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.


40 comments:

  1. Ward Januzzi is a legend in his own mind

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  2. I agree with the Met analysis. They have been overrated all year. They have not beaten a decent team yet and I doubt they will win a match in the playoffs.

    Many of their "top" players have been shown to be average.

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  3. The city playoff finalists have been decided: Kingwood vs. Mob Squad. All other teams please accept your defeat before the matches have been played.

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  4. Anyone notice that Kocky Kris Knutson got double bageled yesterday?

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  5. Kingwood should win the city playoffs. There biggest competion will be Copperfield and the Met.

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  6. Interesting analysis but you overlooked one of the top 2 or so teams in the state. Fort Worth!! Fort Worth lost in the finals to that allstar team from San Antonio two years ago. They have the basic core from 2 years ago plus a couple of upgrades. A different Fort Worth team made the final 4 last year. Don't overlook Fort Worth!

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  7. copperfield still has a chance to take the top spot on div II, with a sweep over rice.

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  8. Ward Januzzi who? Mr. 0-something in 5.0 and Mr. excuse maker. I'm sure Freeman put him against Kingwood for a reason...that's right he had an excuse not to play those 2 matches.

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  9. Copperfield is Kingwood's biggest competition in their bracket. If they get past them, then the MET could be a competitor. But the MET has to get past both the Mob and Westside. Thursday evening: MOB vs MET in city playoffs.

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  10. this thursday? where?

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  11. FTW could do some damage if in the right group they have a solid but not dominant team that has been together for years. They do not have any stud singles players though, which what's needed especially at Sectionals, if a WC is awarded to FW the Southlake team in my opinion is better, but right now they are on the outside due to losing on Sets at the FW Championships.

    Dallas Branch: Do not forget Sumrow, who I believe was on the Austin team prior. Also having Kevin Durten is a huge advantqage. they could go 4-5 deep in singles, but not sure if they are any better than the expected Houston Team. Branch tanked enough at 5.0 last Fall to get back down. Expect him to get another 5.0 ESR though.

    Dallas Feldman would be an outside chance with a team similar to FW Team solid but not spectacular.

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  12. as for the Corpus Christi singles player, if he does not have a grievance filed by every other team at Sectionals then there is a major crack in the system and TTA chooses when to follow their own guidelines.
    Signing to play at a Top 75 == automatic 5.5, all one has to due is go to the TAMU-CC athletics site do a simple search and one will find Maingot signed a LOI with them last November.

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  13. Next Thursday, July 10th is the start of the playoffs at LLTC

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  14. If you have a personal problem with Ward, then take it up with him. WE DO NOT CARE!!!!

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  15. Does anyone know when mid-year ratings will come out. Seems they usually come out the week before July 4

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  16. Aren't the 4.5 Met Hurricanes violating the 50 mile radius rule with Jacob Vernon and Daniel Duplechin on their team. Houston can only bring 1 player in from outside 50 miles.

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  17. If you have seen Jacob, then you will know that it's only 1 person ; )

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  18. is today the day that NOHO players have to declare for either their Houston or NOHO teams? Who from the Houston playoffs is going with NOHO?

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  19. How does Red get away with having Billy Heim on his team. That guy played for Tulane a few years back and is still young. How is he 4.5?

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  20. Yeah I saw that guy at the Gallery Furniture playing OPEN and winning a few matches. How is he playing 4.5?

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  21. I don't understand how Houston is not winning Sectionals every year in 4.5. I mean, if you can add your hidden and unseen players to your team at this point in the season, when no other city will allow their leagues to do that, should be one heck of an advantage that should ensure a championship. How come they don't win still?

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  22. Which cities can't add players throughout the season? This is not special to Houston.

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  23. Mid year ratings come out july 15

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  24. basically Heim lied on his self-rate in 2006 when he played on a team in New Orleans as a 4.5 sat out 2007 and now joined Red's team. all one has to do is pull up collegetennisonline.com and see his 3 matches while at Tulane in Spring 2005, guess he did not go anywhere else after Hurricane Katrina took away the Men's program.

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  25. Heim is no different than Trent Broach and Chance Morgan from a few years back, no captains have a backbone to file a grievance. One would think beating a 5.5 player would raise a few eye brows.

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  26. I expected more from some people on Red's team from a character perspective. Whatever it takes to win I guess.

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  27. Whatever it takes to win. shut the F--k up. Every damn team at sectionals has all star studs.You mean to tell me people on Kingwood Crush are legitimate 4.5's. What about the Copperfield team Kudrick? Geez grow up it doesn't take one player to win the League. the team has to have depth to win. Half the people that post on this Blog have no idea of tough sectionals really is.

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  28. I beg to differ. One stud singles player is a difference maker in Dallas. If you won't acknoweledge that, you are being less than candid or you have not been to Sectionals as much as you say you have. Since you were so obviously insulted by the sugggestion that you are cheating, it makes me wonder.......are you? Are you even aware of it? If so, do you care? I think I know the answer.

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  29. USTA league is for suckers.

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  30. One singles stud can make a difference if you have DEPTH in doubles. But 2 singles studs will pretty much make your Sectionals wins a piece of cake. Austin Wild was a good example last year in 4.5. Both Chad Case and Stuart Holland were damn good, and then they had several doubles players that could pull out another win.

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  31. who from playoff teams in the Houston league declared for NOHO?

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  32. Send Diana Wengler an email to find out. What fool would willingly provide that information.

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  33. Just to answer the question about adding players, in Austin you cannot add players after league play has started.

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  34. That same rule applies in Waco.

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  35. Dallas and Fort Worth cannot add players once the season starts. As far as I can tell, Houston is the only city that allows that. How is that? I don't understand?

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  36. Dallas can add players during the season as long as they can get their 2 matches in prior to City Playoffs, not sure why there is such an issue with adding players outside of the usual suspects adding a ringer every year.
    I also remember Ft Worth allowing the addition of players when I played league there a few years back.

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  37. "not allowing" players to sign up after the season begins is not the norm, it is the exception.

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  38. you guys are nothing but a bunch of sandbagging scrubs. if you had any talent and/or balls you would play 5.0 and take your lumps like a man and move on.

    I find it comical that you guys are so wrapped up in this. Get a freakin life.

    On a positive note, this is well done. Your guys have once again done a bang-up job of research and evaluating the teams.

    How about a prediction for the finals in Dallas, as well as your winner?

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