In the Premier Division, Team 1 were looking to continue their good run of form. Greig McDonell, Colin Green and David Melrose took to the table for the Midlothian side. When both Greig and David lost their first matches, the Penicuik trio looked in trouble. Wins then followed, however, for Colin and Greig in matches 3 to 5 before Geoff Hunter defeated David in Match 6 to bring the scores level at 3-3 going into the crucial doubles. Greig and Colin have a great record in doubles, however, on this occasion they weren’t strong enough as Willie Mabon and Geoff won in four ends. Colin then levelled the scores at 4-4 with a 3-0 victory over Neil Innes before Greig battled to a 3-1 win over Geoff to put the visitors 5-4 up. David took on North Merchiston’s best player, Willie, in the final match of the night and having lost both of his previous games no one held out much hope for a Penicuik win. The match, however, went down to the wire as David gave the hosts an almighty fright, agonisingly losing out 12-10 in the deciding end resulting in another draw for the visitors – their 4th in their last 5 matches.
Meanwhile in the other half of the Hall, Team 3 took on Merchiston 4 in Division 2. Hannah McDonell, James Wighton and Julian Taylor were looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season the previous week against Murrayfield. After three singles the Edinburgh based team led 2-1. The battle of the youngsters saw Hannah defeat Julia Domagala before Julian had a good win against Graham Booth. Match 6 was to prove crucial as James defeated Slawomir Bess 17-15 in the 5th. That gave the Midlothian side a 4-2 lead going into the doubles and for the 4th consecutive night Hannah and James secured the doubles victory which earned them at least a point. Julian then won match 8 to ensure victory for the visitors before the Edinburgh side won the last two matches. A good 6-4 victory got the Midlothian side back to winning ways.
On Thursday night Teams 2 and 5 both competed against Edinburgh opposition at Ladywood. Team 2 took on Edinburgh Sports Club in Division 1 whilst Team 5 played host to Murrayfield 11 in Division 4. Team 2 have been extremely unlucky this season with several close matches which could have easily gone the other way. On this occasion, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz was involved in two long and tight five-enders losing both of them in the deciding end. He picked up one win on the night and Gary McDougal did the same. Those were the only two singles wins, however, as the hosts fell to a 7-3 defeat having had the doubles conceded to them following an injury to one of the Edinburgh Sports Club players. Four of Team 2’s defeats thus far have been by 6-4 scorelines. That must give them hope that there are chances to improve and pick up points in the second half of the season.
Team 5’s match against Murrayfield was a cracker. Patrick Shanks, Phil Daly and Chamika Diyunugalge all contributed with singles wins. Murrayfield have a habit of producing up and coming youngsters and in young Max Well they seem to have found another. He only lost one end in his three singles matches. When match 5 went the way of Murrayfield it looked like defeat was on the cards for the hosts. Chamika, however, produced an excellent 3-0 victory against his opposite number in Match 6 to keep the Ladywood trio in with a chance. All the singles were played out and when Patrick won match 8, 11-7 in the 5th and Phil won his final match of the evening, Team 5 trailed 5-4 with only the doubles left. Phil and Patrick were involved in a topsy turvy contest in their effort to secure a comeback point. They won the first end 11-8 only to lose the next 11-5. The home duo bounced back though with their own 11-5 win in the third before bizarrely the fourth end went the way of the visitors 11-5 – what was going on? The final end of the night was also to be decided by an 11-5 margin – it went in the favour of the hosts as Team 5 secured an excellent 5-5 draw.
And so to our player of the week award for Week 9. Before we get to that we had a late plea to change the award given in Week 8 to Bob. Nine reasons were given as to why that award should retrospectively be given to Phil Daly. Well, we say nine reasons - that’s how the plea started but after three spurious reasons being put forward the other 6 reasons were left to the selection committee’s imagination. It is good though when others put teammates forward for the award and point out how vital their contribution has been to their team – more of that should happen – oh hold on a minute – the plea came from who?? None other than Phil himself! Sorry Phil – week 8 decision can't be changed. God loves a trier, as they say, and he was at it again in Week 9 pointing out how he crucially played his part in Team 5's draw. One singles win in a 5-5 draw? Whilst he did play in the doubles victory to secure the point for Team 5, Patrick also played in that doubles and won 2 – and Chamika picked up a crucial win (his second victory in only his second ever league match). Hmmm, not this week either Phil. Only one player was undefeated in Week 9 – we can’t keep finding reasons not to give him the award can we? Nine weeks in and his play has continued to be of a very high standard – had David won the last match of the night for Team 1 he would have won this week’s award - but he didn’t! So well done to our top man, Colin Green. Sitting in the top 6 of the Premier Division individual averages is no mean feat. He’s pushing Greig hard for the title of Penicuik’s number 1.
And now we turn to our controversy of the week section. Nothing much of interest this week – Rachel of course didn’t play! Team 5’s match did however raise a couple of talking points. The Murrayfield Captain was on great umpiring form – much to the surprise of Team 5 he gave a warning to Patrick for interrupting the flow of the game. Patrick was wrapped up warm when he started one of his matches (more on that later) but at some point during the game he took a few seconds to take one of his top layers off. A warning was given for not doing so at a “6 point interval” and for not maintaining continuous play. None of our guys knew about that rule. The players asked if we could point them in the right direction as to where to find that rule – hmmm. It’s a regulation rather than a law but where is it? Half an hour of exploration of Google and we still couldn’t find it – just take our word for it! Does it apply in ELTTL games? Good question. We don’t have timeouts. Does this apply. We think it does. Where do we find that? Jings, Team 5 are annoying (only joking guys). To balance out the umpiring the same umpire also picked up on his own teammate’s serving issues. Having given a warning, he proceeded to award a point against the player when the illegal serve was repeated. Harsh thought our players but hey maybe that’s how we should all learn. That’s an easy rule to find. Law 2.6 of the Laws of Table Tennis. Oh, wait a minute we’ve found the continuous play regulation. All you have to do is Google ITTF, then realise that what you’re looking for is the ITTF Handbook which runs to some 257 pages and then tucked away on page 51 is Regulation 3.4.4 on Intervals. Of course, the fact that these regulations are said to apply to International Competitions can be ignored – ELTTL have adopted these regs, haven’t they?
And finally, our own shortcomings to the fore again – as mentioned above Patrick was warned about breaking play to remove a layer of clothing. The reason he had more than one layer on was due to Baltic conditions at Ladywood on Thursday night. Abby who played for Team 2 on Thursday tells us that she played with a pair of sports joggers, shorts on top and on top of that a pair of fleece jogging bottoms. On her top half, thermal vest, T-shirt, fleece jumper and tracksuit top. And she was still frozen. One of her opponents apparently was injured due to the cold conditions. That brings back memories for Colin and Greig of playing for MacTaggart Scott on an old concrete floored dining area where the heating never worked and if it did condensation not only ran down the walls but gathered on the non-slippy (yeah right) floor. The problem at Ladywood? The heating system is knackered apparently and will cost thousands to repair. The problem for us is that so far the weather has been remarkably mild. Wait until the cold weather and snow hits Penicuik - we’re in touch with our sponsors in the hope that they can provide gilets and body warmers rather than T-shirts. Surely, we’re due a discount on our hire costs! Any visitors to Ladywood – please bring a duvet and a flask with you.
Double digits already - Week 10 here we come.