In the Premier Division, Greig McDonell and Stuart Gow were without regular Colin Green as they faced two matches in 3 days against Edinburgh International 2 and University 1. At home on Wednesday they called up Iain Johnstone who acquitted himself well winning an important singles match on the night in the resultant 7-3 victory. Greig won all three of his singles whilst Stuart won 2 and combined with Greig for a win in the doubles fixture.
On Friday night with Colin still in his sick bed, Abby Wighton deputised. This match provides the controversy of the week this week (discussed below) but the table tennis was of good quality and the match seemed to turn on four consecutive five end tussles from matches 3 to 6 with the scores going into those matches tied at 1-1. Stuart came back from 2-0 down in match 3 against University's number 2 to win 11-7 in the fifth. At the same time as that was going on, Abby showed what she is capable of as she came back from 2 ends to 1 down to win 11-9 in the fifth. The next two matches played simultaneously saw Greig squeeze home deuce in the fifth before Stuart once again turned a 2-0 deficit into a deuce in the fifth win - suddenly the visitors were 5-1 up and a draw was secured. Abby and Greig lost their final matches before Stuart won the final singles of the night to secure a terrific win for Team 1.
In Division 1, Team 2 tasted their first win of the season last week and were looking to build on that as they entertained West Lothian 4 at Ladywood. Their task was made much easier when their opponents were only able to field a two man team. From 3-0 up before a ball was hit, the home side were never in trouble as they recorded an 8-2 win. Iain Johnstone and Clive Liddiard were undefeated on the night and combined for a win in the doubles. Brian Bailey is claiming 1 against that guy called "Walkover" to get him off and running in the division.
Following a draw in Week 5, Team 3 of James Wighton, Gary McDougal and Abby Wighton travelled to take on Fife 2 in Division 2. With both Abby and Gary winning two singles and James winning 1, the match was finely poised and the doubles fixtures as is so often the case, took on extra significance. James and Abby won the first end 11-9 but then lost ends 2 and 3 by the narrowest of margins (13-11, 16-14). They levelled the match with a comfortable win in end 4 before agonisingly falling just short with an 11-9 defeat in the decider. On such small margins points are won and lost and the doubles loss effectively caused a point to be dropped as the Penicuik side recorded their 3rd draw in their first six matches of the season. The good news for Team 3 is that they still remain unbeaten - the only side from the Club to have that honour - but might they come to rue not being able to convert those draws into wins later in the season. The point keeps them second in the Division but now two points behind league leaders Haddington 1.
Penicuik 4 were looking to do Team 3 a favour as they hosted the aforementioned league leaders Haddington in their Division 2 encounter. The team were at full strength for only the second time this season as Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Tony Brentnall and Chris Markey looked to close the gap on the top 2. A win would have seen Team 4 move within a point of both Haddngton and Team 3 but alas it was not to be as they fell to a disappointing 8-2 defeat. Both Chris and Krzysztof won 1 of their 3 singles matches. Their was more bad news for the Team as an injury to Tony may result in him being sidelined for a number of weeks.
In Division 3 Team 5 have had a difficult start to their campaign. As with many fixtures this season for the Club as a whole, Team Captain John Bald had the difficulty of having to call on replacements from teams below as they faced Corstorphine 4. With neither Louis Myatt nor Phil Daly available, Marcin Mroz and Millie Bennett stepped up from Division 4. On a bad night for the Team, none of the trio troubled the scorers as they fell to a 10-0 defeat. Team 5 know that they need to turn their season around soon as after 5 matches they sit second bottom of the Division and are already 3 points adrift from safety.
The surprise package of the season so far has been the form of Team 6 in Division 4. They entertained West Lothian 7 at Ladywood looking to maintain top spot in the Division. They too were unable to field their regular side but at least were able to field a replacement from the same division in Marcin Mroz. It looked like plain sailing for the home side as Craig Johnson, Stuart Bennet and Marcin all comfortably won their opening singles matches. When Craig and Stuart then both won their next matches in fifth end deciders, Team 6 held an unassailable 5-0 lead and were surely on course for a straightforward win. Marcin then lost game 6 before Craig and Stuart lost the doubles - no need to panic though as they still held a comfortable 5-2 lead going into the last 3 singles of the night. However, when Stuart then lost match 8 of the night the nerves started to set in and an unlikely comeback for the West Lothian side was on the cards. It was left to Marcin to get the home side over the line as he won his final match of the night before Craig lost in Match 10 as Penicuik squeezed home 6-4. The win puts the side 2 points clear at the top of the Division.
After two consecutive heavy defeats in Division 4 things have not been looking quite so bright for Team 7. They fielded their youngest possible side as Louis McLeod, Lewis Baldock and Mark Mackay, with a combined age of 40, travelled to take on Haddington. When El Presidente saw them at the beginning of the night, they certainly seemed to be enjoying the experience of their first match together but unfortunately they weren't quite able to get the better of their opponents as they fell to a 7-3 defeat. Lewis won 2 and Louis won 1.
And so to our player of the Week for Week 6 - The award this week has to go to one of the players who turned out for Team 1 - Iain won 2 out of 2 in his Division 1 match and added an important win playing up in the Premier Division - but he's won the award before and is likely to win it again so we'll overlook him. Abby played terrifically well for Team 1 to secure the all important 6th win of the night against University and had she won her 3 in her Division 2 match there's no doubt she would have won the award this week. Greig and Stuart both won 5 out of 6 for Team 1 in their two wins without the Aussie but for his fighting spirit and top quality TT the award this week has to go to Stuart - it's only taken about a year and a half but it was worth waiting for!!!
Stat of the week - back to Team 6 - top of the Division 4 table and they continued their run of fielding a different team for every match played so far - 6 matches played and a different trio every week - surely they can't keep that going can they? No doubt some mathematician could tell us when it will end!
And finally our controversy of the week section - there are some weeks when there's just too much to talk about and this is one of those weeks - Team 1's match against Edinburgh University provides us with enough talking points so we'll keep many of the other issues which arose for next week!
So picture the scene - 7pm start at the Pleasance and unbeknown to us at the start of the night a 9.30pm finish time - surely the earliest finishing time in the League?? Two tables used throughout - even with that time is tight and we've mentioned before in this piece about how the two table setup is damaging the game as a "team event" in our view.
Greig and Abby arrive at 7pm whilst Stuart arrives about 10 minutes later. A knock up is had and matches begin - Game 1 and Greig loses the first end 11-2 - no problem with his serves being criticised in that end until ends two and three go his way when the opponent suddenly pulls him up for not moving his free arm out the way during the ball toss. Match 4 and Greig goes to umpire Abby's game to be told by the University player that he would like his "friend" to umpire - not sure why? No verbal encouragement given by "umpire Greig" but probably, in fairness, an occasional foot tapping when Abby played a terrific rally. Nothing said when the University player lost to Abby (the same player who had already lost to Greig) other than how he was suddenly not feeling very well and hadn't been feeling well for a while - no acknowledgement of an opponent's good play - could that be an indication of bad sportsmanship? Abby, on the other hand, was rightfully over the moon with a win against a player playing 2 divisions higher than she is.
Roll the clock on and Stuart is umpiring Greig's last match rather than playing his own in the belief that we had until 10pm to finish - no one from University suggested we switch umpires to let the final singles get underway. It was a good job Greig decided to lose in straight ends as Stuart then went on for his final match at about 9.20pm (5-3 up by that point). First indication we had of an issue was overhearing the University players saying that it would be ok if the match wasn't finished as the two outstanding games would be claimed by them as Stuart was late turning up - Really??!!! He couldn't have started his match any earlier than he did given he was on 3rd. 2 ends to nil up and 9-5 up when one of the University team appears in the hall at 9.30pm with someone else who calls time on the match - the Centre seemingly closes at 9.50pm. We suggest that we're only a couple of points away from finishing. Fortunately for us, Stuart wins 3 straight and with it secures victory. For the first time in the night the University players then tell us that because "we" (by which they mean Stuart) were late they were claiming the doubles. Might it have struck them to mention earlrier in the night their position - there was certainly no haste on their part to get the matches played - we tell them to claim the doubles given it doesn't effect the result - a completely unnecessary and unsavoury end to the night. But wait - it's not over there - the University then send to the Match secretary a ridiculous note commenting upon the "unsportsmanlike behaviour of Penicuik 1" referring to Greig not removing his free arm while serving and Stuart seemingly "throwing the ball below the required 6 inches and into the bat to generate additional side-spin"!! Oh and Greig clapping while umpiring Abby's match! In their comment (and using their words) they went further to indicate that we "were willing to undignify ourselves just for the sake of winning".
Really?? Bad losers?? Surely not. Their comments merit no more response than to say their recollection of events seem to be somewhat at variance from ours. But hey, I for one, am going to thank the University for providing us in 2 and half hours with the same old controversial topics which come up year after year all bundled together in one match. Start and finishing times, two table set up, umpiring issues, unsportsmanlike conduct - all there on a Friday night after a hard week at work (well unless you're a University student of course) when what you should be doing is relaxing at home with a nice glass of red - but we wouldn't have it any other way would we??!!!
Handicap Cup next week - that normally doesn't lead to many controversies........