Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Props to Tosha

Some of the obvious tankers received the ratings they deserved.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Year End Ratings are Out

The ratings are here. There may still be further adjustments made. As noted before, appeals are now easy and many people will probably be moved down.

Here are my first impressions:

Notable bumps to 5.0:

Odion Dibua, Tim Green, Tim Hurlbert, Ryan Kudva, Henry Li, Phong Regent

I know people are quite opinionated on Tim (and perhaps Phong and Henry) being moved up, but I don't have a strong opinion on it either way. They have obviously been Sectional-level players in 4.5 for many years and have had tons of success. I'm sure they will be successful playing 5.0 as well. On the other hand, none of them is in any way a dominant force at Sectionals and I certainly wouldn't have any problem with them staying at 4.5. I think it's kind of ironic that they all got moved up THIS year when I feel that their play (and results) has been better in many previous years. Phong and Henry played much of their tennis in 5.0 league, which is what helped to push them upwards.

Notable bumps up to 4.5:

Sarosh Ahmed, Sam Ahn, John Biers, Quack Bui, Bernie De la Torre, Greg Dwyer, Matt Evelt, Brian Goldberg, Bret Hern, Eddie Janek, Wade Karel, Jason Kern, Kris Knutson, Don Obenrader, Eddie Perdomo, Richard Perreras, Jason Rawls, Chad Reed, David Romero, Thomas Sawaya, Peter Strasser, John Swartley, Thomas Tran-Park, John Veilleux.

I'm sure I missed quite a few. I must say I'm baffled at being included in that list. My play was quite poor and my results were mediocre at best. I have yet to appeal, but will try to do so soon. I'm shocked at being included on the list.

It looks like 6 of Freeman's guys got bumped, which is a little higher than I thought given that they didn't fare that well at Nationals. Their high ratings helped to inflate the rest of Houston's ratings a bit. The Rice team had even the Heat team had 5 players bumped.

4.5 Bump Downs and Players who didn't get moved up:

David B., Blessing B., Lukas Jendek, Grant Murphy, Gary Armstrong

Wow. I'm shocked that those names are on this list. No offense to Tim, Phong, Henry or anyone else, but I would have expected a lot of these names to have been rated 5.0 ahead of those three.

It's quite possible that Houston could put together a super strong 4.5 team this year. If Murphy, David and Blessing are on the same team, that would be quite a nice foundation. Perhaps Sectionals in 2008 in 4.5 will be interesting after all....

I just glanced quickly at the new 4.0 list. I only noticed one interesting drop down: Ken Sjoberg. I'm sure there were others, but none jumped out at me. Jason Freeman was among those bumped up from 3.5....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

That time of year...

The new ratings are generally published around mid-to-late November so that players may plan for early 2008 tournaments. I would expect to see the new ratings within a week or so, though I've not heard any official date announced.

It will be interesting to see how the local ratings have changed from the midyear ratings. Houston saw one of its teams in 4.0 head to Nationals, where they had mediocre results (albeit against top-flight competition). If their players receive mediocre ratings, it will keep most Houstonians from being bumped up out of 4.0...as the Hurricanes pretty much ran over most teams in Texas in 2007.

Houston's 5.0 team did not do anything special up in Dallas, and most of their players will not receive espeically high ratings. This may result in some "bump downs" from 5.0. Both of Houston's 4.5 representatives at Sectionals performed well, and most of their players will either be rated 5.0 or in the upper reaches of the 4.5 range. Remember, ratings "filter down", so a great performance by a team at Nationals generally results in high ratings for their players....and as a result the players who played them at Sectionals often receive high ratings if they played a competitve match with the Nationals player(s). And so on...

Personally, I was (rather inexplicably) on the "bump up" list at midyear, but expect that I may be back down when the official ratings come out. Remember, those players "within tolerance" (I believe tolerance is .05) will have their appeals granted automatically. The appeals process has become much easier nowadays. Freeman knows the ins and outs of the process and could explain it much better than I can if anyone is curious.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Discretionary No Ad Scoring in HTA League Play?

Having played league for a while now both in HTA and other organizations I am fascinated by nearly 100% of people's feelings towards no-ad scoring....the consensus is that it is universally hated regardless of age, gender or level of play.

The version of full tennis is what is used in every aspect of HTA league play..singles, doubles and even Mixed have this reader's digest version of tennis as the de-facto standard format.

Some of the pros and cons from my perspective are:

+ Matches are set to an approximate fixed time interval (targeted 90 minutes) and by doing this 2 cycles of matches can be played during the work week with the first match starting at 7p. I think everyone has been subjected to playing the last match at MP when the dude sounds the horn.

- No-ad scoring favors the weaker team...sometimes 3-3 is a coin toss.

Several other organizations allow the matches to be full sets of tennis with either a 3rd set 10-point tiebreak or a full 3rd set as the match decider.

My question is:

Why can HTA not institute a discretionary no-ad scoring policy based on agreements between the captains at the beginning of the match based on the in-situ capability of the facility on a given evening?

I fully understand the situation at some places around town where court time is at a premium during the work week (MP, HF, CuField), however at a lot of clubs all matches start at 7p and then are done promptly at ~815p, with 5 courts empty or people playing an additional set for fun since the courts are available and they want to play some more.

I think this is something that can be accommodated easily in league play by a little bit of coordination between the two captains and the host facility. As stated before, there are instances where this just won't work due to facility/scheduling constraints, but a large portion of the time this is something that would benefit the league and people's level of satisfaction with their league experience.

There have been many instances where I have tested people's tolerance of playing no-ad scoring...it is very easy to convince people to go ahead and play ad-scoring, just ask them prior to the match. There are some lemmings out there that do say "the rules say that it is no-ad scoring...", yes I know but if you know there will be no one playing behind you, isn't it more fun to play a real match?

Part of my reason for this rant is the way I look at it my "total cost of ownership" to play tennis is continually rising: increased league costs, that bullsh*t USTA processing fee, gas costs are up, membership dues are up, babysitters are now part of the mix for me, and even ball costs seem to be rising.

The summary is: when I get a chance to play, I would like to maximize my ROI. I would like to play as much tennis as possible for a given opportunity to play.

In the end, HTA is a customer service organization that needs to be customer focused and respond to their customer base. The only way to let them know you want something to change is to let them know.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Forfeit Etiquette/ Protocol -- What do you think?

I had an experience this week with one of the captains from the league that I need to share.

I guess I am using this writeup as an attempt to remind people how their actions affect others. I realize that everyone had a family, job and then is a tennis player and sometimes tennis does not get the attention that it needs as you have to have a job to pay for tennis as none of us our playing for big checks on Sundays (unless you play for Freeman, he pays well...just kidding)

Communication/ Match arrangement:

The way I understand the "captain protocol" is that the visiting captain is supposed to contact the home captain to confirm/arrange stuff for the coming week. I really don't mind just shooting out a quick email about when/where etc if I am home or away.

Here is what happened this week:
1. Email sent on Monday about playing all 4 lines at the scheduled time.
2. Follow up email sent on Thursday. I realize not everyone has a crackberry or sits in front of a monitor all day (giving the benefit of the doubt).
3. Phone message on Friday at both numbers listed on HTA directory.
4. Follow up phone calls on Sunday AM to both numbers listed on HTA directory.

All through the week I did not get a response. I had to "plan for success" so I had my team ready to go and 8 people showing up to play.

There is no co-captain, so I did not have a second person to contact through all of this. I almost starting randomly contacting people on their roster to see if they were going to play, but I did have stuff to do this weekend and should not have to work this hard to set up a match.

I finally received a call 40 minutes prior to the match start time telling me to call him and when I did I was told that they would not be able to have any lines play this evening.

WTF? these were the first 3 words out of my mouth.

As a captain, I fully understand that there are times when your players leave you with little or no notice and you must forfeit a line, but at this point I was already in the car. At 520p, people are already en route to the courts to play the match.

I guess my frustration is not that all 4 lines did not play, but that people's time is VERY VALUABLE and with such little notice, people had already arranged for babysitters, have foregone other plans, etc to play tennis.

We ended up getting in a scrimmage, so we got to play, but this is just a frustrating situation that can be avoided in the future with a little pro-active communication.

My lessons learned are:
  1. Never assume that the guy on the other end of the email/phone is as organized as you are and if you have not received confirmation from them, assume the match is off.

My advice is:
  1. Have a co-captain. You have a plethora of people on your roster that can help out when you are out of contact of email and/or phone. I am sure one of them can help.
  2. Have an "auto-reply" feature on your email that says "Hey douchetard, I am dropping acid in the desert with Jim Morrison and don't expect to hear back from me until after my trip is over."
  3. Have a "out of office" feature on your VM that tells someone that your are gone and to not expect a call from you until your acid trip is over with.

I hope my message comes across clear and resonates with anyone that has ever been on the receiving end of this.

How could HTA change the regulations to shape people's behavior to avoid this?

  • Hit them in the wallet... I have read and heard of some leagues that make the team post a $100 "bond" that if they forfeit, the other team gets some or all of the bond...My question is, should HTA look into this? Just a thought. There a many logistical nightmares that could be induced if they did do this.
My questions to the community are:

Should I be as pissed as I am? I guess my frustration stems not from the fact that I was contacted so late, but that I had to hustle to get a full lineup anyways. People had to skip stuff with their family to come play, then they show up and there is no opponent!

For those who really want to know who I am referring to, it won't take a research scientist to figure out who I am talking about. I have never met this captain as his team is new to our flight and I am sure he is a really nice fellow, but it is not cool to do this to someone.

Who wants to see a monetary amount posted in some escrow account that if you never forfeit you never lose it, but if you forfeit your opponents get some of your bling for not showing up?

I will get off of my soap-box now. LMK what you think.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pics from Nationals

Here are some pics from this weekend.

Here is some info from USTA.

The blog does not have a very easy way to do a batch upload.

Send me some pics if you have them and I will put them up.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda - Nor Cal Wins

So Sunday found the following pairings in the semi-finals:

New England v. Nor Cal
Mid Atlantic v. Pacific NW

On paper by win-loss record through the round robin, the standings looked like this:

New England 4-0, only dropped 3 lines in 20 attempts
Pacific NW 3-0, only dropped 2 lines in 5 attempts
Mid-Atlantic 3-0, dropped 5 lines in 15 attempts
NorCal 2-1, dropped 6 lines in 15 attempts.

The results were not suprising, NorCal whipped New England 4-1 in some pretty easy two setters.

The other semi-final came down to the 5th line and PNW squeaked by Mid-Atlantic 15-13 in a 3rd set tie-break.

The teams had to turn around and play again immediately (which is weird) and the loser's match got to wait about an hour.

The final had NorCal playing the exact same lineup that they played against Texas.

The guy that beat Knutson got off to a great start, going up 5-2 on this kid named Adam (who's mom I sat next to) and then somehow Adam rallied and never won another game. The PNW guy won 7-5, 6-0. That was a shocker, as on Friday this dude hung with Knutson and played a very solid game. Come to find out, he sustained an injury and was having trouble moving. Props to the kid for keeping his cool and pulled it out.

The second line had the guy that Sarosh schooled on Friday playing another kid. It was almost physically painful for Sarosh to watch this guy that he whooped play in the national final.... This was the last match to finish and was the decider. More on that in a minute.

The doubles lines were much stronger than the singles lines. The guys that took down Goldberg/Thomas on Friday lost a very tight one. These guys have a deadly one-two punch when they are serving.

The 3rd line had the guys that beat Patton/Wood on Friday playing what seemed to be PNW's weakest line. They took it to a tiebreak and won it in the 3rd. These guys have pulled through all weekend in tiebreaks.

The last doubles line had a father-son duo from PNW playing against Norcal. This was a very entertaining match that saw that father-son duo go down in a 2nd set tiebreak.

The final match came down to the guy that Sarosh whooped playing a 19 year old kid. The NorCal guy took the first set easy and was up big in the 2nd, when the kid started a comeback. He came back, took it to 5 all and then the injuries set in. He had to take what seemed like an eternal injury break. They took it to a 2nd set tiebreak where on match point the kid threw up a double to lose. Poor guy.

NorCal triumphs in a very entertaining final.

Thoughts on caliber of play

After visiting with some of the FLA guys at the party and have the Norcal people tell me that they thought they got lucky to get out of our group and the Louisiana guys say the same thing, at the airport, it was clear that our group was the most evenly matched and either one of those teams in that flight could have advanced given a slight lineup change or even had a couple of points go the other way.

It was a shame to see that this team did not advance out of our flight, but there was some great tennis. Who knows what will happen with this bunch next year. The rule of 3 will kill any possibility of a repeat, and most of the guys already have (or will) get moved up to the next level.

Who knows if Freeman can pull together the talent at 4.5 or piece together a 4.0 team with the next wave of unknown's that show up at the Coke in April.

Jason did a great job assembling this group and he should be proud of what he has accomplished this year at both levels.

I will post some pictures up when I get back to Htown. This connection at the airport sucks.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tennis, Politics and afternoon fun!

I am not one to mix tennis and politics, but as we were going back to our Super 8 Motel (yes, super 8) we were seeing people coming down the road with anti-war signs.

We got back to our room and the cleaning staff was doing their job (on our room of course) and asked for "quince minuntos" so Thomas, Brian and I decided to go check out the anti-war rally.

The keynote speaker was Congressman Grijalva. He was very passionate about his arguments and was very anti-war and called out his local opposition for not being there (as if they were even invited).

Here are some pics of what we saw, we got Chris and Thomas dancing with a hippie lady, Brian holding a protest sign. We covered up our "Houston" stuff for fear that we would get beat up for being from "Bush Country"...

The best part of the protest/rally was the "Raging Grannies"... this was a quintet of grannies that sung anti-Bush parodies. Their hits were spinoffs of "You don't get it" and a slant on the Christmas classic "Santa Claus is coming to Town" called "W is lying again"... Whether you agree or disagree with their politics you have to admire their creativity. Here they are in action on stage!

The afternoon got even more interesting. As we went back to our Super 8, there was a guy laying on the sidewalk that had appearantly fallen and could not get up (who remembers that commercial?), he was all bloody and could not move. We called 911 and they came out to help this poor bastard. The comments from the paramedics was that it was a diabetic seizure. Hope all is well. The comment was made that he may have been a pro-Bush person that got beat up by the war protesters!

Since we had nothing to do for the afternoon and flying out early would cost $100 and we had pre-paid our travel (expedia) we thought about making a junket down to Nogales, Mexico but no one brought their passport..this is probably a good thing; given our afternoon we may have ended up in a Mexican jail.

We are going to attend the USTA player party tonight. I personally have always found these things kind of boring, but I am always open to try new things.

Some of our party have paid the cake to get the early flight and are headed back to Htown. We should have pretty crappy attendance tonight at the party.

Our plan tomorrow is to get together a match with our remaining teammates and then go watch the final to see the level of competition to only speculate "what could have been".....

Southern - Match 3

Here is the lineup:

1S: Sarosh
2S: Kern
1D: Towle/Urtis
2D: Wood/Knutson
3D: Goldberg/ Thomas

Subs: Janek, Patton, Veilleux

The team we were playing was basically a bunch of young kids that were all under 25. We won 4-1.

Sarosh handed his opponent his first loss of the year.

Kern had a good match and got it in two.

Urtis and Towle held their own but came up short.

Wood/Knutson got it in straight sets.

Goldberg/Thomas fought off a 2nd set come back by their opponents.

Sorry for the lack of commentary, but I was on the court for most of the time....

The drama in our flight came down to FLA v. NorCal. Florida actually beat NorCal, and were up 3-1 and the last line (3D) would be the match win tiebreak to decide who advances to Sunday. NorCal triumphed in a tiebreak to win by set differential. to move to the next stage.

All in all our group was very even and we could have easily gone 3-0. I was discussing this with both the Fla and Norcal guys and everyone agreed that the results could have been inverted given a couple of subtle changes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Florida - Match 2

Here is the lineup

1S - Janek
2s - Sarosh
1D- Goldberg/Thomas
2D - Kern/Veilleux
3D - Wood/Patton

Subs: Knutson, Towle, Urtis

I did not get a chance to watch Eddie's match, but the score does not reflect the closeness of the match.

For the first time IMHO I saw Sarosh get stretched for the first time against this guy. Sarosh rallied from a break down in the first to win and was up in the 2nd set and had to fight off a comeback to win a tight set.

Thomas and Brian lost a close one to two very competent players. A single break in the first and then a tiebreak in the second. I could have gone either way.

For the second match in a row, it seemed that Kern/Veilleux drew the opponents weakest team. They rolled in two.

After what seemed like an hour of drama with a deciding ladies match Wood and Patton FINALLY got on a court and played two tough guys and went down in two.

Here is a pic of the woman who got defaulted due to repetitive cramping/injury timeouts. It was kind of sad, but the off-court drama between the two teams was priceless...

This was a very tough match.

We are now 0-2 and mathematically eliminated. There has been some very high quality tennis this weekend and I now have a new perspective on this whole "ringer/sandbagger" argument after watching this group ROLL at sectionals in Dallas and see how tough the competition is at this next level.

We are playing Southern tomorrow AM who has a bunch of high school all-stars on their team. They went down pretty easily to NoCal today 4-1, so their only hope is to wipe us out and have Florida beat NoCal. We will see how it works out.

NorCal - Match One

By now the results are online and the comments are flowing in.

This was a very close match that could have gone either way.

The lineup was as follows:

1S- Sarosh

2S – Knutson

1D – Kern/Veilleux

2D – Goldberg/Trans-Pak

3D – Patton/Wood

Subs: Janek, Towle, Urtis.

De los Santos is AWOL. No one knows where he is..at this point he is not answering calls..everyone hopes everything is ok and that there is an assignable cause to his abscense.

From the scores you can see that both line 1’s took it easy. Sarosh’s guy got frustrated mid way in the second set and Kern/Veilleux took it in two seeming to be in control the whole match

On line 2 dubs, Goldberg and Thomas took the first set with a break, but then their opponents seem to “wake up” in the 2nd set. The norcal guys had hellacious serves that seems to get better as the match proceeded. By the time the tie break started Brian and Thomas got down early and made an attempt to close the gap by a 2-7 deficit is hard to overcome.

On line 3 dubs the duo of Patton and Wood started off slow losing the first set at 1, but also seem to wake up in the second taking a comfortable 5-1 lead to close it out at 3 with Dan holding a close service game. The tiebreak was very close with match points on both sides of the net with the NorCal guys winning 12-10.

After the Norcal guys took two close tiebreaks to pull even and then it all came down to Knutson.

His court did not come available until about 45minutes into the other matches. By the time everyone finished he was only partially into the first set. Most of you that know Kris’ game know that he is crafty moving you around the court and forces you to make mistakes. The guy he was playing seemed to feed on this type of play. Kris fought a very tough match but in the end it was a single break in each set with close to 40 people watching that allowed NorCal to edge out Texas. As you can see from the photo below there was quite a lot of action around the court which no doubt had to be slightly distracting (see photo below).

I know rectal vision is 20/20, but one has to wonder what the impact was of De Los Santos not showing up forcing the swizzling of the lineup to have a team out there playing together for the first time at this level of event. Richard and Dan did draw the toughest of the three doubles lines (IMHO), but it can only be speculated of the impact of this last minute change to force this duo.

The strategy at this point is to win out and finish 2-1 and move ahead on game differential. Southern beat Florida 3-2 today, so at the end of today there will be one 2-0 team, two 1-1 teams and one 0-2 team.

Thoughts on Tucson and Event Coordination

I think Tucson is the antithesis of Houston. Houston has no scenery and tons of buildings…while Tucson has no buildings over 4 stories (that I have seen) and a ton of mountains surrounding the city. The weather is dry and there is not a cloud in the sky.

The facility is very nicely maintained for a public park and the courts are in good shape. The event is a couple of minutes behind due to delay but that is somewhat expected for an event this size.

The start of an event is kind of goofy…picture this – They call both teams up to a table and they stand there and call the lines as they come available (1S, 1D, 2D, 3D, 2S) and there is this crowd of 16 plus others standing at this table cramped, ready to play, waiting for a court…very strange.

As expected there are a lot of color/outfit coordinated women’s teams from all over. They look like some gangs looking for a fight…It is kind of funny. There are even a couple of color/outfit coordinated men’s teams too.

One thing that is cool that they do that maybe HTA should consider is that they are randomly checking ID’s of the players to get on the court. This is the minority versus the majority of the time, but it is a good practice after the NorCal fiasco last year in Hawaii where some non-roster people were on the court. There is a ton of info about this on the tennis warehouse site if anyone has interest to learn the story.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Preview from Tuscon

Hey People,

I am taking input here on what you all want to hear/see from Tuscon.

  • Do you want the nuts/bolts of the scores?
  • Do you want to see pics of the facilities and lovely Tuscon?
  • LMK what you would like to hear/see and what you don't want to hear see.

Here is a summary of our opponents based on what information can be harvested from tennislink and/or the interweb...

All of this is pure speculation by an attorney and an anal retentive engineer. Take it for what it is worth.

All matches will be played at this public facility in Tuscon. It seems very nice and some feedback I have from people who have been confirm this.

  • We feel like this will be our 2nd hardest match in the pool (possibly hardest).
  • We play them off the bat so we won't have the luxury of seeing how our their players look in comparison to ours.
  • From a singles standpoint they have played the same two players in all 6 of their playoff matches with each posting a 4-2 record and being moved back and forth from line 1 (3-3) to line 2 (5-1).
  • Their doubles lines went 3-3 (line 1), 6-0 (line 2) and 5-1 (line 3). This leads us to believe they are either (1) very deep and consistent throughout their roster and/or (2) they stack on a regular basis.
  • We have not landed on a line-up yet. We are going to evaluate how everyone looks today during our practice session and see what makes the most sense.
  • These guys are from Redding...which is a town of 170k people about 3.5 hours north of SFO.
  • Most only play league. I see this as a small town "all star" team, since there were only 3 teams in their local league.
  • If they do play tourneys they play 4.5
  • Some/most of their people only played twice in league and then in sectionals once...these are the scary people...little is known.
  • All players are local to Redding
FLORIDA (Friday 130p PDT/330p CDT):
  • Their top singles player got DQ'd "after" their Sectionals final match (it looks like) so we are not sure if he will be available to play at Nationals....we think he might be eligible since his scores were not reversed at Sectionals.
  • It looks like this team only has 10 people eligible to play.
  • They seemed steady throughout Sectionals in their singles and doubles play but they did not seem dominant.
  • It looks like (on paper) this would be our easiest match.
  • e won't land on a line-up until after we see our results against NorCal and watch Florida's match against Southern.
  • All players with the exception of 3 play exclusively "open" level in tournaments, but play 4.0 in league.
  • There is one dude who plays 3.5.
  • These guys won state by set differential against Miami...they were lucky to win.
  • All of their players are from the panhandle area of FL
SOUTHERN (Sat 9a PDT/11a CDT):
  • We feel like this is the team to beat in our pool.
  • They really had to make a great run at Districts and Sectionals to even get to Nationals.
  • There has been plenty of chatter about this team on other blogs as well.
  • I believe they even have a corporate sponsor.
  • They also had their top singles player (9-0 in playoffs) get DQ'd after Sectionals and like the guy from Florida we are not sure if he will be eligible for Nationals or not....we'll find out.
  • We are hoping we are both 2-0 on Saturday morning and this turns into a real battle.
  • People are from Lafayette or west of Lafayette. No one was pulled from Baton Rouge or anywhere east..
  • Don't play a lot of tournaments
  • Most play 4.0 league in 2006 and 2007
SemiFinal (Sun 7a/9a):

Final (Sun 10a/12p):

With all this being said we completely understand how some teams work in that they hide their ringers up until Nationals and we may run into a buzzsaw at any point in time. However, we feel like we have a very deep team and at least 2 lines that can compete with ANY lines that will be representing their Section this weekend....and our other 3 lines are very deep.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nationals in less than a week

Houston's 4.0 team will head to Nationals this week where they will face a murderer's row of opponents in their bracket. Freeman's team dominated Texas this year and seem to have the kind of talent that can be successful at Nationals.

Apparently, all the big guns will be making the trip. Hopefully, Chris Towle (I have granted him permission to post to the blog) or Freeman or someone else on the team can keep us informed and give us a bit of an inside look at how things are going in Tuscon.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Freeman, Part I

Congratulations on a great season for Jason Freeman's 3.5 team. I'm sure they're disappointed not to win the National championship, but they should be proud of the job they did at Nationals, dropping only a 3-2 decision to the Intermountain team. I'm sure many/most of those players will be competitive at the 4.0 level next year. Hopefully Freeman's 4.0 team will have as much or more success at Nationals in a few weeks.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Texas 4.5 men rolling....

Mike Davis' Austin 4.5 men's team won both of their matches yesterday and now must beat 0-2 Richmond to assure a trip to the National semi-finals.

The morning match against Florida was pretty easy...a 4-1 victory which included only one third set tie breaker. The rumor of a missing Stuart Holland appears to be true, and so far Austin has relied on Chad Case and Graham Thurman as their singles guys. I don't know how good Thurman is, but I'm fearful that a missing Holland could mean the difference between winning and losing somewhere down the road.

The afternoon match with Cary, NC was much tougher, as Austin prevailed 3-2. Schlotterback and Kattawar lost both of their doubles matches yesterday, so it will be interesting to see if they remain in the lineup today and what kind of confidence Davis will have in them on Sunday. Graham Thurman was the other loser in the afternoon match, with Case and Strawbridge/Gold winning in straight sets. The clutch win was provided by Wicks and Brunetta, who pulled out a third set breaker. Case has continued to roll along, dropping just four games in each of his matches at the National Championships against (presumably) some of the best 4.5 league players in the country.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nationals this Week

The Austin 4.5 team gets their chance to keep the 4.5 National Championship banner in the state of Texas this week. Good luck to Mike Davis' crew in Tuscon.

Texas is in a killer bracket, grouped with the USTA's largest section, Southern, as well as tennis hotbed Florida and perennial 4.5 power Richmond, who represents the Mid-Atlantic Section. It at looks like an uphill battle for Texas, but on paper they appear to be at least on the same level as the other teams in their flight. As always, it will come down to some clutch play and pulling out some tie breakers. Nerves will definitely come into play with a National championship potentially on the line.

The 5.0 Champions from Fort Worth will be playing in Indian Wells this weekend as well. I got a chance to hit on those courts about a year ago and must say that they are EXTREMELY slow, playing almost like clay courts. It certainly helps to explain why Nadal won the tournament there this year. Not sure if that is a plus or minus for Omana, Babb, Maupin, McCarthy and the rest of the Fort Worth contingent.

Texas' successes or failures will have a direct impact on Houstonians as ratings filter down from players playing at Nationals to Sectional participants to local league players. Midyear ratings may change drastically, depending on how things go this weekend.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sectionals in San Antonio

Congratulations to the local league players who represented Houston so well at Sectionals this past weekend.

Ismael Dutchover won the 3.5 division, getting some good preparation for 3.5 Nationals.

Freeman's team was also well represented in the 4.0 division, as Eddie Janek beat teammate Kris Knutson in the singles final. Top Seeded Jason Kern pulled out of the tournament.

Odion Dibua survived a tough quarterfinal match and cruised in the semis and finals to take home the 4.5 singles title.

The 5.0 singles title was won by Chris Hunckler, who gutted out some three set victories.

Houston teams did not fare very well in the doubles.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Combo this weekend.

Sorry that I've been neglectful of the blog lately...I have an actual job now so I've not had the time I used to have.

Someone asked me for a preview of the Combo this weekend but I'm afraid that there are many commenters who would be more knowledgable than I am. But here's my two cents worth anyway.

In 7.5, I'm ashamed to say that I'm ignorant about the abilities of almost the entire 3.5 division. Freeman's team totally dominated the state 3.5 picture, and he has put together a combo team with several of his 3.5 and 4.0 players. I'd have to be a fool to bet against them.

The 8.5 division is more interesting to me, as the winner may be more in question. Allen Teague's team will be tough, but as of now only Richard Perreira and his funky left handed serve fill out the roster as a 4.0. I believe there may have been a dropout or two from Allen's original plans, so we'll see how there team shapes up. Because of that, I'm going to pick the Huang team to win it all. The 4.0's of Huang, Huang, Zebrowski and Swartley are pretty strong. A couple of the 4.5's (Paciotti and Moser) are seemingly more comfortable in singles than doubles, though Moser has some good tournament results this year. Tass has a good doubles reputation, though I've never seen him play.

The Lost Forest 8.5 team looks weak to me. The Copperfield team will not be a pushover. Bryan Robins is a very good 4.5 doubles player, and their 4.0's (Rawls, Nguyen, Sawaya, Montes et al) are pretty decent.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nothing New to Report

That other comment section was getting too long, so feel free to post any further comments here.

I took a quick glance at some of the other Sectional championships and noticed that a former Houstonian is a key player on the 4.5 champion from the midwest. "Old timers" like David Hall will remember Alan Unnerstall, who was a fixture on some of Brad Davis' teams in the late nineties/early 2000's here in Houston. I'm surprised he is able to be a contributor on a team headed to Nationals in 4.5...makes me think the Texas 4.5 team can do well again this year.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Congrats to Austin

Kingwood's dynamic duo finally ran out of steam, as both Dibua brothers were unable to take their singles matches and as a result Austin trounced Kingwood 4-1. Stuart Holland dispatched Omon easily and Odion fell to Chad Case in a third set breaker. Case is now 13-0 on the season and Holland's lone blemish came at the hands of Grant Murphy.

Only Hurlbert/Armstrong were able to pull out a line for Kingwood. Hamilton/Barrera were waxed by Gold/Thurman and Huynh/Vu lost to Schlotterback and Strawbridge. Hai and Phi are on the state runner up team for the second time in 4 years.

The Rice 5.0 team has finished up. As expected, the competition was much too strong for them as they managed to get shut out in each of their team's five matches. Hernan's team was in the middle of the pack, but Dustin Phillips was a star and the self-rated 4.5 may find himself rated 5.5 at the end of this year.

Freeman to Nats...Part II

It looks like the Houston 4.0 team will be headed to Nationals. I've gotten word that they've won the first four lines to come off the court. More details as they come.

Also, Kingwood has again put out the Dibuas in singles against Holland and Case. Kingwood's doubles lineup: Hurlbert/Armstrong, Huynh/Vu and Barrera/Hamilton. Good luck!

Kingwood in...

Just got an update from Houston's tennis encyclopedia, Mr. Benzon. Kingwood has won their match over Fort Worth and will face Austin in the finals. Red says the Dibuas are on fire and that an "upset" is definitely a possibility in the finals.

Kingwood won 4-1, and seems to have found another doubles line, as Phi Huynh and Hai Vu ran their record to 3-0 on the weekend. The usual suspects (Dibua, Dibua, and Hurlbert/Armstrong) all cleaned up while Kilshaw/Wright lost a tight one at line 1. Omon took out Bobby Cocanougher, who I've been told is an 18 yr. old super champ type who's headed to Trinity to play tennis.

The season came to an end for the Hangovers as Austin's doubles proved to be as strong as their singles has been. Austin won 3-2, losing only at line 2 singles. Stuart Holland has destroyed everyone in his way this year, but lost to Grant Murphy. Those people complaining about Murphy being a "ringer" were probably justified...it's quite possible he was the best 4.5 player in the state this year. Unfortunately, he wasn't enough to carry the team to victory.

Austin also lost at #2 doubles. After the match was over, the players were asked to remain while the computer did its thing. Austin had some players with two strikes and sure enough, Bo Bowman was disqualified after he and Eric Strawbridge crushed Morton and Green three and two. I've seen many captains make the mistake of pulling their teams off the courts after they had secured three lines...BIG MISTAKE! In this case, coach Davis allowed his players to keep playing, as Bowman and Strawbridge were first off the court, and disaster was averted.

So, Kingwood will be facing a slightly weaker Austin team. Oddsmakers have made the money line Austin -180...

Hurricanes Breeze into Finals

The Hurricanes won an easy 4-1 decision against the 4.0 team from Austin early this morning, pushing them into an an 11:30 final with the team from Dallas.

Eddie Janek lost his match at #1 singles, but Sarosh Ahmed, Knutson/Wood, Kern/Veilleux and Patton/De los Santos all had easy matches and should be fresh if needed in the finals. Freeman's finals strategy should be interesting. Dallas' top singles player had an easy time of it this morning and should be ready to go. Does Freeman go with a rested Goldberg at 11:30 or move Kern or even Knutson into the singles lineup, weakening his doubles somewhat? Janek is a bit older, but still might be fresh enough and should still inspire confidence despite his morning loss. Either way, I doubt there will be TOO much trouble in the finals...

The 4.5 semis are still going on. The Hangovers have drawn Austin...I'll be curious to see if David B. and Grant Murphy are used in singles and just how they'll do against Holland and Case. I really think the Hangovers could pull off the upset if the ball bounces their way, though admittedly they're underdogs in this one.

Kingwood takes on a Fort Worth team that they should be favored against. I see no reason why Omon and Odion won't be able to play two singles matches today if necessary. I'd love to see an all-Houston final, but it's against the odds at this point.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hangovers in...

The Hangovers won their pool with a huge 4-1 victory over Dallas. Tim Green played line one singles and beat Wesley James in two tight sets. I can't even speculate on the amount of effort James gave, (I have seen him give up in a meaningless match in the past) but regardless, it was a great win for Green. Grant Murphy dominated at 2 singles, and Huffman/Benzon won at line 1. A 4-1 win was a must, and Bobo/Whitsett again came through in the clutch, this time squeaking out a win in the third set breaker.

I must admit I didn't think the Houston 4.5 league was all that strong this year, so advancing two teams to the final four is a great accomplishment. Props to Jimmy and Tim/Ken for getting their teams this far. Austin will be a mighty hurdle to climb.

As noted by the commenter, Austin lost what was, for them, a meaningless match and got the wild card slot. Fort Worth won Flight I. While the commenter was quite critical of Mike Davis, he must also take into consideration the fact that Davis, Jason Lee and Torch Acosta had made the trip and are at least somewhat competent players and certainly wanted to get into the action. Davis' first obligation is to his players and having a rested Case and Holland for tomorrow could be important as well.

The Rice 4.0 team lost its match 5-0, eliminating any chance at advancing. Quack Bui was trounced, making it less likely that he get bumped to 4.5 and more likely that some of us who've played him will remain 4.0 (where, unfortunately, we belong).

Incidentally, Betsie Hollis' women's 4.5 team rolled to an easy victory in their first match. Good luck to the ladies.


Congratulations to Kingwood and the Hurricanes, who have both clinched their flights and have moved into the semi-finals on Sunday.

Omon and Odion again took care of the singles for Kilshaw's bunch, and the doubles swept as well as the team blanked the Valley 5-0. I'm not sure at this point if the semis in 4.5 will be a three team round robin of flight winners or whether a wild card team will be added as has been done in the past. I'm sure someone could clue me in.

The Hurricanes have been almost spotless thus far, dropping no lines and just two sets in their first three matches. Freeman's 3.5 team didn't do any tanking, so I imagine his 4.0 team will put out some effort in their final match, though I'm sure they'll rest some key players. It looks like they will be facing Austin in the semi-finals, but there's little doubt that they're the team to beat.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kingwood Lookin' Good

Kingwood faced its sternest test against Dallas Wild and came up big. This time, however, they got an unexpected contribution to propel them to their 3-2 win. Former Mob Squadders Hai Vu and Phi Huynh dominated at 3 doubles to give Kingwood its margin of victory.

Odion Dibua dropped a third set tiebreaker at one singles to Donnie Pollard, but the other two "solid" lines, Omon and Hurlbert/Armstrong were again "money", though Hurlbert/Armstrong went to a third set breaker at line 2.

Kingwood now looks to be almost certain to make it to the semi-finals, where they will probably be joined by Austin and San Antonio.

The Hangovers pulled off a shocker, beating San Antonio 3-2. David B. and Grant Murphy both took their singles lines, and Whitsett and Bobo again dominated at line 2. Benzon/Green and Deluca/Teague both lost. San Antonio used Reader and Regmund in doubles and Hilderbrand again lost for them in singles.

Corpus beat Dallas 3-2 and can clinch with a victory over San Antonio tomorrow. Hangovers are still alive though, as San Antonio has a good chance to win tomorrow and who knows what kind of lineup Dallas will put out there tomorrow.

Rice's 4.0 team stayed alive mathematically, pulling out their second match against Lubbock by a 3-2 score. Quack Bui again dominated at one singles and Matt Evelt picked up a much needed win at line 2. Truc Tran redeemed himself by teaming with Ron Rexilius to clinch the match in a third set tie breaker.

As expected, both Houston 5.0 teams are having a tough time so far. Both teams lost their first matches. Dustin Phillips did dominate an overmatched opponent, and Arun Nanjappa but up a valiant effort against Rafael Omana. The Houston teams had to use players like Miguel Morales, Alain Tran, David Yang and Hernan Guevara, which just isn't good enough at the 5.0 Sectional level.


Some more results have come through. The Houston 4.0 team again waltzed to victory, this time over their NOHO brethren. Chris Towle and Eric Urban took a set for NOHO. Sarosh Ahmed trounced Greg Leiker at one singles and should still have some legs tomorrow. Jason Kern made an appearance at 2 singles and took out Dan Zebrowski.

SE Tex lost their first matchup against Fort Worth. Jason Cooney won at 1 singles against veteran Jerry Pham, but Pat Abshire could not win over Bobby Cocanougher at 2 singles. Chris Hunckler and Khang Quach won the other line for Beaumont.

My old doubles partner used to tell me: "Four solid guys, that's all you need." Kingwood is riding their four horsemen: the Dibuas, Hurlbert and Armstrong. They've been virtually unbeatable all year and again carried Kingwood to a hard-fought victory over Abilene this morning. Houston's Craig Smyser won at 2 doubles for Abilene over Hamilton and Wright. Adam Paschal continued his slump at line 3 doubles.

The Hangovers lack of singles strength cost them against a Corpus team that is not exactly known for its singles strength. Jody Deluca and David Guy both lost close two setters. "Ringer" David B. and Red Benzon couldn't pull out the third set breaker at one doubles, and the Hangovers suffered a surprising upset at the hands of Corpus. Whitsett/Bobo won easily at line 2, and Huffman/Ballesteros squeaked one out at line 3. The Hangovers have a huge mountain to climb in that rugged division if they're gonna' claw their way back into things.


For the first time in almost a decade I'm not in Dallas this year for Sectionals, so my knowledge is definitely second hand.

It's always been my experience that Friday is the day when teams can often be shorthanded, missing a key player or two that can't get off work. Sometimes these players will show up if the team is still in contention, and sometimes they don't.

Only a few early results are in but it's already interesting to see some of the names that are not in the lineups. I have no way of knowing if they are being held out for strategic reasons or are unable to attend.

The Rice 4.0 team lost its first match against Dallas 3-2. Wade Karel did not play, and Coach Hunt was forced to use Truc Tran at number two singles. Neither Strasser nor Swartley was in the lineup, and I doubt that those players would be held out against a champion from a major city. It's disappointing to see the Rice team go down without its best lineup.

Others that have been missing in action in the early results: SE Tex 4.0 Jason Reid, Austin 4.5 Bo Bowman.

Incidentally, the Austin 4.5 rolled to a ridiculously easy win over the Waco 4.5 team. Stuart Holland and Chad Case should have plenty of gas left in the legs for their afternoon matchup with SE Tex (Ssshhhwing-lite).

4.0 Update

The Hurricanes won their first match, which figured to be one of their toughest hurdles, 5-0 this morning. San Antonio provided little resistance as only Knutson/Wood at line 1 doubles lost a set. Coach Freeman used Janek at #1 singles and Ahmed at line 2. Both Knutson and Kern were in the doubles lineup, leaving Goldberg completely fresh for the 11 AM matchup against NOHO.

Rice's 4.0 team is on the court as we speak, playing against the Dallas city champs. A win may propel them into the favorites role in their flight. A loss would cripple their chances. Houston's 4.5 teams are heading to the courts now. More news later.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sectionals 5.0 Preview

With Austin's 5.0 team dropping out, Houston now has two representatives in the 5.0 division in Dallas: Lost Forest and Rice.

The Rice team has surprised me all year long, but they are very thin heading into Sectionals and it's hard to imagine that they will make much noise up there. They have ridden their horse (Arun Nanjappa) all year long, but the singles competition in Dallas will be much stiffer and I don't see him going unscathed in the Dallas heat, especially with his lack of weaponry. Soft-serving, consistent baseliners (David Pierson) have carried Houston teams to 5.0 Nationals in the past but I don't think Nanjappa is in Pierson's league and I don't think his supporting cast is as strong.

With Jorge Cuesta ineligible to play, Rice will have to rely on David Yang, Amit Garg, Ryan Kudva and Atsushi Fukunaga (if they're all available). Alain Tran and possibly Ira Jamshidi (I've not heard about his availability) could pitch in. But there's just not enough 5.0+ talent there to make any noise.

Though they were a second place team, the Lost Forest bunch may have more of a chance to do well. Hernan's teams have never really been good enough to excel at Sectionals in the past, and there's little reason to believe that this is the year they go all the way. Frederic Saint-Louis played only one match on the year...(UNCONFIRMED!) rumor has it he was a top 600 player in the world under a different name, but he will be unavailable in Dallas. Dustin Phillips will be a capable singles player for Hernan, and Bryan Taylor and Daniel Bello can certainly hold their own in doubles. If Robert Bickmore and Brian Montez make the trip, the team will be pretty solid on paper.

However, San Antonio has Max Dunaev as its singles player and no Houston player can touch him. Their team dropped just one line the entire season, and it's hard to see either Houston team taking two lines in one match from them. Admittedly, the entire San Antonio 5.0 league was filled with 4.5 players and 5.0's who were obviously tanking, so it's hard to put much stock in the near-spotless resumé.

Rafael Omana anchors the Fort Worth 5.0 team, and again he's going to be too much for Houstonians to handle. Oscar Gonzalez is a tough singles player for the Dallas wild card entry, and the Dallas City champs appear to be very strong in doubles, so 5.0 should be very interesting this year, but probably unsuccessful for our Houston teams.

Sectionals 4.5 Preview

Houston is sending two teams to Sectionals in 4.5, where they will be joined by a "Southeast Texas" team that is comprised of mostly Houstonians. There are only 3 flights in Dallas in the 4.5 division this season, so I am assuming that Sunday will include the three flight winners as well as the top second place team. Sets and games will be extremely important to earn that fourth spot on Sunday, so we will see teams playing their top lineups even after losing their first match.

Houston's champ, Kingwood, was placed in Flight II, where they will be joined by Wild Dallas, Abilene and the Valley. Abilene's team, which includes Houston resident Craig Smyser, does not appear to have the strength to win the division despite their success at the qualifying tournament. The Valley team is a fixture at Sectionals and has advanced to Nationals twice in the past decade. Both of those teams featured Ramiro Cuevas, however, who is not on this team. Jacob Casas, David Ceron and Ivan Leal are all competent singles players, but none packs the punch of Cuevas or Edward Couoh who anchored the 2004 team that made it to Nationals.

Kevin Conway's Dallas squad will be the big hurdle for Kingwood. Moonballer Wade Zimmerman, who completely frustrated Jody Deluca at Sectionals last year, did not play in the Dallas City playoffs, but will be a handful at Sectionals. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the serve and volleying style of the Dibuas if they match up. Conway has several other singles options: Clint Cash, Donnie Pollard and Todd Feldman have all had previous success at Sectionals. Andre Champagne has seen better days and will not play against Kingwood. Kole Frink is new to the team this year and has played singles in big matches. The Conway doubles players haven't changed much, though they've added superstar Kevin Durten. Feisty Brad Sweeney and Jon Stein will be factors, as will cap'n Conway.

I'd have to install Conway's bunch as the favorites in Division II, but Kingwood will be in the hunt and will also have a chance at that wild card slot.

The Hangover team was placed in a super-heavyweight flight, which doesn't bode well for the wild card slot as blowouts and easy matches will be extremely hard to come by. Rusty Branch's Dallas team, a great San Antonio squad and a decent Corpus team join the Hangovers in Flight III.

Corpus has had a lot of success with pretty much this same cast of characters throughout the years, but truth be told they're overmatched this time around. I'm not sure who they can throw out there in singles that can match up with the talent in this flight. Robert Whitehurst has played singles in the past, and Glenn Shandy has had his moments (beating Phi Huynh one year) but Corpus will be a nonfactor unless they are underestimated.

San Antonio's team is just stacked. James Regmund, Mark Hilderbrand and Thomas Reader are extremely strong in singles. I have a feeling Tejinder Somal is a total stud too. Mike Miller, Vince Giordanelli, Patrick Johnson and Nathan Lenss are very capable in doubles. Despite all of the talk about the Austin team, I think this San Antonio team is the team to beat.

The Hangovers definitely have a chance to beat the Dallas team. Wesley James is a tough singles player, but they seem to lack a strong second singles player. Their doubles is tough,
but I give the Hangovers a slight edge in that department if they come with a strong team.

I've been a bit out of the loop since City playoffs and don't really know anything about the health and availability of the Hangovers. If Grant Murphy's shoulder has healed, and if David B. is making the trip, they could be very dangerous. They don't have any superstar singles players, though, which could be their downfall. Still, they are very dangerous and could give any team, including San Antonio, a lot of trouble if things are clicking.

The Beaumont team, which includes Peter Rothe, Augusto Rodriguez, Chris Hunckler, Jason Cooney and David Hall, is in Division I with Austin, Fort Worth and Waco. Waco should be a non-factor.

Fort Worth has a decent team, with Rob Hurley, Bobby Cocanougher and Jerry Pham manning the singles slots. Hurley is their top player and has lost only to Justin Huffman this season. He will be tough to beat, but I don't see Fort Worth posing much of a challenge to the Austin team. They should battle with Southeast Texas for the second spot in the division.

The Austin team seems to be the consensus pick to make it to Nationals. They are loaded. Stuart Holland has barely broken a sweat this season, surrenduring just 12 games in 5 matches and yet avoiding 3 strikes disqualification despite having a high DNTRP coming into the season. Sometimes the rating system defies explanation. Chad Case has been almost untouchable this year as well, and has yet to lose a set in his nine matches while playing (in my opinion) in the toughest 4.5 league in the state. Fred Schlotterback, Torch Acosta and Sal Martinez are all perfectly capable of pitching in in singles if necessary. Bo Bowman and Eric Strawbridge are VERY tough in doubles. Can I revise my pick to make it to Nationals????

Sectionals 4.0 Preview

Houston will be well represented up in Dallas this season, particularly in the 4.0 division.

The Hurricanes have been placed in Flight I, as have some of their buddies on the NOHO squad. With the temperatures well into the triple figures on the hard courts, singles depth will be paramount, particularly in 4.0 where the flights are larger and more matches are played. The Hurricanes have an abundance of options: Ahmed, Janek, Kern, Goldberg and Knutson are all among the top 4.0 singles players around. Ahmend and Janek will probably not play doubles, but the other three and De Los Santos, Veilleux, Patton, Tran-Park and Wood will see considerable action.

Noho will not pose much of a threat to the Hurricanes. Leiker has a win over Janek but was humbled in their last matchup. Ken Weber may be the other singles option for NOHO, who have been weakened by some of their strongest players playing for Houston.

San Antonio will be the first matchup for the Hurricanes. They finished their regular season 16-0 and despite an absence of "big names" they should not be taken lightly. They may be the second strongest team in the flight. The Hurricanes can afford to use their strongest singles players and still not be too weakened for their second match on Friday.

The Hurricanes are a strong favorite to win their division. Corpus Christi and Southeast Texas (despite the presence of Jason Reid, who has won matches at Sectionals in 4.5 in previous years, and strong doubles player and Hurricane Kelly Shanks) should provide little resistance. A key for the Hurricanes will be keeping Sarosh fresh so that he will be able to play two tough matches on Sunday if necessary.

Rice also has a chance to make it to Sunday. Could we see yet another Rice/Hurricanes battle up in Dallas? If so, Rice will have to get through a division that includes the Dallas city champ. Luckily, it doesn't appear that this Dallas team is a juggernaut. Big city teams are always dangerous, but this appears to be a year where the talent was well-dispersed in the Metroplex, so this Dallas team is definitely not unbeatable. Team captain Bob Somabut often plays himself in singles, and I think he would be an underdog against the two Rice singles guys.

The big question with the Rice team is its singles depth. Quack Bui and Wade Karel have been stalwarts in singles this year...and though they're both in good shape it will be tough to play them in two tough singles matches on Friday and Saturday (and Sunday if necessary). Harold Graham is no spring chicken, but may be capable of stepping into the singles lineup for a match. John Swartley has not been used in singles in the USTA season, but I think that he MUST contribute in singles in Dallas if Rice is to advance to Sunday.

Bill Sanders, who captained Waco to a National championship last year, is back with an undefeated Waco team and is in Flight IV. On paper his team appears to be a notch or two below last year's team (no John Arvesen this time around), but keep an eye out for them anyway.

Sectionals Update

Hernan's Lost Forest 5.0 team has gotten a slot at Sectionals, taking the place of the Austin team which has pulled out.

I'll be back with a Sectionals preview a little later today.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Somewhat Off Topic

The Southern Section is the largest in the USTA, I believe. They had their Sectionals this weekend and the winner of the 4.5 division, Cary, NC, managed to win despite having only 7 players (defaulting line 2 singles) in the first 3 of their 4 matches in pool play. Those seven guys definitely came through under pressure in Mobile.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tentative Sectionals Schedule

For those of you in Dallas who are interested in checking out the matches of some of your fellow Sectional qualifiers while you're up there, here is the weekend schedule.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dallas City Playoffs

Dallas had their city playoffs this past weekend, so all of the heavyweight contenders have now been decided upon. I will sometime soon post my opinions on how the Houston teams will fare up in Dallas as well as giving a general opinion on the teams to beat up there.

In the 4.5 division in Dallas, it was business as usual. It's actually getting quite boring as seemingly every year Kevin Conway's crew and Rusty Branch's boys end up getting the two Dallas slots at Sectionals. The teams are always tough and the captains do a good job of assembling talent that can compete. The Dallas 4.5 league, in my opinion, doesn't have the strength and depth that Austin does, but every year the top two teams are among the serious contenders for Nationals.

Conway and Branch's teams have much the same cast of characters as in past years. Supposed "ringer" Kevin Durten of Conway's team won his first three doubles matches easily this weekend and dropped his meaningless doubles match in his team's last matchup. Conway also has a new singles player in Kole Frink. Neither Dallas team appears to be super-strong in singles, though Wesley James of Dallas Branch is very tough.

Truth be told, I know next to nothing about the 4.0 representatives from Dallas. No team really stood out this season. The two representatives, Collin County Somabut and Springpark Walters, finished in a 5 way tie for first place in one of Dallas' 4.0 divisions and hardly dominated the competition. I would think that the Hurricanes or Rice teams would match up well if they should meet the Dallas teams at Sectionals.

There were, by the way, a few disqualifications this season in the Dallas league, so the Black Sheep and Rice's 5.0 team should not feel as though they were the only teams victimized. 4.5 player Vu Le and 5.0 player Derek Pope were among those disqualified in the Metroplex. James Blake's half brother Chris Walker helped to lead Greenhill Bartzen to the Dallas 5.0 title. He and Nanjappa may have a lengthy battle if they butt heads at Sectionals.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Congrats to the City Champions

Congratulations to Kingwood and the Hurricanes as well as every other team that had a successful season. Every team measures their success differently.

Most of you are already aware of the results from yesterday, so my recap will be brief. Kingwood beat the Hangovers 3-2. The Dibuas swept the singles over Rios and Green. Both matches went to third set tiebreakers. Green and Rios are both fine players, but Omon and Odion will have to step it up a notch in Dallas, as there will be tougher players to deal with than Tim and Don. Hurlbert/Armstrong will be extremely tough to beat in Dallas but Kingwood's other doubles teams were definitely below Sectional level this past weekend. They missed Wright and Pekar but were still able to get the job done.

The Hangovers have to be happy with the Whitsett/Huffman team, who have really been clicking. David B. made his first appearance and won with ease. It'll be interesting to see if he will show up at Sectionals. Believe me, it can often be tough to get these types of players to travel up to Dallas if they don't have a real emotional committment to the team. Grant Murphy has rotator cuff trouble, but showed good team spirit in showing up for his team's matches. If he's healthy, I'd expect him to play in Dallas and the team can definitely use him.

The 4.0 finals were disappointing in that Rice didn't use Bui, Karel or Swartley and the Hurricanes stomped them 5-0. I've not seen the teams in the 4.0 wild card bracket, so it's possible that coach Hunt was content with finishing second. His team would definitely have been underdogs in the finals regardless. Only Strasser and Stasny managed a set in the City Championship match.

Despite the talk of no-ad scoring, third set tiebreakers and the effectiveness of city playoffs in general, I feel that Houston has sent its four best teams in 4.0 and 4.5. I'm certainly rooting for all four of our teams to do well up in Dallas and will give you my thoughts on things up there when I get a chance to analyze the brackets. The selfish part of me, the part that wants to keep my rating low, is hoping that every one of Houston's wins is a squeaker.

This is by no means my last post, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank some people. Cheryl and Diana deserve everyone's thanks. They put in a ton of hard work, braving the heat and the players' tempers and still always seem to have a smile on their faces. I hope everyone will also thank their captain for all of his effort/trouble. Also, thanks to anyone who gave me any information that I might have used on the blog. Things told to me in confidence remained secret, but there were definitely several people more in the know than I am who filled in some of my gaps.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Rematches galore

Tomorrow could be a day filled with rematches. It's virtually a certainty that the Hurricanes and Rice will be facing off for the third time this season. The Hurricanes have handled Rice both times, but this time the 4.0 city championship will be at stake. Likewise, we face the prospect of a fourth meeting between the Hangovers and Kingwood, but the Black Sheep still have a chance to earn a trip to the finals (and to Dallas).

The biggest matchup of the day in 4.0 was between Rice and Lakeside. To be honest, it was a bit of a disappointment from a fan's perspective. Lakeside was again without both Bret Hern and Eddie Perdomo and had to use Chris Mulgrew in singles. Quack Bui handled Mulgrew but Carl Poston took out Wade Karel to split the singles. Rice's doubles teams of Strasser/Rexilius, Nguyen/Tran and Lemus/Grahm all won their matches, with the Vietnamese duo the only one to drop a set. The much awaited matchup ended up being anticlimatic as Rice won easily, 4-1.

I thought about handing out some postseason "awards" or naming an "all pro" type of team but decided against it. However, if I could give out a "captain of the year" award, I would have to give it to Bill Hunt of Rice. Last year's team was loaded and came very close to going to Nationals. Rice lost 3 singles studs from that team: Yang, Monsigny and Hau, who (according to Hunt) went a combined 43-2 last year. This year he had a team that was basically one tiebreaker away from missing the playoffs, a team with no superstars, and yet they have again earned a trip to Sectionals. Well done.

The Hurricanes also basically clinched a trip to the finals. They trounced Lost Forest's Hackers 5-0, but did have to pull out some tough doubles matches (two third set tiebreakers). Inexplicably, Lost Forest defaulted line 2 singles and had a weak player at line 1. I guess their strategy was to try to sweep the doubles.

On paper, the 4.5 matches today were closer, as both ended 3-2, but there was little drama as the three wins came off the courts rather quickly in both matchups. Ssshhhwing figured to be the Hangovers biggest test, but they passed it with flying colors. Line 1 singles was a battle of lefties, and Don Rios' forehands were a little too much for Danny Vu to handle as Rios prevailed 3 and 6. Chris Hunkler handled Jody Deluca in two close sets, so everything came down to the doubles. Huffman and Whitsett dominated Rothe and Chec, and Green/Benzon squeaked out the first set and coasted in the second against Patterson and Hall. Justin Benoit and Mark Judson took out Allen Teague and Craig Bobo to make the score 3-2.

For all the criticism they took, the Hangovers also deserve some credit. They won their bracket without using either of the two players (David B. and Grant Murphy) that many people felt were "ringers". This certainly bodes well for the Hangovers in Dallas if those to are able to aid the cause at Sectionals.

The other 4.5 match between Kingwood and the Jedi Knights ended up 3-2 Kingwood. For the second year in a row, the doubles matchup between Hai Vu and Tom Caine had some drama and fireworks. Caine came out on top this year, winning the third set breaker with Lawton Park against Vu and Paschal. Ryan Cooper also salvaged a disappointing season by beating previously undefeated Omon Dibua in 3 sets. Dibua had won 4 of his 6 matches in a 3rd set breaker, but Cooper was able to counter the big serve and pull out the win. Odion had less trouble, trouncing Andre Dafel. Armstrong/Hurlbert and Kilshaw/Barrera both surrendured just four games to their overmatched opponents.

So, assuming Kingwood beats the Black Sheep tomorrow, (sooner or later my assumptions about the Black Sheep will be correct) we will see a fourth matchup between the two top teams. Apparently the draw in Dallas is easier for the city champion in both the 4.0 and 4.5 divisions, so there will be a lot riding on tomorrow's finals.

Midyear Ratings

Sorry to interrupt the excitement of the playoffs, but I thought I'd mention that the midyear ratings are out. These ratings are used for fall HTA leagues and things like the combo league. Remember, end of the year ratings can change greatly, even if a player plays no more matches this season. Ratings are highly dependent on how people do at sectionals or nationals. So, if you got bumped up midyear but some of your opponents don't fare too well at sectionals or even if the Texas teams at nationals do poorly, the ratings can and will cascade downward. Also, fall HTA results are not used in end of year calculations...so "tanking downward" in this fall's season will not help people to lower their rating for the 2008 season. Also, these ratings were derived using league results only. Players bumped up midyear may also get some "relief" when tournament ratings are included in the calculations.

On that note, I quickly perused the list and here is a quick and ugly unformatted list of some of the local players that I noticed had changed their ratings:

Now 5.0: Red Benzon, Atsushi Fukunaga, Lukas Jendek, Jonathan Magid

Now 4.5: Sarosh Ahmed, Sam Ahn, John Biers, Jorge Cuesta, Greg Dwyer, David Galvan, Brian Goldberg, Eddie Janek, Wade Karel, Jason Kern, Marlon Mazique, Don Obenrader, Barry Ouellette, Leland Putterman, David Romero, Charlie Shafer, Kevin Shannon, Chris Stanich, Peter Strasser, John Swartley, Derek Taylor, John Veilleux, Jay Vogt, Danny Weingeist

Now 4.0: Jason Freeman, Yukihito Honda, Lee Johns, Bjorn Krosby, Eric Kuo, J.R. Pogue

Speaking of Cuesta, I heard a rumor that the protest was decided and that he will not be allowed to play at Sectionals/Nationals but that his previous matches will stand. It's interesting that the computer found his level of play to be that of a 4.5 player.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Last night in 4.0

For me, the most interesting/intriguing matchup in 4.0 last night was the one between Rice and JCC. David Trevas had been virtually unbeatable this season against the relatively weak competition in JCC's division, and I was curious to see how he would fare against a younger Quack Bui out in the heat. Bui has faced some tough competition this season and had lost two of his last three heading into the playoffs. Quack had little trouble with Trevas, saving many points with his legs and making Trevas earn everything. Bui rolled two and four.

Jeff Johnson had played singles just once this season, giving Chancellor's Jerry Pham his only (until last night) singles loss of the season. However, Johnson and Pham both found out last night that the level of play in the Hangovers/Rice division was a bit tougher than what they were accustomed to. Wade Karel waxed Johnson two and two.

The doubles was a bit more competitive. Perhaps the heat took less of a toll on the JCC doubles players. At any rate, Peter Strasser and Ron Rexilius pulled out a third set victory at line one and Jonathan Hao Nguyen and Truc Tran won two close sets at line two. JCC Dudes Robert Lang and Joe Warren (playing the ad side??) crushed Byron Bonar and Daniel Young to salvage a line for the Dudes.

The big matchup between Rice and Lakeside will be Saturday morning at 11:30. Bui and Karel are fit, but will be matched up with tougher players (Hern and Perdomo?) than they saw last night. Lakeside won easily last night despite sitting the aforementioned Hern and Perdomo. Little used Christopher Mulgrew and Carl Poston handled the singles easily as Lakeside won 4-1.

The Hurricanes breezed (no pun intended) last night as well. Kris Knutson has been strictly a doubles player in league play, but has been dominating in tournaments and got the start at #1 singles. He capitalized on Phuong Le's backhand and was off the court in no time. Sarosh Ahmed also barely broke a sweat against Jerry Pham. Chancellor's lone bright spot was the marathon match at line one doubles. Fighting cramps at the end, Chancellor's Quan Vu and Kiet Nhan outlasted Bill Morris and Chris Reese in a match that lasted as long as any of the 7 pm singles matches. Kern/Veilleux and Patton/Tran-Park won straight setters.

The Hurricanes should have little trouble getting to the finals.

I have not looked at the Sectional groupings in either 4.0 or 4.5. In past years it has sometimes been advantageous to be the Wild Card team from Houston, which has made for some less than inspiring tennis on Sundays. I hope that is not the case this year. I'd like to see a true city champion crowned in both 4.0 and 4.5.

Last night in 4.5

First of all, I do have to eat some humble pie. I totally underestimated the Black Sheep team and have been underestimating them all year. I knew their singles were tough, but really thought they would be outclassed in the doubles, but they stepped up to the plate....big time.

As expected, Lukas Jendek made quick work of Ryan Cooper. Jendek has been very solid all year. Luckily for the Black Sheep, he has been spared the same fate that befell his teammate Fukunaga. That one-two punch could have been deadly for some of the other playoff teams this year.

Humberto Alzate gave Andre Dafel a battle, but came up just short. I was puzzled by the Jedi Knights decision to use Eric Kuo last night, but I don't know the availability of their other players. Kuo did not play well and the Knights dropped line one to Ristau and Dimitrijevic.

The Knights needed to sweep the last two lines to avoid the "upset", and I left Lee Leclear last night expecting them to do just that. The Black Sheep surprised me...they came close to taking BOTH of the last two lines. Veteran Chad Shaw and Tochi Mochizuki won the clincher with a third set victory over fiery Tom Caine and Tom Courson. While the Black Sheep lost the other doubles line, they did put up a battle and got a good contribution from a player, Chris Roberts, who had not seen much action this season.

The Jedi Knights will face Kingwood on Saturday morning. In this format, with just three teams in a round robin group, it's DEFINITELY within the realm of possibility that all three teams could finish 1-1, so the Knights are still in the hunt, but will have to play better to put a dent in Kingwood. The Black Sheep now have control of their own destiny...but if they are truly without Jendek on Sunday they will be in deep trouble.

The Hangovers-Sugar Creek score has not been reported. The Hangovers went with a singles lineup of Deluca and Rios against Sugar Creek's Bedient and Cooney. Erik Bedient fought gamely despite a shoulder he injured doing pullups. He was unable to hit topspin forehands and basically looked to chip and charge at every opportunity. It was a very athletic match with Deluca running down balls and Bedient quickly covering passing shots, but Erik didn't have a chance. I think the score was 6-2, 6-2. Jody played well and is hitting his backhand better than in past seasons (when he really didn't have a consistent topsin backhand).

Jason Cooney fought gamely, consistently returning powerful forehands from Don Rios and having his moments in the second set. Rios looked to be steamrolling Cooney at one point early on, but Jason hung in there and made Don work. Rios won a fairly long match, though I'm not sure if it was straight sets or went to three.

The first doubles match on was a good one: Benzon/Whitsett and Day/Burrmann. As has been mentioned here, Day and Burrmann are one of the top 4.5 teams in the city. Those who mentioned John Day has having one of the top kick serves in the city were on the mark. He consistently came up with service winners late in the second set and in the third set tiebreaker. Whitsett was having trouble with his backhand return. It was an even match but Day and Burrmann were just a little better in the clutch and pulled out the tiebreaker.

I left while the other two matches were just getting underway, but it's fairly safe to say that the Hangovers were heavy favorites to take at least one of them. Thach Ho and Tim Marco took on Tim Green and David Guy, who made a rare doubles appearance. Ken Douds and Stephen Epstein battled Andres Ballesteros and Peter Hansen.

I have to give some props to Green and Burkhart (assuming they pulled out one of those last two doubles matches) as they managed to work in several players who I thought might not get into the lineup this weekend. I have a feeling they'll use a stronger doubles lineup against Ssshhhwing on Saturday, though it wouldn't shock me if they went with the same singles duo. Both of those singles guys looked to be on their games last night.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thursday Night 4.0 Preview

There are four matches in 4.0 on Thursday night. With two round robin brackets of four teams each, the 4.0's must play 3 round robin matches while their 4.5 counterparts have just two.

The first match on the docket is Lakeside against Cinco Ranch Comets. The Comets are a very poor team with only 4 players rated 4.0 on their roster. It will be a blowout.

There's a nice matchup between the JCC Dudes and Rice. Rice is not nearly the team they were last year, and just barely snuck into the playoffs. The JCC Dudes were 9-1 on the season, but won fewer lines than second place Chancellor's. The Dudes have been relying on their singles and then taking a doubles line here and there. David Trevas is 8-1 on the year at #1 singles. Jeff Johnson played singles just once but beat a very good player in Jerry Pham on that occasion. Will he be used in singles or doubles on Thursday? He and John Blumenthal have been money at #1 doubles as well. I think the Dudes will stick with Paul Summers at 2 singles (his only loss is to Pham) and keep their top doubles team intact. Rice will go with Karel and Bui in singles. Expect a three setter or two in the singles matchups. I think Rice will have the edge at 2 and 3 doubles, but this matchup should be very tight. Too close for me to call.

The Hurricanes will take on Chancellor's. I expect the Hurricanes will have some of their out of towners here to make sure nothing goes awry in this tough first match. Some of the Chancellor's insiders are very confident in the abilities of Dimitri Ang, who has recently joined their squad. Despite having some quality players, I really can't see Chancellor's pulling off the upset. They will make the Hurricanes sweat at a couple of lines, but just don't have enough strenght throughout the lineup to be a real contender.

The last matchup features first place Sienna Plantation and runner up Lost Forest Hackers. Sienna has skated through a ridiculously easy group in the regular season and I suspect they will be overmatched in this one.

Thursday Night 4.5 Preview

Men's 4.5 playoffs kick off on Thursday night with one match being played in each of the two round robin groups.

In group I, Sugar Creek takes on the Hangovers. The Hangovers are the heavy favorites to win their group. With such a large roster of talented players, it will be interesting to see who gets "left out" in city playoffs or whether the Hangover captains will try to work some players into the lineup since there's not a huge dropoff when they put in their second string. On paper, the matchup with Sugar Creek may be the easier of their two scheduled matches, but I certainly don't think they're taking Ken Douds team lightly.

The question, really, is: Can Sugar Creek put out a lineup that is capable of taking three lines? Jason Cooney hasn't played much this season, and may not be in top form, but he is certainly a dangerous opponent and with the third set being decided on a tiebreaker he is more than capable of beating some of the Hangovers players. Likewise, Burmann and Day (if they play together) showed last year (when they took out Green and Armstrong) that they can hang with the best 4.5 teams in the city. The question, as I see it, for coach Douds is: Do I put Burmann with Marco and put Day at #2 singles and hope that I can somehow take two singles and one line of doubles? John Day has a nice tennis history, was a very good junior way back when, but has not performed well in singles this season and hasn't given anyone any reason to believe he's capable of beating any of the Hangovers players. But still it may be Sugar Creek's best chance. I don't see any of Sugar Creek's second tier doubles guys (Douds, Epstein, Ho, Matthews, Bedient, et al ) giving trouble to even the Hangovers fourth or fifth best doubles teams.

The other 4.5 matchup is between the Black Sheep and Jedi Knights. Again, lineup manipulation (stacking) may come into play here as I think the Black Sheep need to find a way to "manufacture" three wins. I think Jendek is the best singles player on the court and should find a way to handle Cooper or Dafel or whoever else the Knights trot out there. Alzate is 4-1 in singles this year, but his best wins are against David Heiland and Erik Bedient. He also lost to Heiland. Those players are all a notch below Dafel and Cooper, so Alzate will be an underdog, but still capable of pulling off the upset.

If the Knights bring anything close to their best doubles lineup, I don't see the Black Sheep being favored in any line no matter how they shift things around. Hansen, Shaw, Toung, Dimitrijevic, Honda and Ristau are just not in the same league as the Coursons, Moss, Park, Crawford, Sebesta and Caine. Traditionally the Knights have been lacking players come playoff time...that may be the Black Sheep's best hope.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Close shave

The makeup matches are just about completed, and thus far little has changed. Unless something crazy happens, the playoff lineup will remain pretty much as expected.

There was a very dramatic match in the 4.0 division last night. Last year's Sectional semifinalist Rice Saints faced the HTC Heat needing anything but a complete meltdown to secure the second spot in the city's toughest division. The Heat have underperformed this year. With two former 5.0's and several players who've made it to 4.5 sectionals they figured to make some noise this year, but injuries, travel and apathy had left them in desperate straits.

The Heat went into the match without their only real doubles player, Lee Joiner, and desperately needed to sweep the singles. John Biers edged Quack Bui and the city's slowest server, David Romero, had little trouble with Wade Karel. Reed/Dwyer easily dealt Hao Nguyen/Tran their first loss and Martinez/Delatorre upset Lemus/Gardner. Peter Strasser and Ron Rexilius easily got Rice on the scoreboard at line 2 doubles. So, it was a 4-1 win for the underdog heat and the teams ended up tied in lines won. Rice lost two fewer sets on the season and thus will battle Lakeside in citywides for that second slot at sectionals.

Cheryl groups the teams geographically and in 4.0 the third place team in the Hurricane/Rice division is often one of the stronger teams in the city. Last year's Gladiator team was probably the third strongest team in Houston yet missed out on the playoffs. While that may sound unfair to some, I think it makes for a much more interesting regular season where every line or even set can potentially be meaningful.

In other news, I've not heard anything about the defaults causing a realignment of the standings in the Hangovers/Kingwood 4.5 division. It looks as though the Hangovers may have ended up in the pool with the two other first place teams. A heavyweight division for sure.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Is the "grid" meaningless?

With the rash of protests recently, all of which have been either partially or totally unsuccessful, I'm left to wonder if I should just instruct my players to ignore the "grid" and/or lie on their self-rating questionaire in the future. This is NOT a commentary on whether Cuesta or Nanjappa or Guerrero should be playing at the 5.0 level or 5.5 level. When the self rating guidelines were in their infancy, we captains were led to believe that they were iron-clad. That is clearly not the case. There is obviously no penalty in trying to sneak someone in.

I tried today to protest some players in another city who I felt were obviously out of level and clearly violated the self rating guidelines. Quite blatantly, I might add. I was told "other considerations" affected the decision and that they would be allowed to play at their current rating. Huh????

I've changed my opinion on protests and self rating. Initially I was of the opinion that some leeway should be allowed for extenuating circumstances but I've changed my thinking on that. A strict adherence to the guidelines will take away any perception of impropriety. I must admit I'm now sitting here wondering WHY my protest was ignored. There is supposedly a committee which helps Tosha Smith with her protests. Why are these names not public? I can't help but get the feeling that these things are decided in smoky back rooms and are based, at least in part, on who knows who and not on players' playing history.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

More random thoughts

What a tumultuous year it's been. I must admit that personally I'm not too crazy about all of the protesting that has been going on. Apparently the San Antonio 4.5 team started the trend last year and it's snowballed a bit out of control here in Houston this season. Most of the "rumors" that have been floated in the comment section here have turned out to be true. It appears that Guerrero and Cuesta will be DQ'd, which will again turn the 5.0 division upside down. In a way it's too bad. The Rice team had overcome a lot of obstacles and had needed contributions from some unlikely sources in order to get to the top, but it appears their success may be fleeting. Posters have mentioned that Daniel Bello of Lost Forest is also a division I college player, but he is a benchmark and is not protestable.

I really hope that I (or this blog) am not responsible for this rash of protests. That was certainly not my intention, though if USTA League tennis gets "cleaned up" somewhat then I guess something good may come out of it in the long run.

I understand there is a bit of a dispute about the Kingwood/Hangovers division and some halfhearted efforts to play matches against Kingwood. I did notice that one scorecard had just two lines competing. Unless things have changed or my memory is faulty, I thought that three lines needed to be contested for a match to be playable. I'm not sure if this will cause previous results to be altered/invalidated. Cheryl certainly is earning her paycheck this year.

I have been doing this league thing for a long time and don't remember defaults coming into play in determining regular season playoff qualifiers or division winners. The situation often arises in city playoffs when a team has no chance of advancing with a match still remaining. Most teams have put forth the effort to play competitively in that situation, but on occasion some teams have chosen to drop out.

Get out there in the heat and play or run, y'all. The combination of nerves, pressure and scorching temperatures in the daytime tennis of city playoffs and sectionals can make it less about tennis and more about conditioning.

Friday, June 29, 2007


What a clutch performance by the Rice 5.0 team last night. As noted in previous comments, former UT-Pan Am number one Jorge Cuesta was placed in the singles lineup last night and took out 49 year old slicer/dicer Ward Jannuzzi in straight sets. That result was not surprising. Rice sweeping the doubles WAS surprising. Interestingly enough, I just noticed that Cuesta had double bageled one of Jannuzzi's fellow Met teaching pros back when he was in college

Former 5.5 player Craig Hiddleston was supposed to have an easy time of it in 5.0 this year but has been a disappointment. A recent marriage and a lack of court time have contributed to his subpar performance. Amit Garg and Atsushi Fukunaga (who clearly CAN hang in 5.0, as most of us already knew) took out Hiddleston and Leland Putterman in two tiebreakers.

Line two doubles featured three 4.5 players as Henry Li and Ryan Kudva took out David Toney and Danny Weingeist two and five. Henry hasn't gotten much court time in 4.5 this year, but still came up big in a match Rice HAD to have.

So, Rice got the 3-0 result they so desperately needed last night. If there are no protests, the Met will need a 3-0 win in their makeup with Lost Forest in order to tie Rice in lines won. Unless my calculations are incorrect, it appears they would have to lose no sets and less than nine games total in order to come out on top on the court.

In other news, it appears that the Hangovers somehow managed to get David Bvunzabawaya into two matches. I haven't heard any details on that, but it does seem odd.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


As is customary in spring and summer in Houston, we've had a lot of rain and there are numerous matches still to be made up. Citywide playoffs begin on July 12th, but there are still a few questions to be answered before then.

In 4.0, the second slot from Division I is still in question, as is the second slot in woeful Division II. In Division III there is still a mathematical possibility that Rice can be overtaken for the second spot.

With the playoffs in 4.0 having two four team groups, it appears that Group I will feature Lakeside, JCC Dudes and Rice. Group II will have the Hurricanes, Chancellor's and a competent team from Division I (Lost Forest Hackers or Copperfield Copperheads). The Hurricanes have been rewarded for their season-long excellence and will not have a great team standing in their way.

In 4.5 it appears that Ssshhhwing will win Division I, though with a makeup against Jedi Knights there is still the possibility they will finish second. I haven't done the math on how the Kingwood/Hangovers division will end up. It MAY even depend on the finish of the Green/Dibua slugfest that was so rudely interrupted a few weeks back. Division III appears to be Sugar Creek in first place and the Black Sheep in second.

I'm making assumptions, of course, but assuming Kingwood comes out on top and that Ssshhhwing hangs on, the playoffs will have Group I: Ssshhhwing, Hangovers and Sugar Creek and Group II: Jedi Knights, Black Sheep and Kingwood. Seems like that first group is pretty tough.

In 5.0, there is a big match slated to go tonight as the Met and Rice finally square off in their makeup match. A win by Rice will make the Met's final match against Lost Forest quite interesting. (I'm assuming here that there are no disqualifications on the way) If Rice wins tonight by a 2-1 score, they will be just one line ahead of the Met and will be in dire straights. A 3-0 win by Rice will make the Met-Lost Forest makeup verrrrry interesting. I'm not sure if Rice has the manpower to pull off a 3-0 shocker tonight.