Team 1 finished their season with an emphatic 10-0 win over ESC 2. OK it was a concession but hey that still counts doesn’t it?? Remarkably Greig McDonell, Colin Green and Stuart Gow (think he’s played in 2017 a couple of times!) finished with 25 points this year and currently sit 5th in the Premier Division (although Murrayfield 2 may sneak past them at the death). A good return in what has felt like a pretty mediocre season. The stats say different however - 22 points in 2013/14 season, 21 in 2014/15 and 24 in 2015/16 - not sure whether it’s been an improvement in performance for Team 1 or maybe more an indication of a drop in standard in the Premier League over the last few years!!
Team 2 brought their season to an end with a disappointing loss at home to Edinburgh Uni. A 6-4 defeat kind of summed up their season. Iain Johnstone finished off in the manner he has played throughout - undefeated on the night in singles play - but only Clive could add a singles win in the resultant loss. A 7th place finish for Team 2 in what was a very tough Division 1. Without Iain the team would have been doomed - he finished 3rd in the Individual averages with an excellent 86%.
In Division 2 the much anticipated Penicuik 3 v 4 match didn’t materialise as a postponement was agreed. Really?? A postponed match in the last week of the season when we’re still involved in Handicap Cup action! Tut tut tut. If Team 4’s safety in Div 4 and Team 3’s promotion hadn’t already been secured that postponement would no doubt have been subject to a considerable amount of scrutiny! Both teams still have two matches to play to bring their seasons to an end - Unacceptable - our Press Officer needs a break!!
In Division 3, Team 5 showed how to finish a season off by playing two matches in the last week of regular action. The first of those was the crucial relegation decider against ESC 4. John Bald, Vikas Singla and Rudolph Andrade were looking to avoid relegation having looked odds on certainties for the drop a month or so ago. When John lost match 1 in five ends and Rudolph then went 2-1 down in match 2 the nerves were jangling but from that point on the Penicuik trio never looked back as they stormed to an 8-2 win, relegating their opponents in the process. 3 nights later Vikas, Rudolph and Phil Daly brought their season to a conclusion with a 6-4 victory against Corstorphine 4. Phil was returning from injury and his lack of match practice showed a little but with Vikas winning 3 and Rudolph 2 the match turned on the doubles fixture which Vikas and Rudolph comfortably won in straight ends. A remarkable turnaround for Team 5 - 9 points from their last 5 matches - if Vikas and Rudolph had began the season with us who knows where they may have finished!
The highlight of the week, however, was the intra-club fixture between Teams 6 and 7 in Division 4. The title (and promotion) was on the line for Team 6 - Team 7 had nothing to play for apart from trying to spoil the party!! Surely no other club in the League would fight this type of match out with the intensity shown on Thursday night at Ladywood?? Sean Lennon dropped out of Team 6 because he had a sore tooth!! Millie Bennett stepped in for her first match in a number of weeks to join dad Stuart and Craig Johnson. Against them were Rachel Petrie, George Wilson and Lewis Baldock. Not one 3-0 match on the night with 3 of the first 5 matches going to deciding 5th ends. Fortunately for the title chasing Team 6 they all went their way. When Craig defeated Rachel in Match 6 the game was won. The 9-1 scoreline does not do justice to Team 7 who could easily have turned this match around. Credit to both teams that the match was played in good spirits and was fairly fought out. Millie justified her place with 3 good wins, as did Craig. George provided the only win for Team 7.
Although it appears from the online scoring system that 2nd placed Edinburgh Uni have a game in hand, we are reliably (hopefully) informed by the Match Secretary that that match is a walkover defeat for Edin Uni and Team 6 can therefore not only celebrate promotion but astonishingly from where they sat a few weeks ago, also the Division 4 title.
Team 7’s season will be remembered, not for their bottom of the league finishing position, but for their part in Team 6’s success - only two wins this season but the second of those came against then top of the table Edinburgh Uni, a win which made it possible for Team 6 to win the Division.
And so to our player of the week award for Week 26. There were a number of undefeated players this week in singles play - all of Team 1 - Who says walkovers don't count??!! Iain from Team 2, Vikas for Team 5 and Millie and Craig for Team 6. Vikas is due a special mention for a week where he won 6 out of 6 in singles play and contributed to two doubles victories in an end of season miracle recovery for Team 5. But this week’s award goes to a young player who has sat out a number of matches, had only played once since the beginning of February and yet, under the huge pressure of a title deciding last match of the season, was undefeated and contributed a doubles victory with her old man - Well done to Millie.
And finally our controversy of the week - this week headed “Club v Team”. There was much discussion in the lead up to this week about the fact that we had two intra club fixtures in the last week of the season. As we have reported, in Division 4 the Team 6 v 7 match was a season defining one for one of the teams in action. It was commented upon at the Club that we would be the laughing stock of the League if, in the final match of the season, a team which sat at the bottom of the Division 4 table upset the team needing a win to secure promotion and the title! Surely no dodgy shenanigans would be involved?? There is of course the view that if Team 6 aren’t good enough to defeat the team at the bottom of the league they didn’t deserve to be promoted - hang on a minute Team 7 just a couple of weeks ago pulled off a win against then top of the table Edinburgh University.
Imagine our surprise therefore when Team 6 don’t play Sean with a 70% winning record in such a vital match. Imagine our further surprise when Team 7 play like their lives depended on it to make it as difficult as possible for Team 6 - 5 end thrillers, a good bit of banter and even umpiring decisions going the way of Team 7. The umpiring controversy was the best - it was Team 6’s Craig who was umpiring when he called one of Millie’s serves “out” at 9-8 in the fourth set, much to his teammates and everyone else’s surprise - did anyone else in the hall see it out - we don't think so! Surely though in a club friendly game the opponents would agree to play the point again - eh maybe not - the response of the night came from George with a line that EL Presidente would have been proud of - “umpire’s decision is final”. Seething, Stuart and Millie went on to lose the 4th set - with friends like Craig who needs enemies!! In the end the match was won by Team 6 and it was refreshing to see that they had to fight hard to win it - would other Clubs have done the same and let the teams fight it out in such gritty style?? Thankfully we’re not the laughing stock we could have been - unless of course you now go online to find that University in a last ditch attempt to win the title (we’ve already claimed it!!) submitted a scorecard claiming a 10-0 walkover win against Murrayfield for a match where it appears they (Uni) didn’t turn up but are now trying to suggest it should be awarded to them or replayed as, in their words, "it affects our league standing"!! Oh my!!
Handicap Cup semis next week and we’ve still got one of our teams involved - has anyone checked to see if the League have updated the 2013/14 winners yet??