In the Premier Division, Team 1 of Colin Green, Peter Aird and Greig McDonell were looking to repeat their first half performance against Edinburgh University where they recorded an 8-2 victory. Peter was first up and found it tough going against Alasdair Crofton – a five set loss was cancelled out by a four set win for Colin. The next two matches both went the way of the hosts as Greig defeated Connor Smith in straight sets and Colin defeated Peter’s conqueror by the same margin – 3-1 up and in control? Maybe not – surprising losses for both Greig and Peter followed, and the match was level going into to the doubles. A repeat of the first half match where Alasdair and Connor had sneaked home in five sets – it was a different story on this occasion with a four set win for Greig and Colin – they had the advantage again. When the Uni won match 8 it was left to Colin and Peter to win their games for the win – Colin was 2-0 down in Match 9 but looked to be turning it around as he clawed back to 2-1 and 9-5 up in the fourth – a run of 6 points for Connor gave the visitors a 5-4 lead. Peter, who, by his standards, had had a poor night got into a rhythm in the tenth match of the night as he secured a point for the hosts in a tight and tense match.
Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Bob Porteous and Gary McDougal hosted Murrayfield 9 in Division 2 in confident mood. Like Team 1 their first half fixture had seen them win 8-2. Lynn Somerville, youngster William Goh and Peter McDade were the opponents. The tightness of this match was shown by the first three singles games - Bob secured an excellent five set win against Lynn but Gary then lost in five to William before Krys was pushed all the way to five in match 3. 15 ends played after three matches! Match 4 saw Lynn again involved in a five-ender, but this time he came out on top against Gary. When Bob lost match 5 Murrayfield took their first lead of the night, but Krys pulled the scores level with the first straight sets win of the night. 3-3 going into the crucial doubles – Gary and Krys somehow won the third set by 11 points to 1 to go 2-1 up but they were unable to maintain any consistency as they fell to a disastrous 11-9 in the fifth defeat – advantage Murrayfield! When Gary lost Match 8 only a point was available for Team 3 – Krys kept the match alive, but Bob couldn’t deal with the attacking play of young William as the Midlothian side fell to a damaging 6-4 defeat.
The last match at Ladywood saw Team 5 take on Edinburgh University 6 in Division 4. Rachel Petrie, Patrick Shanks and Chamika Diyunugalge were looking to improve on their first half 5-5 draw against the students. Same team for Penicuik but two new players for the University. When the first two matches of the night saw losses for Rachel and Chamika it was looking grim for the hosts but there then followed a run of 4 wins in the singles matches before the doubles. When the doubles went the way off Chamika and Patrick, Team 5 had secured at least a point. The run of wins was continued in matches 8 and 9 and suddenly from 2-0 down the home side had run off seven consecutive wins. Rachel couldn’t manage an eighth win but a terrific 7-3 victory for Team 5 relieves some of the pressure on them towards the foot of the Division 4 table as they jump five points clear of relegation. Patrick was undefeated on the night, Chamika won 2 and Rachel won 1.
Team 2 had two matches in Week 16. On Thursday night they travelled to East Lothian to take on Haddington 2 in Division 1. David Melrose, Steve Collins and James Wighton have been cut adrift at the foot of the table although with games in hand against their closest rivals. This was probably a “must win encounter” or at worst a “must not lose” match, even at this early stage of the second half of the season. Steve got the side off to a great start with a four end victory before David was involved in a lengthy five ender – an 11-9 deciding end loss for him and the scores were level – James then went the distance in match 3 but prevailed in five ends to give the advantage back to the visitors. Four end losses for Steve and James then gave the East Lothian side their first lead of the night but David’s first win of the evening levelled the scores going into the doubles. We always say how crucial the doubles are and when matches are close they take on even more importance – From 2-0 down Steve and David pulled out the win to put the visitors two games away from the victory. The match was levelled again as James lost out in Match 8 but a win for Steve gave Penicuik a point and a chance of victory – David was bitterly disappointed not to secure the match as he fell in four close ends to his East Lothian opponent – a point for the visitors but probably a point lost rather than one gained.
The following night David and Steve were joined by Hannah McDonell as they visited Edinburgh University. A 5-5 draw in the first half of the season but a very tough looking student team awaited the Penicuik trio. The first two matches were shared with a win for Steve in five and a loss for Hannah in 4. When David lost to the very impressive Tomoya Nagasaka in straight sets, the visitors knew they were in for a tough night. Matches 4 and 5 however both went Penicuik’s way with wins for Hannah and David. Steve lost match 6 so going into the doubles it was a repeat of the previous night – 3-3. Unlike at Haddington, however, David and Steve could not find that important doubles victory – advantage University – the next two matches were shared leaving Steve to play the final match of the night for a draw. It wasn’t to be as Team 2 fell to a narrow 6-4 loss.
Also facing University opponents on Friday evening were Teams 4 and 6. Team 4 again called on the services of Patrick Shanks from Division 4 as he joined regulars Kristian Skotzen and Craig Linton for their Division 3 encounter with the students. The first two matches went to four ends, Kristian losing his but Craig getting the visitors on the board. From 2-0 up and coasting in Match 3, Patrick was suddenly under pressure as his opponent forced a deciding leg. Patrick came through the decider to give the Penicuik side a 2-1 advantage. Kristian won Match 4 before Patrick was involved in another marathon, this time losing out 11-8 in the fifth. Match 6 was to prove crucial as Craig secured a five end victory giving the visitors a two game buffer going into the doubles and when that doubles match went the way of Kristian and Craig a point was secured. That point became two after Patrick secured another 5 end victory and when Craig and Kristian both won their final matches in four ends, the visiting side recorded a solid 8-2 win.
Team 6 also made the trip to St Leonards Land on Friday evening as they faced University 7 in Division 5. Ian Millar and Roscoe Cairney were joined by Sian McDonald fresh from her travels which saw her miss the first half of the season. Sian didn’t waste any time recording her first win in straight sets. Roscoe was then involved in a lengthy five set match, and he recovered well from losing a close fourth end (13-11) to win the decider in comfortable fashion, 11-4. 2-0 up for the first time this season was a huge improvement for the visitors. Losses for Ian in Matches 3 and 5 were sandwiched by another good win for Sian before Roscoe fell in Match 6. With the crucial doubles to come, the scores were tied at 3-3. It wasn’t to be for Roscoe and Sian as they lost out in four ends, giving the students their first lead of the night. Unfortunately for the visitors, Matches 8 and 9 were both won by the hosts and the match was over as a contest. Roscoe picked up his second win of the night as the Penicuik trio fell to a 6-4 defeat.
And so, to our player of the week award. Krzysztof and Craig were the only players this week to have undefeated nights in singles play – well done to them. Credit this week to Sian and Roscoe – Sian’s first match of the season and two good wins and for Mr Consistency, Roscoe, he broke his run of matches where he had won 1 match. But this week’s winner is due credit for playing on consecutive nights and winning 5 out of 6 matches played – an undefeated night in singles and doubles for his own team was followed by two crucial wins playing up for Team 4 – well done to Patrick.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. We’ve raised in previous seasons concerns reported to us by our teams regarding the issue of the playing conditions at St Leonard’s Land. In fairness there has definitely been a huge improvement with the lighting, particularly in the “Dance Hall”. There could be no complaints there. Even the other hall where Team 4 were playing seemed to be better lit. Perhaps the Uni could invest some money for scoreboards and for some seats – those old wooden PE style benches really aren’t good for the oldies – once seated it’s difficult to get back up. Maybe that was the reason why so many students were just wandering aimlessly around the hall – in Team 6s match it was probably just inexperience which saw players walk back and forth right behind players who were involved in a match. In one match if Roscoe had taken up a position of 6 feet away from the table a student might well have walked right in front of him never mind behind him!
Whilst the Division 5 incidents were, as we’ve said, an “experience issue” the same cannot be said for the behaviour of a certain opponent in the Division 1 match. In the player’s first match of the night, the umpire could quite easily have given a number of yellow cards! There was shouting, there was swearing, there was an occasion where having lost a point she picked up the ball and rather than passing it back to her opponent for her to serve, she fired it back above head height and there was an occasion where the player struck the table in anger. All of that was done in frustration. Fast forward to the final match of the night and the same player has finished playing her three games. Steve was battling away in the hope of salvaging a draw. In the middle of the first end equipment starts getting removed, including the two barriers which were in position. We are fairly sure they could have remained. It wasn’t as if it was late, and the students were going to get thrown out. Indeed, in the other hall two matches went on for about half an hour after this match had finished. Shortly after leaving the hall with one of the barriers, the player wanders back in. She meanders directly behind the action to a small table, we assume to gather up some of her stuff, completely oblivious it would appear to the fact that a match was going on right in front of her – and an important one at that. The player was politely asked, both by Steve and her own teammate to sit down. It was pointed out that she could not simply wander around behind one of the players. She sat down. For a few seconds anyway! Would you believe it, mid-point she decides to stand up again to wander back to the table! Perhaps a little less politely than the first time Steve indicated that the player had two choices - either sit down or leave the hall. In fairness to Steve’s opponent, he too made it clear to his teammate that she could not wander about in the manner she had been, thus disrupting the match. She left but not before she commented that Steve was only getting annoyed because he was losing! A totally unnecessary altercation. The player was nothing if not persistent – after having left the hall she came back in again, in time for the final set. Although this time she remained seated she took every opportunity to clap each and every point won by her teammate – we are fairly sure this was done deliberately to get a reaction from Steve who did well not to bite at the clear provocation. At the end of the match the Uni player who had been playing Steve apologised to Team 2 for his teammate’s behaviour and it was good of him to do so. It certainly wasn’t his fault that a match that had generally been played in good spirits ended the way it did. Perhaps we should give the benefit of the doubt to the player who maybe didn’t fully realise what she was doing – oh hold on – it turns out from speaking to another Division 1 team that she must have known exactly what she was doing as the same conduct had arisen in a previous match resulting in an almost identical argument taking place – that’s just not on!
Oh well – if nothing else it gave us something to write about this week! On we go to Week 17.