Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ratings Junkie

Ok, I admit it. I'm a numbers guy, a statistics guy, the type of guy who could tell you how many homers Harmon Killebrew or Carl Yastrzemski had. So I was kind of excited when I came across a thread on the tennis warehouse message boards that explained a "trick" to finding out your exact rating.

As you may or may not know, a 4.5 player has a rating that is anywhere from 4.01 to 4.50. Hopefully you can do the math to figure out where a 3.5, 4.0 or a 5.0 player's rating falls. Anyway, somebody was able to hack a way to find out your correct rating. It involves protesting your rating online and having the USTA email you the results. If you open the email via Outlook, you can then "View Source" on the email contents and embedded in the code is a line that says "ntrp-rating=" followed by your exact numerical rating. This kind of information could be useful to someone like Tim Green or any other player who has been "bumped down" via tournament results, as it would be useful to know how close he is to the 5.0 division and whether he should be careful with his results to avoid "three striking". (The word on the street is that players who recieved a rating via league play (except for mixed exclusive ratings) will not be in danger of "three striking" this year)

Anyway, I'm sure this loophole will be corrected posthaste, but those of you who are curious about your rating may want to try it. By the way, mine came back as a 3.95.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This weekend the local Tri-Level competition will take place at Lost Forest. Tri-Level teams field three doubles lines, all from different levels. The 3.5/4.0/4.5 tri-level league offers players a chance to qualify for sectional and national championships (nationals are played at Indian Wells during the Pacific Life Open, I believe).

An early look at the rosters would seem to indicate that the local favorites are the "evil Empire" team featuring Red Benzon, Tim Green, Greg Dwyer and Jason Freeman among others.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Big Four

Let's face it, when a college basketball season is about to start, you check out the rosters of Duke and Carolina and then everyone else. In the baseball offseason, you look at the Red Sox and Yankees and then figure out if anyone else can contend with their rosters. In 4.5 league tennis in this section, there are really four big players: Alann Torres, Mike Davis, Rusty Branch and Red Benzon. Everyone else is a pretender until they prove otherwise.

With the latest ratings update, Torres has installed himself as the favorite to make it to Tuscon again next year. He's basically got everyone in place, as all of his 5.0 guys have managed to get bumped down to 4.5. Reid Strand has been much discussed and will be a huge obstacle for anyone to overcome, but he is far from being the only talented player on the San Antonio roster. Jorge Vasquez and Daniel Cambon will both be 4.5 next year, and former Nationals stud Chance Morgan still has a 4.5 rating and could well end up playing in the Alamo city.

Perennial contender Rusty Branch was hit fairly hard by the ratings, losing Jeremy Stone, Walt Williams, Clint Sumrow and Ron Morrison to the 5.0 ranks. Rusty will find replacements, but he'll certainly have his work cut out for him if he's gonna' compete with the San Antonio and Austin teams.

Mike Davis appears to have benefitted from the ratings almost as much as Torres. Everyone's favorite scrapper, Chad Case, is back in the 4.5 ranks two years after destroying almost everything in his path. Bo Bowman also returns after being DQ'd from the Austin team that went to nationals two years ago. Adding those two to an already strong lineup will give Davis' a fighting chance to compete with San Antonio.

Houston has fielded some of the strongest teams in the last few years, but the success has come with a price as many of the stars have moved on. Red Benzon's teams are always a serious threat to advance to Nationals, but he's been moved up to 5.0. Tim Green may pick up the slack, but the talent pool in Houston is not as deep as it has been in past years as many local stars have moved up. One notable bump-down in the area is Odion Dibua. If he rejoins his brother on the Kingwood team they will be a potent one-two punch, but the loss of Gary Armstrong, Glenn Wright and Tim Hurlbert leaves some extremely big shoes to fill. Even Odion's shoes may not be big enough.

Monday, December 1, 2008


The ratings for 2009 should be out either today or tomorrow. Will post an update when I hear something.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sad News

I heard some bad news yesterday:  Jason Freeman has gotten a promotion and will be moving to the D.C. area in January.   Jason has been the dominant player on the 3.5 and 4.0 tennis scene over the last few years and Houston's leagues will be much weaker in his absence.  Being a successful captain requires a lot of skills (unless, like me, you just happen to be lucky enough to have a lot of great tennis players for friends): you have to be very likeable, slightly slimy and a good salesman.  Freeman is all of those things, though he really needs to increase his sliminess.  :)

My own opinion is that Jason and Red and Betsie Hollis are the three most influential people on the local league tennis scene and Freeman's exit will leave a big void for someone to fill.  I'm not sure what will become of the teams he had planned for next year.  Whatever 4.0 team he assembled would have been an odds-on favorite to take the city just based on past performance.  I'm not sure if he ever would have been able to truly hang with the big boys in 4.5...we may never find that out.

From a personal standpoint, I had a great time playing on his team last year.  His enthusiasm and passion reinvigorated me and was infectious.  It's just a lot more fun to play on a team with someone who is really passionate about league, and the only other teammates I've had that were equally inspirational were Tuan Tran and Red Benzon.  Playing league next year is just not gonna' be the same for me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

4.5 Nationals

Sorry for the prolonged absence.  To be honest, I lose all interest in league tennis after the season is over.  I rarely play HTA stuff any more.  I would prefer that Houston did things like Dallas does: the Dallas fall league winner gains an automatic berth in the summer league playoffs, making the fall league matches meaningful.   I personally can get good matches playing with friends and prefer the flexibility of playing when my schedule allows since the HTA matches are really no more meaningful or intense than my "friendly" matches.  

Anyway, Craig Bobo's Noho team has arrived in Tuscon and has what looks to be a favorable bracket, being placed with the champions from the Caribbean, Pacific Northwest and Midwest sections.  From what I understand, nearly everyone of importance (other than Antoine Ford) has made the trip to Arizona.   I will post updates when possible if I can get to a computer this weekend at Combo Sectionals.  

Monday, August 11, 2008


The (unconfirmed) word on the street is that 3.5 self-rated ringer Glenn Flora has been DQ'd for Nationals. The Houston team was undefeated when it played its last match against Dallas, losing 3-2. Flora provided one of the wins for Dallas. Michael and the rest of his team will never know "what might have been".

I know I may sound like a broken record, but the decision not to run the computer during Sectionals was an extremely poor one. There's no way of knowing which match gave Flora his third strike or whether his scores would have been "different" had the computer been running. I know running the computer after each match is inconvenient and time consuming, but it really HAS to be done in the future.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Houston 3.5...So far so good

Houston beats Midland 5-0 in our first match. The clouds and slight drizzle were a blessing as we were able to finish our matches before the heat started rolling in. 2 of the lines went to 3rd set tiebreakers but we were able to complete the sweep.

The 2nd match against Austin was a little more difficult as we split both singles and lines 1 and 2 of the doubles. It came down the line 3 doubles team of Pham-Tran. After winning the 1st set 6-4, we dropped the 2nd set 4-6 but we were able to recover and take the 3rd set tiebreaker 10-7 to take a 3-2 overall victory.

I didn't have much time to look around at some of the other matches. The overall skill level of all the teams seems just a tad short of last year's teams but then again I was part of the Freeman/Goodwin 3.5 national all last year so I might be a little spoiled.

I did notice a young fit blonde guy that was really tagging the ball. I have no idea who he was but he didn't seem like he'd pose a problem........FOR JASON KERN!! I guess there is always going to be a few guys that are out of level but this guy looked extremely solid. He had a one handed backhand that did not belong in 3.5. Anyone who is familiar with the players up there know who this guy is?

NoHo is not playing at the same site as us which is unfortunate. It would be great for us to be able to root each other on. I hope Jeff Tomek and Ed Colingado are doing well as I haven't seen the Tennis Link site updated yet.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

3.5 Sectionals

Sectionals for 3.5 will take place this weekend. I'm not familiar with many of the players, but Michael Tran may be providing updates for those of you who are interested in the goings-on up in Dallas. Good luck to the Houston team!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Computer

I have been told that "the computer" has been run for all of the results from Sectionals this past weekend. This is third-hand information, but I heard that only one player, on the women's side, received his/her third strike up in Dallas. I didn't see the DQ reflected on tennislink yet, so I won't name names.

I'm sure some people would differ with me on this, but I personally feel the "tolerance" level is a bit too high and that we don't have enough DQ's, particularly for computer rated players. I realize that DQ's can be avoided with "score management", but I just feel that right now it's too easy for a guy to get his two matches in, maybe in a mixed doubles league, and then pretty much be safe for the entire next year. A John Kudrick type could probably survive the weekend and be eligible for Nationals should his team make it.

I like to play "what if?", particularly after we have lost. As noted, the computer was not run during Sectionals. What if it was? Would things have changed? Would captains have been more protective of their players? Would NOHO have been more careful with Heim? In 4.0, I have to think that Dallas might have sat Gene Davis in their 3-2 Waco win and my team might have advanced to Sunday. We'll never know, I guess.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Love him or hate him, these are the facts:

2004 Mob Squad - Sectional Runner Up
2005 SWAT - Nationals
2006 SA Cambon - National Champs
2007 Hangovers - Sectional Semi-Finalist
2008 Noho Bobo/Teague - Nationals

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tough ending...

The Houston Hurricanes 4.0 team went down to defeat in a tight one against Dallas this afternoon. Houston won the first two matches off, with Roberto Narajos dominating 6-2, 6-0 at line 1 singles, but then dropped the next three in third set breakers. I was having flashbacks to Sectionals past with the Mob Squad with all of those lost tiebreakers.

Jason Freeman did a great job of captaining all year. It's really tough to lose a tight one when you're sitting out. In my head, or maybe it's my heart, I feel that I am one of the eight best players on the team...but I also feel that Freeman was TOTALLY correct in putting out the lineup he did. It just didn't work out.

The Noho 4.0 team had a chance to win its way into the final four, but got crushed by Fort Worth 5-0 as Fort Worth overtook Wild Dallas after its inexplicable loss to San Angelo while resting some of its top guns. There are very few pushovers at Sectionals, and depth is even more important at 4.0 with the extra match in round robin play.

Quick 4.5 update

What drama today in 4.5. David Guy pulled off one of the gutsiest wins we've seen in a long time. With the team score tied at 2-2 and down a set, he fought off cramps to come back against Fort Worth Wild's best singles guy (Bob Barrie) and pull out a three setter. The match was filled with drama, as Guy accidentally applied ICY HOT to his groin area and dramatically was granted a let after losing a point in which the ball broke. Noho moves on to the semi-finals, where it appears they will play Waco, who edged Dallas Wild 3-2.

Kingwood had a dramatic day as well, crushing an overmatched Corpus team 5-0, and securing enough lines (9) to capture the coveted wild card spot. Omon Dibua crushed "ringer" Andrew Maingot, but supposedly reinjured his knee. It will be interesting to see if he is able to play singles tomorrow. Phi Huynh won the other singles line for Kingwood.

It appears Kingwood will be matched up with Rusty Branch's Dallas team, who are looking like the strongest team out there. Slezak and Williams deposited Jason Kern back into the 4.5 ranks, and Rusty pulled his boys after securing three lines.

There was quite a bit of drama in the 4.0 ranks today as Chad Henagan went ballistic after being called for foot faults on four consecutive serves. His partner eventually got him to cool down, but the duo fell short in the third set breaker and Chancellor's season has come to a close. Division 2 will come down to a battle between Amarillo's youngsters and the Landsharks from Austin.

Freeman's 4.0 bunch will have its big matchup with Dallas in an hour or so. Gene Davis has been unstoppable for Dallas, so Freeman may have to take 3 of the 4 remaining lines. The valley wild 4.0 team pulled out after starting out 0-2.

Somabut's Dallas 4.0 team barely escaped a tough Valley squad to keep control in Division 4, needing a 3rd set breaker from Newman and Voss to keep Noho from tying them for the divsion lead. Noho dominated San Angelo 4-1 in their morning match, but needs help from San Angelo to advance.

Friday, August 1, 2008


The local teams fared pretty well in the 4.0 division. Jason Freeman's Hurricane team took 9 out of 10 lines, using 4 different singles players and all of his available players in the process. The team looks deep, and Freeman may have a tough time deciding on a lineup if his team gets in a do-or-die situation. Ricardo Martinez was particularly impressive today for the Hurricanes, and Bill Morris and Robert Pritula had a nice doubles win. Freeman's team will have its hands full with Dallas and Gene Davis, who stomped both of his singles opponents. It's quite possible we could see an all-Dallas final on Sunday afternoon.

Jerry Pham again provided the decisive 3rd set breaker for Chancellor's in the morning match as they pulled out a 3-2 win over favorite Austin, who played without ringer Colin McKinsey. Ismael Dutchover also pulled out a gutsy singles win. Chancellor's had a late afternoon matchup with Midland to get a stranglehold over Division II.

I didn't see any of 4.0 division looks like Tyler is gonna' take that one.

I thought Division IV had the highest quality tennis, with each team fielding quality players at almost every line. Wild Dallas is 2-0. Dan Keller has been unchallenged in both of his singles matches and Jean Nguyen beat tough Fort Worth lefty Ryan Reid in the afternoon match. Somabut's team looks like a shoe-in to make it to the finals.

Noho gave that Dallas team a scare, losing 3-2 as Peter Razeghi cruised in winning his first set 6-1, but couldn't hold on. In the afternoon match, Noho beat a tough Valley team. Kevin Burke, a 3:19 marathoner, used his superior fitness to wear down a tough opponent at line 1 singles. Rick Pricket sliced and diced his way to victory at line 2.

What a day in 4.5....

I just got back from T Bar M watching the Noho 4.5 team squeak out another one, 3-2 over San Antonio with Red Benzon and Antoine Ford providing the clincher. Billy Heim has breezed through both matches and suprisingly NOHO hasn't missed Dave Wanja all that much. No word on whether he'll be making an appearance later in the weekend. Noho will have a big battle tomorrow with Fort Worth Wild for a berth on Sunday. Kudos to Noho for getting each of their traveling players in a match and still ending up 2-0.

Everyone at T Bar was talking about the stunning Kingwood loss to Waco. Waco showed their strength in the morning match against Corpus as one of their singles players took Maingot to three and the other had a resounding victory. Kingwood's singles lineup this weekend: Omon Dibua, Raymond Santiago, Phi Huynh and Glenn Wright. Even with their doubles you're playing with fire with that group in singles. But we all knew they were not that strong in singles, and it did end up costing them. Waco is better than people suspected: Luedtke and Rivera and Longacre have had tournament success, but most of their other guys were under the radar.

Dallas Branch and Abilene are both undefeated in the other 4.5 group. Dallas has 8 lines won, giving them a good shot at the Wild Card even if they fall to Abilene tomorrow. Jason Kern may continue his ascent from 4.0 right up to 5.0 next year with two impressive wins today.

Other notes: Anthony Tatu said his team was strong in singles and weak in doubles. He was right: 4-0 in singles and 0-6 in dubs. Marcos Valdez has been awesome... The Austin teams, historically the state's top 4.5 league, are a combined 0-4.

Doubles player Eric Strawbridge surprised some people by going 2-0 in singles today in the heat for AustinWild.

Let's get ready to rumble!

Since we're online, you've been spared from my bad Michael Buffer impression.

The forecast says a high of 101 with more humidity than normal for Dallas. Hopefully that will bode well for Houstonians.

Good luck to everyone...I'll be trying to get around to some of the 4.5 matches, time permitting, and will blog what I can. Keep hydrating...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sectionals Picks (I use the term loosely)

Sectionals are less than a week away. Here are some quick predictions (believe me, not much thought has gone into them, so don't put any money down in Vegas...)
In 4.0 Division I (Dallas, Wild Valley, Waco, Houston, Abilene) I've got to pick my team to emerge. The big match figures to be the Saturday afternoon battle between Wild Dallas and Houston.

In 4.0 DII (Austin, Setx, Amarillo, Midland, Wild Houston) I'm picking the Austin team to emerge. I think the feature match will be Wild Houston v. Austin. Colin McKinsey has publicly proclaimed that he will not be attending Sectionals for Austin, but I doubt he was being honest.

In 4.0 DIII (Wild Austin, San Antonio, Corpus, Netx, Lubbock) I really know absolutely nothing about any of these teams. I'm sure Freeman could tell me about the line 3 doubles on each of the teams, but...I'll pick San Antonio just based on city size.

In 4.0 DIV (FtWorth, San Angelo, Wild Dallas, Valley, Noho) The Wild Dallas team "took it easy" in the city finals. They're the prohibitive favorite in this division. Perhaps Fort Worth can give them a battle. I'll be pulling for Noho, but they'll have their work cut out for 'em.

In 4.5 Division I (Corpus, Wild Dallas, Waco, Houston) I have reservations about Kingwood's singles, but I still think they're the strongest team in this bracket. Remember one thing: The computer will NOT be run during Sectionals (assuming I was properly informed), so players like Henry Gonzales are "safe". As previously mentioned, I'm not a big fan of this, though I guess they didn't want to get into a situation like last year where a match could have been reversed and players had to wait around to make sure they'd actually advanced. Bobo and Whitsett lost what they thought might be a meaningless third set breaker in a match that became 3-2 after a DQ. This year we may see captains pull their players off the court after securing three wins.

In 4.5 DII (San Antonio, Valley, Austin, Noho) I think we will see fireworks, if everyone is giving 100 percent. I do think it's ridiculous that the Valley team is here. They are super-talented and could easily win this bracket, but playing league matches of just one set is just not right. First of all, it screws up the DNTRP calculations, but it's hard to believe that it's a real "league" when there are just 3 teams and matches are just one set in length. I'll pick San Antonio here...I just have a feeling that they can win this thing if they want to. But they could just as easily finish fourth. Toss a coin on most of these matchups.

In 4.5 DIII (Fort Worth, Dallas, Wild Austin, Abilene) I know there's been a lot of talk about Abilene's young guns and even about Fort Worth's Henock Terefe (I've never seen him play, but don't know what all the fuss is about based on his results), but I've just got to go with Dallas here. Those guys have been through the wars and their team is much stronger than last year's shell of a team.

Feel free to post your opinions or even talk some smack.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Locals

In a desperate attempt to deflect attention from myself, I think I'll focus on the local Sectional representatives and take a quick look at their brackets and possibilities for advancement.

Let's start with the 5.0 division, which has gotten little attention in this blog in 2008. Lost Forest is our representative and they have an extremely talented roster which, unlike last year, has a legitimate shot at making it to Nationals. One local keen observer has told me that the Lost Forest 5.0 team has a better shot at Nationals than do the Kingwood Crush or Met Hurricanes. There is exceptional talent on the roster, with Alim Mambetov, Antonio Rivera and former Longhorn Otis Sadler leading the way. Throw in veterans Robert Bickmore, Brian Taylor and others and it's clear that Lost Forest can definitely put out a 5 man lineup with few weaknesses. If everyone makes the trip, we could see a Houston 5.0 team back at Nationals for the first time in a long time (was Allen Teague's David Pierson-led team the last 5.0 team to make it from here or have I forgotten someone?)

There's not much to say about Kingwood that hasn't already been said. There doubles strength and depth is on a par with any team in the state. Valentine and Dibua straight setted a super team in the city finals and probably won't see too many better teams in Dallas. We all know that Hurlbert and Armstrong have been absolutely untouchable. I really feel that this is the year that Jimmy will have to dip into his doubles lines and pluck Hurlbert out for some singles strength. Based on his strokes and age and movement on the doubles court, I'd have to wager that he would be a stud in singles. The status of Juan Lopez's hamstring is still a mystery to me and many others, but having him in Dallas would greatly aid the cause.

In Kingwood's division, it appears that Corpus' Division I signee Andrew Maingot is still eligible, and as noted, Dallas Wild can throw out two exceptional singles players in Phat Bui and Henry Gonzales, so if Kingwood doesn't find some singles strength, the season may end in disappointment.

The other area representative in 4.5 is Craig Bobo's NOHO squad. They're in a stacked division, with the Valley and Austin and San Antonio. There are a bunch of wild rumors about this division: Doug Langford of Austin will not be playing, the San Antonio team will be "packing it in" in an attempt to keep everyone at this level for their big push to Nationals next year, and even a rumor that many of the stars of the NoHo team will not be traveling to Sectionals. Most or all of these are probably untrue and should be taken with a grain of salt, but it certainly makes this pool the one to watch up in Dallas.

Dave Wanja snuck his two matches in under the gun. If Heim is as good as advertised, then Bobo/Whitsett and Benzon/Wanja will definitely give them three lines that nobody will take lightly. Who will be the #2 singles guy? Antoine Ford didn't look to be the answer earlier in the season...

In 4.0, the Met Hurricanes have gotten much of the attention across the state due in great part to Jason Freeman's stellar track record for getting his teams to Nationals. This year's bunch looked extremely vulnerable in citywides, and in fact was quite lucky to escape an underrated and talented Sienna team. Their pool is tough, with Bill Sanders' Waco team (National Champs two years ago) and a Dallas Wild team which features former 5.0 players Gene Davis and Mitch McGowan leading the team. Merhi and Foster looked stellar during city playoffs for the 'Canes, but even the vaunted singles players showed some warts. Captain February will have to push all the right buttons this year without Kern/Ahmed type players.

Chancellor's chances will be bolstered by the return of a couple of their top players. Jonathan Hao Nguyen has been money this year, and will allow grinders Jerry Pham and Ismael Dutchover to get some rest after wearing down their opponents. Chancellor's also looked very vulnerable during city playoffs, but should show renewed strength with their talent re-infusion. Austin and their super-ringer Colin McKinsey appear to be the biggest hurdle to Chancellor's making it to Sunday.

The Noho 4.0 team hasn't gotten any pub in these parts, but they are a solid, underrated group of guys who will give teams trouble up there. Will Norton returned last year after a tennis layoff and has beaten almost everyone in his path. Peter Razeghi is an unknown, but his scores indicate that he could surprise some folks. Former marathoner Kevin Burke is as fit as they come, and shows a lot of power on the doubles court, and Mohan Jacob is perhaps the most unorthodox doubles player in the area, but his style can give some players fits.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sectionals News

The Mob Squad has decided to pull out of Sectionals in Dallas. A combination of injuries, a small roster, travel plans and commitments to other teams has left us shorthanded. Unfortunately, our spot does not go to the runner-up in city playoffs. Had we defaulted match point against Copperfield, they would have gotten the berth, but we just couldn't be sure of our plans at that time.

I believe the second place team in Austin may receive the spot, although both San Antonio and Fort Worth's second place teams were "in the hat" as well. The order for replacing a team has already been determined.

MidYear Ratings

A list of the midyear ratings is posted on the Dallas League Blog. It is not posted officially anywhere yet. I looked through the list and will list out those who I noticed were bumped to 4.5 and 5.0

Remember, these are midyear ratings. For Houstonians they're fairly meaningless, other than as a guide to where you may end up or how much "strike" jeopardy you may be in. Usually these do not include the Houston city playoffs, but my hunch is that this year they do include them, as well as HTA results. (Peter Strasser, for instance, is listed as a 4.5 despite no USTA league play, and some people who had good playoff results are now bumped up. But I'm just guessin'....)

4.0 to 4.5:
Peter Ackermann, John Biers, Ian Bird, Kevin Burke, Stephen Coyle, Mohan Jacob, Andy Kahan, Dan Le, Tom Le, Ricardo Martinez, Reef Merhi, Alex Montes, Bill Morris, Duc Nguyen, Hung Nguyen, Jonathan Hao Nguyen, George Orchard, Eddie Perdomo, Jerry Pham, Robert Pritula, Jason Rawls, Justin Smith, Dan Solis, Chris Towle, Chris Trevino, Kook Youn

4.5 to 5.0
Gary Armstrong, Craig Bobo, John Burrmann, Omon Dibua, Billy Heim, Tim Hurlbert, John Kudrick, Jonathan Magid, Miguel Morales, Ben Whitsett

I may have missed a bunch. I looked at it quickly.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A few quick notes

For me, this is the best weekend of the year for tennis in this city, even ahead of the Coke weekend.

Thanks to Cheryl and Diana, who can finally get a little rest now. As always, they did a great job and put in a lot of hard work. Also, thanks to the classy captains and players I came across this weekend: Jimmy Kilshaw, Tommy Ristau, Mike Salinas, Jason Freeman and many others.

My observations: The energy in the lower divisions amongst the fans and players dwarfed that of the 4.5 division. Their strokes aren't pretty, but some of the 4.0 guys (Dutchover, Jerry Pham and many others) are every bit as gutsy as their 4.5 counterparts.

Kudos to my teammates Thang Pham and Adrian Santesteban who pulled out a crucial 3rd set breaker to again send the Mob back to Sectionals. Mob Squad doubles have taken a lot of flak this year but they pulled out two doubles lines against Copperfield when it counted. I wish Adrian and Thang had played better against Hurlbert and Armstrong for Kingwood's sake...I'd be slightly worried about three strikes if I were Jimmy. If The Crush can get their singles in order, they'll be tough to beat in Dallas.

Like it or not, there have been pretty much three powerhouses in 4.5 in this city in this decade: Kingwood, the Mob and the Burkhart/Green teams. This looked to be the year someone else would break through, but it just didn't happen. It'll be interesting to see if Copperfield remains competitive next year with the inevitable 5.0 rating for John Kudrick.

So much for Predictions...

So much for predictions in 4.0. All of the matches today came down to singles and 3rd set tie breakers.

Chancellor's edged out Copperfield 3-2 as Ismael Ducthover beat former 4.5 player Tommy Sawaya in a close tiebreak. In the other singles Jason Rawls pulled out a 3rd setter against Jerry "the backboard" Pham.

The real action/drama was over with Met playing Sienna. I suppose I was off in the 5-0 prediction last night as Sienna came to play.

The Met took 2 lines of doubles with Sienna taking the third which left the singles to decide. Both lines went to 3rd set breakers and were very close, with the Coke champ from this year (Roberto Narajos) taking the 3rd line to put the Met over the top. Just a couple of seconds later Sienna took the other line making the score 3-2. Lots of drama and a very close match.

The Met and Chancellor's should be on court now deciding who will go as Houston and who will be Wild Houston at sectionals.

In the 3.5 match ups of the AM there were no surprises as Sienna beat Spam-a-Lot 3-2 and the MP-Racqueteers won as well only dropping a single line all weekend. These teams should be on the court as we speak playing for a spot in Dallas.

In other surprises today, the Mob squad took down a tough Copperfield team 3-2 to knock them out of contention. The Kingwood team rolled as expected, having only dropped 2 lines all weekend. The Crush and Mob Squad will both have a spot in Dallas.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Give the 3.5 Guys some action on the blog

Not sure how popular this one will be, but here we go on the 3.5 predictions. I have a family member playing in this bracket and he asked me why the 3.5 guys never get any mclovin on the blog-o-sphere.

My personal opinion (and this goes for 4.5 too) is that with 6 teams they should have one bracket where everyone plays 5 times. This two groups of three crap is silly as some guys played on Thursday and don't play again until Sunday AM. Not much for continuity.

I think I have heard the counter-argument to this is court time required to support everyone playing 5 times, but I don't see how it could not be accommodated somehow/someway.

We are talking about having to play 30 total in a weekend versus 13 matches under current format, so the court time needed would approximatly double. I think that the clubs involved could support some of the court time.

I know from past experiences that captains struggle to play their whole roster knowing the one line lost here or there could cost them. Under the proposed format I think that everyone would get to play more and in the end be happier.

HTA should listen to their constintuency on this one as no one that I have talked to in 3.5 or 4.5 is cheery about the current format.

It looks like in Flight 1 that the Racqueteers will face the boys from East San Antonio (Willowfork) to see who represents them in the final. I like the MPTC team as they seem stronger throughout the season and some inside info says that most of the guys could hang at 4.0.

In Flight II, Freddie's Spam-a-lot team takes on a loaded suburbian Sienna team that went to Dallas last year and nearly made it to the final. I am not sure of their retention rate from last year's team but I think they will edge out Freddie 3-2 to represent this flight in the final.

Apperantly this final actually means something as only one team from HTA will go to Dallas. I like the MPTC to upset Sienna 3-2 to go represent Htown in Dallas.

Good luck to all.

What's Going to happen tomorrow in 4.0?

After watching today and having played against nearly all teams involved I think it will end up like this:

Freeman's Met team will crush Sienna. Freeman will bring the "A" lineup as he will not risk a trip to sectionals as this is the match that gets them to Dallas once again. Having played Sienna in the season, they are good, but they will not compare to the "A" lineup on Freeman's team.

In the other bracket, I think Copperfield will edge out Chancellors. I do not feel it will be lopsided, but the Copperfield will win. Unless Chancellor's brings some doubles guys they did not have today, then Copperfield will win.

The final will be a useless event as Freeman will put out a lineup that can win, but does not have to. I am sure he has already done the research and knows which bracket he wants to be in come two weeks (Houston or Wild Houston). Copperfield should be tired after playing their top lineup all weekend. They will take a line, but Freeman's crew will win 4-1.

Greg, hope you don't mind but I took you up on your offer to contribute.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Playoffs Night #1

Lee Leclear tennis center was hopping last night as the citywide championships got underway. Unfortunately, I spent most of my time watching my own teams play and didn't get to watch TOO much else...

The once-mighty Mob Squad limped into the playoffs with a depleted roster and pathetically could only get six players to play in these playoffs as all attempts to change team committments were denied. All six are high quality players, however, and as the old adage says, it only takes four players to win a match. The Mob has always had singles strength, and this year they counted on 19 year old Aadrian Hasker and veteran Ted Phoummarath to carry them through. Hasker edged previously unbeaten Brian Mills in the first set breaker, and then rolled through the second set. Ted P. relies on quickness, fitnesse and consistency, and that combination was a little too much for Sarosh Ahmed last night as Pumma won comfortably.

The Met figured to have the edge in doubles. Ward Jannuzzi and Michael Chec were at line 3 and received the default, and David Yang and Phong Regent were very impressive at line 2, beating Santesteban and Pham three and three. David Yang is quite a player. It was my first time watching him and every one of his strokes were solid and impressive. At line one, the match of the night featured the Phan brothers against Jacob Vernon and Daniel Duplechin. Steve Phan has historically been the Mob's best singles player, but they desperately needed some doubles strength. Vernon and Duplechin played magnificently and took the first set in a breaker. Their play dipped ever so slightly in the second and the Phans turned it up a bit and then overcame Minh's cramps to capture the super-breaker and giving the Mob its third line.

In the other 4.5 match, the Black Sheep pulled out a 3-2 win over Ssshhhwings. Peter Rothe was again out of the lineup for Shwing. Three of the five matches went to the third set as the teams seemed evenly balanced.

I have always thought of Peter Hansen as a doubles guy, so despite his impressive singles win earlier in the season it surprised me to see him at number one singles last night. Hansen was a key doubles guy on the SWAT team that made it to Nationals in 2005 and won a tight two setter against Mike Giordanelli last night. Westside's singles don't look that imposing on paper, but they won both lines last night as Sean Lacy also won at #2. Ssshhwin is always tough in doubles, and took two of the three lines, but dropped the match tie breaker at line one as Ristau and Alzate took out the strong partnership Benoit/Judson.

In 4.0, the Hurricanes manhandled Willow Fork in the singles, but showed vulnerability in the doubles, losing one line and going three sets in another. Reese and Montes rolled for the 'Canes in the third doubles line.

The 4.0 match of the night featured Sienna and Lost Forest. Chris Trevino had been spotless all season for Lost Forest, but got crushed last night by Justin Smith at one singles. Ace Melchor eked out a win at line 2 for Lost Forest. Each team one a doubles line and the match came down to Ronnie Kwan and Scott Boarman, who survived some confusion over the score to pull out the win for their team.

I'm not sure what happened in the Chancellor's-Smokers match, but it looked like Chancellor's was in control. Ismael Dutchover dropped the first set but survived a tough match with Nathan Huynh, winning in three at one singles.

In the other matchup, Daniel Goodwin's SAP team lost 4-1 to a Copperfield team that looks strong and has a solid shot at a berth in Dallas. Tuyen Nguyen won the only line for SAP. Thomas Sawaya dominated at one singles for the Copperheads.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Playoffs starting..

There are four matches in 4.0 tonight and a pair of matches in 4.5.

In 4.0 Division I, Copperfield faces SAP and their controversial captain. Interestingly, Captain Goodwin protested the Chancellor's players but didn't complain about the Copperfield team he plays tonight. Copperfield was victimized by Louis Lu from Chancellor's, whose team will face another Asian team, the Smokers, at 7 PM tonight. Cheryl and Diana will have a tough time picking a team to discriminate against in that one! JUST KIDDING! :)

In Division I of 4.0 Lost Forest takes on a Sienna Plantation team that quietly dominated its division in as resounding a fashion as the Huricanes and Chancellor's. Freeman's Hurricane team opens its playoff season against Willow Fork tonight as well.

In 4.5 there are two matchups. Ssshhhwings will try to take one of the singles lines and then count on its reliable doubles teams to try and topple a West Side team that got nosed out of first place in its division and has not gotten much respect by many of the posters here.

Also, there's an intriguing matchup between the 4.5 Hurricanes and a Mob Squad team that is trying to keep its Sectionals streak alive. Most people would give the edge in singles to the Mob and in doubles to the Hurricanes. Both teams wil be trying to prove they're more well-rounded than people think.

P.S. Our readership here is at an all-time high. Controversy is good for business. Please patronize the sponsors. If you've seen (or heard) the car I'm driving, you know I can use a few extra shekels. :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Timex Social Club

Look at all these rumors...

Lots of stuff flying around. I'm sure Diana is very busy. There are numerous rules questions and possibly even some protests to sort through...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sectionals Brackets Are Out

Someone was nice enough to pass along the Sectionals brackets to me. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that Houston managed to get only one team in the 3.5 bracket. There are 20 teams in the 3.5 bracket, but it appears Houston was unlucky in the Wild Card hunt this year. Even Lubbock got a wild card spot in 3.5. I've forgotten the exact procedure, but the number of entries each city gets "in the hat" is dependent on the number of teams it has at that level. I believe you get one chance for each four teams a city has above the total of four. In other words, a city with 8 teams gets one entry in the hat. Twelve teams get you two, etc. Names are drawn until all wild card slots are filled. Someone please correct me if things have changed or I've misremembered.

The good news is that Houston has two teams in the 4.5 and 4.0 draws this year. There are a few wrinkles to iron out in the 4.5 draw as it hasn't been decided which slot will contain the Houston city champ and which will have the runner up. Regardless, it will take the pressure off of the Sunday afternoon matchups in 4.5 and 4.0 and make that 3.5 city final very pressure-packed.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Across the State in 4.5

There don't seem to be any super-dominant teams this year in 4.5. Kingwood may be the favorite, coming off their runner-up finish last year and losing only Odion Dibua from that strong team. There are five or six other teams that can realistically feel they have a good chance at getting that coveted trip to Nationals. Here's a thumbnail sketch of some of the heavyweights.

Kingwood Crush

Add former tour player Juan Lopez and doubles stud Stephen Valentine to a team that was already loaded and you've got a recipe for Jimmy Kilshaw's bunch to finally get over the hump and get that trip to Nationals. The big question mark, at this point, is the health of the presumed singles players. Juan Lopez has been out for a while, and at age 53 it will be interesting to see how he will hold up under the scorching Dallas sun. Omon Dibua is noticably hobbled with knee trouble. Despite Hai Vu's recent singles wins, you have to wonder about their singles. Gary Armstrong will be formidable, but the doubles will be weakened if he is moved to singles. Phi Huynh doesn't appear to have the form that he had years ago, and even then he was not a guaranteed win against the heavyweights at Sectionals.

Austin Wild

Mike Davis has again assembled a powerhouse and his team gets great competition playing in what I feel is the state's toughest 4.5 league. Jeremiah McMillan's disqualification really hurts this team, but there is an abundance of talent to fall back on. Former Met member Kevin Lemke and Doug Langford were the singles stars on the Austin team that made it to Nationals many years back (2001?) and some of the other players were on the Austin Wild team that finished fourth at Nationals just two years ago. Lemke and Fred Schlotterback played singles in their huge match last week. Are they capable of carrying the load in Dallas? They will need some singles depth and may have to rely on David Harrison, Tony Lum or Daniel Rockey to fill in at Sectionals.

Bay Area

On paper this team doesn't really seem to have the strength of some of the others, but the season is still ongoing and you never know if a Benzon-led team will add some strength late in the season. How good is Billy Heim? Are Antoine Ford or Jody Deluca strong enough in singles to win in Dallas against the other top players? There's no evidence in the recent records to indicate that they can, but they're both talented players capable of playing top notch tennis. Tor Krosby is a possible answer there as well and David Guy has had his moments. Bobo and Whitsett will give this team a great chance at taking a doubles line every time they play, so if Heim is as good as some people think, the team will give anyone trouble.

Dallas Branch

It's no coincidence that we see the same captains bringing elite teams to Sectionals every year. They recruit and reload when they lose some talent. Rusty managed to get himself back down to 4.5 and he and Wesley James give them a very solid 1-2 punch. Donnie Pollard is a capable third singles player. The doubles players are all quality veterans who've withstood the rigors and pressure of Sectionals many times.

San Antonio Miller

They squeaked out the championship by just four sets, but as usual this team can play with anyone. Co-captain Alann Torres is a master at assembling a talented squad and this team is no exception. Orlando Galvan is a 5.0 dropdown who won all of his matches at 5.0 Sectionals in 2003. Alejandro Sanchez has been a force on the 4.5 tournament scene this season. There are quality players throughout the roster, and maybe even a hidden gem or two.

Corpus Christi Grand Slam

Every year the unheralded Corpus team brings many of the same players to Sectionals and sometimes finds itself playing on Sunday. This year, they've added Division one recruit Andrew Maingot to the mix. If he retains eligibility, it will give them perhaps the best singles player in Dallas. Lamine Bangoura won all three of his singles matches in Dallas last year, and would give them a solid #2 if he gets his two matches played. The doubles crew appears to be the same as usual.

Harlingen HEB

Every few years the Valley brings a team North that makes some noise. At least twice in the past decade or so they've made it to Nationals, and both of those teams were anchored by Ramiro Cuevas. Cuevas is back at it after a break since their 2004 Nationals run, and he's not the only talented player on the roster. Alfonso Rodriguez has been destroying everything in his sight on the tournament scene, Leo Solis was a Coke finalist, Steve Cuevas was a singles player on the 2004 team that went to Nationals, and Guillermo Martin Del Campo has some solid singles wins and a major zone doubles win to his credit this year. The valley team is always thin in numbers with a lesser talent pool to draw from. We'll see if depth is a problem for this team that has the capability to play with anyone.

Locally, besides Kingwood there are a couple of teams that might have a puncher's chance for a knockout if they can get to Dallas. Both Copperfield and The Mob Squad have some singles guys that are capable of winning all of their pool matches at Sectionals, but neither seem to have the doubles strength of any of the top teams mentioned above. The Met has some doubles talent, but so far their singles (Mills excluded) has been less than spectacular. Ward Jannuzzi is claiming he's their secret singles weapon...time will tell.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hai Vu!!!!!!?

I have to admit it: When I received a call with the matchups last night, I thought "Jimmy may be reading too much into that one match." Yeah, I've looked at Hai Vu's singles record from 2005 and it's better than some people might guess. But still, he's never been thought of as a singles powerhouse, and the match with Ted was a very emotional one which may have played a part in the outcome. Or so I thought...

I figured he'd have a chance against Sarosh if he made Sarosh come up with passing shots with that backhand that he slices so well. Yeah, Sarosh is rusty, but that match last night was a total blowout and I think we need to give Hai some credit. He doesn't hit hard, he serves a slow serve to the forehand 80 percent of the time. But that slow serve DOES stay low and he IS an excellent volleyer and plays intellegently.

Still, I can't see Kingwood getting to Nationals, or even getting out of their pool at Sectionals, if they have to use Hai Vu and Phi Huynh in singles. If Lopez and Omon are unable to play singles up there, the team will have to hope Gary Armstrong can really come through for them up there in the heat.

Congrats to Kingwood. It looks as though they'll be in the pool with Copperfield, who will be tough, and the Yutts or Ssshhhwing. The Met, Westside and the Mob Squad will probably make up the other pool.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Meaningless (?) Trivia

Just looked up some career records for some prolific local players that popped into my head. I'm sure I left several people out. Here are their records playing doubles up at 4.5 Sectionals in Dallas: (in no particular order)

Tim Green: 8-5
Hai Vu: 7-5
Red Benzon: 9-9
GlennWright: 3-7
Nikki Lieu: 7-4
Gary Armstrong: 6-0
Tim Hurlbert: 7-1
Jacob Vernon: 4-6
Alex Chang: 8-6
Peter Rothe: 2-3

There are some excellent doubles players on that list. I'm struck by two things: The talent is really good up good that many/most matches are crapshoots coming down to the third set breaker. Secondly, what Armstrong and Hurlbert have accomplished is pretty damn impressive.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Crush beats 'Canes

Kingwood squeaked out a 3-2 win in a hard fought and well-played matchup with the Met last night. Neither team had its "best" lineup out there: Kingwood was unable to use Omon Dibua or Juan Lopez in singles, and much-discussed Sarosh Ahmed did not play for the Hurricanes.

David Yang gave Gary Armstrong all he could handle at the top singles spot, but ultimately fell short in the third set tiebreaker. Brian Mills had a solid win over Phi Huynh at two singles. Mills has now played 14 matches in USTA competition this year (singles and doubles, tournaments and league) and is still undefeated. The Southeast Texas player must be considered one of the top players in the Houston league this season and will have to be considered a favorite in all of his matches in city playoffs.

Ben Whitsett was unavailable last night, so Phong Regent filled in admirably as Craig Bobo's partner. Phong has recently had a second child and hasn't had as much time to devote to tennis, but the veteran helped win two close sets over Glenn Wright and Stephen Valentine. Hai Vu and unbeatable Tim Hurlbert convincingly won at 2 doubles, spoiling Chris Stanich's 4.5 debut. Line 3 doubles was the match of the night. Omon Dibua was noticably hobbled, but convinced Captain Kilshaw to put him in the lineup. He and Brandon Burris squeaked out a 6-7, 7-6, 10-5? win over Jacob Vernon and David Duplechin. Vernon played very well in a losing effort.

Kingwood has a leg up on the division championship as the Met will now have to sweep their other two matchups to win the title.

Westside won its matchup with the Jedi Knights 4-1. Copperfield has not reported its score, but will need to win 8 out of 10 lines in their last two matches (last night included) to tie Westside for the division title and requiring a comparison of sets and possibly games. Alan Teague and Tommy Ristau won a tight three setter against the Coursons. Ted Erck again lost for the Knights and is now 2-3 on the season.

In one of the few 4.0 matches reported, the JCC dudes continued their slide, losing 3-2 to the Westside Phoenix and falling to 6-2. JCC is not the youngest team around, and veteran doubles players Joe Warren and Chuck Stasny had to retire after one set last night. JCC is now tied for second place at 6-2, but has a nice edge in lines won. However, they still have one tough makeup match to play. The Hurricanes continued their waltz through the regular season, beating Rice behind the singles play of Scott Foster and Reef Merhi.

In 5.0, the Met kept its hopes alive with a win over Old School. Amit Garg dominated Tor Krosby in singles, and Chris Zolas and Mike Panesar picked up line one dubs for the Met. Lost Forest's 5.0 team won their match as well. Red Benzon and Alim Mambetov contributed a doubles win to the cause.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Big One

There's a huge match in 4.5 this week: Kingwood - Hurricanes Part II. The first match was rained out very early on, so this will be our first chance to see if anyone can take down Kingwood this year. Will Hurlbert, Armstrong and Valentine make the trek down from Kingwood for this one? I'm sure the Hurricanes Beaumont contingent will be making the trip. On paper, it appears that the winner of this division will end up with a better draw in the playoffs, though the emergence of Copperfield has made the playoff brackets more balanced and still somewhat in question.

Omon Dibua is noticably hobbled and wearing a knee brace right now, but can still be a very effective doubles player. I haven't heard any updates on Juan Lopez's health. So who will Jimmy use in singles? Phi Huynh got completely destroyed in his singles match last week. Hai Vu is coming off a big win in the Noho league, but I don't think anyone would view him as a singles option. Luckily, Kilshaw has lots of options: Gary Armstrong is still a viable choice, and both of the Burrises can play some singles. Freeman also has a bunch of choices for his singles slots. Brian Mills was impressive in the first Kingwood matchup. Sarosh Ahmed is back playing, but is he ready for a big singles matchup? Don Rios or even David Yang would seem more likely. Craig Bobo and Ben Whitsett are presumably pledged to their Noho team, but can play a key role in the Houston playoff alignment by playing in this one. A Bobo/Whitsett versus Armstrong/Hurlbert matchup would be worth the price of admission.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Side Note

With Copperfield's win, it's quite possible they could win the division and shake up the playoff structure.

Hypothetical question: Is it ethical for the Rockets to intentionally drop some games at the end of the season to get a more favorable matchup in the playoffs? (or to get a better draft choice if they're in the lottery)

I toyed with the idea of having my team lose last night to give us more options in the postseason. What if Lopez and Omon are injured and Kingwood isn't the behemoth we thought they were? What if the Hurricanes win that division and I think we match up better with them? From that standpoint, a loss last night might have been prudent. Is losing on purpose EVER ethical? I think we all agree that tanking for ratings purposes is wrong....but what about for playoff matchup purposes?


Add Copperfield to the list of teams that can make some noise in the 4.5 city playoffs. The playoff divisions may not be as imbalanced as I had originally thought. Copperfield blanked the mighty Westside Black Sheep last night, and put out a lineup that could raise the eyebrows of playoff teams' captains. New member Alex Bergmann arrived on the scene at Copperfield a week or so ago, and had captains whipping out their pens to sign up the unrated foreign import. League captains have to wonder how good this guy is. John Kudrick played number two singles yesterday and waxed Murray Fonseca. Kudrick must be back in good health, and I guarantee that nobody wants to see him on the other side of the net in the playoffs. Add Bryan Robins back into the mix...Michael Letan has made great improvements over the last several years and is now a very tough out as well. His doubles record this year is impressive. David McMullan has been better in doubles than singles...Copperfield could be tough!

Other 4.5 news is scarce at this time. The Mob Squad beat Lost Forest 4-1. John Wilkerson and Greg Bowen won for Lost Forest while Thang Pham dominated Daniel Kallus on the singles court. The Hurricanes 4.5 team had no trouble with Westside's other team, sweeping the match 5-0. Only Hal Hale managed a set as he extended Don Rios to three.

In 4.0, the big matchup was between JCC Dudes and Chancellor's. No official score has been reported, but rumor has it that Chancellor's swept. Impressive. In other news on the Chancellor's front, I've heard a rumor that the protest against them will be denied. Several people have assured me that Lewis, who runs the Chancellor's team, is a standup guy and would never do what has been alleged. In the absence of any proof, it's difficult to sanction anyone. I agree with many posters who say that something needs to be done to keep league tennis on the level.

In other 4.0 news, Copperfield has quietly dominated its competition this year, winning 36 of the 40 lines it has played. Nobody is paying them any attention, but it definitely looks like the 4.0 playoffs will have some depth and few breathers, unlike in some past years. Also, the Hurricanes 4.0 team defaulted a line but still managed a 4-1 win over the second place Smokers.

In 5.0, Lost Forest kept rolling on. Robert Bickmore took down Tor Krosby and the number one doubles tandem of Taylor and Bello took down Ballesteros and Sombito.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

City Playoff Info

Note: The City Playoff schedule has been updated and released:

In a nutshell: In 4.0 RR#1: Winners from D1 and D2, runners-up from D3, D4
RR#2: Winners from D3 and D4, runners-up from D1, D2

In 4.5 RR#1: Winners from D2 and D3, runner up from D1
RR#2: Winner from D1, runners-up from D2, D3

So how does it LOOK like it's gonna' shake out?

4.0 RR#1: Copperfield Copperheads, Chancellor's, SAP, Smokers
4.0 RR#2: Sienna Topspinners, Hurricanes, JCC Dudes, Bear Creek

4.5 RR#1: Westside, Mob Squad, Hurricanes
4.5 RR#2: Kingwood, Copperfield, Yutts

Wow: The 4.5 brackets are lopsided, in my opinion. I'd be curious to know how these things were decided upon. Kingwood will have a waltz to Sectionals, assuming they win their division. It certainly makes those three Kingwood-Hurricane regular season battles INTERESTING! In a way, the brackets are unfair, in that Kingwood probably has it a little too easy. But in a way, it's fair that the three teams perceived to be battling for that second slot are all in a round robin and will get to prove they belong in Dallas. Sorry for the frankness of my comments: I'm not trying to slight the Yutts or Copperfield, but I just feel they're a notch below the other four and not really much of a threat to Kingwood (or the Hurricanes).

Thanks to Diana for getting this information out there. Those players who will need to choose between two leagues certainly should have all information at their disposal before making their decisions.

Big Match in 4.0

The 4.0 division takes center stage this week with some interesting matchups with playoff implications.

The headliner is the match between Chancellor's and JCC Dudes. Both teams have been nearly perfect on the season, losing only 3 and 4 total lines respectively. Both teams went 2-1 in city playoffs last season, just one match away from a berth to Sectionals. The two teams appear to be among the top 3 teams in the city again this year. Jonathan Hao Nguyen has been a dominant force for Chancellor's thus far. He's 6-0, losing only 17 games total in those six matches. David Trevas is 6-0 in singles for the Dudes, and Paul Summers and Jeff Johnson are also undefeated in singles. An interesting subplot is the protest of last week's Chancellor's match. I have no details on the protest, but if it affects the outcome of the overall match the division race will be wide open and this week's match will loom even larger.

In Division I there is a matchup of the second and third place teams as Bear Creek takes on Lost Forest's Hackers. Bear Creek won 3-2 in their first meeting and consequently have a one match lead in the standings. Expect the Hackers to bring their best lineup this week. A 4-1 win will put them ahead in lines won on the season.

In Division IV the Hurricanes face the 6-1 Smokers, whose only loss came in the teams' first matchup. The Smokers' roster has strengthened since then, and despite the 5-0 score in the first meeting, the match was quite competitive.

In 4.5 there is an intriguing matchup as the first place Black Sheep take on Copperfield. Last week John Kudrick hobbled out onto the court in a must-win situation and paired with Michael Letan to pull out a huge win in a big matchup against the Jedi Knights. We'll see if he worsened his injury or if he'll try to gut it out again this week. Copperfield is trying to sew up its first 4.5 playoff berth since....heck, it might be their first playoff berth ever. Westside will get a good tuneup before city playoffs.

There's nothing exciting on the 5.0 docket this week. The top two teams match up against the two bottom feeders. Lost Forest's trip to Sectionals looks like a foregone conclusion at this point.

Friday, May 30, 2008

No details...

No details on any of these matches. I got these scores second hand from a knowledgable source and thougtht I'd pass them along.

Mob Squad defaulted line 3 dubs but still beat Sugar Creek 3-2. Burmann and Day dominated again.

Copperfield squeaked past the Jedi Knights, who, I believe, also defaulted a line.

Hurricanes, 4.0 and 4.5 both won, though perhaps not in the smashing fashion they're accustomed to.

Lost Forest 5.0 demolished the Met 3-0 behind newcomer Alim Mambetov, who beat Amit Garg. Arun Nanjappa played doubles, but their line was not competitive.

Craig Bobo's 5.0 team beat Allen Teague's. Tor Krosby had a nice win for Teague, taking down Alex Beaux, who had straight setted him earlier in the year. Bobo and Huffman clinched the match with a win over Deluca/Ballesteros.

The Yutts beat Lost Forest 4-1. St. Thomas HS star Carter Axelsen is a bright spot on the Lost Forest 4.5 team.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This Week's Stuff

There's a huge match in 5.0 this week as the Met plays host to Lost Forest. The Met still has a slight lead in the division standings, but Lost Forest's roster continues to improve and they have to be considered the favorite to win the guaranteed slot at Sectionals. Hernan continues to add talent. Last week saw the addition of Edwin Donoso, and more additions are always a possibility. Even with a loss tonight, it's still a possibility that the Met could get a second slot at Sectionals in 5.0.

As usual, there's a dearth of interesting matchups in 4.5. The three huge matchups of the season (Kingwood-Hurricanes) are at the back end of the schedule, but the truly meaningful matches are those that will help decide the second place spots and will earn teams a trip to the playoffs. I misread the schedule last week: THIS week features the matchup between Copperfield and The Jedi Knights. Both teams are solid all around but lack a truly dominant singles player to help them get a guaranteed win. That means this matchup should come down to the wire. Another 3-2 score is quite likely. I've not heard anything about John Kudrick's health...I know he was prepared to get back on the court a few weeks back but reinjured himself while "cross-training".

A stronger Sugar Creek probably needs to sweep all of their matches and will have their hands full with the Mob Squad tonight. However, Ken Douds has singles strength with Jason Cooney's return and the addition of collegian Samir Chiali.

In 4.0, Chancellor's seems to play a one loss team each week, and consistently swats them away like flies. Willow Fork was last week's victim, and this week they will play 4-1 Village Place. Chancellor's has surrendured just 3 lines all year, so the likelihood of their losing 3 tonight is very slim. Chancellor's and JCC are both undefeated with just three lines dropped on the season. They will match up next week in a match that will be good preparation for the level of play at city playoffs.

In Division III the top two teams match up as SAP tries to take down the Sienna Topspinners. Sienna spanked SAO 4-1 in their first matchup and would seem to be the underdog. SAP's Aaron Greene may be the best 3.5 rated player in the city. With a win over Eddie Perdomo earlier this year, he'd be an interesting choice for the singles spot.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Early Results

It's early, so there are not many results in yet. I have been incommunicado so I haven't heard much news, but here's a quick update:

None of the "interesting" matches in 4.0 have reported yet. As expected, the Hurricanes blew out the Acers and SAP crushed Sugar Creek.

In 4.5 two of the heavyweights have reported their scores. WestSide continued to roll on, beating the Ball Busters 4-1. The most intersting score, to me, was Sean Lacy absolutely destroying Garret Pittenger. Lacy is now 3-0 in singles and 2-0 in doubles and has not surrendured a set. His best win was 7-6, 6-3 over David McMullan. Opposing captains who've not seen Lacy play have got to be wondering just how good he is.

The Mob Squad had a surprising shutout win over Ssshhhwing. Herb Morton made his first appearance, but was not tested as Peter Rothe came down with an injury. Aadrian Hasker won his first match at #1 singles and Minh Phan and Tam Pham spoiled the Giordanelli brothers Houston USTA league debut.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This Week

It’s another fairly slow week this week. Is it just me, or are there fewer interesting matchups this year?

In the 5.0 division division leader the Met plays an Old School team that appeared to be giving them trouble when rain interrupted their first matchup a few weeks ago. Old School has Eliot Lopez on their roster and may provide a test for a Met team that has looked vulnerable lately. The other 5.0 matchup features a resurgent Lost Forest team facing Craig Bobo’s team filled with solid 4.5 players.

I quickly glanced at the 4.5 schedule and didn’t see much of interest. Ssshhhwing plays the Mob Squad again. Their first meeting came down to the wire as the Mob squeaked out a 3-2 win on the strength of a tight one at number one doubles. Both teams have added a player or two since then, but the Mob still appears stronger in the singles and weaker in the doubles.

Copperfield and the Jedi Knights butt heads again as well. Copperfield has one loss and the Knights have two, so it’s do or die for Jim Patton’s club. The first meeting was 3-2 Copperfield, with one line defaulted by the Knights.

In 4.0 several matches have playoff implications as teams jockey for the second place spot in their division. The second place Smokers, fresh off a victory over Rice, now take on a veteran Royal Oaks team with 2 losses. Royal Oaks has been thin in singles, and probably will not have enough to beat a scrappy Smokers bunch.

Unbeaten Chancellor’s takes on a 3-1 Willow Fork team that appears weaker than its record. The Prairie Dogs were crushed in their matchup with other division power JCC and appear to be too weak to challenge Chancellor’s.

Lastly, first place Copperfield takes on Lost Forest’s talented two loss team, The Hackers. The Hackers have several familiar names on their team with 4.5 experience, but have their hands full with a deep Copperheads squad.

Also, in the Noho league, there's a big matchup as Kris Knutson's team travels down to Bay Area to take on Red Benzon's team. Both teams are capable of fielding solid lineups...we'll see what kind of turnout they get on a holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rain comin'...???

Rain is in the forecast for Thursday. With the NCAA division II tennis tournament taking place at Memorial Park and possible weather delays, I'm not sure how matches there will be affected. Regardless, this week is devoid of many intriguing matchups.

The 5.0 division has just one match scheduled. Craig Bobo's Memorial Park team faces a Met squad that seems to be on the ropes lately. The match will be played indoors. The Met should have enough talent to right the ship this week.

In 4.5 there's really only one match that features legitimate playoff contenders features the Yutts and Ssshhhwings. Neither team has that much strength in the singles. A slimmer Peter Rothe ventured onto the singles court last week and had a comfortable win, but using him in singles will weaken the doubles. I feel like Ssshhhwing is a bit stronger in the doubles, but if James Bui and Daniel Morales can play well, the Yutts could have a chance in the singles. Still, I'll pick Ssshhhwings in a tight one.

In 4.0 there's a battle for second place and a probable playoff berth from Division as SAP plays the Rolido Boys. SAP has added doubles superstar Jason Urtis, fresh off a weekend of intense fitness training at the ping pong table. The Rolido Boys have a talented big guy in Michael Martinez. He and Greg Moran have been a virtual lock at line one doubles, so SAP may have to take 3 of the other four lines.

Rice is just 1-2, but showed last week in their loss to the Hurricanes that they do still have some talent on that roster. They match up with the second place Smokers in a do-or-die battle.

Unofficially, it looks as though the playoff formats will be the same as last year.

In other news, the NOHO league is now in full swing. Red Benzon's team finished up their match with Jimmy Kilshaw's crew last night and pulled out a 3-2 win as Kilshaw had to default line 3 doubles. Juan Lopez, who I've been told was once a Chilean Davis cupper, won a hard fought match with Red Benzon. Jody Deluca crushed Chantz Chanthanalay at one singles and Walter Fortenberry and Carter Ullrich surprisingly drubbed Alan Teague and David Huffman. Craig Bobo and and Ben Whitsett continued to show they are an elite 4.5 team in an easy win over Huynh and Kilshaw.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Playoff format?

We still haven't heard anything about the playoff format for city playoffs this year. I think that the 3.5 and 4.0 divisional playoffs last year worked out well, as everybody got a few matches in and I think the best teams managed to advance to Sectionals where they represented Houston well.

There was a lot of dissatisfaction with the 4.5 playoffs last year, but I'm not sure there will be any change to the format this time around. As you may remember, last year there were six teams in the 4.5 playoffs. The teams were split into two three team divisions, played round robin, and the winners advanced. There are a couple of problems with 3 team round robins, though. The biggest one, I think, is that you only get to play two matches. As a captain I've always tried my best to win and advance to Sectionals, but also feel that it is only right to get all of the players who contributed to our season into the playoffs. Some of these guys would show up to practice every week, fill in for someone at the last minute on Thursday night, always be available and cause no headaches for me. (Believe me, those types are few and far between) Having three matches afforded me more of an opportunity to get them into a match. I know I myself am not a "starting lineup" caliber player on my 4.5 team (probably not on any team), but sometimes I think it's only right that I get a chance to play in the playoffs.

Anyway, having two matches makes every match even more crucial. Having a three way tie in a division is certainly very possible, so the results of your first match don't allow you to relax in any way in the second one. Unfortunately, there is a court crunch for city playoffs, and other formats require more total matches and more courts, so a better solution is not as easy as you might think. Any ideas?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Week Four results

The 5.0 race tightened up last night as the Met lost to a revitalized Lost Forest team. Ricardo Rivas didn't do well in the singles, but the Lost Forest doubles were strong as Hernan was able to get Otis Sadler and Bryan Taylor into the lineup. With the Met apparently struggling in last week's rain-shortened contest, it's quite possible that Lost Forest is now the team to beat in 5.0.

In 4.5, the battle between Division III co-leaders Yutts and Mob Squad was as close as many predicted. As usual, the Mob was strong in the singles, as Steve Phan and Aadrian Hasker straight-setted James Bui and Daniel Morales, respectively. Lines one and three doubles both went to a third set, and the Yutts were stronger in both tie-breakers. Alain Tran/Miguel Morales beat Red Benzon/Nikki Lieu and Khang Quach/Andy Diep beat Minh Nguyen and Tam Pham. Line two doubles was a fairly comfortable win for Thang Pham and Alex Chang as they beat the Dugas brothers. The Yutts have been practicing and playing consistently, and their doubles improvement this season reflects it.

The other division leaders in 4.5 kept rolling along. Both Kingwood and the Met breezed past their opponents. The Met bested an overmatched Lakeside Estates team while Kingwood shut out a competent Westside bunch who gave them a bit of trouble in their earlier meeting. Brandon Burris played one singles for Kingwood and his three set win over Hal Hale would seem to indicate he may have trouble with the toughest guys in the league. Much ballyhooed Stephen Valentine rolled in his league debut as Gary Armstrong's partner. The Met beat a Lakeside Estates team that should have stuck to 4.0. Jason Freeman got his first 4.5 league win at line 3 doubles for the Met, pairing up with crafty veteran Charlie Smith.

The other headline 4.5 match of the night featured Westside against always-tough Jedi Knights. The Knights brought out a solid lineup. Ryan Cooper returned but was unable to take down Humberto Alzate. At line one, youngster Samuel Holmes beat Murray Fonseca of the Black Sheep. Westside's line one doubles team again proved itself a formidable force: Dimitrijevic and P. Hansen beat Ted Erck and Dan Courson in three, providing the margin of victory for the Black Sheep in their 3-2 win. Westside has a huge leg up in it's quest to win the division.

In 4.0, there was one big match between Copperfield and Bear Creek. Unfortunately, I've not heard any news on the outcome. In the other three divisions, the top teams continue to roll. Chancellor's had a test against the WSTC Phoenix. Chancellor's won 4-1, but four of the five matches went 3 sets. Jonathan Hao-Nguyen, who has played for Rice in recent years, continues to dominate for Chancellors. He's dropped just six games in 3 league matches as he and Jerry Pham breezed at 3 doubles. Mark Berglund won the only line for the Phoenix

Sienna's Toppspinners again won 5-0. They've met little resistance thus far. Will they be tested enough to withstand the rigors of city playoffs? The Hurricanes have also had an easy time of it thus far. They dropped their first line last night as the Rice team brought out a solid lineup. Harold Graham and Brian Arellano won for Rice. Reef Merhi was solid for the Hurricanes in a competitive line one singles match. Alex Montes also won with Jerome Meyer in his first appearance for the Hurricanes this season. Freeman will have some interesting options for the playoffs.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Week Four

Play resumes this week after most of last week's schedule was rained out.

There's a big match in the 5.0 league this week as the Met takes on Lost Forest. Hernan Guevara and his crew had ruled the 5.0 league for years before being unseated last year. Lost Forest got a late start this year and pretty much defaulted the first week against the Met when they fielded a lineup including a 4.0 player at line one singles. This week, his roster is much stronger, with players like Robert Bickmore and former Longhorn Otis Sadler now dotting the roster. The Met has had little trouble in their first three matches, and a win this week will pretty much seal the deal for them.

In 4.5 there's a good matchup in Divsion III as the Yutts and Mob Squad square off to break a tie atop the standings. The Yutts lost singles stalwarts Tor Krosby and Rich Ryu from a team that went 3-6 last year. This year, Alain Tran has got them playing better doubles, and many people are predicting they will knock off the once-mighty Mob Squad this week. The Mob Squad has a plethora of singles options. Steve Phan, Ted Phoummarath and Aadrian Hasker have all shown the ability to win in the singles spots, but the doubles has been very spotty. The Yutts have a chance to sweep the doubles.

In Division II, West Side has been destroying the competition. This week they'll play playoff veterans Jedi Knights, who have been a bit weaker thus far this year. Still, with a win Thursday the Knights will keep their season alive. Last week West Side's number one doubles team of Peter Hansen and Milos Dimitrijevic had a huge win over John Kudrick and David Kent and Murray Fonseca continued to win at number one singles. The Black Sheep's doubles will definitely be tested against the Knights this week. Will Samuel Holmes be able to take a singles line for the Knights?

In 4.0 Division I the two 3-0 teams, Bear Creek and the Copperheads, will break their first place tie this week. Sidney O'Pry is undefeated at singles for the Copperheads and may face tournament veteran Juan Pacheco for Bear Creek. I look for the Copperheads to pull out a victory. In Division II, heavy favorites Chancellor's takes on a decent WSTC Phoenix team, who has some competent doubles players like Walt Murray who may give Chancellor's its first test.

In Division III, the Top Spinners already seem to have a stranglehold on the top spot. SAP and the Over Hitters both try to stay alive in the standings in their matchup this week. Similarly, Division IV is a runaway, with the Hurricanes still not having dropped a set on the season. They play a Rice team that appears to have seen better days.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hagler v. Hearns

Yeah, it's a welterweight battle. I'm still not convinced that these teams can hang with the big boys, but I've been wrong many times before. Copperfield takes on West Side this Thursday in a battle for early supremacy in 4.5 Division II.

Copperfield's singles were quite disappointing last week, as David McMullan lost to a newcomer (Samuel Holmes) and Mike Salinas was absolutely destroyed by veteran Lawton Park, who has mainly played doubles in recent years. That doesn't bode well for Copperfield's singles this week. Humberto Alzate has proven himself to be a capable and consistent singles player over the last year plus, and probably rates as a favorite over Salinas. At line one, Murray Fonseca made his debut last week, and scratched by Quack Bui, which makes me believe he's a decent player, but not an unbeatable one. He and David McMullan should have a competitive match.

Copperfield's doubles look solid. Last week they swept the Jedi Knights, even without Bryan Robins in the lineup. At line 3, they benefitted by playing against a 3.5 player and won't have that luxury this Thursday. It'll be interesting to see if John Kudrick will be able to dominate all year long at line one, even while seemingly playing with marginal partners. West Side has not lost a line in doubles yet this season, and yet other than Peter Hansen has few players (no players?) who've made it up to sectionals. Mike Hansen is a competent veteran. Stale Berge and Sean Lacy are unknown commodities, and Toshi Mochizuki and Milos Dimitrijevic are competent. The doubles are a tossup, and it appears the match between the two teams is too tough to call.

Lost Forest has revamped their 5.0 roster and appears to be the lone challenger to the Met's supremacy. They play Craig Bobo's 5.0 team this week in a match which could effectively eliminate the loser from contending for the trip to Sectionals.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ali v. Frazier

This week brings the first of three matchups between the two heavyweights in 4.5: Kingwood and the Met Hurricanes. I doubt either team will be at full strength so early in the season, but I was taking a look at their rosters the other day and got to thinking: does the Met have a chance to win? I'm not sure. There are a lot of unknowns (Kingwood, in fact, just added a new player: Stephen Valentine. With a big roster, I doubt Jimmy would be adding him if he weren't an impact player) but I thought I'd make a hypothetical "top lineup" and see how they matched up.

1S Omon v. Sarosh
2S Juan Lopez v. Mills

1D Armstrong/Hurlbert v. Duplechin/Vernon
2D Pekar/Wright v. Chec/Hunckler
3D Vu/Huynh v. Regent/Yang

Of course, there are many others (Jannuzzi, Evans, Schornick, Santiago, B. Burris et al) who could be in the lineup at crunch time, but based on this matchup I have to give the edge to Kingwood. The Mills/Lopez matchup would be interesting to me, not having seen either one of them play but hearing rave reviews on both of them. The lower doubles lines are definitely up for grabs. I believe Omon and Armstrong/Hurlbert would be heavily favored.

How would the Mob Squad match up? Not too well, I'm afraid: 1S Phoummarath 2S S. Phan 1D Benzon/M. Phan 2D Santesteban/Pham 3D Chang/Vu would be a pretty big underdog to both teams at this point in the season.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Quick questions.

Was John Kudrick playing possum in HTA league?

Who is Samuel Holmes and how did the Jedi Knights sweep the singles and still lose?

Can the Mob Squad survive without new doubles talent?

Are Burrmann/Day (28-5 in 4.5) or Armstrong/Hurlbert (8-0 in 4.5) king of the doubles hill?

Is it possible that the 4.5 Sectional finalist from last year, returning virtually everyone, is the second best team in its own division?

Are the Black Sheep for real? Who are Murray Fonseca, Stale Berge and Sean Lacy????

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Week Two...

Well, another week is upon us. In 4.5 and 5.0, the rosters thus far are littered with familiar names. As far as I can tell, nobody emerged in week one as a new "ringer" on the scene. That may change as things heat up and some more interesting matchups emerge, but for now, it appears that the 4.5 and 5.0 leagues are a bit down in comparison to years past. Some familiar names (Tim Green, Ken Burkhart, etc.) are missing thus far. The 4.0 division has the usual number of new names. There are far too many teams to sort through all of them, but Freeman's team seems to have captured a lot of the new talent that emerged at "The Coke" this year.

Copperfield will make its much-ballyhooed debut tonight, facing the Jedi Knights. Copperfield's roster has not blossomed as many thought it would, but they still should be a solid team and will be a tough out for the Knights. Jim Patton's bunch has made City Playoffs in four of the last five years and despite an apparent singles weakness will be competitive in every match they play. David McMullan and Mike Salinas may be the singles guys for Copperfield: solid, but not spectacular. John Kudrick is the x factor...

Other decent 4.5 matchups tonight are Westside's No Way Out (who were competitive against Kingwood last week) against the 4.5 Hurricanes. Mob Squad takes on a Sugar Creek team that has been to the playoffs the last 3 years but appears a bit weaker this year. Also, Rice takes on the Black Sheep team, which has a few unfamiliar names who could emerge as top players.

In 5.0, last week's two winners square off as Craig Bobo's Memorial Park squad plays against the Met. The Met has added players like Amit Garg and Arun Nanjappa in the absence of a Rice 5.0 team this year and appears to be the strongest of a somewhat weak 5.0 bunch. In fact, Bobo's team has just one 5.0 rated player on its roster (Alex Beaux).

To be honest, in 4.0 at this point I'm only keeping my eye on 3 or 4 teams until someone else emerges. The Hurricanes, Rice Saints and Chancellor's have proven to be solid teams in recent years. With Lakeside not having a team this year, those are clearly the early frontrunners.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Results from Week One

There are not many results in yet, but I can give a brief report on what I know.

The marquee matchup last night was between Ssshhhwings and the Mob Squad. As expected, Mob Squad was strong in the singles and Shwing in doubles. Ted Phoummarath and Steve Phan both seemed to do much of the running, but each came out on top after surrenduring just five games. The lower doubles lines went Shwing's way, as Mob Squad had a 4.0 player in each spot. Kim/Lindloff and Benoit/Judson were both impressive in their victories. As he always seems to be, Red Benzon was in the middle of the decisive match, and he and Minh Phan squeaked out a 7-6, 7-5 win over Peter Rothe and David Hall. Rothe and Hall played well...I had heard that they were having a bad year, but Peter looked fitter than I've seen him and David was on top of his game.

In other 4.5 matches, the Yutts pulled out a 3-2 win over Sugar Creek. Notably absent from the Sugar Creek lineup were Jason Cooney and John Burrmann. The Yutts capitalized and took line one singles and line one doubles. The 4.5 Hurricanes had little trouble with a Lakeside Estates team comprised mainly of 4.0 players, winning 4-1. Richard Patton and Phong Regent won with a double bagel, and Michael Chec/Charlie Smith gave up just one game.

In 5.0, Allen Teague's Old School team lost 2-1 to Craig Bobo's squad. Alex Beaux took down Tor Krosby in singles. Jody Deluca looked like his wrist has recovered from surgery as he and Laurence Sambito won for Old School.

The two heavyweights in 4.0 cruised to easy victories. Chancellor's dispatched of Pecan Grove with ease and the Hurricanes cruised past the Acers 5-0. The Sienna Plantation Top Spinners beat the Rolido Boys 4-1 and look like they could be a factor in 4.0 division III

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Opening day

It's opening night tonight. Many of the rosters appear to be fairly full, but I'm sure there will be some last minute signups.

However, right now there look to be some clear frontrunners in the race to get to Dallas.

The 5.0 division is littered with players from the Met...every team has members and/or players from the Met's tough offseason Thursday night league. David Toney's team has picked up a nice addition in Arun Nanjappa, as there is no Rice 5.0 team this year. Based on preliminary rosters, they appear to be the team to beat, although Hernan's Lost Forest roster is yet to be filled out.

The 4.5 division appears to be a one-horse race. Kingwood came so close to making it to Nationals last year, and has most of their key players (minus Odion Dibua) back. They've added Juan Lopez as well as Brandon Burris, Hugh Burris, Dan Hanley and others. Their division will have some competitive matches as Jason Freeman has put together a very tough team which will be a definite contender for that second spot in Dallas (if there is one). David Yang, Chris Hunckler and Phong Regent are some of the top players on Freeman's squad.

The Mob Squad has also returned from its hiatus, minus several of its former contributors. Still, they have a couple of solid singles guys in Steve Phan and Ted Phoummarath and many of their doubles guys have had success at the Sectional level in the past. They'll have a tough battle tonight with Peter Rothe's team, which is always solid in the doubles lines.

You can almost always pencil the Jedi Knights in for the playoffs, and it certainly looks like they'll be a contender again this year. They've added Ted Erck, who was a big name in Austin tennis back in the day, and who has played a pro tournament or two. I'm not quite sure who their singles guys will be...Ryan Cooper had not yet signed up when this was written. As noted, Copperfield will be stronger this year, but will not be the unstoppable force some people were anticipating. Still, with John Kudrick, David McMullan, Bryan Robins and some others, they'll be solid. It looks like Tommy Ristau has taken over the captaining duties for the Black Sheep. They have a few names I'm unfamiliar with, and will bear watching.

In 4.0, I think it's a two horse race. Freeman's Hurricanes again appear loaded, and Chancellor's has littered their roster with very good players in an attempt to wrest the crown from Freeman. Most of Freeman's Nationals team from last year has been moved to 4.5, but many on his roster had impressive showings at the Coke, and Freeman has a good eye for talent. Chancellor's has some young talent mixed in with some guys who've proven themselves to be quality 4.0 players (I'm sure some would say that's an oxymoron) in the past.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Barriers to Entry

Man, this league stuff is getting quite pricey. I've recently met a few guys and girls who are interested in getting back into tennis. I told them how much fun it is to play in the USTA leagues. My mixed doubles partner hasn't played since juniors. She asked me how much it would cost her to play in the mixed league with me. I noticed last night that the signup fee for tennis link has gone from $8 to $20 (a 150 percent increase!!!). Of course, in addition to that, there's the $40 usta membership and the $20 HTA membership. Eighty dollars in upfront fees is too much (this doesn't even include court fees, balls, etc) when you consider that most people play maybe 5 or 6 matches in a season. I can't, in good conscience, ask my mixed partner to sign up for league.

I understand that USTA-Texas is behind the 150 percent increase. I can't imagine that their costs have gone up that dramatically????

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Signups in full swing.

The league rosters are getting filled up, slowly but surely. As usual, the 4.5 division drags its feet a bit in filling out rosters. Some of that is just procrastination and laziness, while some of it may also be an unwillingness to "show your hand" early.

Quite frankly, right now it appears that 4.5 is not nearly the powerhouse it was supposed to be. In fact, it looks quite weak. I am putting together a team of old, fat, rusty mob squadders, with perhaps a few new additions. Our team will be considerably weaker than in years past but still should be somewhat competitive based on how things look right now. Freeman's team and Kingwood appear the strongest thus far, though there's still plenty of time for things to heat up.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Well, it's about that time of year when a lot of us start thinking about the USTA summer league. Of course, the more serious captains have been working on their rosters continuously since last season, always having an eye opened for a potential contributor.

I haven't talked to very many people so I'm not very well-informed of the goings-on around the city. The few people I HAVE talked to are all in agreement that the Copperfield 4.5 team is going to be a team to keep your eye on. With John Kudrick (it seems like just a couple of years ago when he was playing at 5.5 NATIONALS) and Blessing Bvunzawabaya now rated 4.5, they could be almost unstoppable. Rumor has it that Blessing will be working at Liezel Huber's new tennis academy in the Northwest part of town, so time will tell if he'll have the time or desire to play with a Copperfield 4.5 team.

Mostly everyone I've talked to is still scratching their heads over some of the ratings after all of the appeals were accepted or denied. Tim Hurlbert's name is the one most often mentioned. Despite losing the Dibuas, Kingwood will again be loaded.

I saw a bunch of league players out at the UT-aTm match yesterday. Craig Bobo and Ben Whitsett were playing in a tournament there and are already in midseason form. Whitsett looks like he's improved from last season, and the duo were just a point or two away from handing a loss to former UT All-American Jack Brasington. I believe Bobo will be taking over from Tim Green and Ken Burkhart captaining the Hangovers. With his connections as tennis director at Walden Country Club I won't be surprised to see some more talent added to the roster. The Hangovers have been diligent about working on their games in the offseason, with leagues and drills just about every week. Lurking in the background is Red Benzon, of course. With his tennis connections, any team he joins will become an immediate favorite.

I haven't heard too much about the other divisions. Apparently the Houston Racquet Club will be fielding a team in the 5.0 division, which I'm sure will be competitive. I'm sure Tim Green will be fielding a team in 5.0 that will raise the bar in that division. Love him or hate him, (I've never figured out why there is such animosity towards Tim in the comments here??????) he's got a great track record at putting teams together. Although it was well-balanced, last year was a down year for the 5.0 division in Houston. Perhaps there will be a talent boost this season.

I've heard absolutely no talk about 4.0. I know Jason Freeman will have a team, and based on past performance his team will definitely bear watching. It remains to be seen if he can field a winner after losing a ton of talent from last year's squad and being hamstrung by the "three player rule" which affects teams that go to Nationals. Rice, Lakeside and Chancellor's are three other teams to watch. I just found out that Rice captain Bill Hunt had suffered a heart attack just prior to Sectionals last season. Hopefully he has fully recovered and will again be putting together a top-notch team.