Week 24 saw Team 1 play their penultimate match (and their last home fixture of the season) against Premier Division strugglers, Edinburgh International. Colin Green, David Simpson and David Melrose knew that they were probably already clear of any relegation trouble, but a win here would confirm the position. David M was unlucky in his first match against the human wall of Marek Domagala. Two 12-10 victories kept Marek in it, and he won the decider 11-6 for a 3-2 win. David S levelled the scores before Colin took on Debjit Choudhury. This was another tight match, but the home player came out on top this time with an 11-4 fifth end win. Games 4 to 6 saw further wins for David S and Colin and the pair then combined in the doubles knowing that a victory would ensure at least a point. A straightforward 3-0 win followed and when David S won his final match of the night the win was secured. Colin then ground out a win v Marek to complete a 7-3 victory.
In Week 25 the same trio travelled to North Merchiston and finished their season off with another win. There were wins for all three players in the opening round of singles to give them a commanding 3-0 lead. Geoff Hunter got the hosts on the board in Match 4 against David M before further wins for David S and Colin gave the visitors an unassailable 5-1 lead. The doubles was close but an 11-9, 11-9, 16-14 win secured the victory for the Midlothian side. Two further wins followed as Team 1 finished their season with a good 8-2 victory. After the early season loss of Carsten (the less said about that the better), Team 1 were in trouble but the acquisition of David Simpson was a huge boost for the Club. In the end, Team 1 finished in a comfortable mid-table position losing 9 matches out of 18 played.
Team 2 have struggled since Christmas to get out of relegation trouble – they were desperate to get out of last place and here was their chance in Week 25 as they faced an understrength North Merchiston at Ladywood. The first two matches of the night were decided in five ends. In a nightmare for the home side, both went the way of the visitors – Brian Cornet rolling back the years to defeat Sonny Taylor 11-5 in the fifth and agonisingly for dad Julian, young Aidan Davis, playing up from Division 2, securing a 13-11 fifth end win to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. Charlie Brindley got the home side on the board v Nick Thomas but Brian’s win v Julian re-established a 2 game lead. Sonny and Charlie then pulled the match level at 3-3 and the all-important doubles followed. Another five ender and disaster for Penicuik as they fell to another damaging five end defeat. 4-3 down and the home side knew they needed all three of the final singles to leapfrog Murrayfield at the foot of the Division 1 table. Julian and Sonny managed wins (perhaps as expected) so the key was Charlie v Brian – both undefeated on the night – could Charlie pull off a shock? At 2-1 down it looked unlikely, but credit to Charlie as a forced a decider. A shocking start seemed to end his chances – 10-5 down, he put some pressure on as he fought back to 10-8 but Brian held his nerve to secure a 5-5 draw, ensuring North Merchiston their division 1 survival, but putting yet another dent into the home side’s chances of avoiding relegation. 2 games still to play for Team 2 but they are against promotion chasing Murrayfield 4 and mid table Edinburgh International.
Team 3 fitted in two matches in Week 25 – Monday night saw them travel to North Merchiston where they secured a 7-3 win. It probably should have been 8-2 but somehow father and daughter duo, James and Abby Wighton lost the doubles from 2-1 and 10-5 up in the fourth! No surprise when they were hammered in the deciding fifth end, their heads being completely messed up! In fairness to North Merchiston they didn’t look like a side facing relegation and in Aidan Davis (as he proved against our Team 2 three nights later) they have an up and coming youngster who has a great deal of talent.
Thursday night and Ladywood was the venue as James dropped out to make way for Greig McDonell to join daughter Hannah and Abby Wighton as they hosted Haddington. Team 3 were looking to turn the tables on Haddington who they’d lost to just a few weeks ago. The teams were a little different for the return fixture, no Russell Swan for the visitors and James was missing for the home side. The match was played on two tables throughout the night and as Hannah lost in straight sets to the impressive Graeme McKinnie, NPC James was concerned as daughter Abby was in a five end tussle with Mark McMullen (allegedly their weakest player, playing up from Div 3). Abby managed to refocus in the decider to pull the match level. The next two matches saw 3-0 wins for Greig v Rolandas Skultinas and for Hannah v Mark. 3-1 up and suddenly things were looking more positive. The final two matches before the doubles were shared, a win for Greig and a loss for Abby. 4-2 up and the girls tried to secure at last a point v Graeme and Rolandas. The second and third ends were crucial after the girls had won the first. In end two they came back from 10-6 down but lost out 12-10. In end three they were 10-6 up and somehow also lost 12-10. They fought back in the fourth with an 11-5 win, but they couldn’t recover from a shocking start in the decider as the East Lothian outfit kept themselves in the match. Greig secured at least a point with a win over Mark meaning that either Abby or Hannah had to win their final matches of the night. Both had beaten their opponents in the reverse fixture, but TT is a funny old game and on this occasion wins for Graeme v Abby and Rolandas v Hannah meant the match ended in a 5-5 draw. One match left for Team 3 in their quest for a top 4 finish. A point in their last match would be enough for them to secure that 4th place finish.
And so to our player of the week award. Not happy with three out of three, three players won six out of six over the last fortnight. David S and Colin for Team 1 and Greig for Team 3 – ok we know Greig’s not winning it! Colin and David also won both their doubles fixtures – how can we split them? Well, including the doubles, Colin won 24 out of 29 ends played – David, however, won 24 out of 25 played – now that’s a terrific performance – well done to David S.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. We’ll start away from the League at last weekend’s Scottish Veterans National Championships. Let’s picture the scene as best mates off the table Greig and Colin battled it out for a semi-final place. Colin’s already proved this season that being “friendly” with him means nowt when it comes to Vets tournaments – just ask Carsten! And let’s face it Greig can be a little bit “argumentative” at times – the scene was set for a classic – not in terms of the TT played but the chat and mind games were top quality! In the second end, the first incident occurred as Greig lobbed one of Colin’s serves up, putting his hand up at the same time pointing out the obvious net! Colin, taking a leaf out of Greig’s playbook completed his third ball attack blasting the return past his opponent. He apparently never saw the net and as if Greig was hearing his own voice, he heard the words that he’s said on many occasions “it’s up to the umpire to call the lets “!! Ouch! Play to the whistle as they say! The umpire ultimately gave the let. Locked at 1-1 in ends the next incident saw Colin hit one of his textbook backhand winners – well we say a winner but on this occasion it hit off Greig’s finger and looped up high, somehow landing on Colin’s side of the table who dumped it in the net, Colin having virtually come to a halt because he had heard a yelp of “Yeeeesssss” apparently come from Greig in recognition of such a good shot! That’s my point claimed Colin and the umpire agreed – why enquired Greig? The umpire was convinced she heard the word “yes” spoken before the point was over and she thought the word came from Greig’s direction! What??? Well, if you’re giving him the point for that, says Greig, make sure you award every point to me when he grunts every time he plays a big forehand loop! Oh, this was getting tasty! I’m allowed to do that says Colin - that’s not against the rules – show me the rule book where you’re not allowed to say the word yes says Greig! In fairness, none of it affected the match result -this was very early in end 3 and Greig had his chances to win the match – in the end he made more mistakes than Colin and courtesy of this win Colin progressed to the semi-final, a result which secured his second place finish overall in the Over 50s category – well done to him and to David Simpson who reached the final and who both did enough over the course of the season to be selected for Scotland in the Home Nations later this year. Oh, and Greig and Colin are still mates – they’ve had far worse scuffles than that!! And Greig has learned a valuable lesson – he’s never going to acknowledge a good shot from Colin ever again!
And finally, back in the League we would have given a yellow card if we had any and if we were allowed (are we allowed?) in our match v Haddington. After losing the fourth end of the doubles, one of our opponents launched the ball across the table, travelling at speed above his opponents’ heads (Abby and Hannah) on its way to clattering into the wall behind them! It was pointed out that that was a yellow card offence (maybe even red) and could have hurt one of the players. His doubles partner calmed the situation down and it probably helped focus the player for the next end as the opposing pair went on to win the decider. The fact that we don’t know what we are entitled to do in a situation such as this is a little troubling – do we have any power to deal with “unsportsmanlike” behaviour. In the old days this is the type of thing which would be reported to the committee – not seen any of that for a long time – maybe bad behaviour has just become more acceptable…..
Not many games left – this week sees one of our teams in Handicap Cup action and Teams 2 and 3 in League action – how will we survive when the season ends????