - this time around, she couldn’t repeat that and this match was over fairly quickly. The highlight of the night was the doubles - Abby & Ian were 2-0 down and fought back well to level the scores at 2-2 - it all looked like it had been in vein though as they proceeded to go 6-0 down in the fifth. However, just as they thought it was over, they won 11 of the next 12 points for a remarkable 11-7 victory. Ian added the only other win on the night as Team 2 fell to an 8-2 defeat.
In Division 3, Team 4 of Julian Taylor, Tony Brentnall and Sonny Taylor visited yet another top of the table side, Murrayfield 9 (Charlie McGowan, Ben Jamieson & Robert Inder). With Tony and Sonny arriving late (they seem to have gone to the wrong venue!) Julian started the match off v Charlie and took the first set. In the second he had 3 set points for 2-0 and was cruising to an easy victory. But Charlie dug deep and won a tie break. He then won set three and then another tie break in set 4. The late pair still hadn’t arrived so Julian played out of turn and defeated Ben in straight sets. By this point Sonny and Tony turned up and played singles catch up. Sonny lost to Ben and Tony beat Robert for 2-2. Charlie best Tony in straight sets for 3-2 while Sonny played Robert. From 2 sets down Sonny fought back and saved several match points to win in 5 and level the scores at 3-3. The once fragile, but now dominant father and son duo played the doubles against Charlie and Ben and won in 4 sets to give the visitors their first lead of the night, 4-3 up. The win was now on!! Next up was Ben v Tony and in a close 5 setter Ben won - oh dear this was going to be a nail biter after all. Julian v Robert was a sure fire banker for Penicuik to give them at least a draw wasn’t it?? Apparently not as dad Julian completely stuffed his lines and lost in 4 close sets leaving young Taylor to try and defeat 100% Charlie to salvage a draw. Sonny gave it a good shot in a well contested match but lost out in 4 sets as Team 4 left Royal High pondering (yet again) what might have been. (Report by Julian)
With Murrayfield having spoiled the week for two Penicuik teams, it was left to Team 6 to bring some respectability to the inter-club rivalry of week 18. But without their number 1, Louis McLeod, this was going to be tough. Rachel Petrie, Craig Linton and Adam Woodhouse all contributed in what was probably their best result of the season, given the fact that Louis was absent. Between them, before this match, the trio had won a combined 27% of their matches played. Six terrific singles wins were added to by a doubles victory as Team 6 recorded a 7-3 win, the only Penicuik side to record a victory in Week 18 - well done to them.
And finally to Team 7. With Phil Daly still out after eye surgery, George Wilson, Hannah McDonell and Kristian Skotzen hosted Fife 4 at Ladywood. They were looking to repeat the pattern of the season - every Team that has defeated Penicuik 5 have been defeated by Team 7 - a win here would keep Team 7 in with an outside chance of promotion and potentially end Fife’s hopes. With a 6-4 defeat with two players from the first half, the hosts were in confident mood - the difference on this occasion was the inclusion in the Fife squad of top of the averages Neil Hoggan. But hold on - he was joint top of the averages with George! The battle of the top 2 was always going to be crucial and it was fitting that it went to five ends - George clawed his way back from 2-0 down only to lose out 11-5 in the 5th. Hannah restored parity with a win in Match 2 and it looked like the hosts were going to take the lead as Kristian found himself 2-0 up and seemingly coasting in Match 3 - but hold on a 12-10 defeat in the third and suddenly the wheels came off as he lost 11-6, 11-4 in the final two ends - from there it was always going to be tough - Neil proved the difference on the night with 3 wins and a half win for the doubles. George won 2 and Hannah 1 as the hosts fell to a disappointing 7-3 loss.
The player of the week decision this week is one of the easiest we’ve had to make. In a disappointing week for the Club, one player shone with an undefeated night. That player also contributed to a doubles victory and as if that wasn’t enough, they also ended up on the top table in our Saturday Practice Session. Leading the line for this week’s only winning team it’s a huge well done to Rachel. Her first Player of the Week Award for the season and according to Rachel it’s the first time in her short TT career that she’s had an undefeated night in League play. So for that we will forgive her for going on and on and on and on about it at the Club on Saturday…..
As for this Week’s controversy of the Week, it appears that players and officials have been behaving themselves - surely not?? A new Year, a new start?? One of our members (who will remain nameless but who played last week in Division 2 and isn’t female or a Wighton) seems to have been so bored that he’s been reading the rules over the festive period! He raised a couple of queries about whether there is any penalty for a team/player if they don’t follow two specific rules - firstly, what happens if a player is practising with another player who is not playing in the match? Doesn’t appear to be anything in the rules. And secondly is there a penalty for a player who doesn’t leave his/her bat on the table between ends? We wouldn’t have thought so. Apart from being this week’s winner of our most boring Club member we’d like to thank him for his questions!
On a slightly more serious note, although not affecting our Club, we note from our friends at West Lothian that they received a request for a postponement of their fixture v Uni 1 in Week 1 of the 2nd half of the season. It was apparently suggested that the University were under the impression that because the League agree to postpone all Uni fixtures at the start of the season, that would also be the case for January. That’s certainly a new one on us and on our West Lothian colleagues. And it seems completely bizarre given that 4 University teams actually played matches Week commencing 7th January, including one Uni team who rearranged a match for that week! As with all postponement requests, trying to rearrange matches and comply with the rules is, certainly for our Club, a complete headache. And as we have found out in the past to our detriment, just because you agree to a postponement request from another Club such may not be reciprocated - just do away with postponements altogether! In the foregoing scenario, WL didn’t agree to the postponement and a concession victory was awarded to them. What we don’t quite follow is why the League seem to have become involved in trying to negotiate a “rearranged date”. This was surely just a matter between the two clubs involved and should be left for them to sort out - the rules are clear enough on the matter.
Oh well - maybe new year new start was just a figment of our imagination - hopefully Week 19 will see better results for the Club.