Main ‘Buzzing’ after ‘Unexpected’ League Title
North Ayrshire A have again won the Scottish National League – now making it 5 titles since the league was reconstituted in 2010. They will again have the opportunity to compete in the ETTU Cup. Richard Main described the victory as ‘absolutely amazing’, especially as they had been unsure of whether they could field a strong side for the final set of fixtures.
The win was, according to Richard Main, somewhat ‘unexpected’ as they had to face a strong Drumchapel A side in their morning match. Prior to the match Chris Main felt that it was ’50-50′ and that the final result remained uncertain even when his team took a 3-0 lead. Drumchapel were bolstered by Victor Guang fresh from his bronze medal in the men’s doubles (with James Hobson) at the English Nationals. Richard Main was delighted with his victory over Guang (8, -12, 7, 9)- one of his best in recent months. Main also recovered from 1-2 down to win versus Sepehr Bidari. The victories helped his side to an excellent 5-1 victory which virtually guaranteed them the title. They completed things with a 6-0 victory over their young B team who themselves have had an excellent season in Division 1. Another key to North Ayrshire A’s victory was Sean Doherty (coming in to cover Colin Dalgleish’s absence) who produced three good victories (he lost narrowly to Guang), although young Ethan Chapman did push him fairly close (Chapman’s bat felt the full force of his post-match frustrations!). Andy Macpherson also put up a good showing versus Richard Main (Main winning 14-12 in the 4th). As Main commented the Division 1 of the 2017-18 season was a ‘strong league’ with ‘greater strength in depth’ and far fewer near ‘walkovers’ than in previous seasons.
Taking the runners up position were Murrayfield A. They began slowly with their no. 1 (Johannes Laute) struggling past Robert Toth and Gillian Edwards (both in 5 sets), While Calum Morrison narrowly avoided a shock loss against Grant Williams-recovering from 4-8 down in the 5th (-10, 3, 3, -8, 11). Morrison and Laute both found form in their afternoon match against Drumchapel A, with the former recording a fine win over Victor Guang (-7, 7, 8, 9). Even more entertaining was Guang’s match against Laute which included some very high quality and entertaining table tennis (one rally included 7 lobs from Guang!)- Guang fighting back from two sets down (-11, -8, 6, 7, 8). The match featured the rally of the day which included numerous smashes, long-distance lobs, drop shots, & a smashed barrier before Guang brought the spectators to their feet with a sensational backhand winner (the next point was a service fault!). In the final match, Yaser Razouk completed a fine personal season with a win over John Hannah to earn Drumchapel A a draw.
The top of division 2 was equally tight: Murrayfield B, Dundee and District & South Ayrshire all in the mix. South Ayrshire took the title courtesy of two commanding 6-0 victories. Murrayfield could only follow up their hard fought 5-1 win versus Dundee & District with a draw against Glasgow South A for whom young Charlie Morton picked up 2 good wins. Central to South Ayrshire’s title win was the form of their two rapidly improving youngsters: Harvey McDonald and Rebecca Plaistow. While disappointed to have lost their match versus Dundee & District, McDonald was delighted with his team’s overall performance and was really looking forward to returning to Division 1. He felt that Plaistow had played well, gaining key wins in their vital victory over Murrayfield B- and that her form had been ‘much better’ in recent weeks. Roy Claxton hopes that Rebecca and Harvey will have a strong third player (possibly a recruit from down south) to accompany them next season-they hope to be ‘more competitive’ than when they last played in Division 1. McDonald’s ‘dream’ is to challenge the top 4 sides in the league but admits that the priority will be avoiding relegation. Claxton is ‘delighted’ that 3 teams from Ayrshire will compete in the top division next season.
In Division 3, Murrayfield C finished their successful season with two ‘solid’ 6-0 victories over Brunswick and an under-strength Grange side. Team captain Keith Dingwall was also grateful to Roy Claxton’s South Ayrshire B side whose 5-1 victory over Edinburgh International was ‘crucial’. Their loss to South Ayrshire B caused Edinburgh International to slip from 3rd place from 1st to 3rd place and thus miss out on promotion.
In Division 4, North Ayrshire C completed their season with two 6-0 victories while Murrayfield D saw their title challenge go up in smoke via a draw against Garnet.
Many thanks to all those who assisted during the season. Particular thanks to North Ayrshire TTC for hosting the final set of fixtures in their customarily professional manner. The SNL committee are particularly grateful to Catherine O’Neill for stepping in to cover top table duties and to Roy Claxton for helping out with the league table calculations.
SNL league winners & runners-up 2017-18:
Division 1: North Ayrshire A. Murrayfield A
Division 2: South Ayrshire A. Murrayfield B.
Division 3: Murrayfield C. South Ayrshire B.
Division 4: North Ayrshire C. Murrayfield D.