Wednesday, August 8, 2007

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????


  1. Austin will dominate this year at Sectionals. Sadly to say they should ease through the competition. They have 3 appealed players from 5.0 to 4.5 and Bo Bowman a Self Rate who played For University of Incarnate Ward and could easily jump in the Singles to stack it up even more in the Singles Line up. Austin has the Formula to win this year with 5 strong singles players who can also add loads of depth in the Doubles to hurt other teams.I think that San Antonio could match up with Austin in the singles category but San Antonio doesnt have any depth in doubles to match up with Austin.
    As Far as the Houston teams Kingwood has the Dibuas and the Armstrong/Hurlbert but will need some help. The Hangovers can match up with just about anybody in Doubles,but the Singles is so suspect with Grant Murphy and David B. but no one expected them to win in 2005 and they squeaked by so you cant count them out.

    I was informed yesterday that the Scoring has been changed to No-Ad 2 out of 3 with a 3rd set 10 pt. Tiebreaker. This will change the outcome of alot of matches. Good Luck to All teams Going.

    Good Job with the preview Mr.Blogger..

  2. I just got the word from Sue Johnson that they are not going to No-Ad scoring.