It's been a very consistent start for our new look Team 1 of Greig McDonell, David Melrose and Abby Wighton. Unfortunately, they have been consistently losing and they fell to another close 9-1 loss at the hands of Edinburgh University in their new lovely mirrored gymnasium – a close 9-1 loss we hear you cry?? Well, close on the basis that only two of the ten matches on the night were won in straight sets. That said, El Presidente came away from the match feeling that the Uni’s best player, Jan Meyer, may have had a couple of extra gears which he didn’t need to use on the night. And in terms of ratings central the University have 2 players with ratings in excess of 1500!! Here’s a good tip for the season ahead – If the University can put out their top 3 on a regular basis they will be in the mix for the title come the end of the season! Greig was the only winner for the visitors.
In Division 1, Team 2 of Clive Liddiard, James Wighton and Charlie Brindley faced a home match against Murrayfield 5. 4-2 up going into the doubles was a positive position for the home side but the visitors kept the match alive by winning the vital doubles fixture and it could not have been closer – 12-10 in the fifth end decider. Clive then secured a point by winning match 8 but back came the Edinburgh based side as the ever improving Jamie Sloan defeated Charlie in match 9 before the final match saw James incur the wrath of the Centre Manager, his match only starting at 9.50pm! Under time pressure he lost the final match and a 5-5 draw resulted – a fair result? Maybe if the doubles fixture hadn’t been so controversially decided that would definitely have been the case (more on that later). 2 wins each for Clive and Charlie and 1 for James. Of what there was no doubt was the fact that Murrayfield relied heavily on young Jamie who showed what great potential he has – undefeated on the night.
Meanwhile Team 3 were without regular Gary McDougal (another player who holidays abroad during the TT Season – doesn’t the Club make its players sign contracts forbidding such time away!!) Young Millie Bennett stepped up from Division 3 to join Krzysztof Laszkiewicz and Chris Markey as they travelled to take on Corstorphine 2 in Division 1. Millie acquitted herself well and picked up a couple of ends against experienced opponents. Krzysztof won 2 and Chris 1 in the resultant 7-3 defeat. A full team would probably have secured at least a point according to Team Captain, Mr Scrabble Man.
In Division 3 Team 5 got back to winning ways against Edinburgh University. For the 4th consecutive match a different combination stepped up to the table – this week saw Sean Lennon, Craig Johnson and Stuart Bennett in action. The first 3 matches set the tone for the night as they all went the way of the Penicuik trio including an excellent win for Stuart against University’s number 1. From 3-0 up the home side never lost the lead and ran out comfortable 7-3 winners. 2 wins each for all 3 players added to an excellent doubles win for Sean and Craig.
Team 6 of Julian Taylor, Rachel Petrie & Sonny Taylor entertained North Merchiston 7 at Ladywood in Week 4. At 5-0 up the match was over wasn’t it? Hang on a minute – match six saw a 5th end loss for Rachel. Next the doubles was lost in 5 ends. 100% man Julian then lost in 5 ends in match 8 before Rachel lost match 9 in 4 ends. Jings 5-4 and pressure on young Sonny in the final match of the night. Panic? Of course not – 11-2, 11-3, 11-1 and a 6-4 victory which had never been in doubt!! Sonny was undefeated, dad Julian won 2 and Rachel 1.
With Phil “long sleeved” Daly recovering from an operation (we all wish him a speedy recovery), Team 7’s Division 4 match against Corstorphine 5 saw George Wilson and Kristian Skotzen have to play without a third player. George thrives on adversity it appears (or maybe his new clean shaven look has improved his TT). He was undefeated on the night in singles play and certainly played a Captain's role in an unfortunate 7-3 defeat.
And so to our Player of the Week Award for Week 4. It definitely is simple this week – a straight fight between two Division 4 players - George Wilson from Team 7 and Sonny Taylor from Team 6 who were the only players in the club to be undefeated in singles play. Both played and lost in the doubles fixture so no splitting them there! Sonny is new to the league this year and his win in the final match of the night for Team 6 was under the greatest of pressure and secured the overall victory for his team. That surely swings it for Sonny. But hold on a minute – having joined the Club for the second half of last season George has now played 13 matches for Penicuik and checking the record books this is the first occasion he’s ever won his 3 singles – surely that’s an achievement which merits the award this week……….. When has sentiment ever come into this?? – sorry George, well done for a good night but this week’s deserved winner is Sonny!
And finally, our controversy of the week section. A quick one about Ratings Central - how on earth does it work? El Presidente defeated a 1400 rated player this week - the result of that match was that the University player lost 206 points!!! Greig gained 11! Wait a minute - in fairness maybe the system is indeed very intuitive and realises that if such a highly rated player can be turned over by an overweight and unfit opponent his rating was clearly too high to begin with!! Let's move on......
Picture the scene – the doubles fixture in Team 2’s match against Murrayfield; a vital match; Deuce in the fifth; Murrayfield serve and Charlie just catches the ball, he and Clive having seen the ball land on the wrong half of the table. Umpire gives Penicuik the point. Murrayfield player then asks umpire if he saw the serve as a fault and comments that he thought it was up to the umpire to call a fault not the players. Non-playing Murrayfield player also gets involved. Umpire decides he didn’t see it – he’s sitting down and in fairness we all know that from such a position there’s no way he would have seen it with any degree of certainty. He then decides to take the point away from Penicuik that he’s already given and play a let. Hang on a minute it’s deuce in the fifth!! What does the rule book say? Who knows? If the umpire didn’t see it as a fault and Charlie just catches the ball he should lose the point shouldn’t he? A let seems a bit of a cop out! Who is this umpire – it’s our very own (winner for the last 5 consecutive years of Penicuik’s Mr Nice Award) James Wighton! If only our controversial umpire from last week had been officiating! Penicuik went on to lose the replayed point and the match. The interesting point about what happened is not really James’ umpiring, it’s the interesting question posed by the Murrayfield side. They never claimed that the serve was in - their question to the umpire almost acknowledged that it was out – but was the umpire able to see it? Clearly no. The fact that both players on the receiving team were adamant that the ball was out seems to have become irrelevant. And on one view of it, it is irrelevant because Murrayfield are right – it’s up to the umpire to make the call isn’t it? Gamesmanship? Who knows? Maybe Murrayfield genuinely thought the serve was in? Only one thing’s for sure - James will be standing if he’s ever allowed to umpire another doubles match by his teammates!
Ah, Haddington, all is forgiven…..