Thursday, April 12, 2007

2006 Recap

This blog intends to provide a look at the USTA League Tennis season here in Houston, focusing mainly on the men's 5.0, 4.5 and 4.0 divisions. With the season starting in a week, I thought I'd start with a recap of the postseason last year in these divisions, including City Playoffs and Sectionals in Dallas.

City Playoffs

The 5.0 division never has enough teams to require an end of the year playoff. As usual, Hernan Guevara's Lost Forest team dominated the competition (there really wasn't much last year) and qualified for Sectionals. Eliot Lopez again anchored the singles lineup. Lost Forest has pretty much kept the same roster for several years and has had little success in Dallas. Clearly they need a talent upgrade to make a little noise at Sectionals.

The 4.5 division provided drama as usual. For the fifth consecutive season, the Mob Squad qualified for Sectionals. Kingwood received the wild card spot. The Mob Squad won the City Championship in the final match with Kingwood despite losing 3-2. Danny Vu pulled out a clutch win against old teammate Phi Huynh to allow them to be city champions based on sets lost. Sugar Creek also managed to go 2-1, pulling off a huge upset against Kingwood in the process. Burmann and Day took out the seemingly unbeatable duo of Green and Armstrong to provide the margin of victory.

The 4.0 division has the biggest field, with 8 teams qualifying for City's. Jason Freeman's Reiland Rhinos waltzed through their bracket without even losing a line. In the other bracket, Rice got by perennial power Lakeside and won their bracket while dropping just two lines. Both Rice and the Rhinos were in the same flight during the regular season (as well as the Gladiators, a team at least as strong as any other in 4.0). Cheryl grouped the teams geographically, but clearly the flights were extremely imbalanced. It looks as though that may again be the case in 4.0 this season.

In the championship match, Rice beat the Rhinos, taking both singles in the process. Sarosh Ahmed is almost unbeatable at this level, but David Yang took him down in 3, providing the winning margin. Both teams would make it up to Sectionals.


In 5.0 Lost Forest went 3-2 in the round robin format. Lopez was 3-1 in singles, but the doubles didn't pull their weight as Lost Forest won less than half their lines. Austin was clearly the best team in the field, and advanced to Nationals.

In 4.5 the Mob Squad fared disastrously as its two best singles players decided not to make the trip to Dallas. The Mob went 1-2, winning a meaningless match against a very poor team.

Kingwood was placed in a tough bracket, with both the Dallas and Austin champs in their bracket. Had they pulled out the City playoffs, they would have gotten a much easier bracket. Still, Kingwood managed to beat Beaumont and won a huge match with Austin, losing both singles but sweeping the doubles. That set up a match with Dallas for a trip to the final 4. Unfortunately, Dallas had too much and won the first three matches completed, retiring in the other two.

In 4.0, the Rhinos were without their top player, Ahmed, who was getting married. John Cox, Brian Goldberg and Eddie Janek picked up the slack and they won their bracket without losing a match and advanced to the final four. Rice's singles players (Yang, Monsigny, and Phong Hau) cleaned up in their bracket, and they breezed through to the semis.

Without Sarosh, the Rhinos didn't have quite enough firepower and lost 3-2 to Corpus. Brian Goldberg lost a 3 setter that might have been won otherwise. Rice was overmatched by a Waco team that went on to win Nationals. Three of the first four off were losses (the other line was trailing badly) and only David Yang pulled his match out.


  1. Hey Hacker,

    Nice blog. As captain of the Waco 4.0 guys last year, maybe I can add my two cents. The only thing I would challenge about your recap it the "trailing badly" part. The way I remember it, we won the first set, were down a break in the second, when three other wins turned in, so our guys retired to save strength for the final. We heard a couple of stories about the Houston guys, not sure if either are true. The first is that Phong Hau had to have two IVs the night before, after playing four singles matches in 100+ degrees. I was afraid of David Yang, so I switched the singles to try to split them instead of lose both. It worked, but if the Phong story is true, then we would have split anyway. The other story is that one or more of the Houston guys overslept (it was a 7:00 AM match) and so we got to face a less-than-optimal lineup. Anyway, I think Jason Freeman's team is the one to beat this year. I see them going to nationals and maybe bringing it home to Texas again.

  2. Thanks for the correction tick. And the information/story. Jason Freeman's team is excellent. He is a superb captain. I have little doubt they will make it out of Houston. How well they do beyond that depends in great part on the players they've recruited from out of town. I'm not familiar with some of them, so I don't know if they'll improve his team at all. His team DOES seem to a have a couple of minor weaknesses.

  3. I lost that 3 setter at Sectionals which did upset me which could have gotton us into the finals, even though it was my only singles loss. Sarosh might have won it otherwise as you stated, but the guy was pretty good and we will never know.
    I have to say I do like the blogging. I'ts pretty interesting.