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.