West Lothian 9: 2019’s first two matches and two victories

Report by Ros Beck: 

West Lothian VII got off to a good start in 2019 winning the first two fixtures, but by the narrowest of margins. This was enough to put us at the top of the table for now, followed by Penicuik V with a match in hand, and very similar match difference figures. As our first January opponents this season excitedly informed us, Fife IV have recently beaten Penicuik V, who had been top for a while. I see now that Fife IV in fact won that match against the league leaders 8-2, doing the rest of the division a great favour. Thanks Fife for making things more interesting, though there’s still plenty of time for positions to change again of course.    

Our first match was against Haddington V. My computer told me the venue was 37 miles away from Bathgate Academy, a long way to go for a few games of table tennis. With an accident on the Edinburgh bypass ahead of us, it certainly felt a long way, taking the full hour and a half for us to get there in the nick of time. Kevin was playing up for us again, along with the usual regulars- Bob and Ros. Judging by the stats we weren’t expecting a hard match, especially when Martin said he wasn’t playing. However, the three more junior players, Liam, Tom and David, had some powerful attacking shots, which caused difficulty for Kevin and me. Luckily Bob won his usual three, and we managed to win two of the three five-enders to win 6-4 overall. The way the tables were aligned, while playing my 5th end at one point I could clearly see that Kevin’s match  was also at 2 all, and monitor his progress. Just beyond him a posse of Haddington players from their club night were closely watching our progress. Quite distracting!  

Then four days later we faced Haddington IV at home. This time Nathan joined his father Bob and me. We had lost the away fixture in September, but several different players were involved that evening. This again was a close run thing with the result undecided until the simultaneous 8th and 9th matches when Nathan and I managed to beat Duncan and Magnus in our second five-enders of the evening. Even Bob suffered a defeat this time to the impressive play of Jordan Roderick who like Bob is well up in the individual league stats.

ELTTL scorecards:



WLVII v Fife IV 7-3

Report by Ros Beck:

WLVII were pleased to welcome our old Fife adversaries Davy and Maurice, along with Neil who is new to the Edinburgh League, but an experienced player. We were a little apprehensive about the result based on prior team and individual rankings, but I think luck was with us as we won all three of the five enders with the final end being 11-9 or 11-8 in each case.

Tommy Hamill joined us from Team VII due to current lack of a third available player. He was somewhat reluctant as it would be his last playing up without necessitating a team move. He certainly made a great contribution winning two, plus the doubles with Bob. Neil got the better of all of us and is currently sitting top of the rankings for Division 4.

Bob won two of his three matches in straight sets though the last game with Maurice was close. I had played Maurice a few years ago in Inverkeithing, another marathon five ender, and he won that time. With both Maurice and Davy being defensive players the best tactic for me anyway seemed to be just returning everything and not trying anything fancy. This made for rather long nerve racking rallies. It was lucky we had two tables as this match of long rallies and five-enders would have overrun badly on one.

At one point Davy thought he was distracted by a dog whistle, a la Penicuik, but it was just Bill the Janitor pulling badminton stands across the squeaky floor. I think we are all so used to it it doesn’t register.

We’re second in the table now, but with half a season to go anything could happen.

Another successful away outing: WLVII v NM VI

Report by Ros Beck:

Another successful away outing. Bob, Kevin and I beat young Alex McKay, Tim and son Kai (a name that takes me back to school  Ancient Greek lessons) Hely 8-2. Kevin was playing up from Team VIII after only a day back in the UK, having been in Spain. He proved a model player, winning two individual matches, and also offering to drive on his first outing as a sub for Team VII. Having taken a six year break from the league, he is getting back into form and these were his first individual wins this season. Bob and I won all our singles.

Bob and Kevin played the doubles. It was a fast and exciting match with the opponents Kai and Alex hitting everything as hard and fast as possible, to win. Tim was reluctant to umpire the doubles with his son playing, but he did it very impressively, writing numerous notes, teacher style, on the back of the scorecard, and announcing who was serving to whom throughout the game.

The downstairs hall at the Merchiston Club had been done up since my last visit -rather an unusual sludge green colour in part, but with a nice new wooden floor. Much more welcoming, and with club coaching going on next to us, it was possible to leave the room without lumbering through another league match as one often has to upstairs. I noticed that there were several young female players getting coached, one of them being Amelia. Not sure what NM’S secret is but WLTTC and some other league clubs seem to find it more difficult to attract young female players.

Only one match to go now before the Christmas break, but could be a tricky one with Fife high in the league table. Wish us luck!

West Lothian Division 4 Teams Catchup

Report by Tommy Toner:

The last two weeks have seen a busy spell for West Lothian’s three Division 4 Teams.

First of all there was the clash between WL VII and WL VIII. Dave Stephen,Tommy Hamill and Jordan Welsh faced John McLeod,Bob and Nathan Lander, Dave seen his 100 per cent record go after losing to Bob. However Dave bounced back with two victories against John and Nathan. John, Nathan and Bob all had comfortable wins against young Jordan who played some great shots but lacked consistency on the night.

Dave and Tommy got the better of the Lander father and son duo in the doubles. The star of the night though was undoubtedly Tommy Hamill. Now well recovered from health issues earlier in the season Tommy is now coming into form and showed this with three single wins. Two of these matches were five setters against Nathan and John. The final match between Tommy and John was the crucial one on the night as the match was on a knifeedge at that point. It promised to be a very entertaining affair with a mix of styles with Johns forehand attack coming up against Tommy’s consistent defence. Unfortunately John suffered an injury during the match and bravely played on with Tommy coming out a five set winner clinching the match for Team VIII 6-4 on the night.

Team XI saw Neil Webb, Tommy and Jamie Toner travel to league leaders Penicuik V. Jamie performed well on the night with 2 wins including a great 4 set victory against Craig Johnson. Tommy couldn’t follow Jamie’s lead losing all three matches for first time this season. Neil performed very well beating Stuart Bennett and narrowly lost in five sets to Stuart’s daughter Millie. Neil was well in the match against Craig but as the game went on he couldn’t get to grips with the pimples on Craig’s bat. The doubles was the crucial match on the night with Jamie and Neil having a match point in the fifth only to lose the set 12-10. The match ended with a 7-3 defeat for the West Lothian Team but no disgrace given that Penicuik V were league leaders.

The following weeks matches saw all three teams play Penicuik. Team VII were minus the injured John McLeod and brought in Tommy Toner against Penicuik VI. It was a 90 minute drive through from Bathgate which didn’t leave much time for practice. This didn’t deter West Lothian as each of the team won their first game to race into a 3-0 lead. Penicuik bounced back with Craig Linton edging out Tommy in an entertaining match and Ros losing narrowly to Louis McLeod. Bob put the team on track by beating Adam Woodhouse in straight sets. Ros and Bob then lost in the doubles in 5 sets which meant it was 4-3 going into the last three single matches. Louis dispatched Tommy in three close sets and Ros got the better of Adam in 4 sets. It was left to Bob to clinch the match for West Lothian with a good victory against Craig. It was a tight match but Bob’s experience and determination came shining through to gain a 6-4 victory for Team VII.

Team VIII then faced league leaders Penicuik V so it was first against second in the league.  Aidan Kerr replaced Jordan on the night and performed extremely well despite losing all 3 matches only narrowly losing a 5 setter against Stuart Bennett. Some of the winners Aidan played were sublime and looked effortless and are played with a smile on his face which is a joy to watch.

The rest of the match was pretty much a carbon copy of the previous weeks match with Tommy Hamill again the star of the show with 3 single wins and a doubles win alongside Dave. Two of Tommy’s wins were classic five setters against Millie Bennett and Craig Johnson. Those four points gained put West Lothian in a strong position and Dave Stephen closed out another 6-4 winning match out by winning 2 of his 3 singles. Dave  dispatched of Mille and Stuart in straight sets but lost a close match against the persistent Craig Johnson who consistently returned  the ball from all angles. This was enough to get the victory for West Lothian and put Team VIII to the top of the league.

Team IX brought in young David Macrae to join Neil Webb and Jamie Toner against a Penicuik VII trio of Hannah McDonnel, George Wilson and Phil Daly. Jamie was the star of the night winning all three singles without losing a set. This was particular impressive given that George had won his last 14 games in the division. Neil was made to work against young Hannah who showed tremendous speed and power but eventually Neil worked out a way to get the win. He didn’t fare as well against George and Phil losing both games. David Macrae lost his opening game against George where he couldn’t get to grips with his opponents serve. David bounced back brilliantly though by coming back from 2 sets down to beat Phil in an entertaining match. David and Jamie then got the win in the doubles against George and Hannah. David then topped off a good night for West Lothian by beating Hannah in four sets giving team IX a 7-3 victory.

These results see West Lothian occupying 3 of the top 5 places.

Div 4 League Positions

Divison 4 League Positions

Penicuik VI v WL VII 28/11

Report by Ros Beck:

After Bob collected his passengers from various dark wet parts of West Lothian shortly after 5pm, we were delayed by slow moving traffic on the M8 and Edinburgh bypass, and after missing an unnoticeable road closed sign and spending a mile or two on an empty road near Penicuik before a U turn at a similarly hard to see red road closure sign, we were a little late arriving. We had apologised to our opponents in advance to avoid setting off on the wrong foot. Actually, I don’t think all their players or the non-playing captain had arrived when we got there late, so perhaps the published start time could have been a little later to help those of us travelling a distance across Edinburgh.

Due to John McLeod’s unfortunate knee injury at the previous week’s match, which we suspect may be fairly long term, Tommy Toner took up the gauntlet to play against a Penicuik team yet again. Our opponents were league newbies Craig Linton and Adam (son of Gary) Woodhouse plus old timer (for his age) Louis McLeod. Brian Bailey was ably coaching his team throughout the evening, and it was a little daunting umpiring with Brian nearby, looking out for umpiring errors no doubt. However, I don’t remember disputes in anyone’s matches.

While I was umpiring there was a more senior (I suppose I mean more skilful) match taking place next to us. An unidentified player was repeatedly shouting loudly. It was pretty disruptive and inconsiderate with another league match right next to them, so I asked the umpire sitting immediately behind me if he could get his players to be quiet. Not sure if it was in my remit to ask for that, but it seemed to work and I haven’t yet  been reprimanded.

Louis has developed a fast and devilish shot these days which I certainly couldn’t return, and Tommy and I both lost to him. We also had difficulty against Craig. I narrowly won a 5 ender and Tommy lost 3-1. Bob and I played the doubles losing a 5 ender against Craig and Louis. We felt the absence of John, whose more aggressive style of play is a great help in doubles. Luckily with Bob winning his three, we still achieved a 6-4 win with the winning team excitingly undecided until the final set. All of us contributed  to the end result, making the long journey very worthwhile for everyone.

To increase the feelgood factor we took Tommy’s ‘better than the diversion’ route home through Straiton after accidentally ignoring his advice on the way out.

Link to Match Scorecard


Match report by John McCulloch:

On an exceptionally busy club night West Lothian teams were due to host ESC3 and Penicuik 2 but as these teams arrived club officials immediately referred to their watches. Chance had brought a selection of the League’s ‘more defensive’ players to test WLTTC’s patience and resolve with their individual weaponries which included long pimples, anti loop rubbers and hard bats. With time also a possible enemy WLTTC teams were ‘encouraged’ to get on with it.

Given the problems surrounding regular team selections the WLTTC team 5 was pleased to field a team which did not rely on external support, and in Barrie, Holly & Jozef were hopeful of a positive result. Since returning at the end of last season Barrie has gradually got stronger and this was supported by his performances. In winning his three singles he dropped only one set, to fellow veteran Dave McLaren. In recent months Holly has started to produce performances to match her ability and also won all her singles, but with no little effort against Jonas Falter where it went to 14-12 in the decider. Jozef has proved a great find and is having a great first season marked by powerful looping and even more powerful hitting. On this occasion, though, the slower and more dogged style of his opponents really caused him some self doubt and problems. Gary Woodhouse not only took him to five ends, like Dave, but proved ESC’s only winner in the singles. Holly & Jozef lost the doubles. Still, a good two points and a welcome 8-2 victory.

As the night came to a conclusion club officials were able to re-store their copies of the Expedite Rule entirely unused – until the next time!

match scorecard

West Lothian Team 9 v West Lothian Team 7

Match report by Tommy Toner:

It was the battle of two of the West Lothian teams in Division 4 with Team 9 meeting Team 7.

First match was Jamie Toner playing Bob Lander. Some amazing rally’s and returns in this match seen Bob get the better of Jamie in 4 ends.

Neil Webb levelled the game at 1-1 with a convincing 3 set victory against Ros Beck. Neil was patient then attacked when the opportunity came.

John McLeod then beat Tommy Toner over 4 ends. John waited patiently to get onto his forehand then took his chances when they came.

Jamie went a set up against John and then narrowly lost the 2nd set 14-12. Jamie was returning shots John wasn’t expecting back and took the third set 11-7. John then bounced back and found a strategy to get on top taking the final two sets 11-4 and 11-5.

Tommy and Ros played out 3 long sets where both of them were reluctant to attack. This meant a lot of long rally’s. Tommy came out on top over the 3 sets by consistently getting the ball back rather than going for the winners. Not the most exciting match for Neil the umpire but it got Team 8 back in the match 4-2 down with the doubles up next.

The doubles was a very entertaining match with Neil and Tommy taking the first two sets against Bob and John. The third set was a ding dong affair with Bob and John saving no fewer than 7 match points eventually winning the third set 19-17. They carried the momentum into the fourth set by winning 11-7. Bob and John raced into a 7-1 lead in the fifth set but Neil and Tommy found a way back and levelled it at 10-10. Bob and John kept at it and took the fifth set 12-10 to put their team 5-2 up.

John secured the victory for Team 7 with a 4 set victory v Neil. All sets were tight but John used that forehand with a bit of spin in it to pull out some very good winners.

Tommy put up a good account of himself against Bob taking it to a fifth set with some very entertaining rally’s and a very enjoyable match played in good spirit. Bob’s experience won the day in the final set.

Jamie and Ros then played out a very long match which looked like going on all night. Jamie eventually got the better of Ros 3-1 but it was hard work for the youngster as Ros just gets everything back. The match finished just on time at 9.59pm and the final score was a deserved 7-3 victory for a team 7.

Match Scorecard

Another 5-5 draw for Team 9

Match report by Tommy Toner:

Team 9 faced Haddington for the second week running. Last week it was a 5-5 home draw against Haddington V. This week David MacRae, Tommy Toner and Neil Webb travelled east to face Haddington IV again without the teams highest rated player (Jamie Toner) but were  hoping with Neil back they could go one better than the previous week.

David kicked off proceedings against  Jordan Roderick. Jordan played a lot of attacking winners to win in four sets.

Next game saw Tommy start well against John Robson taking the first two sets but John responded by saving two match points to win the third set and won the fourth set comfortably.  The fifth set was a tight one with John saving another couple of match points and then had one of his own at 11-10. Tommy dug in and overcame a few unlucky “Let” shouts at crucial points in the match to eventually clinch it.  This levelled the match at 1-1.

Neil was up next against David Drew and lost in four sets which was no disgrace as David is one of the top performers in Div 4 this season.

Jordan was working at 9pm so asked to play games out of sequence so he could get to work. Therefore the scheduled Match 10 between Tommy and Jordan was moved to Match 4. Tommy was still running high on adrenalin from the previous match and won an entertaining match with some good rally’s in 3 sets. This levelled the match at 2-2.

David then met John in a pulsating five setter. David remarkably came back from two sets down to get himself 10-7 up in the 5th set. John fought back to 10-10 but David played a sublime back hand winner to set himself up for another match point which he duly took putting West Lothian 3-2 up.

Tommy then lost to David in straight sets who showed his experience by patiently waiting for his chance to attack to draw the match level at 3-3.

Neil came back from 2 sets down to take Jordan to a fifth set only to lose 11-5. This put the home side 4-3 going into the doubles.

The doubles match saw David and Tommy meet Jordan and David and it was a ding dong battle with some sublime rally’s. The first two sets were close and shared 11-9 and 10-12. Haddington then won the third set convincingly 11-3 with Jordan playing some very good forehand smashes. David and Tommy showed character by taking the match. to a 5th end. It was a very exciting 5th set with some amazing returns from both sides. David Macrae played an unbelievable return when 12-11 match point down. No one in the hall could understand how he got it back and from there David’s confidence increased by playing a great serve and an attacking back hand winner to take the match level again at 4-4.

Neil got into his stride against John by playing some great returns using the width of the table wisely and won in straight sets. This put the West Lothian Team 5-4 up and for the second week running David was involved in the crucial final match.

It was the battle of the two David’s. Some great play by both players seen two very tight opening with Haddington’s David taking them 11-9 and 12-10.  This gave Haddington’s man of the match on the night the confidence to close out the third set 11-6 and tie the match at 5-5

Another great match in a division that throws up a lot of close matches.

Match scorecard

Match scorecard

West Lothian VII v Edinburgh International V

Report by Ros Beck:

Another good evening for WLVII with an 8-2 win for the regulars Bob, John and Ros over longstanding league players Alan, John and Mike, who were pleased to have had  a good journey out, having been held up by a burning car on their last trip to Bathgate. Bob won all his matches in his usual calm manner, though two did go to four ends. John lost his first match against Alan. He tells me he always seems to lose his first match of the evening, so perhaps ought to try a serious scored match during warm up to get the losing match out of the way. My first match against Mike seemed interminable going to five ends with a 17-19 second game and comments being made about the umpire falling asleep. Quite a few lets due to balls flying about the fairly busy hall also slowed things down, and made me wonder as usual why the dividers couldn’t be a few feet higher, and made of clear perspex if spectator visibility is the problem. One to patent perhaps. Mike won in the end. I notice that quite a few defensive players such as he and Alan do come up with good aggressive forehands now and then, which not all of us have mastered.

After that the rest of the match went West Lothian’s way with no burning of the midnight oil, or reprimands for our tardiness this time.

When discussing these reports Bob gave me permission to make rude comments about him, as I notice the best other clubs’ reports do about their players. Nothing comes to mind yet  but I’ll probably manage it accidentally soon.

Musing over the three WL teams in Division 4, I notice that in individual league ranking terms the strongest players are split between the three teams. Judging by our experiences with Penicuik so far, maybe something similar applies to them.  This applies for valid reasons such as players rapidly improving or individuals wanting to bring on junior members, but seems to lead to exciting rivalry rather than an invincible team.

Match scorecard link


West Lothian had 3 teams awy to EUTTC opposition on Friday 2nd November.

West Lothian I drew against EUTTC 1 In a 5-5 draw. Well done to team 1 maintaining their unbeaten run.

West Lothian V had a tough match against EUTTC III losing out 6-4. This was still a good result with Holly winning 2 and Barrie winning 2. Dave Stephen stepped in as substitute and played well but unable to quite match the speed of play from the opposition.

West Lothian VI played against EUTTC V who have not won a match yet, but with some very good players especially Brian Ng. The match ended up 3-7 with West Lothian VI taking the win and this was especially worthy of a well done to Tommy Hamill winning 2 and winning the doubles with Martin, Neil Webb winning one and Martin winning all three with a tough match against Brian Ng. It is great to see Tommy playing so well after his recent health issues.

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