After winning promotion back to the Premier Division last year, the new season kicked off for Team 1 with a home fixture against a strong looking West Lothian 1, boosted by the inclusion of Brian Wright. Team 1 themselves had a new face in their ranks as Carsten Giebeler joined forces with Colin Green & David Melrose. When WL turned up with only two players, the door was left open for Penicuik to get the season off to a great start. Unfortunately, only Colin managed to pick up a win as Brian proved his worth to WL with a perfect night. A 6-4 defeat for Team 1 and it doesn’t get much easier as they face defending champions Murrayfield 1 this coming week!
Team 2 has a slightly new look this season as last year’s regulars Charlie Brindley and Gary McDougal are joined by Ian Hislop. With Charlie unavailable, Abby Wighton played up in a tough away match at Murrayfield 4. Two very unorthodox players in Gary and Ian against the youthful all-out attack style of Murrayfield’s Jamie Sloan, Luke Hennessey and Leandro Golinski. The 10-0 result doesn’t do justice to how tight some of the matches were and in particular how close Gary came to picking up a couple of wins – 21-19 in the fifth v Jamie and 13-11 in the fifth v Leandro. Matches won’t get much harder this season for Team 2 – Murrayfield 4 will, in our view, end the season at the top end of the table.
Team 3 started their Division 2 campaign against Murrayfield 7 at Ladywood. James and Abby Wighton from last year are this season joined by Krzysztof Laszkiewicz and Iain Johnstone in a 4-person team. On paper this looks like one of our strongest outfits and they got off to a great start with an 8-2 win. There were 3 wins each for Iain and Krzysztof whilst James was unlucky to lose 2 matches in very tight fifth ends.
The only team to play two matches in the opening two weeks of the season were Team 4 who also find themselves in Division 2 this year. Julian and Sonny Taylor joined Tony Brentnall in their week 1 fixture v Haddington 3, a team who had beaten them 6-4 twice last season in Division 3. This match was again a close one, poised at 3-3 before the doubles. When our father and son duo narrowly edged that in five ends, the momentum was with Penicuik and further wins from Sonny and Tony sealed a good 6-4 win. In week 2, Chris Markey replaced Tony as Team 4 hosted Murrayfield 8. Young Ben Jamieson for the Murrayfield outfit showed his progression with a terrific unbeaten night in singles play. This match was also to turn on the doubles fixture – at 2 ends to 1 down, back came Julian and Sonny to win in a fifth end decider leaving the home side only needing one win out of the last three matches. Chris fell to Ben, before Julian suffered a slightly surprising straight sets defeat to Mike Letchford. Pressure on Sonny in the last match which he came through in 4 ends to give Team 4 another 6-4 victory
Team 5 now find themselves our bottom team in the League and they have been most affected by various player departures and injuries. John Bald, Craig Johnson, Brian Bailey, Phil Daly and Louis McLeod would have all been in the running to play in Division 3 this year. But all of them are gone! With Hannah McDonell still out injured and Craig Linton unavailable, it was left to George Wilson, Kristian Skotzen and Rachel Petrie to take on Murrayfield 9. 4-0 down in the blink of an eye and Team 5 were in big trouble. The next three matches, however, all went the way of the home side as they reduced the deficit to 3-4. The chance of a win went when Rachel lost out in Match 8. Matches 9 and 10 could have gone either way – both of them ended up with 11-7 fifth end deciders – unfortunately for the hosts, only George managed to win his. Two wins for George, one for Kristian and a doubles win saw Team 5 just fall short with a 4-6 loss.
And so to our first Player of the Week award of the new season. Krzysztof and Iain were the only players to have unbeaten nights – well done to them. But this week’s award goes to a player who has moved up a Division and has shown terrific promise – he won 4 out of 6 singles and two crucial doubles matches as his side recorded two 6-4 victories. The importance of his wins to the team was clear – well done to Sonny for a terrific couple of weeks.
And finally, the return of our Controversy of the Week section – Wait a minute it’s too early in the season for any of that nonsense. Nothing’s happened that has affected us. Even the League AGM passed without controversy. Not much in the way of new rules to worry about this season either, apart from being unable to concede a fixture to a fellow team from your own Club and a rule about being fined if you play too often with just two players. One minor tweak that does irk us a little is the change to the ineligible player rule – it now states that only the ineligible player’s games would be regarded as walkovers and the other games remain valid. That may punish the ineligible player but given that we must all know who is eligible and who isn’t, the Team in question seem to get a free pass – they might still win a fixture with their other two players – we preferred the old rule – if a team plays an ineligible player then the match is recorded as a walkover to the other side. Whilst the ineligible player can only win their own matches, those matches can obviously have an impact on how the match in its entirety progresses and on the ultimate result.
It’s good to be back – best wishes to everyone for an enjoyable 2019/20 season.