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.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Sorry y'all. I have limited computer access this week and next. I was glad to see that no controversy had erupted while I was away. Hahaha

There were just a few matches of any importance whose scores have been reported. In 4.0's largest division, the two main contenders for the second (behind Lakeside) playoff spot went at it in a makeup match as Lost Forest Hackers slipped past the Copperfield Copperheads 3-2. Copperfield's strategy of putting Jack Maxwell in singles and Sam Ahn in doubles backfired, as they lost both lines. Lost Forest has just one loss but still has to play Lakeside. They are ahead of the Copperheads by two lines won, with Bear Creek still in the picture.

Not much of interest in 4.5 yesterday. Rich Ryu gave Omon Dibua a battle but the rest of the Yutts went down meekly in a 5-0 loss to Kingwood. Tor Krosby was did not playfor the Yutts. West Side's No Way Out had almost no chance to beat Ssshhhwing as they had to default two lines. Michael Chec made his first singles appearance for Ssshhhwing, easily handling captain Richards.

Rice's 5.0 team did not handle the absence of Arun Nanjappa very well, getting shut out by Lost Forest. Amit Garg tried the singles role and dropped a tough three setter to Dustin Phillips. I haven't heard the results of the Met-Teague matchup, but it's fairly safe to assume that the Met is in the driver's seat for a trip to Sectionals. Hernan and Lost Forest could still make things interesting, but that's a story for another day...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This Week on the Courts

Wow. It must have been a slow Wednesday at work. The comments were coming rapid fire. I do track the visitors to this site...interestingly enough we do have some visitors from the USTA offices in New York. Perhaps some of the venting has at least reached the ears of someone in a position to do something about it. Don't get your hopes up.

Even though there are a bunch of interesting matches this week, the one I'm most curious about is in the 5.0 division. The Met is taking on Teague. Teague is out of things, but with Arun's "suspension", the Rice team is vulnerable and is in the awkward position of relying on the team that protested them. If Teague were to put out one of its strongest lineups the Met would be hard-pressed to beat them. As we've seen, Teague has not often fielded a top flight team, but I'll be curious to see if they put out any effort to help out the Rice team. I'm getting off the subject a bit, but one year my team was in a similar situation: two teams were slated to head to Sectionals from Houston and I needed the team that had clinched to kick a$$ in their final round robin match in city playoffs. I had some friends on the team and begged and pleaded for them to play a strong lineup. It was not one of my finer moments or something I'm proud of. However, they did field a strong lineup and we managed to make it to Sectionals. Later on their captain told me it was a very tough decision for him. On the one hand he felt it was fair to everyone that he put a competitive lineup out there every match, but on the other hand he had lower level players who had played all year and would love to have gotten a chance to play in city playoffs. Anyway, I probably never thanked him enough for his fairness. Thanks again. Too often we hear the negatives about League Tennis, but there are a lot of positive stories out there as well.

There's an important match in 4.0 Division II between Chancellor's and Briargrove Park. Both teams have two losses and the loser may be on the outside looking in for city playoffs. The first meeting of the two teams was rained out, so this is not necessarily a do or die situation. Chancellor's has added Dimitri Ang, a very good 4.0 player, so their roster is considerably stronger than it was early in the season.

In 4.5 Division I, Ssshhhwing again takes on West Side No Way Out. Ssshhhwing handled them pretty easily the first time, but Alex Bitoun and Peter Hill were not in the lineup in that one.

Kingwood looks to take care of business against the Yutts, who are still alive, at least mathematically, for a playoff berth. The Yutts had the misfortune of being in the same division as two heavyweights this year, but do have a lot of talent on their team.

I'm also curious to see if Men In Black have packed it up for the season. If so, the Hangovers will not be able to get some of their studs eligible for playoffs.

In other news, it appears that the Rice-Black Sheep makeup match has been entered as all defaults and a victory for Scott Carr's boys. Very strange, considering that a playoff berth was being heavily contested between the two of them. I wonder if there's a story there....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Interesting Roster Addition

Red/Tim's Hangover team has added a stud. David Bvunzawabaya, former satellite player from Zimbabwe with a computer 4.5 rating will certainly put them in the hunt for a return trip to Nationals.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Random Musing

A computer ranked friend of mine who's been whipping up on the competition this season asked me the other day if he should "tank" a match. He was worried about a three strikes violation. Putting aside the ethics of the situation (I DO have SOME ethics, believe it or not), I told him "You have nothing to worry about".

My own personal opinion is that the "three strikes rule" is virtually nonexistent for computer rated players. The Black Sheep have found out that self-rateds are a different animal, but I'm here to tell you that not only are computer rated players untouchable from a protest standpoint, but they also don't need to throw games/sets/matches to keep their ratings for the current season (the following season is a different story).

Check out the records of a few of these folks that I stumbled upon this morning while checking out some teams across the state:

Chad Case, 7-0 against top competition in the very tough Austin 4.5 league. Closest match thus far was 13 games to 6.

Jason Kern, who plays on our own Hurricane team in addition to his Fort Worth team. 10-0 in doubles with just one set surrendured. Additionally is 15-0 in doubles in tournament play this year.

Ronnie Blake, rated 4.0. Undefeated in his 4 4.5 matches in addition to an 8-0 4.0 record with nine of his sets being 6-0 or 6-1.

Thomas Skowronek, playing for the Austin 4.0 champ. 8-0, no sets lost, closest match 12 games to 6.

You get the picture. Rule #1: If you're computer rated, you can kick a$$ and take names and you have NO worries about a three strikes violation.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Not much action

There wasn't much tennis played last night, obviously. Somehow Lee Leclear escaped the deluge and the Hurricanes managed to get their match played. The JCC dudes played indoors and again were victorious. The big 5.0 matchup between the Met and Rice was not moved indoors.

Sugar Creek and the Black Sheep managed to play last night as well. Interestingly, Sugar Creek came with (in my opinion) something close to its best lineup and it was still not enough to handle Scott Carr's boys. Erik Bedient finally made his appearance, but both he and Jason Cooney were beaten in the singles by Humberto Alzate and Lukas Jendek. Carr wisely sacrificed himself at line one doubles and put a stronger team at line 2.

As I'm sure many of you have heard, there has been a decision on the protests in the 5.0 division. My information is second hand, but I understand that Arun Nanjappa will not be allowed to play the rest of the regular season, but none of his previous matches will be defaulted and he WILL be eligible should his team qualify for Sectionals. They will have their hands full getting there without him, but they've battled the odds successfully all season long.

The Dustin Phillips protest was denied. I looked again at the self rating guideline sheet and I must admit I had initially missed the fact that a JUCO player is allowed to self rate at 4.5. My apologies. Phillips is apparently a great player, and will no doubt be moved up when the computer ratings kick in, but it appears to me that he has self rated within the guidelines of the USTA. I have no knowledge of his junior rankings and whether THOSE would mandate a higher rating, but even a nationally ranked juco (I believe he was #33 last year) can self rate at 4.5.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Thursday Preview

As the season nears a close, "meaningful" matches are few and far between. Most of the top teams are gearing up for playoffs and sectionals. Top captains often use the last few weeks to get all of their players into two matches. This is the point in the season where we often see some "questionable" match scores for player protection as well. Some key players and recent additions in 4.5 (Benzon, Hai Vu, Jannuzzi, Rios) are still ineligible for playoffs. I believe the rule has changed: It is now necessary for players to have PLAYED two matches, as opposed to being "written in" on a default match. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong on that.

In 5.0 there is a good matchup (on paper) as Rice takes onThe Met this week. I'm not privy to the outcome of the protests which were allegedly filed, but up to now no changes have been reflected on tennis link. It's quite possible that Rice is still in the driver's seat for the trip to Dallas. If David Yang has any info on the matter I/we would love to hear it. The Met has a roster of just eight people and has been a bit shorthanded of late. They were forced to use David Mantor in singles last week. There was a rumor floating around that Nanjappa would be disqualified for the rest of the season but no previous matches would be affected. If this is true and the Met is again at less than full strength, Rice could continue on its surprising march to Sectionals.

As a total aside, I found it very surprising that Lost Forest chose to play Dustin Phillips last week against the Met with protests supposedly being lodged against him and Nanjappa. If Arun's matches had been forfeited, Lost Forest would have been right back in it, yet they played a player who was also being protested? Strange decision, if you ask me. Maybe they had nobody else?

There are two matches of some interest in 4.5 as teams jockey for the second playoff slot in their divisions. Perennial playoff fixture Jedi Knights travel to Westside to play No Way Out in a battle of two teams with just one loss. The Knights look to have the stronger team on paper, but will have to be sharp to pull out a victory. Ryan Cooper should earn his first victory this week as I think he is too strong for Hale, Bitoun or whoever else Westside puts up against him.

Sugar Creek also looks to put a dent in the playoff hopes of the other WestSide team, the Black Sheep. With Fukunaga and Jendek the Sheep might have been an interesting sleeper in the city playoffs, but their lack of depth has really cost them.

In 4.0 there's a close race for the two spots in the largest division. Lakeside still remains unbeaten, but faces Lost Forest's Hackers on Thursday. The Hackers have just one loss and are tied for second place. Lakeside has always had the reputation for being strong in doubles, but the three headed singles monster of Hern, Perdomo and Poston is undefeated on the season. Look for them to put a dent in the Hackers' playoff hopes.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Thursday's matches

The big matches last night were in the 4.5 division. The Jedi Knights and Ssshhhwing finally met face to face to determine a favorite for the Division I crown. Ssshhhwing came to the table a bit shorthanded, with Peter Rothe out of town and Ward Jannuzzi playing 5.0, so taking the singles was paramount with their weakened doubles lineup.

When we see a new name and a blowout victory in his first match, eyes are opened. King Bonaay turned out to be a one hit wonder, apparently, as Chris Hunckler moved him from side to side in a one sided victory. Ryan Cooper was frustrated by veteran lefty Danny Vu yesterday, going down four and two and still winless on the season. Cooper was upset by a line call down 5-1 in the second and tried to start a fight, but cooler heads prevailed. Cooper played well at the Coke this year and was a strong singles player in 2004, beating people like Chris Garcia and Ted Phoummarath but has yet to find his form in this league season. He's still a dangerous player.

In doubles, both Coursons got the job done for the Knights, who took lines one and three, but Augusto Rodriguez and Michael Chec easily handled Andre Dafel and Lawton Park at line 2. It's good to see Dafel back on the court. He's still recovering from his injuries, but looks to be coming along quite nicely. I'm sure we'll see him and Cooper playing singles for the Knights in City Playoffs.

Round Three of the Kingwood/Hangovers battle went to Kilshaw's crew. Jimmy put the Dibuas out on the singles courts and relied on his other doubles guys to get the job done. Odion took out David Guy and Omon and Tim Green were engaged in an extremely tight match where both players were rushing to the net at every opportunity when the lights were cut off. (It's annoying that the guy behind the counter can't cut us a little slack) It was a nice change to see a true serve and volley singles match. Kingwood had already won 3 lines.

I'm not sure of the exact doubles matchups, but I believe that Hurlbert and Wright beat Bobo and Whitsett and Pekar and Armstrong took out Teague and Deluca. It came as little surpise to anyone that Red Benzon was added to the Hangover's squad, and he teamed with David Huffman to beat Raymond Santiago and Adam Paschal in a heated match filled with fist pumping and shouting. Santiago may be the only doubles player on a top 4.5 team who stays back behind his serve, but it's hard to argue with his results thus far. You see a LOT more of the serve/stay back stuff at 4.0. A LOT more.

Speaking of 4.0, the JCC Dudes are probably better than I thought. Still probably not good enough to hang with the real big boys in City Playoffs, but not a walkover by any means. Chancellor's went with their best singles players, and both of them were swatted down as David Trevas dispatched Tom Le and Jerry Johnson crushed Jerry Pham. Chancellor's will now be in a dogfight for the second playoff spot in that Division.

Pretty much everything else last night went according to form. No word yet on the 5.0 match between Lost Forest and the Met, who MAY now be the two frontrunners for the berth to Dallas.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

On Court Stuff

With all of the drama between Rice and Teague in the 5.0 league I'd almost forgotten that there is actually some tennis to be played this week. The 5.0 standings are so questionable right now, but it's safe to say that the Lost Forest - Met match tonight could be very meaningful. There are too many possibilites to figure out what the standings will look like when all of these protests are decided.

The 4.5 division has some great matchups. First and foremost, we get the long-awaited battle between Ssshhhwing and Jedi Knights. Both teams remain undefeated. Both have escaped nail biters at Copperfield, but this is the first time I think we're going to really see what these teams are made of. Is King Bonaay the real deal? Who IS this guy anyway? Will Hunckler's 5.0 tournament successes be matched in 4.5 USTA league? Ward Jannuzzi has big matches this week with his 4.5 and 5.0 teams. Which team will he suit up for?

Of course, there's also chapter III of the Kingwood-Hangovers epic. Will it all come down to another Armstrong-DeLuca classic? Will Tim Green finally get the Kingwood monkey off his back? Have the Hangovers recent additions now made this a one-sided rivalry? Will there be more roster moves late in the day today? Time is rapidly running out for roster additions.

In 4.0 the JCC dudes face another hurdle in their quest to remain unscathed in the regular season with a rematch against Chancellor's. Chancellor's used Phuong Le in singles in the first battle and his backhand let him down. I'd expect Jerry Pham and Tom Le to get the call in singles today as Chancellor's shoots for a singles sweep and scraping out a doubles line. A Chancellor's loss will leave them in a desperate battle for second place.

I neglected to mention Lakeside's big win over Copperfield's Copperheads last week in 4.0 division I. The Copperheads still have the inside track on the second playoff spot. They're tied with Lost Forest's Hackers but the Hackers have yet to play Lakeside. The Hackers and Copperheads were rained out earlier in the season. The makeup match may have a playoff berth riding on it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Hypothetical question.

If you've been playing league for years, you may not be familiar with the "self rate" questionaire. Nowadays, if you enter the USTA league without a rating, you are allowed to self rate and are prompted by a series of player history questions to ascertain whether you've self rated too low.

Anyway, there is a situation which may arise that is somewhat interesting. There are a few players in Houston who have obviously lied on their self rating questionaires. Their playing history should mandate that they be rated higher than they are, based on the player guideline sheet

Anyway, I think it's pretty clear that if a player lies and plays below the level he SHOULD be playing, all of his matches should be defaulted. A player who should be playing 5.5 plays 5.0...automatic disqualification. However, what if a player lies on his questionaire and gets a 4.5 rating when he should be rated 5.0 and then never plays at the 4.5 level, playing only 5.0? Should his dishonesty alone get him DQ'd and his team punished?

Clearly, the self rating system is where a vast majority of the out of level players are coming from. There are some players in Houston who may be protested. The above scenario may come into play and I'm not totally sure where I stand on the issue of a player misrepresenting his history but never playing below his "true" level. Thoughts/comments?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Waco notes

Congratulations to all of the local league players who did well in the major zone in Waco this past weekend.

Jason Freeman and Brock Berilgen won the 3.5 doubles.

The Hurricanes' duo of Kern and De Los Santos won the 4.0 doubles and teammate Eddie Janek lost in the finals of the 4.0 singles.

Kingwood's Odion Dibua took home the 4.5 singles title.

Ssshhhwing's Chris Hunkler again beat Jason Gound in the 5.0 singles but ran out of steam in the finals after playing seven matches in two days.

Friday, June 1, 2007


I received an email regarding self rated players and their guidelines. Here is a link to the matrix.

I must admit there is some interesting stuff there.

Oh, since I'm in "educating the public" mode, ntrp calculation is so misunderstood by almost everyone. This is the best explanation I've come across. Maybe 1% of you will care enough to read it fully (it's not exciting reading), but this should answer any questions about just how the rating is determined.

Last night in 4.5

Not much noise last night in 4.5. In Division I, Ssshhhwing again waltzed past an overmatched opponent. Due to rain and scheduling, we've still not seen a matchup between the Jedi Knights and Ssshhhwing. Last week the Jedi Knights broke out a new singles player, King Bonaay, who I've not seen play and seems to have no playing record. Andre Dafel has still not played...will Bonaay and Cooper be the Knights singles duo in big matches? Who will Ssshhhwing counter with? Danny Vu has been spotless thus far, crushing "Consolation" Kallus last night. (I can't take credit for the nickname, and it's not even accurate according to his record this year. But it does have a certain ring to it...) Will my supposed "man crush" Hunckler make it back into the lineup after last week's stumble? Flad Patterson made it into Ssshhhwing's lineup last night. They've got a BUNCH of options for a big match...Peter Rothe will have his hands full making a decision, but will it matter when the Hangovers firm up their roster?

Speaking of the Hangovers, they took out a talented YUTTS squad last night. Craig Bobo and new stud Ben Whitsett beat the talented duo of Ty Priest and Rich Ryu in straight sets. Once Whitsett gets a little more match tough he'll be another great option for the Hangover captains. Allen Teague and Jody Deluca won easily. (I mentioned that just to get in the obligatory Allen Teague comment) Grant Murphy lost to Tor Krosby.

Kingwood whipped Crasto's Men in Black team, which barely fielded enough players and scraped out just nine games total.

Finally, I'll give a passing mention to Division III. Winless Ball Busters against undefeated Sugar Creek figured to be a mismatch. Perhaps coach Douds was trying to "work some people into the lineup" as neither he nor Burrmann played. The result: a big upset.

In the playoff battle, Rice fielded an actual 4.5 team for a change, and despite losing both singles (Lukas Jendek straight setted Ryan Kudva, by the way) Rice swept the doubles. The Black Sheep again had 4.0 players Simon Kanaan and Joseph Lee in the doubles lineup. Somehow I doubt the top teams in the other divisions are quivering in fear of whoever comes out of division III.

Quick note.

I think there is the perception in the higher divisions that the "lower" divisions (4.0, 3.5 etc.) are not "competitive". There probably ARE a lot more people in those divisions playing "for fun" or just to get together with their tennis buddies every week, etc. The higher rated players are, in general, probably more competitive by nature...that competitive drive is one reason they became such proficient players. However, the top teams in 4.0 and 3.5 take things just as seriously (or even more so) as they do in 4.5 and 5.0

Two of the top 4.0 teams got together last night as the Hurricanes again took on Rice. In truth, there's little at stake with two teams from each division making the playoffs, but it's always enjoyable to have a "playoff atmosphere" in the middle of the regular season. I think it's pretty clear that the Hurricanes wanted to make a statement. Freeman's team does things by the book...there are no midseason self-rated additions. In fact, I believe every player on the team is computer rated. However, they DO search far and wide for talent for their team. And last night they traveled from practically all over the state for the big match. Two players came from Fort Worth, one from San Antonio and one from Port Arthur. All that talent was too much for Rice, as the Hurricanes won 4-1, dropping just one line of doubles.

It's always tough to balance things...adding "ringers" or "out of towners" often means that long term players can be left sitting come playoff and sectional time. But that's part of the price you have to pay to win. In the Hurricanes' case, their "B" team could compete with any other team in the city, bar none. A few of the players NOT in their lineup last night: Goldberg, Knutson, Wood, Reese, Morris, Hau, etc. In the famous words of Yogi Berra, the Hurricanes have "deep depth".