Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Week's Headliners

Here's a look at what's on the docket for this Thursday (it's Tuesday already!):

Probably the biggest match of the week comes in the 5.0 division, with Lakeside taking on undefeated Willowfork. Lakeside will reportedly be without Aadrian Hasker, so the question of who will replace him in the singles lineup is an important one. Laurence Sombito? Greg Jones? Your guess is as good as mine.

In 4.5 there are a few matches with playoff implications. According to tennislink, the Big Bangers and GTAC have two matches scheduled (finishing one up, I assume), so that may shed a lot of light on who is the potential wild card team from that division.

Also, the Katy Coaches continue to hang on by a thread, and will have to beat early-season surprise No Way Out to stay in the hunt. I'll go with Karl's guys to win this week.

Finally, Ssshhhwings and the Taylor HS Gypsies square off. Will John Kim be in the singles lineup? Is he better than his first outing might indicate? Will rookie of the year candidate Juan Muhala bounce back this week? I think Rothe's guys will take it.

Lastly, in 4.0 GTAC takes on Lance Loken's Copperfield team. I won't be surprised to see some interesting developments in this one.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Playoff Picture.

It's dead at work today. Can you tell? There are still a few events which could dramatically change things, but here is how the playoff picture looks right now. I expect a little drama before all is said and done, however.

Obviously in 5.0 Willow Fork has become the favorite with Sugar Creek's win last night. They've got a big one with Lakeside next week, and rumor has it that Hasker may be out of town. Willow Fork is in the driver's seat. The interesting question is: will there be a second 5.0 team from Houston at Sectionals this year? In 2009 there were two 5.0 wild card teams at Sectionals, in 2008 there was one, and there were none last year. It's a longshot.

As you probably know, the 4.5 playoff qualifiers will be the five division winners and three wildcards. I think that Copperfield, the Hurricanes, the Deucebags and JCC-Blast are pretty much automatics at this point, leaving four spots. I expect Lakeside to win their division, so let's make it five. Can NWO or the Coaches put up a good enough record to get a bid? A similar situation exists with Taylor HS, Shwing, and the Black Sheep. There just aren't enough scrubs in those two divisions to ensure the second place team of a playoff berth. In fact, if Freddy's RPM squad turns out to be even remotely competent, they can fatten up on the dregs of that division to sneak into the postseason, perhaps at the expense of teams like Black Sheep or the Coaches. Chancellor's ugly loss last night makes it unlikely, but still possible, that a second team will come from the Blast's division. Sugar Creek or Chancellor's will probably have to beat the Blast to make it in.

In 4.0, there are still a few question marks, but much of the playoff picture is clear already. Similar to 4.5, the six division winners and 4 wildcards will qualify. For now, it looks like CR Comets, Lakeside, Unicorns, Hurricanes, Chancellors, The Good Guys, RPM and GTAC all have things almost locked down. Copperfield, Mason Creek, Sienna Aces and Westside Warrior appear to be fighting for the final two slots.

Last night's matches

The big news, for me, was that Sugar Creek's 5.0 team beat Lakeside. We have a multi-horse race in 5.0...it appears to be the most interesting and exciting division this year. I don't have details on the match, but did hear that Bharath Gururaj beat Aadrian Hasker 7-5, 7-5. Sean Straley and Antoine Ford won the doubles line for Sugar Creek.

I digress, but it really makes me wonder how that NOHO 4.5 team from last year didn't even make it out of pool play at Sectionals. In Femi Thomas and Bharath they had two super tough singles guys. Add in doubles players like Odion, Matt Sumrall, Jason Kern, Red Benzon, John Burrmann, Jacob Vernon and others (not to mention benchwarmer HtownHacker!) and it's really got me scratching my head.

Anyway, I'm not too up on all the news from last night, but did hear that Sugar Creek's 4.5 team was having their way with Chancellor's, who had a surprising lineup. The only result I heard from that one was Hung Nguyen squeaking past Jason Cooney in singles. It wouldn't shock me if Sugar Creek finished the season 6-2 and in the playoff hunt. They will have to get by JCC on 6/9 at home.

Jose Orozco continues to impress in singles, destroying Aaron Layman. He's been overlooked, but needs to be mentioned when talking about the top 4.5 singles players.

It's possible Javier Chavarria is the Deucebags best singles player. He's had some good practice results lately and definitely has the fitness level to handle the heat of city playoffs.

In 4.0, the news is that Chancellor's added a new guy, Edgar Dean, who is reportedly very good. Bao Hangoc continued to roll along. I don't think Chancellor's has put out their best lineup yet, but when they do, they very well may be the team to beat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 26th Matches

It's time for a new post.

There are a few interesting matches on the slate this week. Starting in 4.5, Lakeside takes on surprising No Way Out in a battle of unbeatens in division I. LCC survived a scare last week against pesky Lakeside Estates, with Ed Hess falling to Jose Luis Munoz Orozco (longest name in the league???). Lakeside hasn't seemed to be hitting on all cylinders thus far. Their MVP's to this point may be 4.0 alumni Jim Wooten and Eddie Perdomo, who provided the winning margin against Lakeside Estates after tripping up Norkus and Weaver in week one.

Another early season surprise is the team from Taylor HS. They can deal a crippling blow to perennial playoff qualifiers Westside Black Sheep this week. The Black Sheep survived Cinco Ranch last week despite, quite frankly, a very weak lineup. The will need all of their horses this week. Juan Muhala is definitely in the hunt for the 4.5 Summer League Rookie of the year award and has added some meat to the top of the lineup for Taylor HS.

Chancellor's also takes on Sugar Creek, who will need to go on a late season run to be a factor this year.

In 5.0 Lakeside takes on the surprising Sugar Creek team fresh off its upset of the Met last week. Sugar Creek probably enters the match with a 3-1 record and have snuck into the hunt for a berth to Dallas. Aadrian Hasker has been money for Lakeside, though he showed some vulnerability against Neil Carpenter last week.

In 4.0, the much-discussed Unicorns take on the Sienna Aces, who come in with a 3-1 record. The first match between these two teams was fairly one-sided, and it's hard to see Sienna causing many problems. The Unicorns appear to have two elite 4.0 doubles tandems in Yang/Arellano and Galvez/Ahmad. Will Russell be their ace singles guy to carry them to playoff success, or have they got other hidden talents?

Finally, out in Cinco Ranch, the division leading Wranglers take on the 3-1 Comets. Patrick Newton and Benjamin Hughes have been solid for the Wranglers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Is there anything interesting going on this week? I don't think so. I was gonna' do a preview, but couldn't find anything to write about. Is it playoff time yet???

Maybe something interesting will happen in a make-up match...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Last night's matches

I was a part of a very good match last night between Chancellor's 4.0 and the Hurricanes. The quality was fairly high for 4.0 and 4 of the 5 matches went to third set tie breakers. The only thing preventing it from being a great regular season match was an absence of true intensity. I went in prepared to dislike Chancellor's, having heard some snide comments on here, but have rarely come across a team as nice as they were, with Jeremy Ang and captain Joseph Mai at the head of the list. I truly hope the two of us make it to Sectionals, but we both have a lot of work ahead of us.

As for the match, the much-anticipated matchup between Danny Vu and Minh Hoang lived up to its billing. Not too many cheap points, and a lot of long rallies. The diminutive Hoang was very crafty and not afraid to come into the net, where he displayed some great hands. In the end, it was a match of attrition, as Minh had to retire with cramps (indoors at Chancellor's...you can imagine how grueling the points were) at 2-2 in the third set breaker. It looked very similar to the matches these two used to play over a decade ago.

Line one doubles went the Hurricanes way, but Chancellor's pulled out #2 doubles and slicer/dicer Cuong Phuoc Truong again outlasted another opponent at line 2 singles. It all came down to line 3 doubles, where Alex Montes turned on the heat at 5-5 in the third set breaker and strung together several stinging shots to earn his team a 3-2 win.

In the big 4.5 match between JCC Blast and Chancellor's 4.5, apparently there was some controversy regarding the lineups. Not being in attendance, I won't touch on who was at fault or give any specifics...I'll leave that to the commenters. Obviously, the most impressive result was Pete Taylor's shellacking of Dat Bui. Bui has received a lot of praise in these parts but has yet to truly prove he's a top 4.5 league singles player. Almost equally surprising was Medford's loss in doubles to 4.0 bumpup Tom Le and Charles Nguyen. A little bird told me earlier in the year "Medford's mobility is significantly worse than it used to be." I scoffed, but now that he seems to be relegated only to doubles and is showing some vulnerability there I wonder if I should have listened more closely.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This week

For those of you sick of seeing the names "Chancellor's" and "Rios" in this space too often, bear with me, as they are central to this week's big matches.

Chancellor's is featured in both of this week's headliners: in 4.5 they travel to JCC to play the Blast, who are looking like a surefire playoff team after last week's easy win over Sugar Creek. I was interested to see that JCC used Taylor and Rios in singles last week and pushed Medford to doubles...I had assumed that Medford and Taylor would be the singles mainstays. Who will Chancellor's use in singles? James Dat Bui? Huy Nguyen? Hung Nguyen? I'm picking Chancellor's in a tight one.

Chancellor's 4.0 juggernaut faces Rios' other team, the 4.0 Hurricanes, indoors on Thursday. The two teams are undefeated and between them have dropped just one line along the way. I hope Minh Hoang is able to make it for Chancellor's...I remember what an exciting player he was back in the late nineties and am curious to see how his game has held up over the years. Former Met member and Chancellor's newcomer Bao Hangoc has been very impressive this year as well.

Anything else interesting this week? Nothing that really caught my eye, other than perhaps Willow Fork v. Sugar Creek in the 5.0 division. Speaking of 5.0, are the Black Sheep just pathetic or are they laying down? They've won 12 total games thus far.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

T.W.I.T. Notes

After last week's snoozer, we have some decent matchups this week.

There's not much of interest in 5.0, but 4.5 has several key battles that will help to shape the playoff landscape. Lakeside finally gets their season underway against last year's surprise team, the Katy Coaches. Karl Burford's squad has already hit an unexpected bump in the road and with NWO sitting at 2-0, it's almost a must-win for the coaches. Norkus and Weaver did not team up last week...have the coaches gone to a different doubles battle plan this season? The lost two of the three doubles lines against No Way Out...

It's already been discussed in the comments, but Copperfield and the Deucebags is another meaningful early season match. On paper, Copperfield may have the strongest team in the city. Of course, we all know the old cliché about matches not being played on paper... This match is at Lee Leclear. Will Copperfield's big guns make the trip out there for a Thursday night road match? Would Kelly and McMullan or Martinez be enough to give Copperfield a chance to sweep the singles?

There are presumably three good teams in 4.5 division V. Two of them meet this week as Sugar Creek and the JCC Blast clash at JCC. Jason Cooney has been playing well for Sugar Creek. The Titans lost to Chancellor's 4-1, so every line is crucial for them. If Simon Jim plays, perhaps he and Cooney play singles and John Day can be used in doubles. Can Jim and Cooney split the singles against Taylor and Medford? Can JCC take a line of doubles? It'll be interesting to see how captains Warren and Douds position their forces for this one.

As a general question, I'm wondering how good John Kim is in singles. Ssshhhwings may make a move this year after a few years of slowly sliding backwards. If Kim is good, and I suspect he may be, then he and Callaway may supplement a decent doubles lineup nicely.

The 4.0 division doesn't quite have the same drama this week, but there are a couple of matches to keep an eye on. In the hinterlands, undefeateds Mason Creek and CR-Wranglers do battle. I know nothing about either of these teams...they could easily sneak up on someone come playoff time.

None of the heavyweights (Chancellor's, Hurricanes, Unicorns, Good Guys) appear to have anything to worry about this week. It should be smooth sailing for all of them.