Team 5 hosted Edinburgh University 6 in their Division 4 encounter at Ladywood on Thursday 19th January and they were given a boost by the fact that the students could only turn up with two players – 3-0 up to start this was a real opportunity for Patrick Shanks, Sian McDonald and Roscoe Cairney to secure a victory. Patrick made it 4-0 on the night by winning the first match played in four ends and when Sian won her first match in 4 ends a point had effectively been secured. The students mounted a bit of a comeback – losses for Sian and Roscoe and a loss in the doubles before another loss for Roscoe meant that the score was 5-4 with one match left to play – Patrick held his nerve to get the hosts over the line for a 6-4 victory.
Thursday night also saw Team 2 in action against University opposition in Division 1 – No such luck for Team 2 although Uni did have a player playing up! Alasdair Crofton and Jakub Kara did the business for the visitors in a fairly one sided contest as they recorded an 8-2 victory against Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Abby Wighton. Krys and Gary picked up one win each.
Our third home match on Thursday saw West Lothian 3 in action against Team 4 in Division 3. The first half of the season had ended well for Team 4 but in this match they were looking to overturn an 8-2 defeat from the first half of the season. That was always going to be tough for Rachel Petrie, Bob Porteous and Jim Jack and so it proved. Matches 2 and 3 could have gone differently and had they who knows perhaps the result would have been more in doubt – as it was, Rachel lost in 5 as did Jim and after Bob lost his first match the writing was on the wall for Team 4 – Bob was the only winner on the night as the Bathgate outfit recorded a convincing 9-1 victory.
The theme of Week 15 was matches against Edinburgh Uni and Friday night saw Teams 1 and 3 both travel to Edinburgh. Team 1 were still understrength and had to rely on Colin Green again, joined by an unwell Greig McDonell and Hannah McDonell playing up from Division 2. The visitors came away from this match thoroughly frustrated by the fact that they didn’t at least secure a draw – Greig, in his first two matches held 2-1 leads which he let slip, losing both in 5 ends. The draw was still possible though with a doubles victory but lo and behold, Colin and Greig let a 2-1 lead slip again losing in five ends. A 6-4 loss was hard to take.
Meanwhile, the match of the week was taking place in the other hall as Team 3 took on University 3 in a crucial Division 2 clash – Team 3 started the night in second place in the table but only 2 points clear of the students in third place. The students are the only side to have taken any points from League Leaders Murrayfield. When James Wighton lost out in five ends in the first match of the night and Ian Hislop failed to record an end in match 2, things looked bleak for the visitors. Julian scraped over the line in five in his first match to get the visitors on the board but the two game advantage was restored as James lost his second match of the night. Game 5 was a bit of a turning point – Julian was dead and buried – 2-1 down and 8-3 down in the fourth, he somehow managed to turn the match around by winning the fourth end 11-9 and cantering to an 11-1 deciding end victory – Ian then levelled the match with a win in Game 6 before a mammoth tussle in the doubles saw James & Julian secure a terrific 3-2 win. The visitors held their first lead of the night. When Julian won his final singles a point was secured and that was followed by a 4 end victory for James to give the visitors the win. Ian lost the last match of the night but a 6-4 victory had been secured – what a terrific result for Team 3.
Our player of the week is a fairly straightforward choice this week – well done to Colin and Patrick who had undefeated nights in singles play, but for his vital three wins and a crucial doubles win there could only be one man in contention this week – his comeback from the dead was a real turning point for Team 3 – a great night for Julian who wins this award for the first time this season – Well done to him.
And finally our controversy of the week section. Team 1’s match at St Leonard’s Land was played in atrocious conditions. The Uni seem to play in two halls – Team 3 played in the Dance Studio (we think) and that seems to have benefitted from some new lighting – their conditions seemed to be excellent – maybe it was that contrast that made the gym seem so terrible. Played on two tables, both of which were old and faded the lighting was poor all over the hall but in particular one of the dodgy lights at the far side of the tables was out completely – maybe our players’ aged poor eyesight contributed to the darkness as well but it was genuinely so radically different from the other side of the table that at times it was difficult to pick up the ball if you were any distance away from the table. Of course it’s the same for both teams so there was no advantage to the hosts but the conditions were atrocious – our various other teams have also commented earlier in the season on the poor lighting (and whilst it does appear that one of the halls has now been “upgraded”), the gym is, by a country mile, the worst venue to play TT in the League in our view. What do the rules say about venues in the League? Should we enforce a requirement for venues to meet a certain standard? Probably not is the answer – we want as many clubs in the League as possible. In fairness things are much improved from the good old days – our favourite venue from the 80s/90s must have been the Pakistan Association – we remember one night playing in someone’s garage with all the paraphernalia that we all probably have lying around in a garage – the seating was provided by an old couch at the side of the table – now that was the good old days!