Team 1 knew that a point v Murrayfield 5 would secure them the Division 1 title. Greig McDonell was replaced by Colin Green as he joined David Melrose and Iain Johnstone. This would be easy – Murrayfield 5 were languishing in the bottom half of the table. Or maybe not! Luke, Stella and Simon played some terrific stuff, all defeating Iain and pushing the other two close. Simon’s win v David was a classic, but the crucial turning point was a doubles win and a 5 set win for David v Stella. At 2-1 down Colin’s team talk to David went down well – “you do realise she’s playing with pimples” said Colin – we’re afraid we can’t print the response! A 6-4 win for Team 1 results in them securing top spot with two games still to play.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Team 2 travelled to Inverkeithing to face a huge match against their relegation rivals, Fife 2. Krzysztof Laszkiewicz and Gary McDougal were joined by Ian Hislop standing in for Charlie Brindley. A point for the visitors would have them in a strong position, a win would ensure they avoid the drop whilst a defeat was unthinkable! When Ian and Krzysztof lost their opening exchanges, it looked bleak for Team 2’s chances. A win for Gary was then followed by a terrific 5 set victory for Ian v Lance Stockdale which brought the scores level. Another win for Gary was followed by a 5-set loss for Krzysztof and the teams entered that crucial doubles fixture locked at 3-3. 2-1 down in the doubles, Ian and Gary rallied brilliantly for an 11-9 win in the fifth! That seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Fife side who lost the last 3 singles by 3-1 scorelines. A brilliant 7-3 win for the visitors, with Gary the star of the night, and having avoided relegation last season on game difference, Team 2’s Division 1 status has been retained for another season – 5 points clear of second bottom who have only 4 points available to them. Well done Team 2.
Our 4thTeam of Julian Taylor, Tony Brentnall and Sonny Taylor seem to be finishing the season on a high. One of their worst losses of the first half of the season was a 6-4 defeat to Edinburgh International at Ladywood. The reverse fixture was a different story. 3 wins for Julian was added to by Tony and Sonny both winning 2 as Team 4 secured a 7-3 victory against the 3rdplaced team in Division 3. Only one match left for Team 4 who look destined for a 4th place finish.
In Division 4, Team 5 faced another tough match v West Lothian opposition at Ladywood. WL8 were the visitors and they fielded their strongest possible line up of Dave Stephen, Tommy Hamill and young Jamie Toner playing up from Team 9. Using a player from a lower team ranked higher than regular players – whatever will Haddington think of that!! Shocking behaviour by our opponents – oh hang on – Team 5 again called on the services of Team 6’s Louis McLeod and Team 7’s George Wilson who joined forces with Stuart Bennett. When the hosts took a 5-2 advantage after the doubles, this match looked over, but wins for Dave Stephen and an impressive 3-0 win for young Jamie over Louis meant that George had to take to the table for the final match of the night knowing that a victory was essential for the team win. When he lost the first set 8-11, panic could be seen in Team Captain Stuart’s face. He pulled level in the second end before the third end was pivotal. An 11-9 win was greeted with George’s trademark screech of delight and Tommy’s chances had gone – with confidence oozing from him, George romped home 11-1 in the 4thand a 6-4 win was secured! Team 5 are still in there fighting – but only just! If Craig Johnson could ever come back from his mystery absence over the last few weeks, who knows what might be possible!
Team 6 couldn’t muster a team from their 5 registered players last Monday night and to avoid a concession, Hannah from Team 7 was dragged away from her Monday night guides to make up a two-player team with Craig Linton! Who knows what may have happened if Team 6 had been able to field a full team? 2 good wins for Hannah, 1 for Craig and a fantastic comeback from the dead victory in the doubles and Team 6 just missed out on a point as they fell to a 6-4 defeat!
Having played in a two for Team 6, Hannah then had to play for her own team in a two as well, as she and Kristian Skotzen hosted West Lothian 9. 3-0 down before a ball was hit, the first 4 singles of the night all went the way of the Penicuik duo and another remarkable comeback victory was on the cards. The doubles, however, brought the visitors back into the match as Tommy Toner and David McRae squeezed home in 5 ends. Not to be thwarted however, Hannah rounded off a terrific week with a victory over Tommy leaving Kristian the chance to win the match v Neil Webb. Right handed Pusher v left handed attacker? There was only going to be one winner – a lefty attacker always wins these tussles. Well, maybe not at this level where pushers can be effective! Neil comfortably won in 3 as the spoils were shared. Whilst Team 7 would have gladly taken a 5-5 draw at the beginning of the night, they left the more disappointed team!
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 27. This week’s undefeated players were Colin from Team 1, Gary from Team 2, Julian from Team 4, George playing up for Team 5 and Hannah from Team 7. Julian never played in the doubles and Hannah lost her doubles fixture so they’re out the running. Colin upset his teammate, so he’s overlooked this week as well! Gary had a fantastic night for Team 2 and his 3 wins, and a doubles victory, were vital to Team 2 surviving in Division 1. By all accounts he played some terrific TT and according to his teammates his level of play over the last few weeks has just got better and better. But hang on – he didn’t even win the player of the match award – that went to Ian H! What did you do to annoy your opponents, Gary? This week’s winner showed true grit and determination and secured his undefeated night under the greatest of pressure in the last match of the night. He kept his cool whilst others in the hall were losing theirs – 3 singles wins and a doubles win in a 6-4 victory keeping Team 5 in the running for promotion at the same time – well done George!
After last week’s mammoth controversy, a shorter one this week. Three regular topics again come under the microscope – Umpiring, postponements and player behaviour.
In Team 7s match, a certain onlooker pointed out to the WL umpire that a WL serve in the doubles had clearly been a fault. It had arrived on the receiver’s right half of the table but had actually started its journey on the left half of the server’s end – not a foul serve you see very often – none of the players had noticed (or knew the rule) and the umpire didn’t see it. The point stayed in favour of the serving team, but it was suggested that the umpire needed to stand up to actually judge whether a serve in doubles was fair or not, which he duly did. Our point? What on earth did it have to do with the onlooker? If we rule that the umpire’s decision is final, then players and spectators should just let them get on with it and mistakes will inevitably continue to be part of the game. There’s nothing worse than a player or teammate trying to make the decisions – invisible lets, edges, etc. In this case although the point wasn’t overturned, WL 9 went on to lose about 5 of the next 7 or 8 points and the WL Team Captain pointed out he had been disturbed by the “outside involvement” – and he’s right – butt out and let the umpire get on with it.
The issue of postponements is probably our favourite topic. Team 6 couldn’t field two from their registered 5 players and were refused a postponement by West Lothian 7 – no hard feelings – top of the Division with only a couple of games left and in a tight fight at the top of the league we would have done the same, wouldn’t we? Jings, is that another Club for whom winning is more important than supposedly being fair?? Whatever would Haddington think? WL Team Captain Ros suggested that there should be a Rule that each club must grant a “minimum number” of postponement requests each season – now there’s an interesting proposal. Not sure it would ever work in practice though – would you have to store up a couple of your required minimums until clubs that you perhaps liked requested one!! What if you refused one early on in the season and then no one else asked? The scenarios are endless! It doesn’t really address the issue anyway – a refusal of a postponement, for whatever reason, will always have the capability of causing ill feeling – just do away with them completely! Play the fixture or tough!
And finally, player behaviour. As George was trying to win the crucial last match of the night v WL8, Team 1’s David and Murrayfield’s Luke were having a real humdinger of a match where one yelp of joy was followed by another and another and another – you get the picture no doubt. The decibel level of the shouts was going up and up it seemed with every point won or lost and not only could it be heard throughout the Hall, Ladywood received some complaints from neighbouring residents! (Ok that part is maybe made up) Our esteemed Club Secretary, supporting Team 5 at one end of the hall wasn’t happy! Despite recovering from his hip operation, we’ve never seen him move so fast as he flew out of his chair, when enough had clearly become enough, to go over to Team 1’s match and ask them politely to turn the volume down a little (well, we’re not sure those would have been his exact words but certainly words to that effect!) Fortunately, he was intercepted on his way and made his views on the matter known in no uncertain terms to another committee member who happened to have come over to see what all the noise was about! There’s a far more important match going on at the other end of the Hall claimed our Club Secretary – final match of the night to decide the overall win and the noise was affecting the players! Hmm, an argument about what was the most important match of the night wasn’t what the issue should really have been about – after a small debate on that point, David let out a scream of delight which this time signified the end of his match and peace fell upon Ladywood again. George managed to carry on and win his game and none of Team 1 were any the wiser as to the irritation which had been caused (well up until now they weren’t anyway!) Should players have to keep their emotions in check? How loud does it have to be before it could be argued to be interfering with another match? Do we really expect our "player umpires" to do anything about it? At the Inter League at the weekend we had everything from minor girls crying, junior boys fist pumping aggressively, senior men screaming to Vets Men kicking barriers in frustration. Until something is done about that kind of behaviour (if indeed it’s an issue) at Tournaments and Events like the Inter League then we’re going to be stuck with it – and some of course would say there’s nothing wrong with getting emotionally carried away in the match and showing your emotions – just ask James Wighton – his behaviour on the table is shocking at times!!
Only a couple of weeks left of the regular season – how will we cope without it…..