Week 1 saw four of our teams in action. The first team this year has been weakened by the departure of David Simpson – he wants to concentrate on the Vets and take a break from league action – oh hold on – there’s definitely our first controversy – he’s popped up to play for West Lothian this season – no hard feelings David – we all know how difficult it must have been playing with Melrose & Green. Speaking of David Melrose, he put a real spanner in the works by getting himself injured over the summer and is unlikely to play much this year. Oh dear who can we get to play in the 1st team – after a number of seasons away back to the fold comes Grieg McDonell to join his mate Colin Green – the pair reunited – still Greig holds the record for being the only player not to fall out with Colin during the course of a table tennis season! The last time Greig played in the Premier with Colin was in March 2017! The pair visited Murrayfield 2 in their first outing and called upon Sonny Taylor from Team 2 to join them. An 8-2 defeat followed with Greig and Colin picking up one win each on a long night at the Church Hall. Greig was pleased with his first matches back in the “big time” apart from one point against the super talented (yet somewhat crazy) Yubo Rasmussen – after Greig won the first end (goodness knows how) Yubo decided to get into a pushing battle – 45 pushes in a row before Greig dumped one in the net at 4-4. It was all over after that as Greig hardly won another point!!
Team 2 hosted North Merchiston in their Division 1 opener and had to call upon the services of James Wighton after illness put paid to Charlie Brindley’s chances of playing. James was joined by Gary McDougal, picking up his bat for the first time since April, and Team Captain Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, back in action for the first time since pre-Covid times. It was great to have Mr Scrabble Man back and he started in impressive form winning all three of his singles matches – it may have taken him a while to do so – 14 ends played and add to that 4 in the doubles, he certainly likes getting his money’s worth. Gary was a little rusty but the two matches he won were both by 3-1 score lines. When he and Krzysztof combined for a four end doubles victory the match was secured. Perhaps the surprise of the night was the form of James – he had played earlier in the week for his own side in Division 2 and proved that despite his injury woes (more on that later) he could mix it at this level – a fantastic 3 wins for him only dropping two ends as the home side ran out 9-1 winners. There may be tougher tests to come for Team 2 (starting in Week 2 against a strong looking University side) but by the end of Week 1 Mr Scrabble Man was happy to be at the top of the Division!
Team 3 started the season off for the Club with a trip to Heriot Watt University. A bit of a new look side as James Wighton was joined by Ian Hislop and Hannah McDonell. You never know what you’re going to get when you turn up against the students but two of the three players who turned out for HW were players from last year – their third player, even in the warm up, looked a class above everyone else and so it proved as Raphael Valeri strolled to three comfortable 3-0 wins on the night and when he also played well in the doubles the students had 4 wins on the board. Hannah and James defeated the other two players and Ian notched up a victory against Max Tuma before he faced Dominic Perry in the last match of the night. James and Hannah were very relaxed and buoyant when Ian won the first end 11-2, surely on his way to a comfortable win? Whatever James said to him at the change of ends should have been ignored as Dominic took the next 11-8. Not to worry though, this was just a blip as Ian reasserted himself with an 11-3 win in the third – the smiles returned to his teammates, only to turn to worried frowns as Dominic picked up the fourth 11-8. What a bizarre match! A fifth end decider and after getting off to a terrific start Ian eventually calmed the nerves of his teammates to record his second win of the night as the visitors triumphed 6-4.
The Club’s fifth team is a new one this year to the league – it has been great to see several new members join the Club over the summer and three new players to the League took centre stage at Ladywood as they hosted Murrayfield 10 in Division 4. Team 10! Really? Oh, and wait a minute one of their players was playing up from Team 11 – and that’s not even their bottom team – 12 teams in the League – that’s impressive from Murrayfield – not great for the rest of us but great to see so many players playing League TT for them. 49 players registered for them currently – and there will probably be more to follow! Anyway, we digress – Aidan Craig, Patrick Shanks and Roscoe Cairney had their first taste of league action and nerves probably played a part against a couple of players with league experience in Robert Inder and Peter Nettleton. Patrick got things started against Robert and when he won the first end 11-4 he must have thought he was playing in too low a division! Robert used his experience to win in 4. Aidan then took on the wily Peter – Aidan is now our youngest league player, and he did himself proud losing out narrowly in five ends. Roscoe then faced another up and coming Murrayfield youngster and fell in three ends. There was realisation that this was going to be tough. Aidan picked up a good win against his fellow youngster and Patrick did the same as Team 5 fell to an 8-2 defeat. We’re sure all those registered in this team will improve as the season goes on – it’s a learning experience.
And so to the return of our player of the week award. Krzysztof was undefeated in week 1 and is due great credit for a good performance after a few seasons away from the game. All three players in Team 3 played vital parts in their 6-4 victory but this week’s award has to go to a man who over the summer has been suffering with the dreaded tennis elbow, to such an extent that at the Club when he has been helping with coaching he has been playing left handed to protect his injury – and would you believe it he’s got quite good at it! He played up for Team 2 and combined with his own match he recorded five wins out of six helping both Teams 2 and 3 get off to winning starts – well done to James.
Finally, what about our controversy of the week section. Surely there’s nothing to talk about this early in the season? Well, we could have a field day about some of the crazy rule change proposals put forward for this year. One which was actually successful and brought in for 2022/23 is that you don’t have to give a postponement to an opponent just because they’ve requested it!! Really – Wow! Who would have thought that? Apart from everyone! What a waste of a rule that is – that’s been the case for as long as we can remember – it causes great controversies season after season – now though does it become less controversial because we can all say, “the rules say we don’t have to agree”? If we were going to do anything about postponements we should have just been radical and said NO POSTPONEMENTS ALLOWED. End of story.
The issue which seemed to cause the most uproar in some clubs related to Graham Booth from North Merchiston playing in Division 3 or 4 – well below his playing strength. Not just Graham of course but really it was all about Graham. He should feel good that he has single-handedly been the cause of a new rule being brought in to say that in the event of a request from a Club to register a player below his playing strength, permission will not normally be granted unless in exceptional circumstances. Hmmm. Just like it was before we spent hours debating it! What are exceptional circumstances? Who knows? That’s a matter for the Match Sub Committee – why on earth all clubs were asked to vote on whether Graham should be allowed to play in Division 3 this season is beyond us. It appears there was still some concern from some quarters as Graham is now placed in Division 2. Oh what fun!
It’s great to be back. Hope everyone has a safe, uninterrupted and enjoyable season.