Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Season

In case you hadn't noticed, I haven't so much as glanced at this blog in months. My interest level in tennis has waned, so I wouldn't expect much updating. That said, the League season has a way of rekindling interest.

I don't have many thoughts on the new year as I've barely glanced at the rosters. I am going to assume the Hurricanes are the 4.5 favorite based completely on history and without any knowledge. I'd probably put money on it blindly.

I am somewhat intrigued by the HTA decision to put the Hurricanes, Chancellor's, Unicorns and even Sienna in the same division. From an unbiased perspective I think I like it. It provides competitive matches for those teams almost every week, and also limits the blowouts in the "weaker" divisions as also-rans play each other more frequently. I guess the only negative is that it may result in a really talented team being left out of the playoffs, but given the double round robin schedule, the cream should rise to the top. It should make every week crucial since the second place team may not qualify. Plus, tanking will be virtually eliminated, one would think.

Best of luck to everyone in the major zone this weekend (too lazy to look up its current name). Feel free to post your bets on the winners.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

Category 5

As you probably know by now, the Hurricanes won the 4.0 and 4.5 divisions at Sectionals and earned trips to Tuscon. There are so many people who stand out over a Sectionals weekend. Some that caught my eye:

Green

The whispers started with his subpar performance in the HTA Open. "Tim shouldn't be in the starting lineup." "Green doesn't practice enough." "He's past his prime.".  While it helps having a partner like Bryan Taylor, Green was magnificent this weekend. The duo was not tested, winning all three of their matches handily.

Lock

After seeing the beatdown this guy gave to the rest of the 5.0 field, it's hard to imagine that he was playing 4.5 just a couple of years ago.

Mussenden/Martinez

Where are the singles studs? Who's going to play #2 singles behind Sydney? These are the questions I asked myself all year long. Quietly, Mussenden and Martinez have led the Canes to two straight Nationals trips. Moose destroyed everything in his path this weekend. Any questions raised in his early season loss to Schnyder were answered. Martinez seems to never wilt in the heat, and showed the same guts we saw in City playoffs against Cooper. His record was also spotless until being pulled off the court in the Championship match.

Coyle/Nguyen

I definitely weren't expecting them to be fixtures in the doubles lineup in the semis and finals, but they came up big. Nice win over Slezak and Morrison on Sunday.

The Ringers

The "ringers" had mixed results. Ringers are hard to define. Let's just say they're guys who rarely get tested and can usually win without too much effort. Bryan Taylor was exceptional. The much ballyhooed Sydney Jim really didn't contribute. On the 4.0 side, Chris Rossi was everything he was supposed to be, and more. He played 6 matches in 3 days, never resting, and never losing. It's nice when you can count on one line as virtually automatic. Ryan Reeves played well, but didn't trample the competition like many expected. His doubles win in the tight finals was key.

Janek

The 57 year old slicer/dicer had a tall task: facing a 22 year old in the midday heat in the Sectional finals. That 22 year old was 18-0 in 4.0 competition this year, including a resounding 3 and 1 win over Janek in the finals at Tyler. After getting trounced in the first set, he pumped himself up, took the second and won an emotional 3rd set breaker to clinch the title. All of his hard work and training paid off.

Beinart

Freeman calls them (us) "Thursday night guys", which is not a pejorative term. They're easy to write off. They're not in the lineup on Sunday at Sectionals, but they fill an important role. You need guys who are good enough to win during league season and yet will be realistic about their status as "role players". (Every team has a 12th best player that thinks he's in the top 6) Beinart is the best Thursday night guy in history. I haven't seen another one like him in my 17 years of league tennis at 5.0, 4.5 and 4.0.

I have a math degree, love sabermetrics and spend half my days on fangraphs and baseball-reference. I believe in numbers and think "intangibles" are generally highly overrated. But when Freeman told me Beinart's cheering may have made the difference in three matches, I believe him. His enthusiasm is infectious, pumps up his teammates and distracts opponents while staying within the boundaries of good sportsmanship.

Unicorns

I thought the Unicorn 4.0 team was the most solid one we faced, perhaps just lacking a dominant singles player to push them over the edge. Freeman and Benzon have raised the stakes here in Houston and others are responding. Houston has to be among the most competitive cities in the nation. City playoffs were tougher for us than Nationals in 2011.

4.5 Hurricanes

Just wanted to say I thought it was cool that a bunch of the 4.5 guys hung around Dallas after their finals and came out and supported the 4.0 team. There's not a lot of interaction between different levels, and it showed a lot of class.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sectionals Talk

No big preview here. I'm sure most people are aware of the Houston teams who will be playing in the Dallas heat this weekend. Will try to post news and notes if possible.

Best of luck to all the locals. Hope all the top players make the trip.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Freeman

Congrats to Jason Freeman for steering two more teams to Sectionals and padding his already impressive resumé. Yes, we all know the Hurricanes were heavy favorites. But upsets happen. See Serena, Wimbledon.

The 4.5 Hurricanes pretty much waltzed through the field, dropping only one line over the weekend, to Zach Marnitz, who proved he was the real deal by going 3-0 in the playoffs. Say what you want about Freeman and the Hurricanes, but they dominated despite having no self-rated players, and only used Sydney Jim once, in doubles.

The 4.0 Hurricanes went into the weekend without the services of Ryan Reeves and Bobby Dornbos, (not to mention Chris Babbington) probably two of their top five or six players. Freeman managed to play fourteen players over the weekend, giving playing time to players sixteenth (or lower) on the depth chart. Despite that, the Hurricanes dropped only 3 lines in their 4 matches. While Chris Rossi deserves the MVP award, Brad Beinart deserves honorable mention for his enthusiasm. Every team needs a guy like that.

It was nice to see Old Schoolers Jody Deluca and Allen Teague continue to grind out victories after all these years. The duo was 2-0 on the weekend. The Good-er Guys win the "biggest disappointment" award, going 2-13 in their three matches and matching Teague/Deluca in total wins.

Kim Lequoc had a nice weekend before running into the buzzsaw that is Chris Rossi. Garrett Browne and Dang Huynh were dominant in all three of their doubles matches for the Unicorns, as were Zach Salinas and Diego Cairampoma for Copperfield. In fact, Copperfield won just one other line. Phil Kerig made an appearance in singles?? Wasn't expecting that...

Monday, July 8, 2013

City Playoffs

There's less than a week for trash talk, speculation, accusation and whatever else usually leads up to City Playoffs. The 4.0 festivities begin on Friday evening while 4.5 starts bright and early on Saturday.

One of the underrated facets of captaining is convincing your players to put things aside and commit to playing in the "big" matches. Teams like the Hurricanes which consist of players plucked from all over often lack that bond that other teams have. There are at least three key players in 4.5 whose statuses are a question mark, at least in my mind. Any time a team has stud players who play one match and get written into a default, you have to wonder just how committed that guy is. The Hurricanes have two such players, Sydney Jim and Bryan Taylor, and if Freeman can get them out there, they give the Canes two huge legs up in any match.

While I was under the impression that Zach Marnitz had been cleared for play, his 0.0 under "Find a Rating" is curious. Marnitz played 3 high quality 4.5/5.0 types in the HTA Open in April: Hersh Pise, Bryant Mohns and James Bui, winning 2 of 3 and being extremely competitive in the other one. And that was in April...a kid his age could well have improved since then. That said, I don't think he has enough help to make ETU a true factor to win. Silas will have to help. Bear in mind, 4.5 players and captains, that a Wild Card is always a possibility. Second place is worth fighting for.

The buzz is around the Good-er Guys right now, with many onlookers proclaiming them co-favorites. I'm not totally buying the hype. The Hurricane team made it to the final four in the nation last year with (in my opinion) a much weaker roster. Sure, they haven't shown great strength in singles, but Martinez and Mussenden did just fine last year when asked to play.

Old School...well, they have a win against the Canes as well as a ton of experience. They won't be an easy out.

Admittedly, I often look at things through a Hurricane prism, which hopefully is understandable. In 4.0, when looking at the Canes' flight, I have to wonder: How many players from the other rosters could make Freeman's rotation? Copperfield: Salinas for sure. After that? Solis? Orchard? Westside: Hobbs and Gomes probably. Anyone else? Corey Kruseman may have slipped under some peoples' radars. He was a solid player at Stratford. This team may have some sleepers. For ANS, Madamba, Vargas, Narvarez, Soria and Ye all have wins over current Hurricanes earlier in the year. But the Hurricane summer team will be much stronger than their 40+ team and I don't think ANS has upgraded since then.

The other flight is much more interesting to me. Lakeside is what we thought they were. Singles is the question mark. Kris Jacobs came up big in the 40+ playoffs against Janek, but also struggled with Madamba. Rutherford was overmatched in the playoffs last year. Soto will have to carry a heavy load.

I still don't know exactly what the Unicorns have. Saw Sheldon Henderson hitting on a distant court. Looked powerful. We'll see what he's got this weekend. Paniagua is dangerous. He hasn't been used in singles yet this season. Deshazo, Mohan, Lequoc, H. Nguyen, Q. Nguyen...they've got some pieces to work with.

The Good Guys don't seem to be as strong as last year's team. It will be tough sledding for them. They'll need a clutch performance from the Sandwich Blaster. Sienna is more dangerous than you might think.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Playoff Schedule

The playoff schedule has been released. In 4.5, teams will play two matches on Saturday, July 13th, and one on Sunday. As I'm sure you know, the four teams who qualified are: The Hurricanes, Enter The Unicorn, Old School and Good-er Guys. Players from several teams were out at Memorial Park yesterday readying themselves for the playoffs.Hopefully everyone will have all of their key players available.

In 4.0, Flight One consists of: Ace-N-Spinners, Good Guys, Unicorns and Lakeside. The teams in Flight Two are: Hurricanes, Shock-N-Awe, Westside Warriors and Sienna Plantation. Interestingly, the Hurricanes/Sienna and Ace-N-Spinners/Good Guys were in the same flight in the regular season. I'm not sure if this was an oversight or a change in philosophy. Perhaps the flights may be altered.

The 4.0 schedule has a match on Friday night, two matches on Saturday, and just the Championship match on Sunday.