In the Premier Division Penicuik 1 had been undefeated in 2017 but their Week 18 match against Edinburgh Sports Club had to be played with only two players after the late call-off by Stuart Gow. Greig McDonell and Colin Green therefore started the match 3-0 down and despite their best efforts they were unable to overturn the deficit as they fell to a narrow 6-4 defeat.
In Division 1 Penicuik 2 faced an away match against Murrayfield 5. Iain Johnstone, Clive Liddiard and Brian Bailey were hopeful of putting some distance between themselves and their opponents who started the match a point behind the Midlothian trio. After five matches Murrayfield held a commanding 4-1 lead but with a disappointing defeat looming the team battled back and were relieved to win four of the final five matches to secure a point. Iain was, not for the first time this season, the player of the night winning all three of his singles and combine no with Clive for a doubles victory. Clive added the important fifth win.
Penicuik 3 of James Wighton, Gary Mcdougal and Abby Wighton have had an excellent Division 2 campaign and went into Week 19 undefeated throughout the season. However, their opponents in Week 19, Haddington 1 have also been undefeated and sat top of the Division on game difference. The teams battled out a 5-5 draw in the first half of the season and although half a dozen fixtures remain before the end of the season this match at Ladywood had all the hallmarks of a title decider. When the first set of singles matches all went the way of the East Lothian outfit it looked as if Haddington were going to run away with the match. Wins for James and Abby brought the score back to 3-2 before Gary took on Haddington's number 1. In a match which was to prove crucial, Gary was unlucky as he lost in 5 ends. A loss in the doubles followed and at 5-2 down a miracle was needed to secure a point. Deserving of a match of this calibre however, the Midlothian side fought to the end and wins in games 8 and 9 kept the match alive. James had the task of playing match 10 and couldn't quite get the better of his opponent as Haddington secured a narrow 6-4 victory. The title has probably now been decided but the good news for James, Gary and Abby is that they remain 8 points clear of third placed Fife and another couple of wins should secure the team promotion to Division 1.
Team 4's difficult season in Division 2 continued as only one regular player, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz was available for their visit to Edinburgh University. Vikas Singla and Marcin Mroz stepped up to provide cover and the visitors were unfortunate not to secure st least a point as they fell to a narrow 6-4 defeat. Krzysztof and Vikas both won 2 singles.
In Division 3 Vikas was in terrific form as he won all 3 of his singles matches for team 5. Unfortunately neither John Bald nor Louis Myatt could record a singles victory against their Edinburgh University opponents as the Ladywood side fell to a 7-3 defeat.
With two terrific 6-4 victories behind them in Week 18, Team 6 travelled to Fife full of confidence. Starting 2 points ahead of their opponents in the race for promotion, Stuart Bennett, Craig Johnson and Sean Lennon knew that a win would consolidate second place in the Division. In an extremely tight affair six of the ten matches on the night were won in deciding fifth ends. Crucially for the visitors Craig secured two important comeback wins and with Sean winning two and Stuart adding one singles victory the doubles fixture was to determine the outcome. Although the doubles was won in three straight ends the scores were as tight as the rest of the match - 14-12, 13-11 and 11-9 all in favour of Sean and Craig gave Team 6 their fourth consecutive 6-4 win.
Finally in Week 19, Penicuik 7 hosted West Lothian 7 at Ladywood. Rachel Petrie, Louis McLeod and George Wilson found the awkward styles of their opponents difficult to overcome - Louis and George both won 1 singles in the resultant 8-2 defeat.
And so to our player of the week award for Week 19. Only Iain and Vikas were both undefeated this week for Teams 2 and 5 respectively but they've both won the award in recent times and neither of them were in winning sides! If we're looking at winning team performances our options are somewhat limited!! Attention turns to Team 6 again - Craig is again in the running after his two terrific five end wins but for two straightforward 3 end singles wins, a 3-0 doubles victory and an unlucky five end loss this week's award goes to Sean - well done.
And finally our controversy of the week section. It's been a while since we had a go at "rules enforcement" or lack of it. This last week has seen us (and others we assume) get a bit of a telling off about postponements and a firm reminder about getting them played. The rule is in the following terms:
....A postponement MUST be played within 4 playing weeks of the scheduled date. The home team will be responsible in offering alternative date(s) to the away team, irrespective of who requests the postponement. In the event of the away team requesting a postponement, the home team should offer at least one date as an alternative to the original date. In the event of the home team requesting a postponement, the home team should offer as many dates as is necessary to the away team. Failure to do so will result in the requesting team forfeiting the match. In the event of the revised date not having been agreed upon, the match will be awarded against the team requesting the postponement....
PTTC have outstanding fixtures v NM and Police and also an intra club postponement. Our newly appointed match secretary seemed to make some distinction between intra club fixtures and inter club fixtures by indicating "We are supposed to have a four-week limit of postponements, especially for intra-club matches. Such a distinction is ill founded - whilst intra club fixtures used to have a special rule all to themselves that does not exist anymore. The 4 week rule is an extremely difficult one to comply with, especially for clubs with limited availability of premises. Add to that that we're told in fairly strong terms that in the few weeks where there is scope for rearranged fixtures (namely handicap Cup weeks) we have to prioritise the Cup games then one can easily see how rearranged fixtures can drag on. Looking at the rule in more detail maybe we should have just offered one date to our North Merchiston opponents (they being the away team and having requested the postponement) and if not suitable then we just claim the game. Can that really be fair? We asked for a postponement against Police who were the home team - to the writer's knowledge we've not heard a word from them about a possible alternative date - having not offered an alternative date do they forfeit the match? That seems to be our reading of the rule. Four weeks having well and truly passed can the team who didn't request the postponement simply take advantage of the rule and now refuse to play it and let the committee deal with any complaint / appeal? Who knows?
As we have said for a long time it does appear that the league try to enforce some rules whilst ignoring others. Looking for an example of that?? - just read the very next rule which relates to concessions. Any team with 3 concessions shall be suspended from the league. Haddington in Division 4 have conceded 4 matches. We should of course add that we're not for one moment seeking the suspension of Haddington - we love them - but it's just yet another example of the inconsistent approach taken.
Never mind Handicap Cup this week and the rules about that are so straightforward what could anyone possibly argue about........