Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Boring Week

I took a quick look at the schedule this week and there doesn't appear to be many (any?) intriguing matchups.  About the only decent match I saw was the 4.0 contest between Sienna and JCC.  Jedi Knight and Copperfield in 4.5 is an ok matchup as well.

In 4.5 and 5.0 the "power teams" either have a weak off or are playing also-rans.  Until I see evidence otherwise, the 5.0 Copperfield team doesn't appear to have much standing in its path to Sectionals, and I certainly don't think the Upsetters will live up to their name this week.  

Some of the stronger teams will get an opportunity to work some players into the lineups this week or experiment with some combinations.  Or tank...but that never happens.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drama at LLTC

Omon said it best (or was it Odion?  I still can't tell the difference and usually mask my confusion with a "How's it goin', big guy?"):  "This is why we love league tennis."

Both Hurricane matches at Lee Leclear went down to the wire with a third set breaker at line 2 singles deciding things.  In 4.5 it came down to former teammates Ted Phoummarath and Aadrian Hasker.  Aadrian was rocketing bullet forehands and Ted was running and scraping balls back and mixing in the occasional passing shot and even an ace which shocked the crowd.  In the end, Pumma won an anti-climactic tie breaker as Aadrian finally ran out of shots.  

The Deucebags looked to be heavy underdogs when the lineups came out, as Miguel Morales and Rich Ryu were not present.  Captain Tran split up the Dugas brothers, and he and Trey pulled off a shocker, beating Odion and fellow Aggie Matt Sumrall.  Props should go out to Alain, who has improved as much as anyone in the league over the last five years or so and was continually hitting crisp volleys tonight.  Derrick Dugas and Bobby Trinh took down Sarosh Ahmed and David Lombardi and Omon handled James Bui at number one singles.  Line one dubs went to the Hurricanes easily as Burmann and Day continued their dominance.  

The Hurricane 4.0 team was not as fortunate.  Similarly, the line two singles match came down to the aggressor against the scrapper....maybe defense DOES win championships.  In this one, Daniel Durand came back from an early deficit to beat Phong Hau 10-8 and give Sienna the victory.   Scott Foster was dominant for the Hurricanes at line one singles, and truly looked to be playing at a different level.   Bruce Inting kept up his winning ways at line 2 doubles, but Sienna's Donn Nguyen and Ronnie Kwan dominated at line 1, and Scott Boarman and Dean Cushing pulled out a tight one in a well-played match at line 3 doubles.  

The Hurricane 4.0 team went the entire local season last year unscathed, and is already 0-1 this year.  It's pretty clear that this team is not of the same caliber as last year's team.   Freeman lost 8 guys from last year's team to the 4.5 ranks, (one of them, Roberto Narajos, was giving Don Rios all he could handle tonight and will be a high quality 4.5) and thus far it looks as though only one impact player has been added:  Inting.    Sienna has established itself as the favorite in that division, and the Hurricanes will have their hands full making it to the playoffs with JCC and the Nights both having strong rosters.  

Quick Look at 4.0 and 5.0

I haven't really looked at all of the rosters, and quite honestly don't know most of the players at the 4.0 level, but my impressions are that these are some of the teams to watch.

In Division I, the Copperheads look loaded.  They've added Bo Bassett and JJ Deleon to a team that was already quite talented.  I would expect them to take the division. Bear Creek has a lot of their talent back from a successful team last year.  Juan Pacheco will again be a tough out in singles. 

In Divsion II, the asians will probably dominate.  Chancellor's and the Smokers look to be the top two teams.  Chancellor's has added Bernie De La Torre and Danny Do in an attempt to replace their singles losses from last year.  Bernie has wins over Brian Robins, Robby Wolf, Wade Karel, Quach Bui, Jonathan Hao Nguyen and Mike Giordanelli  in the last 3 years and Do gives coworkers Jerry Pham, De la Torre and Phuong Le fits in their lunchtime battles.   The Smokers may have a healthy Duc Nguyen this year and added a new unknown in Khoi Bui.  

In Division III, there are three quality teams battling for two spots in the citywide playoffs.  JCC has a bunch of crafty older doubles guys in Joe Warren, Chuck Stasny and Harold Graham, among others.  They may not have the singles firepower that some other teams have, however. Sienna has emerged as a power in the last year or so, but I'll be honest, their roster is so damn big I don't know what to expect from them.   The Hurricanes seem to have a lot of guys who can play singles, but I'm still curious to see what their doubles lineup ends up looking like.  Almost everyone on the team had singles success at the "Coke", and Freeman will have his hands full trying to find a lineup.  Scott Foster looks to be the star after his success in 4.5 at the Gallery Furniture tournament.

SAP looks to be the class of Division IV, with the Rolido Boys looking to give them some competition.  Word on the street is that John Grego may be the top 4.0 player in the league, and he's fresh off a 2007 National Campus Championship team at Texas A&M.  The rest of the roster looks strong as well, headed by doubles specialists Chris Towle and Michael Tran.  

Red Benzon's 5.0 Hurricane team looks to be the class of the league at this point, although the rosters are still quite incomplete.  Former Longhorn Otis Sadler, Sean Straley, Brian Smith, John Kudrick and Jason Pieters are just some of the ridiculous talent assembled here.  They may get a singles test tonight in week one as I've heard that Westside's Eric Kruseman is a former Davis Cupper and will be tough for anyone to handle.  Hernan's Lost Forest team and the Met are usually in the hunt when all is said and done, and Willowfork may put together a nice roster as well.   

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

4.5 Preview

With over a day until the start of the season, there are sure to be several late roster additions and a surprise or two, but below are my initial impressions of how things will shake out in 4.5 this year.  

Division I
This division looks lopsided to me.  

I can't see anyone truly challenging Ssshhhwings at this point. Peter Rothe has assembled his best singles duo in quite some time with the addition of Neil Carpenter and Rene Ramirez to his roster.  Carpenter's results have gone a bit downhill in the last few years, but he's still more than capable of beating anyone in the league.  Ramirez will be a solid number two guy.  Assuming Justin Benoit signs up, a doubles lineup of Rothe/Hall, Kim/Lindloff and Judson/Benoit will be solid.  

The Jedi Knights are not nearly the power they once were, but they still should have enough to contend with Copperfield for the second spot in this division.  New addition Lan Nguyen may be a key (is this the same Lan Nguyen who was playing in the 16's three or four years ago?).  Will Samuel Holmes be on the team???...if not, the lineup will have a few holes.   Dan Courson, Lawton Park, Tim Sebesta and Mike Moss are solid doubles guys, and perhaps Tom Caine will also be joining them.  

Copperfield's team looks like a much weaker version of last year's bunch.  Any team losing a John Kudrick will be in trouble, but at this point there's no Alex Bergmann or Dave McMullan on the roster...losing even two of those three will be crippling.  Mike Salinas will scrape out a few wins, and Letan and Robins have been successful in recent years, but right now they need more firepower.  

Karl's team is interesting, but I don't see them contending.   The roster is loaded with current high school coaches (Burford is at Katy High, and Trip Norkus, Nile Gross, Aaron Layman and James Weaver are all current or former coaches...some of the others may be coaches as well).  Scott Kaiser was once the Chronicle's tennis writer.   Unfortunately this team may be stronger in the strategy department than it is on the court.  Layman and Weaver will be troublesome, but I don't see the rest of the group being that dangerous.  

The Ballbusters have changed their home court, but unfortunately the only major roster upgrade that I know of was the addition of Jochen Moser.  Mark Ashley and Ian McKeithen will be a tough out in doubles, but the quality depth is lacking here.  

Division II

Kingwood has been the dominant player in this division for years, and figures to battle neck and neck with Westside for the division title.  The loss of the Dibuas is huge, and despite a recent win over one of the twins in the North Suburban league, Don Rios' addition is not enough to offset even one Dibua.  Rumor has it that Kingwood still has some additions to be made to the roster, but right now they have solid veterans Huynh, Vu, and Pekar.  I'm going on a hunch here, as the roster is not currently all that strong, but I think Kingwood may nudge ahead of Westside for the title.

I might have picked Westside had they not removed Rodolfo Benitez from their roster, perhaps in fear of forfeiting lines should he be found ineligible.  Still, the cupboard is far from bare.  Ted Bradley, Humberto Alzate and Sean Lacy are solid.  Stale Berge is not yet on the roster, but he will help.  

Unfortunately the other three teams don't merit much mention.  Plus, I'm getting tired of typing.  :)   All three are below average 4.5 league teams.  

Division III

This division will be owned by the heavy favorite Hurricanes.   The team as currently constructed will run into some trouble up in Dallas, but is far too strong for any local competition.  The only question at this point is how to find the best lineup.  Omon and Odion can hang with any singles players in the city (and mostly anyone across the state), but are also valuable in doubles.  Ted Phoummarath can play singles if you leave the Dibuas in doubles, but who else will play, and how strong will the singles be with the Dibuas in doubles?   The Hurricanes have picked and chosen some of the top players from Kingwood, Sugar Creek and the Mob Squad in addition to some intriguing newcomers.   I'll be shocked if they are beaten locally.

The Deucebags are clearly the next strongest team in the Division.  With the addition of Aadrian Hasker and the return of Rich Ryu, the singles is very capable.  A doubles lineup of Dugas/Dugas,  Tran/Morales and Bui/Diep (or any other variation) will be solid, but not spectacular.  

Sienna will be solid at line one singles with Juan Trevino.  There are a lot of 4.0 bumpups who are talented (Bird, Schlensker, et al) and a couple of solid veterans (Lane, Jacobs), but overall not enough talent to hang with the big boys.  Still, they're capable of scaring some people or pulling off the occasional upset.  

Sugar Creek's team lost a lot when Burrmann and Day defected to the Hurricanes.  They've added Sydney Jim's brother Simon, and last year added Samir Chiali, who showed some promise, but overall the team will probably struggle this season.  

Anyway, that's a somewhat quick look at things as they stand right now.  I'm sure things will change.   If I have time I'll try to look at 4.0 and 5.0 before tomorrow less depth probably.  

Week 1 Predictions and Last Minute Roster Additions

So it looks like the big matches this week are:

4.0 - Sienna @ Hurricanes
4.5 - Duecebags @ Hurricanes
4.5 - Hurricanes2 @ Kingwood

It looks like Freeman has his plate full today. With two key matches at LLTC tonight and one at Mem Park I am sure he will have his agents feverishly texting him updates on a point by point basis.

Also it will be interesting to see how the Freeman "B" squad does against the former powerhouse known as Kingwood. That B team looks to be the same core that went to nationals in 2007 and have the capability to do well this year.

Jason, make sure you have that unlimited SMS plan.....

Last minute roster additions:

Our very own Greg Dwyer has signed up for Freeman's 4.0 team. With only 1o people on the roster, they are a business trip or injury away from forfeiting a line. Need to get out and get some people Freeman!

On the other hand Sienna's 4.0 roster now has 25 people on it. I suppose that is one way to beat the competition.... sign up everyone in your area code for your team and there will be no one left to play against you. WTF?

Good luck to all and let the smack talking begin.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Draws are Posted

The draws for the summer leagues just came out today for 4.0 and 3.5.

It seems that 4.5 in still in progress.

Any predictions?

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Ted Bradley has been the talk of the tournament at the 4.5 level.  Assuming Stale Berge plays and that their other new "ringer" is allowed to play, Bradley's emergence has probably put them squarely in the second slot and a favorite to earn a possible second berth at Sectionals.  Alzate and Lacy are two other solid guys that will make their lineup formidable.  

The Hurricanes still appear to be the favorites, but I still don't see the dominant number one singles guy that would move their team to another level.  Omon, Odion, Phoummarath and Green are all solid and using any two of them in a match would give them a very good shot at at least splitting the singles, but the other big teams will make a lot of those singles matchups at Sectionals coin-tosses.   Still, the rosters are still in their infancy as many teams wait until the last minute to spring their surprises. 

Friday, April 10, 2009


I was just perusing the Coke results and noticed that Juan Trevino had a comfortable win against Sarosh.  Trevino was a solid player in the Bay area, and in fact advanced to league sectionals in the 5.0 division several years back where he played some singles.  

I'm not sure who exactly is running the league tennis show down in Sienna, but they are certainly doing a great job.  Aadrian Hasker switched over to the Deucebags team, but Sienna was very close to fielding a dangerous roster in its very first year at the 4.5 level.  The doubles lineup in 4.5 still looks unseasoned, though they've added Dale Lane, who was a solid player for Ssshwing several years back.   Sienna will probably take some lumps in 4.5 this year, but it appears things are moving in the right direction.  

In the 4.0 division Sienna has to be considered one of the favorites after raising some eyebrows last season and coming within a few points of a berth at Sectionals.   I was out at the Memorial Park today watching some of the 4.0 stuff...while there didn't look to be any undiscovered ringers out there, there were several players who could make contributions.