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 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 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'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.