Saturday, August 20, 2016

Combo Wrap Up - Mixed Preview


Cancelled?  Postponed?  Lots of complaining? Then, yes, postponed.
I played today and plan to play tomorrow.  Sorry you combo folks didn't.

8.0 18 MIXED

I hear there is a city playoff in six days but no one seems to have a schedule yet.  At least I haven't found one.  Can anyone else provide some insight?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Combo Preview

Image result for combo
So, the next big event is 8.5 combo.  Impressively, this has 10 teams for 2016 so I’m assuming they will have two flights of five each.  That’s a minimum of four matches each, which makes playing worthwhile whether you win or lose.  Since we know the DTA professes not to read this blog, I hope they won’t mind if I take a shot at seeding the flights.  My flighting assumes all captain were playing their six best players (and the captains know who those six are).  And now, the players:
Flight One
Team Sisk: on the 4.5 line he has Kelly, Vassberg, Le, Pollard and Davidson; with the 4.0 line being manned by Blumberg, Abbruzzese, Luh, Pearson, Nguyen and Russell.  That’s a wide range of talent at each level but I see three potential lines that have the ability to beat anyone else playing.  Not a given, but I’d make this team the favorite.
Team Bearden: on the 4.5s he has Baishya, Traylor, Bearden, Robinson and Todd; with Covell, Zambrana, Sweeney, Barr and Kemp as 4.0s.   
Team McHugh: Kirkpatrick, Soda, Wildeberger and Powell at 4.5; with Ragle, Patterson, Rainwater, Sampson and Dawson at 4.0.  
Team Arcaria: Arcaria, Glasgow, Mudsam and Gerber at 4.5; with Shahab, Teterud, Bennett and Smith at 4.0.
Team Mills/Kanchi: the 4.5s are Fess, Coffman and Thrailkill; with Salinas, Fenter, Mills and Thakkar at 4.0.  It takes two captains to manage seven players in a six person event?
Flight Two
Team Kingsley: the 4.5s will be Kingsley, Hill, Lafavre, Shreiner and Foster; with Kingsley (son) Rodriguez, Kingery and Hanna at 4.0.  Some good players here.   This team should challenge.
Team Kanchi: the 4.5 line has Vatum (that name sounds familiar), Benjamin, Foster and Bage; with Kanchi, Rivera, Valaparta, Kommineni, Agarwal and Mickey at 4.0.   
Team Myers: Bhate, Barta, Bomar and Rossouw as 4.5s; with Andrulis, Offenberger, Dendy and LaMoy as 4.0s.
Team Entrekin: on the 4.5 line he has Herndon, Agan, Holcomb, Spellman, Alexander and Theimer; with the 4.0 line Hendrick, Entrekin, Scott, Browning, Graham and Jeffcoat.
Team Iyer: the 4.5s are Iyer, Jett, Rodriguez and Neff; with 4.0s consisting of Rajani, Ramasami, Dewan and Delgadillo.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

It is a Wrap for 4.0+

The Big Boy Sectionals is in the books.  While most of Dallas is disappointed with greater aspirations than a sectionals weekend away in... Dallas, we actually had a team advance to Nationals.  T-Bar Bartzen advanced to the big dance with the big boys.  Since they are the only team to live up to the lofty Dallas expectations, I will start with them.

5.0+ T-Bar-Bartzen defeated Dallas-West (aka Fort Worth) 2-1.  They won two third set tiebreaks at line 1S and 1D with line 2D about to head into a Tiebreak.  It doesn't get much tighter.  Both lines dropped their first set but rallied to win.  Bartzen has been a force at 5.0 for a long time and it is good to see him advance.  This team has several players that were national runner-ups a few years ago.  They even have a 6.0 on the roster.

4.5 This level turned out unexpected.  The presumptive heavy favorite, SETX, defeated Rossouw and troops 3-2.  SETX won a tight 3rd set breaker at 3 Doubles.  I know Marc felt pretty good when he swept singles as everything was close.  Greenhill gave all they had but ran into a 4.5 team with a strong flavor of Division 1.  SETX went ahead to advance to the Semis.

Reiman's JCC Wild Dallas team did advance to the final.  In the semis, they defeated usually mighty Houston to face Austin who just took down the mighty SETX/Lamar U team.  While they had a good run, it was not meant to be and the Austin team that defeated Lamar U was a little too much.  Austin's Line 1&2 Dubs dominated some very good Dallas players.  Reiman's 1 singles lost a third set breaker and Austin wins with a 3-2.

I am definitely pulling for Texas to win but I will not wear a Keep Austin Weird shirt in support.

4.0 This was suppose to belong to our city.  After hearing about how great we were, I was sure Dallas would represent here.  First, Wild Dallas rolled through their flight dropping only 110 games when the second closest team at sectionals dropped 143 games in flight.  Wild Dallas draws usually good but not great Austin.  Things looked good when Line 1 Singles and 3 Doubles won easily.  Up 2-0, things looked like the finals were an inevitability.  Unfortunately, we need 3 lines to win.  Austin flipped their singles line to avoid Rivera and he pulled off an upset over the Futures Playing 4.0 and self professed former Indian top 45 player, Valaparia.  Still, Wild Dallas had their 3.5 ringer who had been laying waste to the field.  He made a lineup change and they lost in 3 sets.  His other players that had been dominating got upset also.  I sincerely believe they were 1 tiebreak away from nationals.

Sisk's Dallas team started with the usual pushover from Houston (aka NOHO).  Yet, NOHO surprised them with a 4-1 upset.  This was an ominous warning as NOHO went on to win this flight.  In hindsight, this should have served notice that this perennial sectionals participants but usual non-factors were there to play.  This was the toughest flight by far!  There was Dallas and Wild Houston and NOHO wins this flight while dropping the second fewest games in flight.  In the semis, the after-thought NOHO defeats Wild Austin needing a third set breaker at line three to emerge.  NOHO then defeats Austin 3-2 with another third set breaker at 3 doubles.

Congratulations to NOHO.  Represent at Nationals!

Good Luck to all Texas Teams.  As we all know, Texas typically fares well at Nationals and I don't expect any less this year.  I think Austin 4.5 has the best chance to bring home a title but I will be pulling for them all across the board.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sectionals Preview - 4.0 & 4.5

 I’ve been on the road traveling this week and really pressed for time.  Not an excuse, just a fact.  As such, this is going to be a little on the short but sweet side.  Let’s start with 4.0 for a change.  This could be the most interesting (or least interesting) year in 4.0 in years because anyone who’s anyone knew going in that Freeman was taking the year off.  Listen up to the rest, this was your shot to make Nationals in a watered down year.

In Flight 1 we have Wild Houston, Valley, Dallas, Amarillo and NOHO.  This is an interesting flight, with the possibility of a one loss team advancing.  I don’t have the skinny on Valley or Amarillo.  Both could be cream puffs but Valley usually represents pretty well.  Although Sisk did a nice job with a team short on top end talent this year, I think his season ends on Saturday.  Spearman knows what he’s doing in NOHO but he seems to do better with players of an older vintage.   I’m going with Wild Houston to advance in this flight.

In Flight 2 we have Wild Austin, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Waco and SETX.  We could do a lot of analysis, rant about SETX, but this is Waco’s to lose.  Sanders knew Freeman was out and decided to make another move.  Until last year, Sanders was the last guy to captain Texas to a 4.0 national title so he knows something about how this is done.

In Flight 3 we have Houston (lite), Wild San Antonio, Wild Dallas, Lubbock and Corpus Christi.  Am I the only person who remembers a few years ago when Lubbock rolled in for 4.0 sectionals and crushed people?  They went 8-0-2 (retires) on Sunday.  OK, fine, not the same guys, but it can happen.  Anyway, I’ll take Kanchi & Co out of this flight.

In Flight 4 we have Austin, Wild Fort Worth, NETX, San Angelo and Wichita Falls.  I’ll confess, I’ve done no research on these guys.  Other than WFW it’s too hard to find good comparisons.  Wichita Falls did jump up and take 8.5 combo sectionals recently but it only take two good 4.0s to do that, not six or eight.  I’ll take Austin by default.

Let’s cut to the chase.  It’s a matchup of Wild Dallas and Waco, with Wild Houston as the dark horse.  After everything that's happened this season, I'll take Kanchi (led by Rivera and his 3.5s) to win 4.0.

I know this will irritate a lot of people but if they all show up I'll take SETX in 4.5...period.  I do think there is chance that JCC could make Sunday but that's no lock either.  After looking closer at JCC's lineup against Greenhill at cities I have to think that Reiman could have taken a doubles line if he had wanted it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

City Playoff Wrap Up - 4.5 and 4.0

It would be easy to say that things went as expected at 4.5 if you only looked at the final standings, with the traditional powers of Greenhill/Rossouw and JCC/Reiman holding off the new comers from SpringPark/Aguilar and the always playoff present Brookhaven/Harllee.  It was a little more interesting than that though.  Greenhill did take down SpringPark 4-1 in the first match on Friday, but SpringPark lost two third set tie breakers making this one a little closer than it may have looked.  SpringPark also lost a first set tie breaker in singles so I think we know what they need to work on.  And while JCC had what looked to be a close 3-2 win over Brookhaven, JCC did sweep singles easily.  Very difficult to sweep doubles in the playoffs.
Round two saw another game effort from Brookhaven, taking Greenhill to the edge at 3-2 but still another loss.  JCC nearly slipped up in this round against SpringPark but relied on a singles sweep to carry them through (there will be a theme here if you're paying attention).
In the final round of play SpingPark took down Brookhaven 4-1.  Brookhaven had already been eliminated and spread some playing time around.  This left only the two undefeated teams squaring off in the final match, as it should be.  Just when I’d have guessed it wouldn’t happen, we had two sweeps in one match.  JCC swept singles and Greenhill swept doubles.  Of the five lines played, four weren’t close.  Both singles were blowouts as were lines two and three doubles.  It all came down to line one doubles which was Shreiner and Faris over Sumrow and Cambron 6-4, 0-6, 1-0.  That’s two big momentum swings and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to see that one.  Looks like both teams will go to sectionals so good for them. 

Word on the street all season had been that Greenhill was strong in doubles and JCC had the singles and I guess it turned out to be true.  With the doubles versus singles issues that both teams seem to have I have to wonder how far they will go at sectionals, but I also hear Freeman is relaxing on his couch this year so anything is possible.  While it's usually easier to find a way to win one doubles line than one singles line (if you have issues at both), it's also true that you're singles guys will wear out if you're having to sweep singles in every big match.  Could be tough for both squads moving forward. 
At 4.0 there were a lot of expected results and a couple of very interesting surprises.  Let’s start with the biggest shocker.  Garland/Sisk won 4.0 cities.  That they won is surprising, I had them finishing second or third behind High Point, but how they won is more surprising.  More on that later.
Friday had High Point/Somabut taking out Huffhines/Jayaram 4-1.  I saw High Point and Garland competing for the wild card spot at 4.0 but maybe as a sign of things to come this 4-1 wasn’t as strong as it looked.  There were three third setters and High Point won them all.  Garland then swept Huffhines/Ratcliffe with only one close match. 
Saturday morning saw McKinney/Kanchi’s first match and it was a sweep of Huffhines/Ratcliffe with only one close match.  But the real match of interest was High Point versus Garland for the presumptive wild card.  The two teams split singles and split lines two and three doubles.  It’s hard to know whether the singles or doubles third setter finished last (usually the singles) but the key match looked to be line one doubles which went for Garland. 
Saturday afternoon Garland beat Huffhines/Jayaram 4-1, winning two out of three third setters, with all lines being close except three doubles.  In a rematch of flight play, McKinney got their revenge on High Point with a sweep and the singles were complete blowouts with both coming in at 6-0, 6-1.  This is what I expected in their flight play match before we saw a light lineup from McKinney early in the season.  Garland is now sitting at 3-0 and seemingly having a wild card sewn up. 
Sunday morning saw another McKinney sweep, this time of Huffhines/Jayaram, but with two third setters in doubles.  High Point then swept Huffhines/Ratcliffe, who defaulted two lines. WTF?
In the last matches on Sunday, Huffhines/Jayaram beat Huffhines/Ratcliffe 4-1 with Ratcliffe defaulting two lines again.  He has 17 guys on that roster and can’t get more than four to come play in the playoffs on Sunday afternoon?  That then only left the battle of the undefeated, again, as it should be.  But it was an odd one.  Singles were split with huge blowouts.  Yaremenko blows out a McKinney self rate.  Flora plays seven games and retires (without winning a game).  Teterud and Horsley are up 6-2, 0-1 and they retire.  Then lines one and two doubles split third setters for a 3-2 Garland win.  I bet they were wondering what the heck was going on with guys falling like flies on the other courts.
I wasn’t there so I can’t say what happened, other than both Garland and McKinney are headed to sectionals.  Straight up, McKinney wins this match 4-1 but I was told the ambulance came every day and twice on Saturday so anything is possible. 
Congrats to all the players this weekend and good luck to those advancing.  I’ll take a look at sectionals in a week or so.