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 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.