Monday, August 12, 2013

Category 5

As you probably know by now, the Hurricanes won the 4.0 and 4.5 divisions at Sectionals and earned trips to Tuscon. There are so many people who stand out over a Sectionals weekend. Some that caught my eye:


The whispers started with his subpar performance in the HTA Open. "Tim shouldn't be in the starting lineup." "Green doesn't practice enough." "He's past his prime.".  While it helps having a partner like Bryan Taylor, Green was magnificent this weekend. The duo was not tested, winning all three of their matches handily.


After seeing the beatdown this guy gave to the rest of the 5.0 field, it's hard to imagine that he was playing 4.5 just a couple of years ago.


Where are the singles studs? Who's going to play #2 singles behind Sydney? These are the questions I asked myself all year long. Quietly, Mussenden and Martinez have led the Canes to two straight Nationals trips. Moose destroyed everything in his path this weekend. Any questions raised in his early season loss to Schnyder were answered. Martinez seems to never wilt in the heat, and showed the same guts we saw in City playoffs against Cooper. His record was also spotless until being pulled off the court in the Championship match.


I definitely weren't expecting them to be fixtures in the doubles lineup in the semis and finals, but they came up big. Nice win over Slezak and Morrison on Sunday.

The Ringers

The "ringers" had mixed results. Ringers are hard to define. Let's just say they're guys who rarely get tested and can usually win without too much effort. Bryan Taylor was exceptional. The much ballyhooed Sydney Jim really didn't contribute. On the 4.0 side, Chris Rossi was everything he was supposed to be, and more. He played 6 matches in 3 days, never resting, and never losing. It's nice when you can count on one line as virtually automatic. Ryan Reeves played well, but didn't trample the competition like many expected. His doubles win in the tight finals was key.


The 57 year old slicer/dicer had a tall task: facing a 22 year old in the midday heat in the Sectional finals. That 22 year old was 18-0 in 4.0 competition this year, including a resounding 3 and 1 win over Janek in the finals at Tyler. After getting trounced in the first set, he pumped himself up, took the second and won an emotional 3rd set breaker to clinch the title. All of his hard work and training paid off.


Freeman calls them (us) "Thursday night guys", which is not a pejorative term. They're easy to write off. They're not in the lineup on Sunday at Sectionals, but they fill an important role. You need guys who are good enough to win during league season and yet will be realistic about their status as "role players". (Every team has a 12th best player that thinks he's in the top 6) Beinart is the best Thursday night guy in history. I haven't seen another one like him in my 17 years of league tennis at 5.0, 4.5 and 4.0.

I have a math degree, love sabermetrics and spend half my days on fangraphs and baseball-reference. I believe in numbers and think "intangibles" are generally highly overrated. But when Freeman told me Beinart's cheering may have made the difference in three matches, I believe him. His enthusiasm is infectious, pumps up his teammates and distracts opponents while staying within the boundaries of good sportsmanship.


I thought the Unicorn 4.0 team was the most solid one we faced, perhaps just lacking a dominant singles player to push them over the edge. Freeman and Benzon have raised the stakes here in Houston and others are responding. Houston has to be among the most competitive cities in the nation. City playoffs were tougher for us than Nationals in 2011.

4.5 Hurricanes

Just wanted to say I thought it was cool that a bunch of the 4.5 guys hung around Dallas after their finals and came out and supported the 4.0 team. There's not a lot of interaction between different levels, and it showed a lot of class.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sectionals Talk

No big preview here. I'm sure most people are aware of the Houston teams who will be playing in the Dallas heat this weekend. Will try to post news and notes if possible.

Best of luck to all the locals. Hope all the top players make the trip.