Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tri-Level Event

It’s time for Tri-Level!
 Date: Jan. 29-30, 2011
 Location: Lost Forest Racquet Club
 Men and Women form separate teams. Select from two levels of play: 4.5/4.0/3.5 or 4.0/3.5/3.0. Players may only play on one team. Players must be 18 years or older by December 31, 2011. Players must play one match to be eligible to advance to sectionals.
 Format: Three lines of doubles. Max 12 players per team. At the 4.5/4.0/3.5 level, line 1, 2 and 3 will consist of two 4.5s, two 4.0s and two 3.5s, respectively. At the 4.0/3.5/3.0 level, line 1, 2 and 3 will consist of two 4.0s, two 3.5s and two 3.0s, respectively.
 Regular scoring will be used with a 3rd set Coman match tiebreak
 Cost: $26 per person
 Important Note: The 4.5/4.0/3.5 level teams cannot have self rated players. All players must have 2010 Year End computer ratings. The 4.0/3.5/3.0 teams can have self rated players.
 Deadline to request a team number and have a majority of your team signed up is January 15th.
 Sectionals: February 18th-20th at Kingwood Country Club.
 Nationals for the 4.5/4.0/3.5 level will be at Indian Wells, Ca during the BNP Paribas Open Tournament March 17th-20th. There is no National event for the 4.0/3.5/3.0 level.
 All players must be an HTA member.
Contact Catherine Blevins at htaleauges@houstontennis.org for more information and to attain a team number.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

HTA Fall Results

Yeah, I know, the season was played just for practice, and the results didn't count for ratings, but I'm sure the competitive juices were flowing when the Fall playoffs took place recently.

In 4.5+ doubles, Allen Teague's Old School team took the title by beating Katy 3-1. Katy won at line one, with Phong Regent and newcomer (4.5 rated) Juan Muhala beating Ben Whitsett and Neil Carpenter. Muhala may be one to watch.

The 4.0 doubles finals are scheduled for tonight. Copperfield's Shock and Awe, which features some pretty good 4.5 players in Letan and Rawls, will take on JCC in the finals. As you may know, a couple of 4.5 players are permitted to play, but must play at lines 1 and 2. (assuming my memory of HTA league rules is correct)

Katy Mason Creek won the 4.5 singles league behind Neil Carpenter, Monty Lindloff and Ky Kim. Margarito Arias will lead Sienna against Excalibur in the 4.0 singles finals.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

HTA Christmas Party

I made my first-ever trip to the HTA Christmas Party last night, which was held at Cheryl's lovely home and was a lot of fun.

I ran into league veteran (and now 5.0) Allen Teague as he elbowed me away from the buffet table. Anyway, he told me about a new league he is trying to put together which may be of interest to many of you. As you may know, there is a senior (50+) league which is held late in the summer and consists of three lines of doubles. Last year Jimmy Kilshaw's 4.5 team and Mike Spoor's 4.0 team both qualified for Nationals.

Allen has proposed a similar league for 40+ year old players and has been working out the details with the higher-ups in Austin. While there is currently no national championship held in this event, the hope is that it will take hold in Texas and perhaps eventually grow to that level. Right now the plan is for this to be a pilot program, and will probably initially start at the men's 4.5 and perhaps 4.0 levels.

Allen would like to know how much interest there is and would love for potential captains to contact him. I may have had a few too many egg nogs last night, so some of the details may have eluded me. Please contact Allen if you're interested in captaining. Unfortunately I neglected to get his phone number and/or email address, so hopefully he or someone else will provide it, or you can consult the membership directory at http://www.houstontennis.org

Sunday, November 28, 2010

'Twas The Night Before Ratings...

Yes, ratings are scheduled to be released tomorrow. There's been no indication that the USTA is planning a dramatic ratings shift again this year, but people are closely watching the 4.5 division to see if much of its membership is pushed up to 5.0.

If the USTA decides not to make further adjustments this year, expect to see many local 5.0 players moved back down next year. The quality of play locally in 4.5 was down a notch last year, but next year could see a deep 4.5 talent pool in Houston, making for an exciting season.

Feel free to speculate on bumpups and bumpdowns...we'll keep an eye out for official announcemnt of the new ratings.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

DECEMBER 4th (3.0 and 4.0 levels)
DECEMBER 5th (3.5 and 4.5 levels)
Copperfield Racquet & Health Club
Summary of Rules
Teams consist of a minimum of 2 females and 2 males with a maximum of 10 total. The top 2 males and females on your team must AVERAGE the level you are participating in. (i.e. 3.0 + 4.0 = 3.5 level)
Matches: 6 set format
Women and men's doubles
Women's and men's singles
Two sets of mixed doubles
Scoring: A match consists of six no-ad sets. Each no-ad set is won by the first team to reach six games. A nine-point tiebreaker will be played at five games all in any set. After both mixed double sets are finished and scores are recorded and totaled:
A. If the leading team won set number six, the match is over.
B. If the trailing team won set number six, the match continues into overtime until the leading team wins one game or until the score is tied. If a tie occurs, a Super tiebreaker will be played to determine the winner!
Substitutions: At any point, a team can substitute a player (same gender) into a set!
Coaching is allowed and we encourage team members to stand along the court and CHEER their team! (just like Davis Cup)
Lance P. Loken
(832) 387-8248
Recently, we had 4 teams from the Houston area travel to Indian Wells, CA for the National Championships!!! 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and Corporate 4.5 were levels that were represented.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Masters Discussion

The Texas Adult Masters tournament is approaching, with play set to begin on November 5th.

Several Houston area men's players have qualified in singles.

In the 4.0 division, the Houston area will be represented by Matt Drake and Kris Knutson, who have been placed in the same grouping. There are four players in each of two groups ("red" and "white") and the winner of each group advances to the finals.

In 4.5, half of the field comes from the Houston area. John Griffin and David Guy are in one bracket, and Herb Morton and Chris Sandblom are in the other.

In 5.0 play, Tim Green, Omon Dibua and Reggie Black all qualified, with Dibua and Black set to play in the round robin portion.

Doubles qualifiers in 4.0: John Shivers and Brian Dennis.

Doubles qualifiers in 4.5: David Hall, Peter Rothe, Red Benzon, David Guy, Brian Goldberg, Herb Morton and Robert Wood.

There is no 5.0 doubles event.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Upcoming LeMaster Husband Wife Tennis Tourney

Hey Folks,

Heads up for those who play more than just men's league and women's league.

The 53rd annual LeMaster Husband/Wife Tennis tourney is coming up Nov 19-21 at GTAC.

Please see link here for tournament website.

Tennslink registration is here, or printable mail in application is here.

You do not have to be a USTA member to play in this event, it is a non-sanctioned event that has levels from 3.0 to open.  So drag your spouse, tenniswife or tennishusband out to play - Cheryl and I will be checking marriage certificates!

There is a dinner on Friday with a cash bar. Play typically starts on Friday and runs through Sunday.

If you have any questions hit me up at chris@lemastertennis.com

HTA Board

Harold Graham has asked that I post this on the blog. It would be nice if we got a lot of league representation on the board, I think.

Call for Nominations for the HTA Board of Directors - The HTA Board and its officers are asking for the submission of names of candidates for nomination to the HTA Board of Directors for the coming year, 2011. We are looking for those that are energetic and enthusiastic, bringing varied skills to the Association with a willingness to work to improve who we are and what we do as a community based, volunteer driven organization, reflecting our community as a whole. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for serving on the board, please email that person's name and contact information to htanominations@houstontennis.org by November 1, 2010. Should you have any questions, please direct them to htanominations@houstontennis.org. Thank you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

YE09 Bump-Ups: How Did They Do?

At year-end 2009, there was lots of controversy as the USTA decided to bump some 30% of 3.5 players up to 4.0 (19% in Houston), and a 17% of 4.0s up to 4.5 (11% in Houston). The 4.5 ranks were relatively untouched (7% nationwide, 3% in Houston). People screamed about how they wouldn’t be “competitive” at their new level. I thought I’d look at the data to see how they actually fared, focusing on the USTA summer league as I believe it’s a more reliable dataset in terms of players playing to their capabilities.

First let’s look at the 4.5 level. There were 66 matches in the Summer USTA league where a YE09-bump-up-from-4.0 competed against a player who was already a 4.5 last year (or a doubles pair of bump-ups competed against a doubles pair of legacy 4.5s). The bump-ups won only 17% of those matches. There were also 30 matches in which current 4.0s chose to compete against current 4.5s, and the 4.0s’ winning percentage is very similar at 20%. The three-percentage-point difference I consider to be within the noise of the data.

What those figures suggest to me is that in the 4.5 division, neither an existing 4.0 nor a YE09-bump-up-from-4.0 is particularly competitive with a legacy 4.5. Everyone has his own definition of “competitive”, and I’m not sure I can even give you a number for mine, but I think it’s greater than 17-20%. I also find it interesting that the 4.0s who choose to compete against 4.5s are in general every bit as good as those poor souls who were bumped up.

Why did the 4.0-to-4.5 bump-ups fare so poorly against legacy 4.5s? One contributor has to be the fact that so few 4.5s were bumped up to 5.0 at YE09. This theory can be partially tested by looking at statistics from the 4.0 division (see below), where many of the best 4.0s did get moved up and out. I’d be interested to hear other theories.

Now let’s look at the 4.0 level. In the Summer USTA league there were 72 matches where a YE09-bump-up-from-3.5 competed against a legacy 4.0 (or a doubles pair of bump-ups competed against a doubles pair of legacy 4.0s). The bump-ups won a surprising (to me) 40% of those matches. There were 109 matches where current 3.5s chose to compete against current 4.0s, with the current 3.5 winning 22% of the time.

What these figures suggest to me is that, for YE09 promotions from 3.5 to 4.0, the USTA pretty much bumped up the right guys. A 40% winning percentage sure feels competitive to me. A 22% winning percentage does not, so I’d conclude that on average those 3.5s who didn’t get bumped up, shouldn’t have been bumped up. Of course there are individual exceptions in both directions.

So what does this all mean? Not a lot, really. The YE09 bump-up episode is all water under the bridge now, as evidenced by the fact that I no longer hear people talking (or moaning) about it much. But I found the numbers interesting nonetheless. We’ll see what kind of “corrections” occur when YE10 ratings are out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grunting Analysis

Interesting read on the effects of grunting and how it impacts tennis.

I think the cutting edge teams will start employing "effective grunt training sessions" for their players for next season to have that edge.

Here is an teaser from the article:

There is a growing chorus of critics who complain that many of the top-ranked professional tennis players who grunt when they hit the ball gain an unfair advantage because the sound of the grunt interferes with their opponent's game. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

We explored this potential detrimental effect of grunting by presenting videos of a tennis player hitting a ball to either side of a tennis court; the shot either did, or did not, contain a brief sound that occurred at the same time as contact. The participants' task was to respond as quickly as possible, indicating whether the ball was being hit to the left- or right-side of the court. The results were unequivocal: The presence of an extraneous sound interfered with a participants' performance, making their responses both slower and less accurate.


The Men's 5.0 team from Fort Worth went 2-1 at Nationals last weekend, but didn't win enough lines to get out of pool play.

Men's 4.5 Nationals will start Friday. Rusty Branch's Dallas team is in a Flight with Norcal, Southwest and Pacific Northwest. They start out with Norcal, which is usually the strongest of those three sections.

The 4.0 team from Lubbock is in a tough pool with Middle States, Mid-Atlantic, Norcal and Midwest. Play in the 4.0 division begins on 10/22.

Ratings of local players are dependent on how well or poorly Texas players fare at Nationals. A rising tide lifts all boats, so to speak.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Senior Sectionals - Nationals, Finally

Sectionals had not been kind to the Houston teams this year. It had been a rare shutout (sue me, but I don’t count Combo or Tri-Level), even for Freeman, Benzon, and Hollis (taking her customary year off). Until this past weekend that is, at Senior Sectionals in Tyler. Both 4.5 teams and the men’s 4.0 team took the titles and are headed to Nationals in Palm Springs (Rancho Mirage) in October. Congratulations to all, and thanks for salvaging a bit of Houston pride!

The men’s 4.5 team, captained by Jimmy Kilshaw, won the title on lines, after finishing with an identical 3-1 record to NETX, to whom they lost 2-1 in the head-to-head match. Say what you like about the old geezers, but it was high-quality tennis. Maybe not quite up there with Adult Sectionals, but every bit as good as city playoffs. There’s something gratifying about seeing a 50-something guy who can still bounce backhand overheads over the fence. Tom Courson, Mark Willingham, and Louie Aro all went 3-0. Juan Lopez was a remarkable 4-0.

The 4.5 women, captained by Rox Ann Schanzenbach, didn’t drop a match in pool play, nor did they drop a set in defeating Dallas in the final. Carol St. Clair was the big gun, playing all five matches and going 4-0 (not counting a retired match) without losing so much as a set. Sue Bramlette and Mary Morgan were close behind at 4-1.

The 4.0 men, captained by Ron Fisher and Mike Spoor and featuring two members of the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame (Fisher and Paul Christian), beat an extremely tough and balanced Austin team 3-0 in the final, winning all three lines in third-set tiebreakers. In pool play they beat defending national champion Fort Worth 2-1, with the lone loss a retired match once the victory was clinched. Nick Stephens and Tim Purcell went 4-0, and might have been joined in that record by Jim Wooten and Steve Smith had it not been for retired matches.

Which brings us to the subject of third-set tiebreakers – as always, it comes down to these. The 4.5 men were 6-1. The 4.5 women were 2-1. The 4.0 men were 6-0. This is what wins matches at this level. Hating them is self-defeating. Practice them – these teams do.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sectionals this week

The year's most important tournament is being held this weekend in San Antonio as players vie for the top eight and inclusion in the Masters Championship.

Numerous Houstonians are seeded, including the top two seeds in the 5.0 division: Tim Green and Omon Dibua. Jason Gound and Greg Medford are two intriguing floaters in the draw.

In 4.5, Ed McCool is the top seed, with David Guy #4, Herb Morton at #6, Brian Goldberg #11 and Greg Schmucker coming in as the twelfth seed. Mario Gloria and Daniel Cambon are two of the more dangerous floaters in the draw.

Matt Drake heads the list of Houston area players seeded in the 4.0 draw, coming in at #4. Kris Knutson, fresh off another tournament victory in Beaumont this past weekend, is #5 and considered the favorite by many. Israel Bacon got the ninth seed, Carlos Quijano is tenth and Gregory Brown is number 13. Former Cy-Ridge Ram standout Tommy Do makes his 4.0 debut as well.

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Case you Missed the fight.....

In case you missed the fight in the match last night, here you go.

Fast forward to about 1 minute for the money shot.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

WTT National Qualifier THIS WEEKEND!

The WTT National Qualifier is this weekend at the Copperfield Racquet & Health Club. Winners from the local events all over the United States qualified to participate in this weekend's event. Come out and see some great tennis! Play begins on Friday at 5 pm. It then resumes on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8 am and continues throughout the day until 8 pm. Levels participating include the 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 levels.
Our next local event will be December 4th & 5th, 2010.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Looking backward, Looking forward

First of all, congratulations to the Fort Worth 5.0, Dallas 4.5 and Lubbock 4.0 teams as well as to everyone else who had a successful season. Different teams do and should define success differently. The Lubbock 4.0 team may not feel successful unless they win Nationals whereas the two Houston 4.5 teams should feel satisfied with qualifying for Sectionals. They reached their ceiling.

It was a disappointing weekend for the NOHO 4.5 team. Victory was in their grasp but they just couldn't hold onto it. Someone speculated that they just didn't want it enough...didn't practice hard enough and didn't have the burning desire because they'd had such recent success. There may be some merit to that. I'm secretly happy for Miller and Branch as they did it with all computer rated players (with a total of only maybe two who got there via tanking). I would suspect that NOHO will lose Thomas and Gururaj and probably retain mostly everyone else. Rest assured Red and Jason will find capable replacements and may get some bumpdowns as well. To their credit, Red and Freeman chose not to put their two stud singles players out there to tank in the meaningless final match. (If Bharath were going to tank the final match, it would have been in much more glorious fashion than a three set loss.)

With the exception of the Noho 4.5 team, I think we all knew coming in that the local (Hou/Noho) 4.5/5.0 scene was at its lowest level in recent memory this year. The records in Dallas bear that out: a combined record of 3-14!!!! What that will mean for local players is very few bump-ups in 4.5/5.0 (and perhaps more bumpdowns) as the ratings filter back down to Houston at the end of the year.

I think the local 4.0 teams were both among the best teams up there, but clearly Lubbock was a level above the rest. I figured Coleman and Schaunaman would be the best one-two punch but was surprised how good their doubles play was. I was a bit surprised that the Hurricane 4.0 team was taken out by San Angelo, but the doubles proved to be not strong enough. Whitney and Scott might have helped.

The 4.0 teams will lose more talent to bump-ups than 4.5 power teams do. If I were a betting man, I'd say that Freeman, Spoor, Nguyen and Lu will all be vying for Sectionals and/or Nationals again next year. Ristau, Ash, Rothe, Tran, Douds and some of the other competitive Houston 4.5 captains will have to up their games and step up recruiting if Houston is again going to be competitive at Sectionals. I'd love to see another aggressive 4.5 captain join the mix, and maybe challenge the Benzon/Freeman dominance. There is plenty of undiscovered talent out there...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


That other 4.5 thread was getting so long that I thought people could move the discussion here if needed.

Here's a look at Friday's schedule for local teams:


10 AM Hou v. Ft. Worth (Northwood)
230 PM Hou v. Austin (Northwood)


230 PM Hou Freeman v. Abilene (Greenhill)
230 PM NOHO v. Valley (LB Houston)
4 PM Hou Douds v. Austin Wild (Greenhill)


7 AM Hou Freeman v. Valley (Greenhill)
830 AM Hou Spoor v. Lubbock (LB Houston)
10 AM Hou Freeman v. Wild Ft. Worth (Greenhill)
10 AM NOHO v. Dallas Wild (LB Houston)
1130 AM Hou Spoor v. SE Tx (LB Houston)
1 PM NOHO v. NE Tx (LB Houston)

Toney and Spoor start out with tough ones right off the bat...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A glimpse at 4.0 Sectionals.

I'm actually somewhat curious to see what the level of play will be this year in 4.0. Let's face it, in all divisions the quality had increased a bunch since I started playing many years ago. Last season the top 30 percent of 4.0's were moved up, leaving a HUGE talent void, especially on the top teams. Hardcore captains were forced to beat the bushes for unrated players. In Houston, we saw some previously middle of the road teams qualify for the playoffs by virtue of retaining all of their players and beating up on the weakened field. The question for me is: Did the elite teams/captains manage to recruit well enough for Sectionals to have a similar level of play to previous seasons? I think the Lakeside and Hurricane teams are on the same plane as always...will other cities' teams be able to keep up?

Flight 1
San Angelo
Wild Ft. Worth

I'll be the first to admit I don't know squat about most of these teams, so I'll try to keep this short(ish).

Corpus squeaked out a win in a competitive league. Their top player David Nash went 3 sets with Jannuzzi in a seniors tournament but was handled fairly easily by McMullan. Daniel Rybak played line 1 doubles every week and won all his matches.

San Angelo played in a non-competitive league so it's tough to get a read on them. They've gotten credit from some commenters as being a dark horse. The Valley seems to have a decent team but shouldn't be a threat to Houston. The Wild Fort Worth team actually won their regular season but was handled easily in the city finals. Michael Moore had a nice season at 1 singles. I don't see this team as being a threat.

The Hurricanes should waltz through this group, giving them a chance to keep players fresh and getting all of their players some action.

Flight 2
Wild Austin
San Antonio
Fort Worth

Wild Austin used Vlad Chub at 1 singles and Chris Lewis at 2 in the finals of their playoffs. My memory is fading...is Chris Lewis a big serving guy who used to play 4.5 or am I confusing him with someone else? Lewis is a self-rate who hasn't lost yet, including an easy win over Will Chism.

San Antonio's Blossom Smash waltzed through their playoffs, dropping only one line. Rodrigo Sabag was really tough playing singles, with a win over Carl Bain on his resume. Isai Martinez looks to be even tougher. (he beat Bain oh and oh...maybe a win over Bain is nothing to write home about?) This team looks really tough.

Fort Worth's team looks tough too...this is a tough flight. Jay Bigam is a flat hitter with old school grips, but has had success at the 4.5 level in the past. Chris Whipple has also been dominant in singles. Their doubles look solid.

Waco and Abilene don't have much data to draw from. Waco's Erich Schwarze is a 4.5 dropdown who was dominant the last time he went to 4.0 Sectionals.

Flight 3
Wild Dallas

Austin had its "ringer", John Dwyer, DQ'd after their city playoffs, which will really hurt its strength. David Bateman will have to carry a lot of the load in singles. A lot of their doubles guys (Gow, Boyett, Fontes, et al.) have been around for years and may now be upper echelon 4.0's with the huge amount of bump ups.

Brian Morrison's Dallas runners-up had to make it through the Qualifying Tournament and their citywide championships to get here. Oleg Yaremenko is their top singles guy. He played 4.5 back in 2003-04 and then re-entered last year as a 3.5. He appears to be rounding into form, but has had mixed results. Chris Bergeron is a quality player who had a disappointing city playoffs. I think he'll bounce back.

Our NOHO representatives should not be overlooked. Paul Abokhair sat out last year and thus was spared the 4.0 purge. His record is exceptional over the last several years. Troy Quast anchors the singles lineup.

Your guess on Midland is as good as mine.

Flight 4
Wild Houston

We've already spoken about this group a bit so I'll keep it brief.

For me, this group is about the top two singles guys: Carey and Huynh in Dallas, Coleman and Schaunaman for Lubbock, Wooten and Larrazolo/Ruiz for Lakeside.

Amarillo lost its top player to a DQ, which should take them out of the running.

Is SE Texas' Doug Mellen committed to Freeman or to Beaumont? Jeff Pham could be a factor in singles.

Lakesides Rodney Kubicek has had some nice results in the Oilman's tournament's top division over the years, and he and John Mitchener were solid in citywides. Maybe I'm being a homer, but wishful thinking is telling me Houston will squeak past Lubbock 3-2. Wooten will have to serve his way past one of the two Lubbock singles studs for that to happen, however. Larrazolo is fit and quick, but his style may be draining in the Dallas heat.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

4.5 Sectionals: A quick look

Here's a quick look at 4.5 Sectionals, assuming all rosters stay as is and that all the heavyweights make the trip:

Flight 1 Teams
Wild San Antonio
Ft. Worth

To me, the Austin league was not as strong at the top this year as in past years, though it was extremely deep. Anthony Tatu has become one of the premier captains in the state, annually producing competitive teams. His team this year doesn't seem to have the overwhelming singles strength necessary. In his biggest match this year, he used Caskey and Acosta, but expect Atherton to get a lot of action in Dallas. Bucco and Tatu will probably man one doubles spot, and Chris McDaniel and longtime Austin fixture Alan Williams have been untouchable thus far this year. Still, this team doesn't seem to have the strength to dominate and will have to squeak out its victories.

Alann Torres' San Antonio squad has got to be considered the favorite in this flight. Estevan San Miguel is a quality singles player. Sundy Muniz and Stephan Poole have dominated the 4.5 tournament doubles circuit. Daniel Cambon has a really nice game and he and Matt Mungia will be tough to beat. Who plays #2 singles for them? Spencer Read has played in their big matches. Chance Morgan is eligible. Jonathan Hartwell plays Open tournaments but I know nothing about him. Torres, Vasquez and Galvan will all see action as well.

I don't know much/anything about the Fort Worth team this year. I notice that they have a really solid singles player in David Rascoe (he handled Sectionals regular Rob Hurley rather routinely). Adam Mackie has also been solid in singles for them. John Singleton splits time between 5.0 and 4.5, usually playing line 1 doubles and almost always winning. Ditto Jason Moore. George Rodriguez is a tall guy with a pretty nice game who beat me pretty routinely in the Combo a few years ago, but that's about all the first hand knowledge I have of this team. Perhaps someone can chime in with some more info.

Chris Leach brings his Tyler team back to Dallas for its annual trip. Unfortunately, I don't see them having much/any chance to do any damage this year.

Flight 2 Teams
Wild Austin

Regular readers and locals know all about the Titans. It's certainly not the most talented team Ken Douds has ever had. Antoine Ford will have to continue his hot streak. Simon Jim is a solid number 2. John Day must revert to his regular season form for this team to do well, and Douds, Marco and the rest must ride their hot streak.

Lubbock has just 9 bodies on their roster. Mel McRee, who led his 4.0 team to Nationals in '08, will try to draw on his Sectionals experience. Wilson Wicks also has Nationals experience, at the 4.5 level, where he went 4-0 with Mike Davis' Austin Wild squad in 2007. Michael Hastings is a self-rate who's been playing singles.

Waco doesn't appear to be very strong. They have a bunch of bump-ups from some of Bill Sanders high quality 4.0 team. James Westbrook was really tough in 4.0 singles, but will struggle in the upper division. Luedtke and Rivera will be a tough doubles line, and both are capable of playing singles. Waco added two late imports from Dallas in Jean Nguyen (another guy I lost to in the combo a few years ago...I sense a pattern developing) and Johan Mudsam, both of whom were high level 4.0 players in the last couple of years.

Aptly named Austin Wild fills out the flight. Most of you know of the losses captain Davis has suffered due to disqualification this year, but his roster was deep enough to remain a factor. I would probably still rate his team the favorite in this bracket. He's got a bunch of guys with Sectionals and/or Nationals experience on this team. Tim Klitch is among the best doubles guys at 4.5. Former Houstonian Kevin Lemke is a talented singles guy if he's been playing regularly. Joshua Torrez may be the key...last year he had an up and down season but rounded into form at Sectionals with big singles wins over Hilderbrand and David B. Scott Sevin will also see some singles action. Fred Schlotterback and Patrick Seidensticker have had a lot of Sectionals success in the past as well.

Flight 3 Teams
Wild Houston

Rusty Branch has a juggernaut this year. He was not even remotely tested in Dallas. Rusty is on the sidelines this season, but the cupboard is far from bare. 5.0 drop down Mike Kelly (he's been playing league at LEAST since '97) will be tough to beat in singles or doubles. Eugene Davis hasn't missed a beat since moving up from 4.0, dominating over the last two years. Brandon Underwood was a top-flight junior and looks impressive in his youtube videos. Dustin Viktorin can play some singles. The names go on and on: Slezak/Williams, Kiron/Huffman, Cole Frink, Rafael Ledezma (another Kelly-like 5.0 bumpdown) There are several quality players I haven't even named. Luckily for other teams, they don't give extra points for depth.

Obviously, Freeman's Hurricane II squad will have its hands full with Dallas. Sarosh Ahmed and Robert Plummer will be truly tested up there. Regent/Li have tons of Sectionals experience, and the rest of the team has had success up there, but mostly at the 4.0 level. Second place in the flight is doable, however.

Abilene is always a team to keep your eye on. Trance Rosenquist and Adam Cherry are quality holdovers from past teams. Kurt Wasmer was 2-0 in doubles at Sectionals last year, as was Brian Rainwater. Erich Bein is an intriguing add...went to state with Abilene High and is listed as a 3 star recruit on tennisrecruiting.net. Lost to local junior stud Jose Martinez (who is very impressive to watch) by a 5 and 4 score. Has a win over Robin Chou, who was a cause celebre on the Austin blog earlier this year. I haven't checked his junior ranking to see if he's truly eligible as I'm just going through the rosters right now.

The Southeast Texas team will be a non-factor.

Flight 4 Teams
San Antonio

This group has been much-discussed already.

Amarillo has a few nice players, but is stuck in the wrong group. George Jennings was solid in singles at Sectionals last year, beating Brent James and losing only to Hasker. Shannon Burdett has been on a team that went to Nationals, but that was in the last century. He's still capable, however. Luis Zavala was 3-0 at Sectionals last year in doubles.

The NOHO team is comprised of most of the Houston area 4.5 heavy hitters. Benzon and Freeman have assembled some talented players, headed by mystery superstar Greg Dwyer. Okay, that was a joke. Seriously, as a member of the team and co-captain I'm not gonna' analyze this team...y'all know who's who already.

The Valley has an intriguing roster and is not a team that should be taken lightly. Frank Vos has an almost spotless record going back to 2004. I believe he may have lost only one match in that period of time, but has not been truly tested at Texas Sectionals. (he did go to Sectionals in Oregon I believe) Kareem Abdullah played a season here in Houston and by the end of the year was playing extremely high level tennis. I believe he played collegiately at UT-Pan Am if memory serves. Ivan Leal has at least been a finalist in the 4.5 division of the Coke (can't remember if he's won it) and has been a quality player for quite some time. Crisanto Ramirez plays/played for Division III power Trinity. I think Derek Sandoval played Juco tennis.

As has been mentioned before, Mike Miller's San Antonio team has a wealth of talent. Glenn Barton may be in the Ward Jannuzzi age bracket, but he's still extremely dangerous and I would expect he'll play singles in the big matches and get rested when possible. As someone mentioned, there are seven teaching pros on this team, so there's not going to be a weak spot in the lineup. Eric White, Mark Hilderbrand and John Trautmann can all play singles as well. As can Alejandro Sanchez. Ewing, Anderson, Miller, Arringdale and several others could be in the lineup at any time. This is another really deep team with a ton of options. Also, there's not a self-rate in the bunch, which is nice to see in this day and age.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Tale of Two Citywides

Complete and total parity in the 4.5 division. Out of all reported matches, only one was not a 3-2 score. Literally a few points here and there could have resulted in a complete reversal of the standings. The 4.0 division, on the other hand, was the complete opposite, as three teams (Hurricanes, Lakeside and Sienna) proved to be on a completely different plane from the rest of the division.

Two guys who've taken a lot of ribbing on the blog this year came up big: Ken Douds and Ward Jannuzzi. Jannuzzi's wins are but a footnote as his team was unable to overcome the absence of Borkop. I will say he's been telling me for a year that he would beat Sarosh (in fact, he and Pumma may have bet on it?)...and he backed it up beautifully.

Coming into the 2010 playoffs, there was little reason to think we would "remember the titans". Ken Douds 2009 team went 4-5 in the regular season. Subtracted from that team were Sean Straley, Jason Cooney and Luis Fernandez. Added...John Griffin. How do they go from sub .500 to city champs? Well, it helped that the competition was down a peg or two.

Clearly Antoine Ford was the MVP of the playoffs. As I've noted before, last year he had to play Omon, Odion and Aadrian, losing to all three in the third set breaker. While there were some quality players in the playoffs this year, none were of that caliber, and Antoine's game has probably raised a notch this season.

I'm happy for Ken Douds. Every year he puts together a quality team. He does his best each offseason to improve his roster...a few years back he did his best to scoop up some of my old Mob Squad teammates to strengthen his chances. It's nice to see him get up to Dallas with a team comprised completely of "his guys". Good luck to him and everyone (Toney, Freeman, Spoor) who did a great job getting their teams to Dallas.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Last night and This Weekend

The 4.0 picture continues to clear up. Lakeside continues to delay posting their scores, but I have little doubt that they've won. Division I will come down to the finale between Lakeside and Sienna. Can Sienna's Troy Gor and Donnie Rochelle at least split the singles with Wooten and Larrazolo? I can't see them splitting singles AND taking two doubles lines, especially with the DQ of Pfeiffer. Advantage Lakeside.

The Hurricanes waltzed past another overmatched opponent last night, blanking SAP, all in straight sets. Chancellor's squeaked past the Phoenix and play the Hurricanes at 12:30 on Saturday. Louis Lu wisely worked his roster in the offseason again this year, but lost Timothy Nguyen during the HTA season and Thai Chung this summer. Not having those two may make the difference in the match with the 'Canes. I'm curious to see how Cuong Truong (and Danh Mai) fares against whichever stud the 'Canes use in singles.

4.0 is definitely the warmup act to the exciting 4.5 playoffs this weekend. There are 9 matches scheduled this weekend, and right now every one of them has the potential to be meaningful. A loss by the D-bags to the Black Sheep on Saturday will render their final two matches meaningless. It will be interesting to see the lineups that they trot out there if that should happen. Every line could be meaningful for some teams with the logjam in the standings.

Nobody's talking about Ken Douds' team, but they've got two solid singles guys in Jim and Ford (they've won 3 of 4 so far) and an unspectacular but capable group of doubles players. The loss of John Burrmann has hurt but not crippled this team. They start out the weekend with Lakeside. Lakeside has shown some weakness with their doubles depth without Connell and Wright, dropping line 3 in both playoff matches. Ed Hess has been as impressive as anyone (other than perhaps Davila) thus far. I've heard that (official? unofficial?) protests of Hess' 4.5 status have proven fruitless. Have Vu and Zachary become the top doubles tandem in the city?

The other Saturday battle is between the two Hurricane teams. While I talk to Freeman quite frequently, I have no idea what's going on in his head on this one. It would be a difficult position for any captain to be in. Ideally I'm sure he'd love to see both teams qualify for Sectionals. I'm sure he'd also love to get some players into the lineup while also sending a message to each team that he is putting his all into getting them to Dallas and not favoring either team.

I won't go through every matchup on Sunday...it's impossible to say at this point which ones will be crucial...too many permutations. Suffice it to say, however, that Sunday afternoon may make for the most exciting city playoff finishes in recent memory.

Monday, July 12, 2010


As has been mentioned, the big match between The Black Sheep and the Hurricanes III will be held Tuesday night at Westside. Can anyone on the 'Canes roster take down Davila? If not, they will be forced to take three of the remaining four lines, a tall task against Tommy Ristau's crew. Neither team seems to have a big edge in the doubles, so the match figures to be competitive. The winner, at 2-0, will have a huge leg up on the rest of the field. The loser will be bunched among many.

I have had no word on when the remainder of the Deucebags-Lakeside match will be played. Lakeside has an edge in that one, and the loser will be 0-2 and needing to win their final three matches to have even a remote chance.

One match was finished in 4.0 this weekend. SAP was a bit lucky in beating the Cinco Ranch Comets 3-2. Cinco's line 3 doubles team of Rolph and Akpedeye were ahead 6-4, 3-3 when they were forced to retire. SAP's top doubles team of Farmer/Lopez were placed in singles but both fell to Patil and Kurki. The Daniels brothers continued their strong play for SAP in doubles.

Numerous 4.0 makeup matches remain to be played and results should come trickling in before a full slate of matches on Thursday. Lakeside will handle the Acers on Wednesday and still must get in their other match with the CR Aces as well as their Thursday nighter with the Nights. At this point, anything other than Lakeside or Sienna versus the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon would shock me. Sienna and Lakeside will play on Sunday morning.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Why the title? I didn't wanna' be the only guy on the entire internet NOT to have mentioned Lebron (and yeah, I WAS at home watching him instead of heading out to the courts).

The match between Lakeside and Westside was big, not quite Lebron big, but it will go a long way towards deciding who will win citywides. Westside took a huge step towards Dallas by winning 3-2. Any Pio Davila doubters should finally be silenced as he absolutely trounced Quack Bui 6-2, 6-0. Lakeside was without Glenn Wright and Tommy Connell, which probably made the difference. Peter Hansen and Milos Dimitrijevic pulled out a third set breaker to give the Black Sheep the edge. With Houston getting a wild card, one loss is far from fatal for Lakeside. Two losses MIGHT even be able to get a team to Dallas if everything breaks right.

A good night for the Hurricanes as they pulled out two 3-2 wins in the 4.5 playoffs. The Hurricanes II - Deucebags match came down to the end. David Guy was the top singles guy on the first team I ever played on, way back in 1997. Thirteen years later, he's still playing the same level of tennis, and still grinding out clutch wins. You look at his results every year and you see losses in HTA matches to people like Chris Sandblom, David Romero, Alex Ellingsen et al. and wonder why he ends up playing singles at Sectionals...and winning. He did it again last night, pulling out a three setter against Hung Nguyen of the Deucebags to give the 'Canes a 3-2 win.

The topic du jour, as usual, seemed to be Alain Tran's lineup, as he and Trey Dugas were on the sidelines. I have never talked to Alain about it, but I just think he has a different philosophy from everyone else. I think he has confidence in all of the players on his team and feels they can all win and all deserve a chance to play. It's not like back in little league, where you were required to throw the fat kid with the coke bottle glasses out in right field for two innings a game. Alain truly believes his guys should be out there. Khang Quach and Bobby Trinh rewarded Tran's confidence by beating Chec/Hunckler.

The story for Freeman's teams were the 4.0 bumpups. Many of my old teammates acquitted themselves well last night. Tam "Pippen" Phan and Aaron Greene won at line 1 for the Hurricanes II. The Hurricanes III got all of their wins from Freeman 4.0 alums in their 3-2 win over Westheimer Indoors. Sarosh Ahmed continued his streak at #1 singles, Chambert/Grego (SAP 4.0 alum) took out Day and Marco in straight sets and Foster/Morris won at line 3.

One would have to say that the odds are now in favor of one of Freeman's teams advancing to Sectionals. Thankfully, the two teams are not playing each other at the end of the playoffs...both teams will have incentive when they play each other.

Nothing too exciting happened in the 4.0 ranks. There was a minor upset in 4.0 as the Nights took out the first place Acers 3-2, taking all three third set breakers. Prahlad Enuganti pulled out a clutch three setter against Dan Le to give the Nights the edge. The Acers were missing top doubles player Don Obenrader.

Chancellor's won fairly easily over the first place CR Comets. On paper I suppose this was an upset. Cuong Truong won the big battle at number one singles against Mal Patil in a battle of unbeatens after dropping the first set 6-1. Danh Mai again was solid in singles for the Ace Kings. (Big Slicks?)

The 4.0 Hurricanes romped past Westside Phoenix 5-0, as expected. I don't see a roadblock for that team in their flight.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The Houston Citywide Championships are a bit of a mess at this point. In hindsight, it was a big mistake not having a gap between the regular season and the start of the playoffs in order to complete makeup matches.

In 4.0, we're about a week and a half removed from the end of the regular season, and we still don't know who all of the playoff teams are. Teams with matches scheduled for this Thursday may still not know who they are supposed to be playing.

4.5 is a little less messy, as the Deucebags and Coaches did a better job of completing their match than did some of the 4.0 teams. I'm a bit out of the loop on things since I'm not participating this year and Tennis Link is not updated, but hopefully people will post results of any make-up matches that are taking place.

The 4.5 schedule for this Thursday IS set, however:

Lakeside v. Black Sheep
Hurricanes II v. Deucebags
Hurricanes III v. Westheimer Indoors

Most observers have pegged Lakeside and the Black Sheep as the two teams to beat. If they live up to their billing (and if Houston doesn't receive a wild card), this could be the most important match of the postseason.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Off Topic Questions. I'm bored today.

Is Federer finished? Will he ever win another GS? Six straight years of semis or better at the majors and now two misses consecutively...

If you're a Vegas oddsmaker, who do you install as the favorite at the US Open right now? Murray and Djokovic good on hard courts, but have struggled some this year. It's Nadal's weakest surface. Fed showing signs of decline. Berdych a semi-finalist on clay and grass already this year. Soderling may be the world's third best player right now...

Rafael Nadal will retire with _____ grand slam titles? Am I insane to think he will pass Sampras given how hard his style of play is on his body?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thursday in 4.0

The 4.0 schedule for Thursday is still very much up in the air, with the Acers, Phoenix, SAP and Double Trouble still vying for the top two spots in Division II. The Acers resumed their last regular season match last night only to again be postponed by rain. Line two singles of the Acers match had split sets last Thursday, but the Good Guys player left town and won't be returning until Wednesday or Thursday according to what I've heard. No word on whether he will be forced to retire given the impending playoffs. I'm sure everyone has their own opinions on how that should be handled.

The two matches that are set feature Division III vs. Division V. D5 Champ Sienna takes on the Cinco Ranch Aces, led by superstar Boris Barrios. Barrios has played nothing but doubles thus far, where he's been virtually untouchable. Would Captain Springmann consider moving him into singles to secure a line and take out one of Sienna's top dawgs? Mohan Sankrit, Donnie Rochelle and Troy Gor appear to be Donn Nguyen's top singles guys.

The other Cinco Ranch team, the Comets, take on second place Chancellor's. Chancellor's has been bit by the DQ bug, but newcomer Cuong Truong has had a lot of close matches and has been safe despite his 7-0 singles record. Johnny Nguyen and Jeremy Ang are 7-2 playing mainly line one doubles. The Comets have dropped only 8 lines all year. Mal Patil is 8-0 at number one singles. Jason Munoz mans the other singles spot and is 6-1 on the season. It will be interesting to see how the two teams who basically dominated division 3 stack up against perennial powers Sienna and Chancellor's.

Thursday in 4.5

As you know, the 2010 Citywide Championships are scheduled to start Thursday. With rain in the forecast over the next few days, court shortages at Memorial Park and makeups still to be completed, staying on schedule is questionable. If the D-Bags/Coaches match is completed Wednesday night (not to mention many of the other makeups still to be completed), things could get interesting. Todd Reid told me that league results are run through the computer on a daily basis and he receives an email if any player receives his third strike. I'm sure you can see the potential problems, depending on when the scores are reported, results run, etc. Anyway, I'm one of those people who sees potential problems where they probably don't exist...

Let's get to the matchups. Lakeside has wrapped up Division I and at this point could potentially play the Deucebags, GTAC or the Coaches. Only the Deucebags were able to take more than one line from Lakeside during the regular season. Rumor has it that Lakeside will be missing one or more of their key players during the playoffs, which will definitely leave an opening for the second place team. None of the potential Thursday opponents seem to have the overall depth of Lakeside, but the Deucebags have the two solid singles players to potentially make things interesting with Lakeside should they get past the Coaches.

The Hurricanes II team will apparently be facing the Titans. The 'Canes Emmett McCool is perhaps the most underrated singles player in the league. David Guy or Raymond Martinez would seem to be the logical choice at the other singles spot. Simon Jim and Antoine Ford (side note: I'm making a broad assumption that players are committing to their Houston teams ahead of NOHO without any knowledge to the contrary) might be SLIGHTLY weaker, but a split of the singles would seem to be the most likely outcome. Lombardi/Bishop may be the Hurricanes top team. John Burrmann's results this year have not been as impressive as in the past. He and John Day are not a lock. This match is too close to call.

Lastly, Black Sheep face Hurricanes III. I've got them as tri-favorites along with Lakeside. (Not exactly going out on a limb, am I?) Gururaj v. Davila? Ahmed v. Fonseca? (or Alzate or Lacy or Morgan or...) Davila tops my "most intriguing players" list. I just don't know HOW good he is. Does anyone?

Tommy Ristau has so many options with his lineup that I can't even speculate what he'll put out there. I suspect Freeman will have the veteran duo of Li/Regent in the lineup. They appear to be playing as well as ever. Late-season additions Plummer and Dupelchin have also been impressive as has 4.0 bump Sebastien Chambert.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Matches That Matter

Another regular season will soon be in the books. Several teams still have their playoff fates up in the air and will surely be pulling out all the stops in the year's final week.

There are two huge matches in 4.5. In this season more than any other a team that "squeaks into" the playoffs is fully capable of winning a berth at Sectionals.

In 4.5 Division I, the surprising Katy Coaches enter their last match controlling their own destiny in their match-up with the Deucebags. Pre-season pundits had the Coaches pegged as one of the division's bottom feeders, but many of their players have dramatically improved their performances from the prior season. The doubles team of Norkus/Weaver is 5-0 on the year. The Deucebags' lineups have varied, but it's hard to see the duo of Trey Dugas and Alain Tran on the sidelines, as they've been very impressive thus far. Expect the experienced team of Huffman and Ballesteros to be in the lineup as well. Former 5.0 Aaron Layman saw his first action of the season for the Coaches against JCC and has the talent to match up with any of the D-Bags.

The 'Bags singles players of Borkop and Nguyen would seem to be a level above anything the Coaches can throw out there, though I do think Cooper could beat them on a given day. Playing Layman in singles would be an interesting gamble for the Coaches...I don't know how fit or match tough he is at this point and he was mediocre in his singles efforts last season.

As noted, GTAC can still sneak into the playoff under the right circumstances. Perhaps strategically, Captain Tran has delayed reporting the score of last week's match with Lakeside Estates. The National regulations specify that the Section is responsible for the time limit in reporting scores. I seem to recall that at one time we captains were required to post the score within three days of a match's completion, but I can find no such rule now.

The division III winner-take-all battle between the Lobsters and Titans is equally compelling. This one is a rematch, with Ken Douds' crew taking the first one 3-2. A case could be made that Douds had his top lineup in that match: Ford and Jim in singles and Burrmann/Day, Hiemstra/Herr and Marco/Douds in doubles. Copperfield used Salinas and David Kent in singles as they were missing Martinez and McMullan and yet still extended the Titans to a third set breaker in each line they dropped (1S, 1D and 2S).

The match is being played at Copperfield. Major league baseball teams have won 54.7% of their home games since 2005. NBA and NFL numbers are most assuredly higher. I wonder what the figures are for our local USTA league. Stat Guy? In a matchup this tight, it might just make a difference.

In 4.0 Division II the Acers vs. Good Guys is the match that matters. West Side is NOT going to lose to Wilchester, so SAP and Double Trouble are totally reliant on the Good Guys. The Good Guys are 2-5, but have had hard luck and in fact have won about half of their lines and extended SAP, Double Trouble and West Side to 3-2. The reason that they're dangerous is that they have a couple of guys who are top notch 4.0's. Andy Sherbondy is 5-1 on the season and has been a rock at line 2 singles. If the Acers use their (in my opinion) best lineup, he would match up with Dan Le, who is a very competent 4.0. If the Acers put top singles player David Romero in doubles and move Le to line one singles, Sherbondy would be favored over anyone else. The Good Guys other star, Srdjan Blum, generally pairs with Andrew Helvenston at line one. The pair is undefeated on the year, and Sherbondy's only loss in singles was to disqualified Jason Allen. Don Obenrader and Marcus Robinson have been solid in doubles for the Acers this year, though there's been little pattern to the Acers' top doubles pairings.

4.0 Division IV still has 3 teams vying for second place, but no dramatic head-to-head matchups in the season's final week. One very mediocre team will qualify for the playoffs and will be fodder for Lakeside and others in the Citywide Championships.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I like drama.

It looks like there are gonna' be some meaningful matches in the season's final week.

SAP played its best match of the season in crushing the first place Phoenix 5-0 last night. With the Acers' 4-1 win (finally using top player David Romero in singles) they sit atop the standings at 6-1, 25-10. Phoenix are 6-1, 24-11, SAP 5-2, 24-11. If Double Trouble swept Wilchester last night they'd be 5-2, 23-12. The Phoenix have only a makeup with 0-6 Wilchester remaining. An Acers stumble against the Good Guys could leave the door open for next week's SAP/Double Trouble winner.

The Hurricanes III beat Copperfield 4-1 last night. Sarosh Ahmed won the battle of Hurricane 4.0 alums at #1 singles, beating Ricardo Martinez 4 and 4. Interestingly, Captain Letan has not paired himself with longtime partner Bryan Robins since week two. Since then, Letan is 1-3 and Robins is 1-2. Together they'd gone 8-3 in regular season matches going back to 2006.

Assuming Copperfield posts a win in their makeup match with Lost Forest, both they and Wesheimer Indoors will be 5-2 and their final meeting on Thursday will be winner-take-all.

Finally, the Ball Busters took three third set tiebreakers in doubles last night to sweep Chancellor's. With matches still remaining to be made up and/or posted from last night, the Deucebags are 5-1, BallBusters 5-2 and Katy Coaches 4-2 heading into the final matchup between the Coaches and D-Bags. James Weaver and Trip Norkus paired up for another victory last night as the Coaches snuck past Ssshhhwings. Beau McBeth manned the number one singles spot for the Coaches, sneaking past 4.0 rated Kyle Webb in the third set.

The second place spot in the Hurricanes' 4.0 division is still up in the air as well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Breaking news...

I have to admit I kinda' expected this one...Jason Allen of SAP was disqualified today after winning his first four matches. Also disqualified this week was the Ace Makers' Prasanth Boyareddigari. They join Thai Chung and Prasanth's teammate Kevin Cunningham on the sidelines. The 4.0 ranks have been hit hard by disqualification this year while the 5.0 division and 4.5 division (with its former Davis Cupper Willy Lock) has remained unscathed.

Allen's disqualification has serious playoff ramifications. SAP had squeaked past the Acers 3-2 in week one, and therefore has moved behind the Acers in the fight for the coveted second playoff spot. As previously noted, SAP plays the Phoenix this week, and faces a huge uphill battle in its quest to sweep without its top player.

The Acers have an easy match this week and a somewhat tricky final match. They could potentially clinch this week with the right combination of outcomes. The Acers would be a much more dangerous playoff team had Oscar Larrazolo not been wisely plucked by veteran Lakeside Captain Mike Spoor.

As an interesting sidenote...Alain Tran is looking a lot wiser for holding out Peter Borkop from the last few matches in light of all of the 4.0 disqualifications. It will be interesting to see what he'll do if he faces a "must win" match against the Katy Coaches in the season finale.

Two weeks left.

The season is winding down, and most teams will have their final opportunity to add players this week.

Most of the playoff races have been decided, with just a few meaningful matches left to be played. In 4.0, SAP takes on the undefeated Westside Phoenix this week. A loss by SAP would put them in a second place tie with an Acers team which has a fairly easy closing schedule. A blowout loss to the Phoenix could leave Goodwin's squad on the outside looking in.

The Katy Coaches dropped their match to GTAC last week in 4.5. James Weaver and Aaron Layman were missing from the Coaches' lineup. Mathematically, they're still in the hunt, as the Deucebags have dropped enough lines to make their season-ender a potential winner-take-all battle. The Coaches will have to clean up against disappointing Ssshhhwings first.

The big battle of the week takes place in contentious 4.5 Div III. The Hurricanes III sit atop the division with a 5-1 mark with two teams breathing down their neck. 4-1 Copperfield dealt the 'Canes their only loss in their first meeting, but both teams have strengthened themselves since. The Hurricanes went with John Grego and Roberto Narajos in singles the first time...I have a feeling their singles will be stronger on Thursday. Even a 3-2 loss for the Hurricanes will essentially sew up a playoff berth for them with Copperfield and Westheimer Indoor facing each other in the season's final week while the 'Canes waltz past Lost Forest.

Friday, June 11, 2010


The most surprising result of the night was the loss by the 4.0 Hurricane juggernaut to the lowly Columbia Lakes squad, which had its first victory of the season last night. The Hurricanes have their division locked up, so the match had no bearing on the standings. However, it will be interesting to see if/how this affects playoff positioning. In my mind, the Hurricanes are still the top team (I still have Lakeside as number two despite their loss). However, I don't make the seeding, and it might be hard and/or unfair for Lera to seed teams on reputation. There may be three undefeated teams when all is said and done, and if any seeding advantage is to be gained, they should be the recipients.

In other matches last night, both 4.5 Hurricane teams won key battles. Sarosh Ahmed and Bharath Gururaj won tight singles matches with Antoine Ford and Simon Jim. Coach Douds surprised everyone by splitting up the Burrmann/Day duo. No Way Out didn't offer the other Hurricane team much resistance as Chris Towle became playoff eligible for the 'Canes.

In 5.0 play, Aadrian Hasker had a great win against Alim Mambetov as the Met team continued to roll on their way to Sectionals.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hitting the home stretch

Only a couple of results have trickled in from last week's rain-outs. In 4.0, SAP lost its first match, a 4-1 setback to the Breakers. They still have the first place Phoenix on the schedule and two teams with just two losses in the division, so they must be very careful henceforth.

Westheimer Indoor has entered the inevitable 5-0 victory against Lost Forest from a few weeks back and is now atop the contentious 4.5 division III. They have a huge matchup with the Hurricanes this week before finishing up with Copperfield. It's a tough schedule, but they control their own destiny and Ken Douds has fashioned a formidable roster. The Hurricanes have two new names on their roster this week in Beaumont's Daniel Dupelchin and Robert Plummer, who is generally seen in mixed. The Hurricanes have Lost Forest and Copperfield on their schedule. It appears that every line may be vital for all three contenders.

In 4.5 D2, No Way Out and the other Hurricane team battle this week. Creed Abell has been solid for NWO in singles thus far, as Hal Hale and Corbin Cooke have been used only one time combined in singles for NWO. The Hurricanes have used a revolving door of singles players thus far, but swept NWO in their last matchup. Michael Chec is a nice addition this week for the 'Canes.

There's really not too much of interest going on in 4.0 or 5.0 right now.

In news across the state, perennial contender Austin Wild has lost another player to disqualification. Former Nevada-Reno player Jeff Ruedy was protested and dq'd this week. Captain Mike Davis has been snakebit in recent years, losing John Swords earlier this year and Jeremiah McMillan in 2008 and Bo Bowman in 2007.

P.S. I love the top 20 singles list someone posted (of course I don't totally agree with every selection, but it looks pretty well thought out).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The 4.0 Playoff Landscape

As far as I know, there has been no official announcement regarding the playoff format this year. I think most people are assuming that the 4.5 City Wide Championships will be in a round robin format since last year seemed to be such a success.

4.0 is a different animal. In most years there are two teams who qualify for Sectionals in 4.0. Jason Freeman's team lost a match in pool play in his first year as a 4.0 captain in 2005. They've not lost one since. I have no idea just how good his team is this year, but based on history, they'd have to be considered a favorite. If I were an opposing captain I'd do everything in my power to avoid the Hurricanes' pool.

I personally feel that the playoff format and brackets should be announced prior to the season. I assume that they are not announced early in order to avoid teams losing intentionally in order to better position themselves. In the coming weeks we have Sienna vs. Chancellor's, SAP vs. Phoenix, the two Cinco Ranch teams playing each other, and Lakeside vs. Gleannloch. In most cases those teams are assured of playoff spots. The question is, do they have any incentive to win those matches?

How should the HTA group teams? If the Hurricanes are truly head and shoulders above the rest, should the (perceived) second, third and fourth best teams all be placed in the other bracket? Technically, I suppose, teams seeded 2 and 3 should be in one grouping and those seeded 1 and 4 in another. If the season ended today, I would have to say that the Hurricanes would be #1, Sienna #2, Phoenix/SAP winner #3, Cinco winner #4 and Lakeside/Gleannloch #5.

By virtue of their loss, Lakeside will probably either be placed in the Hurricanes' bracket or have to get past two heavyweights to win their pool, as I don't think you can seed them ahead of any undefeated teams at this point.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This Week

There are two heavyweight fights this week, one in 4.0 and one in 4.5.

In 4.0, Sienna and Chancellor's meet for round two after Sienna took the first match 3-2. Sienna has dropped just 4 lines all season as Donn Nguyen has again assembled a top contender for Sectionals. Newcomer Troy Gor has been impressive for the Over Hitters.

Chancellor's has remained competitive despite the disqualification of doubles star Thai Chung. Despite having five of Thai's wins reversed, Chancellor's remains at 5-1. Cuong Truong and Danh Mai have been strong in singles for Louis Lu.

In 4.5 the big battle between Lakeside and the Deucebags takes place this week. Some potential heavyweight singles battles between Borkop, Nguyen, Bui and Hess will be worth watching. This should be a good one.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Boring week

There are not any/many interesting matches on the docket this week.

In 4.0, Copperfield's Shock and Awe takes its 4-1 team on the road to play Cinco Ranch's undefeated Comets. Copperfield has a huge defecit in a tiebreaker situation. They will need a win this week and some good breaks the rest of the way to make it to city playoffs.

In 4.5, Ssshhhwings host Lakeside in an effort to keep their small playoff hopes alive. Lester Callaway was impressive last week in the #2 singles slot for Shwings and is now 4-0 on the season.

Division III has a virtual 3-way tie for first place, but none of the teams figures to be tested this week. Every set may end up being crucial. The Hurricanes have the toughest match this week, but we'll see what kind of Taylor HS brings on its trek to LLTC.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another WTT is almost here!

June 12th/13th

3.0 & 4.0 levels play on the 12th

3.5 & 4.5 levels play on the 13th

Teams consist of a minimum of 2 males and 2 females with a maximum of 10 players.

Cost for the entire event is $100/team or $25/person. You are guaranteed 3 matches.

Play format for each round is as follows:

1 set of men's doubles

1 set of women's doubles

1 set of men's singles

1 set of women's singles

1 set of mixed doubles

1 set of mixed doubles

for more information and to register go to: http://www.wttrec.com/

Lance Loken



Friday, May 21, 2010

4.5 Tidbits

- Nice win by the Deucebags last night. Clutch performance by Andres Ballesteros and David Huffman pulling out the third set breaker. Another nice win from Hung Nguyen at one singles. Alain Tran is now 12-2 in doubles this year.

- Some nice new 4.5 roster adds this week: Peter Hansen, David Huffman, John Burrmann, David Herr, Murray Fonseca, Adam Kent.

- Was surprised to see Mark Keener in singles for the Black Sheep with Pio Davila in doubles. Keener hasn't played much in 4.5 but it looks like Tommy Ristau has a lot of options.

- We're halfway through the 4.5 season and there's no obvious favorite yet. What would the Vegas odds be for winning citywides? I'll throw some out there off the top of my head for fun (assuming rosters stay as is and everyone plays in playoffs). Rank 'em yourself if you want.

Lakeside 4-1
Black Sheep 5-1
Deucebags 5-1
Copperfield 6-1
Hurricanes II 8-1
Hurricanes III 8-1
Westheimer Indoor 10-1
The field 50-1

I probably underrated Lakeside's chances (4-1 gives them just a 20% chance). The smart money would probably be on Lakeside at those odds.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Great week

The schedule is jam-packed with good match-ups this week in both 4.0 and 4.5.

In 4.0, there is a bit of intrigue in Division I after Kevin Lim Cunningham's disqualification this week. His four matches were defaulted, which managed to vault Gleannloch Farms into the second place spot ahead of Cunningham's Ace Makers. Lakeside will be favored over Gleannloch Farms this week, and we could see GF and the Ace Makers battling it out for that second place spot until the final week.

In Division II, top team WSTC-Phoenix plays upstart Double Trouble, who have a surprising 3-0 record despite losing Rafah Ahmad and Ed Galvez from last year's mediocre team. In Division III, two Cinco Ranch Teams are filled with unknowns, but have dominated the division thus far. Lance Loken is hoping his Copperfield squad can remain in the hunt until their match next week with top-ranked Cinco Ranch Westside Comets.

In 4.5 Division I, the top four teams will be tested in crucial match-ups this week. Lakeside faces a desperate GTAC team fresh off its first loss last week. A potential line one singles match between Moser and Hess will be worth watching. Quack Bui would be a favorite over Sandblom at the other singles spot, but could have trouble with Benton if he's used there. Lakeside would seem to have the edge in doubles. The Deucebags have a talented roster, and on paper would seem to be the favorite. They're in a precarious position in my opinion, however. Peter Borkop has been destroying people. TOO EASILY. Should he fall victim to the "three strikes" rule, as did Austin Wild's John Swords and the aforementioned Kevin Cunningham, the Deucebags' season would be over. Luckily for Borkop, his opponents have not been very strong and he has been spared from disqualification.

In Division II the Hurricanes II take on the Black Sheep in a battle of unbeatens. Recently added Murray Fonseca and the dominant Pio Davila give the Black Sheep an intriguing one-two punch (Humberto Alzate gives them a nice third singles option). Sean Lacy and Wayne Morgan look to rebound from a puzzling loss last week to Metoyer and Champlin.

In Division III, top dawg Copperfield plays Westheimer Indoor, who is tied with the Hurricanes in second place. With the Hurricanes having a bye (aka Lost Forest, who has yet to pick up a line this season), the Titans will be behind the eight ball with a loss. Copperfield looks to have the stronger roster. Simon Jim has yet to be seen for Ken Douds' crew. They may need him this week.

Friday, May 14, 2010


- I'm glad to hear that Hung Nguyen played last night. In all my years of playing league I don't think there has ever been a player about whom I'd heard so many contradictory stories. I was mistakenly informed that he wouldn't be playing for the Deucebags, that he was signed up against his will, that he played for the infamous 2006 Backesto Park team, etc. All of them have proved to be false. The one constant story I've heard is that this guy is GOOD. It sounds like he proved it last night.

- Alain Tran worked harder in the offseason than any other captain, and the results are starting to show. A case could be made that he has the best starting lineup in the city right now. I'm not sure what his top 8 would be, but with Nguyen and Borkop in singles and veterans Tran, Ballesteros, Jannuzzi and Teague (will Huffman be joining them soon?) he's got a solid foundation. One thing worries me about the team, but I'll hold that thought for now.

- I noticed Freeman changed the names of his two Hurricane 4.5 teams. I'm officially taking the "B-team" label off of Hurricanes II. Since receiving that moniker they've added McCool, Lombardi, Guy and Raymond Martinez. They're now very formidable.

- I really can't believe Willy Lock has lasted this long. Is he the best player (resume-wise) to play in the Houston league in this century? I remember getting lambasted after adding Farzad Heidari to my roster (and filling out his self-rating form without knowing his background). He got DQ'd to a 6.0 level, somehow. (he actually legitimately lost a set to one of my teammates in practice) Lock's background dwarfs Heidari's in accomplishments.

- Still, I'm glad Lock, Gururaj, Borkop and Nguyen are all playing. With all of the talent losses the league needed some competent new blood to avoid becoming too stale.

- Nice win for Ricardo Martinez last night. He and Roberto were the two singles players on Freeman's Hurricane 4.0 team two years ago. I don't believe the two ever played back then, but I think most of us assumed Narajos was the number one guy. Heck, even Ricardo might have agreed. Ricardo has a great game but has always been really lacking in self-confidence and sometimes struggles with nerves. It'd be nice to see Ricardo lead Copperfield on a playoff run. It's hard to believe a 4.0 team with those two singles players didn't do any damage at Sectionals.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Week Four

The standings have begun to take shape, and this week there are a few match-ups that will have a big impact on playoff positioning.

In 4.5 GTAC will take on the Deucebags in a crucial match-up for both teams. There are four quality squads in Division I, and all four should be expected to sweep the five also-rans. So, how the teams fare in the three "big" match-ups will decide their fate. The Ball Busters have faithfully fielded teams for the last decade. They haven't made the playoffs since 2002 and in fact went 3-28 from 2005-2008, so Denny Dantimo should be commended for their resurgence. Jochen Moser must be considered among the top singles players in the league, and Ashley/McKeithen are a quality team, but I see the Deucebags squeaking out a 3-2 victory.

Copperfield hosts the (non-Morton? A-team?) Hurricanes in Division III. Both teams are undefeated and the loser will move into a tie with the Titans for second place. Dave McMullan and Ricardo Martinez have been solid in singles for the Lobsters so far. Copperfield's top two doubles lines have looked good thus far, but line three has been suspect, filled with 4.0 bump-ups.

The Rolido Boys and Hurricanes bump heads in 4.0, both entering the match-up with 3-0 records. The Rolido Boys managed to avoid the massive 4.0 ratings inflation that afflicted many teams, retaining Robert Kane, Greg Moran, Richard Walker and Randy Lawton. Kane and Walker are a combined 6-0 in singles this season. Tunde Olu has pitched in with three three-set victories this year as well. Still, I don't think the Rolido Boys are gonna' be able to match the firepower that Freeman will put out there in a "big" match.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Week Three

The big matchup in 4.5 last night was between the Hurricane "A" team and Sugar Creek (oops...Westheimer Indoor). Last year Antoine Ford played four singles matches and lost three of them in third set tie-breakers...against Aadrian Hasker, Omon Dibua and Odion Dibua. Yesterday he went down to Bharath Gururaj in straights. 'Nuf said. The big decisive line one doubles match in a fairly important regular season matchup was won by Ayman Abouelchabob and Richard Perreras over Stephen Epstein and Lito Diano.

The season thus far has been fairly uneventful, but I think we'll have a little drama on the horizon in the coming weeks. With only two or three weeks into the season, the playoff picture is fairly clear already in 4.0, unless I'm reading too much into these results. I'm assuming two teams from each division will qualify for Citywides.

4.0 I: Lakeside and Gleannloch/Ace Makers
4.0 II: Phoenix and SAP
4. 0III: 2 of the 3 Cinco Ranch teams
4.0 IV: Hurricanes and Rolido Boys
4.0 V: Sienna and Chancellor's

4.5 is actually still quite competitive, perhaps the most competitive it's been in quite a while. The Hurricane/NWO result has not been posted yet, but the winner will have a big leg up on a playoff berth in Division II. Division I still has at least four teams vying for the two spots. Hurricanes, Titans and Lobsters are all in the hunt in D III.

5.0 appears to be a runaway. David Toney's Met squad is nowhere near as loaded as Houston's top 5.0 team last year, but appears to have things well in hand, although Willow Fork has the talent to make a push for the title.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Week Two

Sorry, I haven't had time to do anything more than glance at things this week. Nothing jumped out at me in the way of exciting matchups. In 4.0 Sienna faces Chancellor's in a battle of two teams who have been top contenders in the past few years. With the significant roster turnover it's hard to tell just who will be the team to beat in that division, but tonight may tell the tale.

There were a few roster moves that made me take notice, though many of them are not coming to mind right now. Blake Martin being added to Ssshhhwings is intriguing, I guess. Martin was dominating the 4.0 tournament scene this year. Interestingly, he self-rated as a 4.5, which I guess precludes him from pursuing the top ranking in 4.0 this year. It might open things up in the tournament rankings for Oscar Larrazolo, who was plucked from the Acers roster to join the Lakeside 4.0 team. The Acers actually would have had a dangerous squad with Larrazolo, Romero, Le and Obenrader, but Larrazolo has moved to a team that will almost certainly be in the hunt. Lakeside has got to be considered the second favorite behind Freeman's team, and has added another recent self-rate in Jorge Ferrer that will bear watching.

One roster move in 4.5 that comes to mind was Ryan Cooper moving from the Jedi Knights, where he's been a fixture in the last few years, to the Katy Coaches team. I'm not sure if Cooper is in the coaching business or just lives out in the Katy area. Jedi Knights have struggled for singles players in the last several years and will again probably be very shorthanded in that department. Perhaps newcomer and self-rate Santiago Lock will be the answer. Captain Karl Burford (who does a great job with the usually undermanned Katy High School tennis team in a killer district) will pit Cooper against the Lakeside CC team today in their season opener.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Don't forget to pay your HTA dues so we can avoid all of those annoying protests, etc.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Opening Day

In MLB this year we had Red-Sox v. Yankees to open the season. In Houston League tennis, we had No Way Out vs. Black Sheep. Not quite the same.

Captains have been slower than usual reporting their scores. All of the favorites appear to have won their matches. The Hurricane franchise won all of their matches, although the Herb Morton-led 4.5 team (hereafter referred to as "The B Team") looked very shaky in doing so. Lakeside appears to have some solid squads, and word is that SAP squeaked out a win in their quest to return to Sectionals. Hopefully things will get more exciting as the season progresses.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Sorry for being so neglectful...for only the second time since '97 I won't be playing in the Thursday night league so I haven't paid it as much attention as I usually do. Despite being on the sidelines I'll still be watching things fairly closely and chatting frequently with friends and contacts in the league.

I took a look at the rosters this morning. Maybe my absence from the tennis scene has skewed my judgement, but my impression is that this is the weakest summer league since the turn of the century. The 4.5 league seems to be missing so many of the big guns from last year, and with perhaps a very few exceptions there don't seeem to be any new studs to take their places. Again, customarily captains try to spring their "surprises" on opponents at the last minute, so there may be a flurry of roster activity on Thursday, but right now I can't see any team that has a remote chance of doing any damage at the Sectional level this year. The league will be competitve, and even some of the 4.0 bump-ups will be able to "hang", but there doesn't appear to be a real quality team out there. Even some of the perennial contenders (Ssshhhwing, Black Sheep, etc.) appear weaker, but still may be good enough to qualify for citywides.

As for 4.0, the number of recognizable names is pretty small, but I would suspect that the captains who annually field contenders (Freeman, Goodwin, Lu, Spoor) will all be in the playoff hunt and will all be trailing Jason Freeman when all is said and done (though Freeman's roster seems to have a couple of head scratchers on it, I'm sure he will be strong by the time the playoffs roll around).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brackets are out.

Both the 4.0 and 4.5 brackets have been released. At first glance it appears they have done a good job with them. Of course, the strength of the teams is still subject to change but I think the brackets look fairly balanced in both 4.0 and 4.5. Discuss.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fill out USTA Survey on Mobile use

Hey Folks,

Please take a couple of minutes to fill out this USTA survey. It looks like they are trying to probe their user base to see if it is worth investing in the creation of a mobile app for either Iphone, BB, or Android based platforms (So sorry for your Palm users HAHA - just kidding).

Take a few minutes and complete this and hopefully we will have an Iphone app by 2015!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rosters are filling up.

I just took a look at the summer league rosters for the first time in a week or so, and there's been a flurry of activity.

Some have pooh-poohed Lakeside Country Club's chances, but I like the recent additions they've made. My old teammates Eddie Perdomo, Hai Vu and Phi Huynh have joined the squad. More intriguing is the addition of Ed Hess, who was a high quality 30's player (and 5.0 league player) back in 2003. If there's not too much rust on him, he'll be a factor. Their team has potential.

We'll see if this weekend produces any other names to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

HTA Houston Open Seeds

The seeds are out for the upcoming major zone:

NTRP Men's 4.0 Singles
1. Butt, Zaeem
2. McNeal, Sean
3. Marks, Miles
4. Taylor, James
5. Farmer, Benjamin
6. Smith, Aaron
7. Brown, Gregory
8. Hutchison, Leonard
9. Bacon, Israel
10. Canter, Caleb
11. Salihu, Musa
12. Boyareddigari, Prasanth
13. Kim, Hyung
14. Lee, Gerald
15. Bowman, Trae
16. Drake, Matthew

NTRP Men's 4.5 Singles
1. Sanchez, Alejandro
2. Griggs, Philip
3. Martin Del Campo, Guillermo
4. Luedtke, David
5. Hawkins, Ben
6. Sevin, Scott
7. Ewing, Adam
8. Miles, J.D.
9. Morton, Herbert
10. Rivera, Charlie
11. Schmucker, Greg
12. Robinson, Kevin
13. Patch, John
14. Stollenwerck, Sam
15. Dutchover, Ismael
16. Ramirez, Rene

NTRP Men's 5.0 Singles
1. Reitzel, Regan
2. Green, Timothy

I'm not as informed on the tournament scene as I should be, so feel free to chime in with your opinions. As usual, I will be keeping my eyes open for dangerous floaters and emerging newcomers to see how they will impact the upcoming league season.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tri-level Nationals

The Freeman-Benzon Houston Tri-Level team has embarked on its journey to Nationals in the Coachella Valley area in California. Nationals are run in conjunction with the BNP Paribas Open. It's a really fun trip despite the strange format employed.

Good luck to the guys. Hopefully Red, Freeman or Kern will chime in with some stories/results.

If the Tourney blog has truly died I will gladly devote some space to discussion of the upcoming "Coke" tournament. I hope everyone's brackets are doing better than mine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


As usual, signups for summer league are slow until the deadline approaches. I did find it interesting that Lakeside Country Club is fielding a summer league 4.5 team. With Tommy Connell, Quack Bui and Stephen Ash they have a solid foundation to build upon. Hopefully we will have another competitive team in a year which looks to be wide open.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Help me out.

Friends of mine are asking me to recommend someone to teach their 7 year old son tennis. I feel like I should know who's a good pro for juniors, but I really don't have an educated opinion. Can someone with a ringing endorsement post it or email me at houstonleaguetennis@gmail.com? Thanks.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Tri-level Sectionals were held this weekend at Kingwood Country Club. As expected, the finals came down to Houston versus Dallas with Jason Freeman's team squeaking past Bob Bender's Dallas squad 2-1.

Freeman had a deep lineup of 4.5 players to choose from: Matt Sumrall, Odion Dibua, Jason Kern and Red Benzon. Pat Albro, Kris Knutson and Alex Ellingson were the 4.0's and Chad Luhan and Troy Ralls played the 3.5 line. The team advances to Palm Springs for Nationals, which is played in a strange format.

Tri-Level is a lot of fun, but the participation rates are abysmal. Let's face it, 3.5 players and 4.5 players rarely travel in the same tennis circles. I would think there will be or has been some discussion in USTA circles about getting rid of it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Event this weekend.

There will be some good tennis going on at the Met this weekend. Friday at 6PM features a match between Texas and Texas A&M, who meet annually for the Texas Cup in Houston. It will be some elite tennis from two top programs.

Also, in conjunction with the match, the Met runs the "Alumni Challenge" doubles tournament. The Championship division features elite/professional players like Tommy Ho, Graydon Oliver, Jack Brasington, the Barker twins and many others. Play in the Championship division will begin immediately prior to the Aggie-Longhorn match. There are other divisions of play and several 4.5 league players have already entered the A division. Anyone interested in playing can contact Keith Christman at 713-652-0700.

Hook 'em!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spam reduction

In an effort to decrease the level of spam on the blog I have enabled that you verify you are a human and not a meat popsicle before submitting a comment.

If this becomes too cumbersome and everyone doesn't mind a few viagara offers please LMK and I can disable this feature.


PS - A free can of slightly used tennis balls to the first person that gets the movie reference correct.

Monday, January 25, 2010

WTT shines despite the lack of sun!

Warm weather, cloudy skies and a lot of amazing matches highlighted this past weekend in the WTT event held at Copperfield Racquet & Health Club. In the 4.5B bracket, the WTH team captained by Michael Le Tan and the BushWood Country Club led by Brian Smith cruised through the first two matches setting up a clash for these Titan teams. In a tightly contested women's doubles match, Abbe Ulrich and Emily Jacobs (WTH) were able to defeat Crystal Bryant and Sandi Pike (Bushwood), 6-4. Brian Smith and David Wanja (Bushwood) teamed up to defeat the Dibua brothers (Omon, Odion from WTH), 6-3. This match consisted of some awesome serves, amazing volleys and a lot of balls flying over the fences. The singles event for the ladies featured Nancy Nguyen (WTH) and Crystal Bryant (Bushwood) won by Nancy, 6-3. On the men's side, Brian Smith (Bushwood) was able to defeat Omon Dibua (WTH) 6-4 in another high powered match. Both teams were tied entering into the all important mixed doubles matches. Omon Dibua and Emily Jacobs (WTH) defeated Brian Smith and Sandi Pike (Bushwood) in the first mixed match 6-4. David Wanja and Crystal Bryant (Bushwood) took out Odion Dibua & Abbe Ulrich (WTH) in the deciding match, 6-3, leading Bushwood to a one point victory!

In the other bracket, the Hook'em team captained by Betsie Hollis and Mason Creek captained by Monty Lindloff collided in the last match of the day as both of their teams were undefeated in the first two matches. Dawn Tollefson and Erin Keys (Hookem) took down Dustin Sadler and Julie Tolbert (Mason), 6-5 in the ladies doubles. Neil Carpenter and Peter Rothe (Mason Creek) teamed up to defeat Tim Green and Ted Phoummarath (Hookem), 6-4 in the men's doubles. Erin Keys (Hookem) played a very strong match and beat Dustin Sadler (Mason Creek) 6-2 in the ladies singles round. Neil Carpenter (Mason Creek) took on two different opponents in Ted Phoummarath & Robert Plummer (Hookem) and defeated the combo 6-5. That gave a 2 game edge to the Hookem team entering into the mixed doubles round. Tim Green & Dawn Tollefson (Hookem) took care of David & Daryl Hall (Mason Creek) 6-1 and Robert Plummer/Kaye Estrada (Hookem) defeated Monty Lindloff/Julie Tolbert (Mason Creek) 6-2 to give Hookem the victory.

Here is a list of the champions at each level:
3.5A Cinco Ranch Cinco Seis (3-0)
3.5B Tomball Fireants (3-0)
4.0A San Antonio Party Animals (3-0)
4.0B MPTC Fried Twinkies (3-0)
4.0C Copperfield Super Smash (3-0)
4.5A MPTC Hook'em (3-0)
4.5B Copperfield Bushwood Country Club (3-0)

The next WTT event will be held the weekend of June 12th & 13th. The schedule will be as follows:

Saturday, June 12th
3.0 (8 am, 12 pm and 4 pm)
4.0 (10 am, 2 pm and 6 pm)

Sunday, June 13th
3.5 (8 am, 12 pm and 4 pm)
4.5 (10 am, 2 pm and 6 pm)

Get a team together and participate in this unique event! For more information, go to http://www.wtt.com/ or contact Lance Loken at lance.loken@woodgroup.com

Check out the wtt event this Wednesday (January 27th) at the Australian Open. The Australians, featuring Pat Rafter, Pat Cash, Nicole Bradtke and Alicia Molik wil take on the International team of Tracy Austin, Goran Ivanisevic, Todd Martin and Mary Joe Fernandez!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Few More Stats

Last week I addressed the question, “how much of 2009’s production did each team lose to YE09 bump-ups?” I looked at Mens’ 4.0 and 4.5, and only for Citywide Playoffs matches. This week the analysis is extended to all regular-season matches. Also, since it’s time I took a look at some of my new 4.0 competition, I’ve analyzed 3.5 as well.

In 4.5, the numbers are fairly uninteresting, since there were so few bumps to 5.0. But here’s what the data look like. I have sorted in order from those who return the least 2009 production (on an absolute basis) to those who return the most. Other sort orders may be more appropriate depending on the insight being sought.

Teams shaded in yellow are those that made it to Citywide. As with last week’s analysis, if a doubles line was won by a pair consisting of one returner and one non-returner, the returner was given 40% of the credit for the victory.

In 4.5, it looks like most teams did not lose too much production, as expected. Some stats on the impact of self-rates are shown as lagniappe. It doesn’t appear that self-rates had much of an impact on 4.5 (overall only 13% of matches were won by self-rates), if there is a sandbagging problem you’d expect it to be at the lower ratings.

In 4.0 the numbers are shown below:

Results are broadly consistent with those from the Citywide Playoffs analysis – the top teams have a lot of rebuilding to do, and from about Bear Creek on down the list there appear to be several teams that are relatively well-placed entering 2010.

The real eye-popping results are in 3.5. First let’s look at Citywide Playoffs results:
Two numbers stand out for me – only 10% of lines were won by those who will return to 3.5 in 2010, and 37% were won by self-rates. Clearly, if there is a problem with people underrating themselves, it is in 3.5.

For the full regular season, 3.5 looks like this:

A higher % of lines were won by returnees in the regular season vs. the playoffs, but then you’d expect it since it’s the more-successful teams (i.e. those reaching the playoffs) that suffer most from bumpage. The numbers are MUCH lower in 3.5 than 4.0. I also found it very interesting to see that again 38% of lines won were won by self-rates. I’m sure some of that is legitimate but it just feels high. It would be interesting to see how the won-lost records of the self-rates compare with those of the others…perhaps the subject of a future post.

Those are the numbers, I’d be interested in any other insights that readers can glean from these.