Monday evening saw Team 3 visit the Gyle to take on Murrayfield 9’s youngsters. Both sides went into the match with undefeated records in this table topping Division 2 clash. Murrayfield’s team was filled with youngsters (average age about 13/14) whilst the visiting Midlothian side, in the absence of our own young gun, Hannah McDonell, had an average age of about 65 – Julian Taylor and James Wighton’s average age was obviously significantly increased by Ian Hislop aged 92! Plenty controversy in this one from the start (more on that later) but on the table the match started with a cracking five end tussle between William Wang and Julian. A win in the fifth for the youngster gave the hosts the early advantage. Young Nichole Lee has improved beyond recognition since she visited Penicuik last year for an Edinburgh coaching day. She won’t often have to play someone like Ian though – what on earth is that on his bat?? A 4 end win for Ian levelled the scores. Match 3 saw the third youngster, Rory Thomson, take on James. No excuses here but James has been suffering with tennis elbow and it looked particularly painful last week. He lost out in four ends and when Nichole showed her skills against the normal play of Julian the youngsters held a 3-1 lead. Match 5 was to prove crucial – another five ender – James had match points but fell 16-14 in the decider and the pressure was really on the visitors. Ian took his second four end win of the night to reduce the deficit before the doubles. The third five ender of the night also went the hosts way and they had secured at least a point. That point became 2 when Nichole resoundingly defeated James. 6-2 and only pride to play for. The final two matches also went the distance – credit to the youngsters they won those as well. Five matches on the night went to five ends and the visitors lost all of them – 8-2 was therefore rather flattering to the Murrayfield side.
Wednesday night saw Team 1 visit Murrayfield 4. Colin Green and Greig McDonell were joined by David Melrose making his debut this season after returning from injury. Greig chose to play Junji Hua first, confident he could get the team off to a good start having defeated Junji in the national league. Hmm – different outcome this time – a four end loss gave the hosts a good start. David showed some rustiness in his defeat to Haydn Jackson and at 2-0 down the visitors looked in trouble. They turned that round though with two wins from Colin and one from Greig before David played Leandro Golinski in a crucial match 6. David lost the first two ends 11-4, 11-2 and no one in the church hall saw this match lasting much longer. David, however, had other ideas and a 14-12 fifth end win saw the visitors lead 4-2 going into the doubles. Greig and Colin secured the fifth win and when they both won their final singles the match was over as a contest. Junji defeated David in the last match of the night, but the visitors left happy with a 7-3 win.
Wednesday night also saw Team 5 in action as they made the trip to Gullane in Division 4. Patrick Shanks, Phil Daly and Aidan Craig are probably Team 5s strongest combination and they were in no mood to mess about against their East Lothian opponents. Some 10-0 matches can be much closer than the scoreline suggests – this wasn’t one of those matches. Aidan won all three of his singles in straight sets and in only two of those sets did he lose more than 5 points. Phil did the same, but his games were slightly closer. The only player to lose an end was Patrick. The doubles was also won in three. This was a one sided affair – 31 ends played and 30 won by the visitors. Team 5 weren’t finished their work though as the following night they hosted Edinburgh International. Patrick retained his place and was joined by Roscoe Cairney and Ian Millar. 24 hours is a long time in TT! The first five matches all went the way of the visitors before Patrick won match 6. But that was as good as it got for the hosts. Patrick was unlucky when he lost the penultimate match of the night 11-9 in the fifth but apart from that the visitors were in complete control. A 10-0 win one night followed by a 9-1 defeat the next. Still a winning week – 11-9 overall!
Team 2 were also at home on Thursday night against Edinburgh International opposition in Division 1. Krzysztof Łaszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Abby Wighton got off to a great start when Abby defeated Alastair Hill 11-9 in the fifth and when Krzysztof won match 3, 11-8 in the fifth the hosts led 2-1. The next three singles however all went the way of the visitors meaning the hosts went into the doubles 4-2 down. Another fifth end nail biter saw Gary and Krzysztof sneak over the line 11-9 in the decider, but Gary lost match 8 and a point was secured for the visitors. Krzysztof kept the match alive with another deuce in the fifth win, but Abby was unlucky as she lost out in four ends. Team 2’s struggles continued with another unlucky 6-4 loss.
Finally on Friday night Team 4 travelled to Edinburgh University - Rachel Petrie and Bob Porteous had to play one short due to unavailability of their own teammates due to injury and due to Team 5 players being unavailable and the ridiculous playing up regulations we discussed last week! This was a basement battle and Bob and Rachel were confident that even with two they could compete with the students. 3-0 down and a good start was vital. Rachel nearly provided that as match 1 went the distance – Zijing Wu got over the line in the deciding end to give the students a 4-0 lead. Bob got the visitors up and running but when Rachel lost her second match it was 5-1 and defeat looked certain. There then followed, however, a terrific comeback – Bob won 3-2 before the doubles saw the Penicuik pair win in five and when that was followed up by a fifth end win for Rachel in her final match of the night, a remarkable recovery looked on the cards. 5-4 down and Bob took a 2-1 lead in the final match of the night – but just when it looked like the tide had turned the University player came back to win in five. A 6-4 defeat was hard to take for the Penicuik pair – a great effort though.
And so, to our player of the week award for Week 7. The undefeated players this week were Phil, Aidan and Colin. We’ve already commented on Phil and Aidan – they comfortably strode through Wednesday night at Gullane – but when they were needed the following night against tougher opposition they were nowhere to be seen! So, they’re out the running. That leaves Colin – another good performance from him – undefeated in singles and pulled through again in the doubles by Greig. His 3 singles wins were vital to Team 1s victory. But when Greig sent him a video of his game against the Murrayfield number 1 he was less than complimentary about his own performance – we can’t print here how he described some of his play – he’s a harsh critic – suffice to say though if he was that unhappy with how he played he can’t be our Player of the Week! So where do we turn for this week’s award? Team 4 have struggled in Division 3 throughout the season – but we need to recognise the efforts of one of our new players this season – he may only have won 2 and the doubles this week but in a season where the team have only won 16 matches in total – he’s won 11 of them – well done to Bob.
Finally, what about our controversy of the week section. Team 4 arrived at University on Friday for their published start time of 7pm – they were there in plenty of time and looking forward to a good warm-up. If Rachel and Bob had studied our Week 2 Controversy a little more they might have not been surprised to find that just prior to 7pm there was still no sign of the opposing team. They turned up at 7pm and announced that the match was on in a hall which wasn’t booked until 7. After set up and knock up the match finally started nearer to 7.30 than 7pm. The students asked if play on one table would be ok. Rachel and Bob agreed but said that was only if there was no deadline to get out of the venue. Because Team 4 were one player down, there’d be plenty of time said the students. Rachel suggested moving to 2 tables if time became short, quoting that Team 4 had recently been warned about the length of matches and finishing times. During games and between ends, the opposing team were taking a long time for tactical discussions, and you know what’s coming – even with only seven matches to get through, fast forward to the last crucial match of the night – 5-4 to University and Bob was playing against probably the Uni’s best player. Bob led 2-1 in ends and when the opponent sent the match into a decider, the Uni team captain suddenly announced that they needed to be out of the hall in 2 mins (by 10pm). According to Rachel this totally threw Bob’s concentration, and he lost several easy points. He then served twice off the table and was obviously a little agitated. His opponent went on to comfortably win the match. Bob, new to the league, didn’t know about the rule that the home team would have to concede the match if they weren’t able to complete it (unless caused by the delayed arrival of the visiting team). Maybe if Rachel had told him that before the match started he would have taken his time! A toilet break perhaps! Putting aside those dodgy tactics this was another example of how it can be difficult to get through an Edinburgh League match on one table in anything like 3 to 3.5 hours – these guys only played 7 matches. Maybe the format is just too long.
Turning to Team 3’s match this week that wonderful topic of over-exuberance rears it’s head again. The Murrayfield team is a team of youngsters – the first bizarre thing for Team 2 was playing this match at the Gyle on just one table. Why?? On arrival, James, Julian and Ian asked if they were going to play on two tables – no came the answer. We’ve played at the Gyle on many occasions and have never just played on one table – it turns out from discussions after the match that neither had Murrayfield 9 until last Monday! Fast forward to the end of the match and we were getting texts on the PTTC 3 Group Chat that the players were all stuck and couldn’t get out of the Centre at 11.20pm!! Crazy! Worse than playing on one table, however, was the behaviour at certain points of certain of the Murrayfield team – now let’s start by saying that not only has young Nichole Lee improved immensely over the last year or so but she also has an excellent temperament and was extremely well mannered and gracious throughout. Pity the boys can’t take a leaf out of her book. The amount of Chos and Allez’s and other incomprehensible screams of delight (if that’s what they were) was utterly ridiculous. It's not just sour grapes because the “oldies” were beaten by the youngsters – but the disrespect shown was astonishing at times – a player pushes a ball in the net or misses a smash and an almighty roar of approval comes from some young whipper snapper at the other end of the table – how utterly appalling. Of course, where do they learn that from? Probably watching the professionals play – look at what Tomokazu Harimoto was like as a youngster (maybe he still is) – shouting and screaming after every point won. Or just look at our own National League where the whooping and hollering can reach ridiculous levels. Maybe we are just a bunch of old fuddy-duddies. Perhaps all of that behaviour is just part of the game now? It’s sad if it is and sad that youngsters (in the presence of their parents and strangers) just think such conduct is “normal”. The Clubs surely have some obligation to reign in this type of behaviour – it doesn’t appear they do though. Whether it’s acceptable or not, the one thing it does do is cause ill-feeling and tension between players, completely unnecessarily.
Oh well – the fuddy-duddies have had their rant for this week! On to Week 9 we go.