Team 1 faced a strong Murrayfield 2 side at Ladywood and when David M and Colin lost the first two matches of the night 3-0 the home side knew they were in trouble. David S played well in Match 3 to defeat Charlie Ellis in four ends and there were renewed hopes that Team 1 would make a fight of this as Colin took on Keith Dingwall, a player he has had the upper hand over in recent times. Keith still has nightmares of losing from an unlosable position against Colin in the Edinburgh Champs and he wasn’t going to let that happen again as he won in 4 ends. 3-1 became 5-1 as David S lost to the very impressive Danilo Celli (Murrayfield’s conveyer belt of finding new talent continues) and David M lost to Charlie. The doubles provided a bright moment for the home side – David S and Colin have combined well in recent weeks and they enjoyed a terrific 5 end victory to keep the match alive. Any hopes of a comeback were short-lived, however, as Colin lost to Charlie in Match 8. With Teams 1 and 3 sharing the “extra table” at Ladywood, David sat and watched the last two Team 3 matches get underway just after 9.40 and match 9 of his own match was also running late – David S came back from 2-0 down to run out a 3-2 winner over Keith but by then 10 pm had come and gone and David M was off! A 7-3 win for the visitors, an off night for Colin, but another good performance by David S.
We have been a little pessimistic in recent weeks about Team 2’s chances of surviving in Division 1. Week 22 saw them face runaway leaders Haddington 1 and not much was expected of them as they travelled to East Lothian. Having already pretty much secured the Division 1 title we were tempted to ask our East Lothian friends to roll over in this match – Pete Lugton demanded a very high price for that to happen and unfortunately we couldn’t afford it. No surprise then when Haddington strolled to a 9-1 win against Sonny Taylor, Gary McDougal and Julian Taylor. Gary picked up the one win on the night with a fighting 5 end win against our singing friend Matt Munro. Congratulations to Haddington – they’ve been really close to getting into the Premier on a couple of occasions in recent years and they’ve eventually made it – obviously helped greatly by the aforementioned Pete Lugton coming out of competitive retirement and showing he still has it! Only 3 losses in 45 games played so far – mathematically with a couple of games still to play Haddington can’t be caught. At the other end of the table, Team 2 are still not gone but……
Team 3 faced the daunting task of taking on Division 2 Leaders West Lothian 1 at Ladywood looking to better a 9-1 defeat in the first half of the season. Regular Abby Wighton was unavailable so in stepped Greig McDonell to join daughter Hannah and Team Captain James Wighton. They faced Jamie Toner, Keith MacKay and Wojciech Wziatek who had won all 12 of their previous matches. And it is easy to see why – in Wojciech they probably have the best player in Division 2 (32 wins out of 33 played) and guess who is second in the individual averages – yip young Jamie has had a terrific season. The first 3 matches were all decided by 3-0 score lines – losses for James and Hannah to Wojciech and Jamie and a win for Greig v Keith. Match 4 saw Hannah take on Wojciech and as Greig and James watched on in a little bit of amazement, Hannah played probably her best set of TT all season with terrific attacking play to take the first end 11-7 – could the upset of all upsets be on the cards? Wojciech is a clever player – he changed tactics a little and Hannah couldn’t maintain the high level of the first end as she fell in 4 ends. James brought the home side back into the match with a win v Keith and when Greig defeated Jamie the teams were level at 3-3 going into the doubles. As with their match v Haddington the previous week, Hannah and James had chances to win this crucial game but lost out in 4 tight ends. Match 8 saw Hannah take on Keith who was adamant that we should play two matches simultaneously – not on your nelly Keith were we going to let Hannah face this without support – at 2-1 down Hannah looked out of it but an 11-3 fourth end win brought her level and when she changed ends 5-3 up in the decider the match was hers for the taking – 4 points lost in a row and she was 7-5 down but her composure remained as she won 6 of the next 7 points for a crucial 3-2 win. Match score 4-4 as James took on Jamie and Greig took on Wojciech in the last two matches of the night. James was no match for Jamie losing in 3 ends and when Greig went 2-0 down in his match, Hannah’s win looked like it was going to count for nothing – Greig had to dig deep winning the next two and needing oxygen by the fifth end. A terrific game to round off the night and credit to Wojciech for some terrific play but it was Greig who sneaked over the line 11-9 in the fifth to give the hosts a deserved 5-5 draw.
After Team 4’s first win of the season in Week 21, they had a far more difficult task as they travelled to take on Haddington 3 who sat 2nd in the Division 3 table and a mammoth 17 points better off than Penicuik. The visitors had a secret weapon, however, as Ian Hislop made his debut for Team 4, joining Craig Linton and Jim Jack. Ian was the only winner in the first round of singles and when Jim and Craig lost matches 4 and 5 the visitors were up against it. Ian scraped through in four ends against Roger Thomas to reduce the deficit to 4-2 and at 2-1 up in the doubles an unlikely recovery looked on the cards – unfortunately, Craig and Jim lost out in a close 5th set – a huge difference between 5-2 and 4-3. Craig kept the match alive with a good win in Match 8 but Jim found Roger too strong in Match 9 as the hosts secured both points. Ian didn’t quite make it a perfect debut as he lost out in 4 ends in the final match of the night as Team 4 suffered a 7-3 defeat. And with that loss we’re sad to report that Team 4’s fate in Division 3 is decided – even if they win their last two matches, they can’t catch second bottom Corstorphine. Who knows though, with a Division of only 9 teams this year, league re-organisation may allow us to make a pitch to keep a side in Division 3 for next season??
And so, to our player of the week award. Ok – so he should never be playing in Division 2 and we know we said he was never going to win this award for league play – but he was the only undefeated player for the Club this week and in fairness Wojciech should never be playing at this level either! Add to that that both Wojciech and Jamie are rated above 1000 and we were persuaded, by Hannah and James, that he deserves some recognition this week for securing the 5-5 draw when both his teammates had given up on his chances and were getting an ambulance ready on speed dial – well done to Greig.
Away from the League, a special mention to one of our juniors, Aidan Craig – Aidan took part in a friendly tournament run by our friends in Haddington which saw Juniors competing from Murrayfield, North Merchiston and Haddington obviously. Aidan was undefeated in the group stages and narrowly missed out in the final to a Murrayfield youngster, who very annoyingly he had beaten in the group – a terrific day nonetheless in what was only Aidan’s second tournament – well done to him.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. Let’s start at the friendly, family run, tournament at Haddington – the basis of the tournament was to give youngsters a taste of competitive play. In the final, the young Murrayfield player (who has already managed to pick up the word “Cho” – no doubt from watching some seniors play) was supported / coached from the side-lines by a young lady from Murrayfield who plays in the Premier Division. Now we have no problem with coaches or friends and family / supporters encouraging players and applauding good play but oh my goodness – applauding every point won by the young man whether a good shot by him or a mistake from his opponent was a complete joke! Oh look the opponent has pushed a shot in the net – that deserves a round of applause – oh he’s foul served – let’s clap again – for a tournament that was, for many, a first taste of competitive play this type of behaviour is just not on! Just a good job James wasn’t in attendance or we would have had another controversy involving him getting into an argument!
Oh wait a minute – Team 3’s match at Ladywood did in fact see the re-emergence of irritable James! He was at it again, as this time a West Lothian umpire, called a let when James thought he had already won the point. The umpire wouldn’t change his mind and James wasn’t happy – his opponent, Keith MacKay, however, was extremely sporting and when the point was replayed he deliberately returned James’ serve into the net. The umpire in question stayed in the chair to umpire the next match – perhaps wanting to have a close up view of Greig’s game as he took on Jamie – he probably wishes he hadn’t bothered! Umpiring, as we have said on numerous occasions can be tough. When Jamie saw a let that no one else did, Greig wasn’t happy when the umpire called a let after the point was over. Fair enough – move on. When next a ball from another court ran right in front of Greig who stopped playing for the let and no let came, he was even more annoyed! In fairness Greig can’t have it both ways – if you want the umpire to call the lets you better play on until he does! This was so blatantly a let, however, that it beggared belief when the umpire said it would be up to Jamie whether he agreed with a let! Jings! Perhaps Greig was a little out of order when, after fist pumping Jamie at the end of the match and congratulating him on some terrific play (he has improved immensely) he thanked the umpire by commenting that it was one of the worst umpiring performances he’d ever seen!! James found it amusing – the umpire didn’t!