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.