Wednesday evening saw Teams 1 and 3 both travel to face the Edinburgh Club's Teams 1 and 3 at James Gillespie’s High School – Team 1's Captain, Colin Green was joined by David Melrose and, making his debut for the season, Greig McDonell – playing his first premier league match since 2017. They took on the very international trio of Marek Domagala, Debjit Roy Choudhury and Than Htay Aung.
Colin was first up against Debjit and found it hard going – despite taking a 2-1 advantage with an 11-4 win in end 3, Debjit recovered to force a fifth end decider, just losing out 11-7. Meanwhile, David was taking on Marek in another five end marathon – Dave pulled it back from 2-1 down but he failed to take the decider. Match 3 saw Greig roll back the years (or did he just catch his opponent cold) with a 3-0 win against Than. The next round of singles saw a 4 end victory for Colin over Marek, a four end victory for David over Than but a four end loss for Greig. 4-2 for the visitors going into the doubles. Colin could see Greig already struggling with his fitness levels after 7 ends of table tennis, so it was Colin and David who took on the attacking pairing of Debjit and Than – the Penicuik duo were never in it losing out in straight sets. The match was in the balance – Greig v Marek and Colin v Than then took place simultaneously – Colin didn’t have things his own way as he struggled to victory in 4 tight ends thus securing a point for the visitors. Greig’s match with Marek was a battle of wills more than a good match of TT – at 2-0 down Greig remembered that the only way he’s beaten Marek in the past is by pushing – Expedite system was nearly needed in end 3 – neither player willing (or able) to take the initiative – how Kenny Benjamin in the umpire’s seat kept awake is beyond us – Greig won the third end and was out on his feet by the by the time the score reached 12-12 in the fourth - he couldn’t keep the 45 shot boring pushing rallies going any longer so decided to attack –and that was his mistake! 5-4 up – David had the chance to secure victory in the last match against Debjit, a man who remains so focused against a man who, well lets just say can lose his focus quite easily! Debjit’s stylish game prevailed with a 3-0 win to secure a 5-5 draw – who was the happier team captain? Marek by the looks of it at the end of the night as they stayed within two points of the Penicuik side at the foot of the Premier table.
In the other half of the hall, James Wighton, Hannah McDonell and Abby Wighton took on Artur Labecki, Christophe Bauer and, the not very international sounding, Alastair Hill. The Edinburgh outfit sat joint second in Division 2 and the Midlothian trio knew they were in for a tough match. After straightforward 3-0 wins for Alastair and Artur v James & Abby the Penicuik trio looked in big trouble. Matches 3 and 4 were played simultaneously and saw Hannah brilliantly recover from a 2-0 deficit to win 11-9 in the fifth v Christophe whilst Abby played some great stuff to win in 4 ends against Alastair. Suddenly it was 2-2 and the team were back in it! Hannah then lost to Artur (who looked in great form throughout the night) but James had the chance to level again against Christophe. After losing the first two sets, James fought back to win the next two 11-8, 11-7. 3-3 looked very much on the cards but a terrible start for James in the decider let Christophe off the hook as he won 11-5. The doubles then saw Abby & Hannah take on Alastair and Artur and what an excellent doubles match it was – Artur again made the difference with some fantastic attacking play as the girls fell to a narrow 3-1 defeat. Abby kept the match alive with a victory over Christophe but both Hannah and James lost their final matches as the visitors fell to a 7-3 defeat, 2 wins for Abby and one for Hannah – no doubt the difference on the night was Artur with his 3 wins and a pivotal role in the doubles – are we lining him up for a surprise player of the week award……
Team 2 hosted Edinburgh International 2 in Division 1 and they needed to call upon Abby from Team 3 to play her second match in as many nights as she joined Charlie Brindley and Julian Taylor. Team 2 are in trouble and if they aren’t able to put out a full side every week they might find themselves in serious relegation trouble. When the first four matches of the night all went the way of the visitors, the writing was on the wall for Team 2 – brief hope was given when Charlie defeated Stan Stoodley and credit to Abby as she stepped up and performed terrifically to defeat Amjad Mohammed in straight sets in match 6 thus reducing the gap to 4-2. The doubles, however, secured a point for the visitors and that quickly became 2 as Julian fell to Stan in Match 8. A win for Charlie in the last match of the night wasn’t much consolation as Team 2 fell to a 7-3 defeat.
And so, to our player of the week award. There was only one undefeated player in the League for us this week and that was Colin – but he let David down in the doubles and with that loss 2 points turned into just one – so he’s out the running! Oh, and he won the award last week! What about Club President, Greig – he was back to his best – well back to his best in terms of being irritable – his best line of the night was after one of those 70 stroke pushing rallies with Marek when he looked over to daughter Hannah and shouted that he wouldn’t even merit a game for Team 3 playing like this! Hmm – maybe not him then – 2 wins for Charlie in a 7-3 defeat is worthy of a mention as are Abby's two wins - she played some excellent table tennis and her win over the Edinburgh International number 1, Alastair, was a great victory – she then went on to win a match playing up for Team 2 so, like Colin, also has 3 wins this week – well done to her for this week's award.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Whilst last week we were in a good mood after the League permitted Greig to play up we’re now wishing they hadn’t bothered – he thoroughly disliked playing up in the Premier Division –apparently he far prefers watching Team 3 in Division 2! Only joking League Committee! Playing on two tables comes under the spotlight this week – a topic we’ve covered before – it really does detract from the “team spirit” of the matches but as we have said before with time pressure on most clubs it seems to be the only way to get matches played these days. Whilst we seem to be stuck with it, surely we should only have to put up with it where premises are big enough to enable it to happen. At Edinburgh International on Wednesday evening there were two League Matches and we assume some sort of Club night as well – 4 match tables in the Hall would have been great – but when two other tables were put up, jings it was tight – add to that a massive TV and stand in the corner where Team 1 were playing and it felt like the matches were being played in a very confined space – the fact that if you had a chance to watch a match you were sat on a narrow very low bench trying to avoid banging your head on the PE Equipment added to the feeling of over-crowdedness (is that a word??). For someone like Colin who loves scrambling around from side to side and back from the table this was a nightmare scenario. Add to that the dodgy light at one end of the hall and we can understand Colin’s comment about disliking the venue. What’s the answer? There probably isn’t one – just some thanks perhaps that like us they only have four teams entered in the league this year. We know the problem – when we had more teams entered in previous seasons, fitting 3 matches into Ladywood was really difficult. Thinking back to four or five years ago when we had 8 teams entered we have no idea how we did it! Maybe do away with home venues for League matches – one central venue in Edinburgh hired out for a few nights of the week? Our fees increase to the League, but we don’t incur the rental costs of having to have our own home nights? There’s only an average of 20 matches per week across the five divisions – two nights at Royal High and we’re sorted! It will never happen (probably) but the experience of the National League shows it’s possible – and imagine the amount of controversies we could cover if we were all playing in one venue – endless fall outs could be reported on a weekly basis! Until that happens though we’ll just have to keep going – in fairness to Edinburgh International, their venue at least has a good floor – we remember when we played at MacTaggart Scott on a concrete floor that became more lethal as it got covered in condensation as the night went on – and even then we still had one of the better venues – thinking back we played in some dodgy places and compared to back then our current venues have actually improved significantly – ah the good old days…….