The week started with Team 1’s trip to Edinburgh to take on Murrayfield 3. Despite struggling with injuries and absences this season, Team 1 have had a remarkably decent first half of the season. This match would see them really tested as they turned up with just two players – Colin Green & Greig McDonell. The only memorable thing about this visit turned out to be the lovely Xmas decorations at the Gyle Shopping Centre (and the fact they have a nice couple of couches to sit on in their Pop-in-play premises). After Colin lost match number 1 in four ends, Greig then proceeded to jolt his back in Match 2 of the night and thereafter found movement even more difficult than he normally finds it! Had there been a third player he may well have retired. Just when it wasn’t needed, Greig had his first winless league match of the season as Team 1 fell to an 8-2 defeat.
Team 2 also faced Murrayfield opposition as they hosted Murrayfield 5 at Ladywood on Thursday night. Charlie Brindley played only his second match of the season and was joined by the Wighton father and daughter combination of James and Abby – hold on they don’t play for Team 2, do they? Abby now does – due to difficulties with Team 2 she’s now committed to playing for them after having played up more than permitted by the league. They only had one registered player available and so James also had to play up. On the table this was a match where Team 2 felt they were in with a chance. Their Edinburgh opponents were only 3 points ahead of them in the Division 1 table at the start of the night. The first three matches of the night were a bit of a disaster for the home side, all three lost in straight sets. They were really under pressure and when only Charlie was able to win an end in the next three games, the match was over as a contest. 6-0 down and only pride to play for, Abby combined with Charlie for a win in the doubles and then she played some terrific stuff to win match 8. That was as good as it got though as Team 2 fell to an 8-2 defeat.
Team 5 were also in action on Thursday night as they hosted Haddington 7. Phil Daly, Patrick Shanks and Ian Millar were picked by NPC Brian Bailey for this match and after the first set of matches Team 5 led 2-1. A four end win for Patrick was followed by a three end victory for Phil before Ian was unlucky in match 6 losing some tight games. The doubles went the way of the visitors to keep them in the contest trailing 4-3. Patrick secured a point for the hosts with his third win on the night and Phil finished the match off for a 6-4 victory. Here’s a unique fact about this team – they’ve never played the same trio more than once in Division 4. Ten matches played and ten different combinations – impressive! Well for all those boffins out there probably not mathematically impressive I suppose – they could go through nearly 3 full seasons before needing to have 3 the same but impressive, nonetheless. Apparently there are 56 different combinations available!
Finally in Week 11 Team 3 travelled to Edinburgh University on Friday evening. The vicious rumour going around is that Team Captain James Wighton dropped Julian Taylor after he lost the last match of the night in Week 10 - surely not! He picked himself to join Ian Hislop and Hannah McDonell for the trip to St Leonards Land in their Division 2 encounter. When James lost match 1 the Penicuik trio looked a tad worried but four of the next five matches went the way of the visitors to give them a 4-2 lead going into the doubles. It was back to the reliable combination of James and Hannah who after losing in their opening match of the season have been undefeated since. They weren’t at their best and some might say their win was rather “ugly” but a win’s a win – their 5th consecutive doubles victory and that secured a point. The score was made to look comfortable when all three players won their final matches – an 8-2 victory which keeps them within a point of the League Leaders.
And so to our player of the week award for Week 11. Maybe this could be Phil’s week – he was one of only three players to be undefeated in singles play this week, Patrick and Ian being the other two. But hold on a minute he side-stepped the doubles – how did the other two fare in the doubles matches – Captain James didn’t give Ian a chance for Team 3 – slightly unkind when he said he couldn’t bear to watch another end of that dodgy bat! And as for Patrick, he played but lost the doubles! Wow! Phil really is in with a chance this week – and add to that he was awarded player of the match by his Haddington Opponents; it’s a certainty isn’t it? Well it was but after about 6 weeks of him pleading his own case, this week when he’s in with a chance he was pleading the case for another player – he watched some of Team 2’s match on Thursday night at Penicuik and was most impressed with Abby firstly pulling Charlie through in the doubles before then playing some terrific TT to win Team 2’s only singles match of the night. Abby definitely deserves credit for her performance – playing for a higher team than initially registered for, playing in a higher division and still playing with a smile on her face irrespective of how the results have gone. But the selection Committee must make some tough decisions and she came a close second place. The award this week is not just based on the performance this week, but for this player’s general participation in PTTC. Not only is our winner playing in the League after some serious health concerns kept him out of the game for a long period, he’s there whenever he can be on a Wednesday with grandson Michael, he’s always super supportive of the Club in general and of all its players, he’s always happy to give guidance and help to others and he plays a vital role at our Saturday Junior session when he attends (more frequently than the coaches) to be an adult feeder – all your efforts for the Club are appreciated Phil – well done to him for this week’s award.
Now we can’t bring the tone done with a controversy after that tear-jerking award to Phil, can we? Well…….
This year at Ladywood on a Saturday morning we have the joy of sharing the Hall for the first couple of hours with some kids’ class (Enjoy-a-ball). Not sure there’s any kids class where more noise is made than this - a bunch of youngsters running around a very echoey (is that a word) hall screaming at the top of their voices as they presumably chase after various balls. Tom, it appears, hadn’t had his morning coffee last Saturday and went to point out how noisy it was – not only could our Juniors not hear what he was saying, he couldn’t hear himself speak. He may have had to raise his voice to the Enjoy-a-ball class to make himself heard – oops that was a mistake – one of the parents of a class member didn’t take kindly to the interruption and a bit of a “heated debate” then ensued! We’ve had lots to contend with over the years at Ladywood – the worst must have been our old Thursday Night friends from the Zumba class. Now talk about noisy – that genuinely left you not able to have a conversation with anyone, even when you were standing right next to them. Some of us complained about the dogs that used to share Match night with us – dog obedience class – what did we expect – they weren’t going to be well behaved were they? And now match night sees us share the hall with the Boxing Club – who would have thought they could make so much noise! At least Tom’s not tried to have a go at them – he’s not that stupid! The point to all of this of course is back to that old chestnut of premises. Without our own premises we just have to put up with sharing – and obviously this isn’t a criticism of Ladywood – they have to provide for various other sports and it’s great to see the Centre being utilised more these days – the latest addition being trampolining on a Wednesday Practice night.
Speaking of the Centre, we have never previously had to consider that our session finishing time (other than match nights) meant that we needed to be packed up and put away by that time. Obviously we’ve had a few occasions where we have run over on a League night beyond closing time and the Centre has invariably been most accommodating to us – two tables it is from now on for League play and so that shouldn’t be an issue going forward – but our Saturday morning sessions have now become an issue – 9am to 12noon should be plenty of time. In the old days, a Friday night saw our tables being rolled out into position for a 9am start the next morning – some ridiculous insurance issue now makes that a non-starter. If the Centre doesn’t open its doors until 9 (most weeks we are fortunate to get in a bit in advance of that) it can then take 10 to 15 minutes or so to get set up impacting on our junior session and with them not finishing until 10.30 (and sometimes we’re a bit late with that) that has a knock on effect on our Senior session, some weeks not getting properly started until 10.40ish. A warm-up takes us beyond 10.45 and that leaves us only an hour and a quarter at most until we end. And now we’re told that a 12 noon finishing time means 12 noon is when we have to be out of the hall as there may be other bookings put in for a 12 start. Jings! 8 tables most weeks, barriers, net posts, nets etc all to be stored away – suddenly that would mean stopping about 11.45! What option do we have – extend our booking – simple. Well, it would be if cost wasn’t such a vital consideration for us – Covid and a reduction in numbers has seen the Club’s finances stretched. Wouldn’t it be great to have our own premises, to be able to open up, set up, pack away and lock up at your leisure? Where do we find that millionaire benefactor? We can but dream!
One week of regular League Action left before Xmas – where have the last 3 months gone!