In the Premier division Colin Green, David Melrose and David Simpson hosted runaway league leaders Murrayfield 1. After an 8-2 loss the previous week to Murrayfield 3, the home trio feared the worst. The first two matches were played simultaneously – David M took on the ever improving Charlie McGowan whilst David S faced the Premier League’s number 1 in terms of averages, Krzysztof Borkowicz (32 wins out of 33 matches played). We remember young Charlie playing in the lower divisions (seems like yesterday) and he always showed promise – but wow how he has improved – a straight sets victory over David M continued his impressive first season in the top division. When David S went 2-0 down it looked like this was going to be a quick night for Team 1. He, however, dug in deep and took the next two ends 13-11. 11-6. In the decider he had a match point at 11-10 up – he won’t like us for reminding him (he’s had nightmares about it) – he had Krzysztof on the defensive and a high ball to smash away for the win – so close and yet so far – a 13-11 loss ensued. Colin was blown away in match 3 by Gordon Muir (how does he seem to have so much more time than anyone else to play the ball!) and suddenly the home side was 3-0 down. David S went the distance again in his second match, this time just coming out on top 11-9 in the fifth against Charlie but Colin fell in 4 and David M in 3 to make the match score 5-1 going into the doubles. Another five ender ensued and after taking a 2-1 advantage with an 11-2 win in end 3, the home pairing of Colin and David S ought to have been in control – they lost the fourth 14-12 and with it the momentum swung. The final three matches saw a win for Colin but losses for the two David’s. Another 8-2 defeat for Team 1 but there were real positives in this match and a few matches could easily have gone the other way – the 8-2 scoreline flattered the League leaders a little and that’s good news for the rest of the season for Team 1
Team 2 faced a huge match against Murrayfield 6, both teams struggling towards the foot of the Division 1 table. Charlie Brindley was first up for the home side but he lost out to Ian Moran in 4 ends. Gary McDougal found himself 2-0 down against Masoud Nowbaveh but battled back to 2-2 before losing out 11-7 in the fifth. 2-0 down and the pressure was really on the hosts – Sonny Taylor got the first win on the board as he defeated Artur Chodacki before Gary levelled the match with a straight sets victory over Ian. Charlie hasn’t played much this year and isn’t quite at the top of his game – he was relieved to win in five over Artur and when Sonny the n defeated Masoud, the home side had turned a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 advantage going into the doubles. Charlie and Sonny were perhaps the surprise pairing selected but team captain Charlie’s decision was proved right as they won in four ends to secure at least a point for the hosts. Match 8 saw that 1 point turned into 2 as Gary won his second match of the night. It was a relief that match 8 did go Gary’s way as both Sonny and Charlie lost their last matches (Charlie particularly unlucky losing out 13-11 in the fifth) – Team 2 had done enough though and a vital 2 points was secured with a 6-4 victory.
Meanwhile in Division 2, Team Captain James Wighton couldn’t even make it out of his bed to support the team – he still has all the symptoms of Covid-19 but without a positive test! He was replaced by Greig McDonell who joined forces with Abby Wighton and Hannah McDonell as they faced Heriot Watt. The students only had one player from the team who played in the first half of the season and they were missing their number 1, Dan Potter who sits 2nd in the individual averages. The first round of singles matches all went the way of the hosts in three straight ends. Match 4 saw Abby take on Dominic Perry, a vastly improved player compared to the first half of the season – he showed that improvement as he fought back from 2-0 down to force a decider. Abby got off to a good start and was never caught as she secured an 11-6 fifth end win. Hannah lost the first end of her 2nd match of the evening but came back strongly in the next 3 ends (11-3, 11-3, 11-6) and with a win from Greig the match was over – 6-0 going into the doubles. After losing the first end 11-9, Abby & Hannah looked to have the match under control as they won the next two 11-4, 11-5. The students fought back, however, to force a decider and at 5-2 down at the change of ends it looked as if they had let the match slip away from them – credit to the girl power team though as they fought back to take 9 of the next 11 points for an 11-7 win. The match was rounded off in style with another 3 singles wins as Team 2 recorded a resounding 10-0 win.
Team 4 are looking stranded at the foot of the Division 3 table – they were looking to bounce back from a 10-0 loss the previous week as they travelled to take on Murrayfield 8. The first half match had resulted in an 8-2 loss but Murrayfield were strengthened by the re-registration of Mike Gannon (down from Division 1 to Division 3 for the second half of the season). In fairness, maybe they haven’t been strengthened – the only player to lose an end all night was Mike. 32 ends of table tennis were played and 30 of them were won by the Edinburgh outfit – Ouch – that’s a good old fashioned hammering. Craig Linton, Rachel Petrie and Jim Jack were never at the races in this one – service and service return is still the major issue for this trio – the serving masterclass which had been promised will have to wait – the prospect of Greig trying to explain things resulted in both Craig and Jim finding more interesting things to do last Saturday – shocking!
And so, to our player of the week award. Let’s not beat around the bush, we gave a joint award last week and we’re doing the same again this week – Gary and Sonny deserve a mention – they both recorded two wins out of three in their vital Division 1 win but both Abby and Hannah were undefeated in singles play last week – they both played 11 ends and won 9 – they also combined for a doubles win so we cannot split them – well done to them!
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Ratings Central has come under fire a bit in the past from us – it used to be the case that you would judge a player by their averages in the League, or by performances at tournaments etc. Nowadays, we use this bizarre algorithm based system to determine a player’s playing strength. And we suppose it works to an extent. Where it becomes difficult is when rules are applied on the basis of the ratings score. One of the most bizarre situations that we have come across arose as a result of one of Murrayfield’s players being “out of strength order” in terms of his rating – he was registered in Division 1 but was more than 200 points below all four of the players who were registered below him in Division 2. Imagine the large intake of breath by Murrayfield when it was pointed out that for the second half of the season what this meant was that none of the four Division 2 registered players could play doubles! Now that is bizarre! A 1-0 start for all of Murrayfield’s opponents because they are unable to field a doubles team – unless of course they play two players up from teams below and only one regular takes to the table each week! A similar situation arose in Murrayfield’s division 4 team – two players not allowed to play doubles – so if they played a match together does that mean they would also have to concede – apparently slightly different - one of them could play along with the third member of the team (really – where are these rules written down??). Murrayfield have, however, sorted the major issue – the player who was registered above the Division 2 team has now been re-registered below them – and we take it that’s what our Match Secretary wanted to happen. It appears that gone are the days where people could just play together because they were pals and got on well together – for years we remember Brian Bailey, Ian Woodyer and Clive Liddiard playing together – they had “always” played together; they socialised together; they went to the pub together; they were a team and that was how it was. We have also had numerous seasons where team selection has been based to a certain extent on players personalities – so and so doesn’t get on with Mr X we can’t put them together – Mr Y hates Mr Z’s guts, we need to keep them apart etc. – have those days also gone? In fairness, at PTTC we all love each other and get on famously so that last issue doesn’t really trouble us anymore – well mostly……