After a run of 4 consecutive defeats and with confidence low, Team 1 of Greig McDonell, David Melrose and Abby Wighton entertained fellow strugglers, Corstorphine 1 at Ladywood in the Premier Division. Perhaps just adding to the tension, it was pointed out that a defeat for Team 1 in this match would probably increase tenfold the possibility of relegation!! When David, who had won his first match deuce in the 5th, lost his second match in 5 ends against Russell Swan, the scores were level at 3-3. The Doubles became even more crucial - Team 1's doubles record has been shocking thus far, 4 doubles played, different combinations tried – not a single victory to the home team’s name! Fortunately, in this crucial one, David realised that Greig doesn’t move much and adjusted his game as the home duo won in 3 straight sets. 2 wins out of the last 3 singles matches gave the home side a much needed 6-4 victory – Greig was undefeated on the night whilst David won 2. The all-important doubles win proved decisive.
In Division 1, Team 2 of Clive Liddiard, James Wighton and Charlie Brindley faced an away match against Edinburgh International 3. The visitors came into the match with confidence against a side rooted to the foot of the Division 1 table – and that’s where they stayed after a good 8-2 victory for the Midlothian side. Clive was undefeated, whilst both Charlie and James won 2. Clive and Charlie combined for the doubles win. The result catapults Team 2 up in to the top half of the Division 1 table.
Meanwhile Team 3 were still without regular Chris Markey as they entertained Edinburgh University 2 at Ladywood in their Division 1 match. Gary McDougal and Krzysztof Laszkiewicz were joined by Sean Lennon from Division 3 and it looked like being an easy night with only two University players in attendance – but hold on – about 8.30pm and in comes Uni number 3!! Fortunately, the outcome was not altered as Gary won 3, Krzysztof won 2 and the pair combined for a doubles victory as they recorded a narrow 6-4 win.
In Division 3, after a loss in their opening match of the season things have improved for Team 4 of Brian Bailey, John Bald and Louis McLeod. They have won their last 3 matches and were looking to keep their good run going against Corstorphine 4. The Edinburgh based side started the night 3 points ahead of the Penicuik trio although they’ve played a game more. When Louis lost his first match of the night deuce in the fifth the home side fell 2-1 behind. Good wins for Brian and Louis in the run up to the doubles, however, levelled the scores at 3-3. After 3 defeats for the Brian and Louis combination, Brian has joined forces with John and having lost out last week, they also lost this crucial match – both of their defeats being deuce in the 5th losses! 4-3 down and the winning run looked like it was coming to end but with time running out, the match switched to two tables and the home trio all won their last singles to give Team 4 an excellent 6-4 victory. A win in their game in hand would remarkably see the Penicuik side leapfrog to the top of the Division 3 table – quick get it played…….
In their Division 3 campaign, Team 5 faced an away match against North Merchiston 5, the same team who inflicted defeat upon Team 4 in week 1 of the season. Sean Lennon, Craig Johnson and Millie Bennett have found the going tough in recent weeks and against one of the teams at the top end of the table, they were never really in the match. Sean was the Penicuik player of the night, winning the solitary match for the visitors and being unlucky to lose out in 5 ends in another of his singles. A 9-1 defeat leaves Team 5 in the bottom half of the table with two wins out of their 6 matches played.
In Division 4, Team 6 of Julian Taylor, Rachel Petrie & Sonny Taylor faced an away match against Haddington 4. The good news following last week’s exploits was that Rachel knew this was an away match and turned up with plenty of time to spare. The bad news was that the result was an exact replica of the team’s trip to Fife last week - Julian again won 2 singles whilst Sonny won 1. Rachel was unlucky not to get on the board after a deuce in the fifth loss, but for the 2nd week in a row the visitors fell to a 7-3 defeat.
Team 7 welcomed back Phil Daly as they took on Fife in their Division 4 match at Ladywood. He was joined by Kristian Skotzen and George Wilson. Fife had defeated Team 6 7-3 last week so Team 7 knew they were in for a tough match. Kristian started the match off and played some excellent TT to hold his nerve and come back from 2-1 down to win in 5 tight ends – his three ends being won 13-11, 14-12 and 11-9 – great play under pressure! After such a bright start, however, only Phil recorded a victory before the doubles as the home side fell behind 4-2 on the scorecard. George and Phil then took to the table and won a crucial doubles fixture 14-12 in the fifth! With time fast running out to get the match completed, that win was to prove crucial – George lost match 8 to give the visitors a 5-3 advantage before time was called by the Centre Manager – Fife having turned up almost an hour late forfeited the last two games to give the home side an unlikely 5-5 draw.
And so to our Player of the Week Award for Week 7. In a good week for the Club there were a number of players undefeated in singles play – Greig for Team 1, Clive for Team 2, Gary for Team 3 and Brian for Team 4. Brian lost his doubles match so he’s out the running. Clive’s match would have been won even without his 3 ½ wins so that leaves it as a straight fight between Gary and Greig. The Committee who make these decisions thought long and hard and in the end because of the importance of the win to the team’s overall morale (their first win of what might be a long season), this week’s winner is Greig - it’s not rigged Gary – honest!!
And finally, our controversy of the week section. The wonderful rule about late arrivals and curtailment of matches.
On Wednesday at Ladywood, University turned up with 2 players for their Division 1 match against Team 3. Their third player was seemingly running late – they bizarrely then put the missing player down second on the scorecard! After all 6 of the possible singles were played, in saunters Uni number 3 player at about 8.30pm. In a discussion in the Pub afterwards, our esteemed Club secretary was still trying to argue that there is a 30-minute rule in existence – if you’re not ready to play within 30 minutes of the match start time you forfeit your games – not of course the case any longer. That rule was changed to the ridiculous situation whereby anyone can turn up at any time they please and so long as the match has not finished they can then play their games. The result on this occasion was that the Uni 3rd player played his 3 matches in succession winning 1 and losing 2. Is that fair?? Although the outcome of the match wasn’t affected it could be easily argued that a player in that scenario has a clear advantage of being in the zone and taking on players who have been sitting out cold for some considerable time! But hey that’s the rules – for a Club like Murrayfield, we suppose a third player could show up just after 10pm (if his teammates can keep the match going that long) and play his three – we might try that against Keith Dingwall’s team!! Surely this rule needs looked at.
The late arrivals controversy doesn’t end there though! Team 7 entertained Fife on Wednesday night. Fife were running late and gave some advance notice of this. 50 minutes after start time they arrived – match started about an hour late. Fife were 5-3 up when Ladywood manager rang the bell – time’s up he says! The rule at least is fairly clear – in that scenario any matches not played are forfeited by the late team - a 5-5 result ensued. Fife’s gripe seems to be that tucked away in the bottom corner of the hall was a fifth table – put up amongst the barrier holding contraption, the other tables that have been brought out and incapable of being used, the football goalposts and net, badminton surrounds, the box of TT bats, nets, scoreboards, the covers for the tables, chairs, bags, kitchen utensils, soft furnishings etc. etc. etc. It’s also the only way in and out of the playing area. Fife were told that the table couldn’t be used for match play to enable time to be caught up - even if we ignored the health and safety nightmares, the playing area isn’t big enough. With 4 matches on at Ladywood on a Wednesday night, we already have complaints (from our own members) that that is too much in the half hall which we have available. When Team 3’s Division 1 match finished about 9.30pm, Team 4 wasted not one minute in jumping on to that table to get their Division 3 encounter with Corstorphine completed in time! Even when teams turn up on time, it can be very difficult (especially if there are a number of five-enders) to get finished. An unhappy Fife team left Ladywood feeling hard done by. Maybe they shouldn’t have bothered mentioning that they didn’t actually leave Fife until just after 5.45pm. Even without traffic chaos they would have struggled to get to Ladywood by the scheduled start time. Not a positive way for a match to end but until we can all have our own venues this type of thing is going to continue to happen - we still remember last season playing on two tables at Edinburgh Uni and having to forfeit match 10 - and who can forget that Handicap Cup game where at 4-4 the deciding 9th match had to be conceded by us!!
Oh, what we would give for a quiet week with no controversies…………….
Not really – we love it don’t we!!!