When Greig couldn't overturn a 16 point deficit against Graham in Match 1, losing in 5 tight ends, the visitors knew they were in for a long night. Iain was up next against Ros (0-14 to 21) and made light work of the deficit with a straightforward win to level the match scores. Abby then took on Holly - despite Abby giving away a 5 point head start in a match to 15, she was in confident mood having defeated Holly easily in the Edinburgh Championships in Dec 2016. There was surprise all round therefore as Holly comfortably won in 3 straight sets. Greig then came back from 16-0 down to defeat Ros but a further straight sets defeat for Abby against Graham put the visitors on the backfoot at 3-2 down. Two matches were then played simultaneously, Abby v Ros and Iain v Holly. One of those matches had to be won to keep the tie alive and as Iain was put to the sword by Holly the visitors knew that Abby’s match with Ros was the game that the visitors needed to win. Abby unfortunately just could not come to terms with the unusual style (and funny bat) of Ros as she rounded off a bad night with another 3 set defeat. The team left Bathgate bitterly disappointed, the first time in 4 seasons that the trio have not reached at least the semi-final.
With no scheduled League fixtures there was an opportunity to catch up on some outstanding matches in Week 20. In the Premier Division Team 1 of Greig McDonell, Colin Green and Stuart Gow hosted North Merchiston 2 at Ladywood Leisure Centre. Greig and Colin were both undefeated in singles play and combined for a win in the doubles whilst Stuart added 1 in a good 8-2 win for the home side.
In Division 2, Team 4 again had to again call on assistance from players registered in lower divisions as only one regular, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz was available for their fixture against Police. The resultant 8-2 defeat was no surprise in the circumstances, Krzysztof winning the 2 games for the visitors.
The final rearranged fixture saw an intra-club match between Teams 6 & 7. Craig Johnson, Sean Lennon and Stuart Bennett were looking to maintain Team 6’s push for promotion against Team 7 of Mark MacKay, Rachel Petrie and Louis McLeod. Starting the match some 16 points clear of their club mates in the Division 4 table, there was no doubt that Team 6 started as firm favourites but with Team 7’s Louis McLeod in excellent form, the match was not as straight forward as anticipated. Matches 5 and 8, both involving Stuart, were crucial to the result. In the first of these he came back from a 2-0 deficit against Mark to take the match in to a deciding fifth end. Mark can count himself unlucky losing out 12-10 in the decider. Match 8 saw Rachel give Stuart a difficult time as that game also went to a deciding fifth end. Stuart looked in trouble but somehow rallied to win the decider 11-8 and with it secure the win for Team 6. All three players won 2 matches although the player of the match award went to the undefeated Louis as he recorded all of Team 7’s wins in their 7-3 loss. The result keeps Team 6 in 2nd place in the division facing a crucial match next week against third placed West Lothian 7.
And so to our player of the week award for Week 18. In the League, three players were undefeated in singles play, Greig and Colin for Team 1 and Louis for Team 7. Stuart was also in the running this week for two tight 5 end wins under the greatest of pressure for Team 6. But this week, being Handicap Cup Week, we should really look to the quarter final match of our "so called Handicap Cup experts". Given that Abby was left to walk home from Bathgate and neither Greig nor Iain were particularly impressive, for the first time this season our award goes to a non-club member. For what appears to be terrific (and rapid) progress and for an excellent attacking style of play, young Holly wins this week's award for putting both Abby and Iain to the sword in extra quick time - indeed in her match against Iain, although she had an 11 point start, in the first two ends combined, one hand would have been enough to count Iain’s points!!! Well done Holly.
And finally to our controversy of the week. It really would be too much for us to harp on for the THIRD time this season about the fact that still missing from the list of Handicap Cup Winners are the successful 2013/14 Club - we’re sure the League will update the info when they update this year’s winners!! Staying with the handicap Cup, however, the rules on arranging fixtures came to the fore this week.
The rules say: “….. the home team shall offer their opponents at least 2 dates within the allotted period, giving at least 4 days notice. Teams which are unable to offer more than one date in the scheduled week of the competition will be required to forfeit home advantage. If the other team has the same problem, the date and venue will be decided by the handicap cup secretary. The visiting team shall be deemed to have defaulted the match should they not accept one of the dates offered and the match shall be awarded to the home side.”
This is extremely disadvantageous to clubs who are restricted in terms of availability of premises. A couple of years ago a rule was introduced (although not officially it appears) whereby the away team would proceed on the basis that the match was taking place on their opponents home night as per the league fixture lists. That, in our view, simplified matters but no longer appears to be the direction given by the league. When we are also told in very strong terms that cup matches take priority over rearranged league fixtures - this causes real problems, when for most clubs, the only chance of fitting in rearranged matches is during the Handicap cup weeks! Whilst one of our quarter finalists have played their match, our other team have encountered some difficulties in arranging their match against our friends from West Lothian. The teams agreed to postpone to this coming week (not sure that’s actually catered for in the rules) however surely the League can’t grumble about it when for example we have another rule which says “"Handicaps will be notified to the club secretary as soon as possible. Ties shall not be arranged until handicaps are notified." Not sure how we can comply with this when the updated Handicaps were notified on Sunday the 12th of February, matches meant to be taking place, giving 4 days notice, week commencing 13th Feb!! Lets just ignore that one shall we?!
What about this one: "The Handicap Sub-committee shall issue handicaps for all players in the League prior to the start of the Handicap Cup. Handicaps shall be reviewed again after the 2nd round has been played…. Handicaps of all players shall then be reviewed based solely on their League performance..."
Where do we start on that one?? We had the handicaps changed after the first round (shouldn't have been in terms of the rules) and after the second round and no doubt after each round up to the final - the only basis for that may be rule 4 where the committee can revise handicaps when deemed necessary - how vague and open ended is that?? In addition we are now using ratings central so the review is not solely based on a player's league performances as per the rule.
Who really cares we hear you cry? Not us actually, we love the Handicap Cup which generally runs smoothly with the assistance of the teams involved - our point, as with previous controversies, is why have rules in place which don’t accurately reflect what actually happens!
Half a dozen weeks left of the regular season - how time flies!!