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.

1 comment:

  1. The barometer continues to rise. 101 on Fri, 102 on Sat, 101 on Sun