Penicuik 1 were drawn away to Fife in Round 1. Team 1 was made up of Craig Johnson from Division 4, John Bald from Division 3 and Chris Markey from Division 2. Craig was Penicuik’s player of the night and with a +7 Handicap, the Team will be regretting not ensuring that he was placed in a position to get all his three potential matches played - on the night he won 2 out of 2. The crucial match of the night was Chris v Ian Parker, Ian having a 5 point start in a race to 16. At 2 ends to 1 up it was looking good for Chris but he couldn’t repeat the feat in ends 4 and 5 as he lost those two by 16-12 scorelines. Whilst John won match 7 to keep the tie alive at 4-3, Fife’s number 1, Lance Stockdale won match 8 in 3 straight ends against Chris as the visitors fell to a 5-3 defeat.
Penicuik 2 saw Krzysztof Laszkiewicz from Division 2 combine with Louis Myatt (Division 3) and Louis McLeod (Division 4) as they faced a home tie against Edinburgh International. Louis Myatt was involved in a mammoth encounter in Match 2 against Charlie Brindley who plays two divisions higher than him. Louis had a 14 point start in a match to 20. At 2 ends all the deciding end could have gone either way but Louis managed to hold his nerve as he squeezed home 20-17. With that win confidence grew for the home side and the only blip on the night was a loss in Match 5 as the home side ran out 5-1 winners. Louis McLeod was the difference on the night with 2 extremely straightforward 3 end victories.
Penicuik 3 faced an away match against West Lothian. Brian Bailey and Clive Liddiard both from Division 1 combined with Sean Lennon from Division 4. This trio still recall with some bitterness the way they lost out last year to Murrayfield after the match had to be abandoned at 4-4. Sean had been the star of the team last season but after a decent start to this year his +7 Handicap had been cut to +5. He was still the team's best hope and on the night he recorded 2 wins whilst Clive added 1 as the Penicuik side crashed out 5-3.
Given their strong performances over the last 3 seasons (winners in 2014 and semi-finalists in both 2015 and 2016) it was no surprise that Greig McDonell (Premier Division) Iain Johnstone (Division 1) and Abby Wighton (Division 2) were selected to play again this season as Penicuik 4. They faced an away match against Corstorphine. Match 1 of the night saw Iain take on Jeff Clark giving away a 4 point lead to 15. Jeff went 2-0 up in a flash before Iain won ends 3 and 4 16-14, 16-14. The decider was a terrific match which saw Iain take a 14-12 lead and surely the match was going his way. At match points down Jeff returned Iain’s serve and got an outrageous and un-returnable net cord. Never mind still another match point - oh my a service return which caught the edge of the table - 14-14. Jeff went on to win it 16-14 and it looked like an uphill struggle for the visitors. The next 3 matches however went the way of the Penicuik trio before Abby lost out in five good ends to Jeff. Greig then overturned a 10 point deficit to win in three ends against JP Smith before Abby rounded off the night with a comfortable 3 end win against Tommy Sutherland to give Penicuik a 5-2 win.
So two out of four through to the second round and our player of the week award has to go to someone from those successful teams - only Greig, Louis Myatt and Louis McLeod were unbeaten in our winning teams but for having to win the most points of the three and because he's unlikely to be in the running in the League matches, El Presidente wins this week's award - who decides this anyway???
And finally our controversy of the week. The Handicap Cup always presents different challenges to Clubs, the biggest one for us being team selection - no point keeping the same league teams together - it's good fun and important to get some of the players from lower divisions involved with higher ranked players - we had our own internal bust up about team selection this time round - surely one man couldn't just pick the teams and decide who was playing against who?? The democratic way would have been for a couple of people to decide in the "Crown" what suited best - after all that's what's happened in previous seasons! One of our new club members, George, paid the Club a huge compliment the other week by saying that we live up to what our website claims - "A friendly, family orientated Club". As arguments ensued between Club members about who should play where and in what team, it was left to Brian to point out that all families have fights!! In the end of the day a good barney never does anyone any harm and it ended with everyone happy that a compromise had been reached (yeah right!) - Suffice to say of the four teams initially selected, the two which were "autocratically" chosen are through to Round 2 whilst the two that were tinkered with as a result of moans and groans from players bit the dust in Round 1 - surely just an unlucky coincidence!!
Whilst we're on about the Handicap Cup, it's good to see that the League have obviously taken on board our repeated complaints last year about the Past Winners page on the league Website - it has at long last been updated and in particular the list of winners now includes ........................ - hang on a minute - it includes that North Merchiston won the event in 2016 and it continues to have every winner from 1981 listed apart from the 2013/14 winners!!! - Who could that have possibly been?? Does no one know?? Is OUR name not engraved on the trophy?? (there's a clue there if anyone form the League reads this drivel). We're sure it's not deliberate - unless of course those kind League officials just want to make sure that we have something to write about in this section of our weekly reports! http://www.edinburghtabletennis.com/past-winners.html