After a tough couple of weeks there was no respite for Team 1 of Colin Green, Carsten Giebeler and David Melrose as they travelled to take on League Leaders and Defending Champions Murrayfield 1. There were some terrific matches throughout the night, none more so than the second match of the night as both Carsten and Alicja produced some top quality TT. Fittingly, the match went to five ends and despite turning around at 5-2 up in the decider, Carsten fell to an 11-8 defeat. Match 3 could also have gone either way, David losing a mammoth first end to Gordon by 20 points to 18 and he also had game points in the second which he lost 14-12. Despite recovering to win the third he ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat. With Colin also losing his first match it was 0-3 and the visitors never recovered, only Carsten coming close in the remaining matches as he lost his final game 12-10 in the fifth. Team 1’s heaviest defeat of the season – they will be looking to stop the rot in week 19.
Team 2 faced a crucial relegation battle in Division 1 against North Merchiston 3. Charlie Brindley and Gary McDougal called on the services of James Wighton in the absence of Ian Hislop (much to the relief of Amelia who had been dreading playing Ian). And that was probably the difference between the teams – Gary had a difficult night with only one win and despite Charlie’s excellent undefeated night in singles play, the Edinburgh outfit came out on top with a 6-4 victory. Team 2 knew that a win v NM would have relieved a lot of pressure on them towards the foot of the table – a defeat unfortunately means that they are really up against it.
Team 3 have had a nightmare couple of weeks! Top of the table just before Xmas they then had to play understrength against their title rivals Fife who refused them a postponement and a 5-5 draw resulted. Then, due to ill health, they ended up playing with two players v University and lost 6-4. Understrength again this week as they travelled to Granton and despite 3 wins for Iain Johnstone, James and Julian (playing up from Team 4) could only manage one win each, annoyingly against different players, as they dropped another vital point with a 5-5 draw. As James put it, a draw felt like a loss on the way back to Penicuik in the car!
Team 4 hosted West Lothian 4 in Division 2 - Julian, having played up earlier in the week, was joined by Chris Markey and Tony Brentnall as they tried to secure the Club’s first win of the week. After the first round of singles which included an 11-9 in the fifth win for Tony, the hosts held a 3-0 lead. Tony was then on the wrong side of a five-end loss in Match 4 but from there the hosts didn’t lose another singles match, their only disappointment being in the doubles as they secured an excellent 8-2 victory. It’s been an excellent first season in Division 2 for this Team and the two points gained moved them up to third place in the table. But for their two 6-4 losses in the first half of the season, they would have been challenging Team 3 for second place in the Division.
Finally, in Week 18, Team 5 travelled to Bathgate to take on West Lothian 6 in Division 3. The match saw a welcome return to the table of Graham Honeyman for the hosts after a long period out of the game and he showed in Match 1 v Craig Linton that he could still cause problems with his powerful forehand – a 3-0 win and the visitors were off to a poor start. Hannah McDonell and Team 5’s new mystery player who, according to WL, looks a bit like her dad but is more charming, then steadied the ship with wins in matches 2 and three and from there the visitors never looked back. Hannah deservedly picked up the player of the match award for her undefeated night which included a great victory against Graham. This was by far the best match of the night which saw both players play some great attacking table tennis. A 9-1 win for the visitors was secured when Craig limped over the line in the final match of the night 11-9 in the fifth.
A number of players had perfect nights in singles play this week – Charlie for Team 2, Iain for Team 3, Julian and Chris for Team 4 and Hannah for Team 5. Charlie deserves a big pat on the back for his undefeated night in Division 1 and had he managed to contribute to a doubles win to secure a draw he would have walked the award. Julian had a good night but dropped himself from the doubles so he can’t win it. Chris has been very consistent when he has turned out for Team 4 and but for the doubles loss, he would have been favourite for the award. The only undefeated player in both singles and doubles though was Hannah - but she surely can't win it for the second time in three weeks?? Add to that her win in the Edinburgh Schools Championship..... Oh go on then! Well done Hannah.
And finally, to our Controversy of the Week.
So here we go again in relation to the Heriot Watt mid-season promotion saga. This Report is published deliberately late this week because we thought that after last week's "issues" maybe a change of plan would have been a possibility - but last night (Wed 29th Jan) HW made their Division 1 debut - so it's settled they are playing the rest of the season in Div 1. The issue, about which there is probably not much point talking now, related to the conditions which were placed on HW to fulfil their Division 3 fixtures, 3 of which were outstanding at the turn of the year. They played two of those fixtures on the same night (how's that even possible??) and then last week took on Edinburgh University.
Not at full strength, HW lost 6-4. So what we hear you say. Well, there had of course been assurances given to all that HW would play equally as strong teams against all opponents in Division 3. Their promotion was based on the fact that they would win every match 10-0, 9-1 or at worst 8-2. Two weeks ago they only managed a 7-3 win v an understrength North Merchiston side - add to that a 6-4 defeat and their last two matches have a combined match score of 11-9.
A number of emails flew in to the League Committee from various clubs. The response - unfortunate that it happened but no need to cancel the promotion. So Division 1 it is for HW but what about the effect on the teams in Div 3. Edinburgh Uni now have a bonus 2 points it seems and even more bizarre is the fact that if HW still appeared in the Division 3 table they would only be tied for first place with our friends from West Lothian who have, just like HW, only lost one match all season. The title would still be up for grabs and a straight dogfight between the two strongest teams in the League would ensue. Why should West Lothian not be promoted as well as HW? They have the same first half record - 10 wins and 1 defeat. What's the point in them having to play the rest of the season in a Division which they are clearly too good for? Of course the point, as proven by HW, is that none of us can guarantee that we are always going to be able to field a full side; none of us can guarantee that just because we defeated a team in the first half we will do likewise in the reverse fixture (there are numerous examples of that from the first few weeks of the second half); none of us can be sure that we're not going to have an off night and lose unexpectedly - none of us can guarantee anything - it's a sport and that's what sport is all about - if you're good enough you will advance from lower divisions to higher ones - you work for it and don't have it handed to you in the middle of a season where you aren't even leading the Division you started in! What absolute nonsense.
A suggestion has now been made that all of HW's 1st half fixtures should be expunged. The League response:
"no team in Division 3 will adversely be effected by HW's promotion...... however, an issue that has arisen by Edinburgh University IV's win, namely that Edinburgh University IV may finish in second place by a margin of two points or fewer, or on goal difference, over the team that finishes in third place. In that case we will take that into account when we draw up the new Divisional Structure in August"
Really? Let's see what happens and then see if we need to do something about it! That surely is a recipe for disaster. The League are of course right when they say that actually this is positive for Division 3 teams because it appears that an extra team will be promoted this season, assuming that HW would have won the Division had they stayed there. OF course the famous saying which comes to mind is "To assume makes an ass out of you and me"
So what about Division 1 - are HW good enough? They've started with a 5-5 draw v Murrayfield 6, a team struggling towards the foot of the table - that's a good result for the students, especially when you realise that that is worth two points to them and only one to their opponents - because we all know that if you secure a 5-5 draw once, you will surely do it again!! They find themselves one win away from leapfrogging EI 3 who are currently 2nd bottom, a win of course being worth 4 points to HW. That is our only gripe about the promotion into Div 1. One team playing for double points whilst the other isn't is completely unfair.
Our League Match Secretary has suggested that we all just now need to move on, and we agree with that. We would also like to make it clear that none of the points we make are in any way directed at HW - they have done absolutely nothing wrong and good luck to them for the rest of the season, until they come up against Penicuik 2! We've moved on and will not mention this topic again - well not anytime soon anyway....