The 4.5 division is a little slow going so I thought I would open up the discussion with some predictions. We still have one more week of scrimmages before the actual season starts and I have to say, three flights makes this league much less exciting. It really does make the fall seem like an inferior league with only 6 official matches in two of the three flights.
By far the toughest flight in my opinion. This is the only flight that I actually see coming down to the last week to determine playoff teams.
Collin County--A few new faces but I would assume they will still be anchored by Henson and Hixson at line 1. Sean Bay's tournament experience should start to pay off and I expect this team to be slightly improved over last season.
High Point/Bazan--The blogmaster has not really improved his team over last season but I think his main focus is helping his players get as much match experience as possible to succeed at the 4.0 level. A couple of strong singles players but not in the same league as the other top teams.
Oak Creek/Feldman--The defending champions of last fall will look to repeat. I think the only team with a smaller roster than mine. Zero new players but should have the same strength with Durten, Viktorin, Stein, Feldman, and Thompson all contributing. Where's the Buffalo?
T Bar M--Very similar to the roster that ended up in the Flight of Death last season. This flight is a little easier. Will be interesting to see if T Bar will continue to use JD in big matches despite his poor record. Russ is back from 5.0 with Colby, Jehan, and Doug all looking to play key roles.
Greenhill--No additions from last season but no defectors either. Only key missing from this team is that lock at line 1 doubles. Griggs and Howard are very solid at singles but doubles let them down most of the season. If dubs can improve, this team will be very hard to beat.
Springpark--This team has lost two of its best players from last season in my opinion and didn't bring in anybody to replace them. I look for a drop in performance with everybody else trying to pick up the slack.
Brookhaven/Ludwig--Only 3 or 4 legitimate 4.5 players will make this team an easy out for opponents. Unless they have somebody I don't know about, singles will be a real struggle for them every week. Mark can play everybody close but besides that, I don't know who the singles players are?
High Point/Somabut--I actually think this team will surprise some people and finish in the top half of its flight. I don't see them competing with the top teams in singles but I expect competitive matches all season in dubs. However, there's also always the possibility of score management???
Order of Finish:
1. T Bar M
2. Oak Creek
5. Collin County
This flight seems pretty set but surprises can happen. Not sure from whom though.
Oak Creek/Bovermann--Solid players all around the roster but no real impact players except for maybe Thadius. I expect them to be tough in every match but inconsistent lineups have hurt them in the past.
Royal Oaks/Rothwell--Another roster smaller than mine. The loss of Molina and Andrus will really hurt this team's chances to advance through the playoffs but John always seems to find somebody to fill in the gaps. Greg Zachary is also MIA. Always interesting to see how the roster fills out with them.
DFW Hilton--Doubles has steadily improved on this team over the last few seasons. The return of Huffman also gives them an almost guaranteed win every week. If Hamish returns from last season, they could have a very strong 1-2 punch at singles.
Northwood--This captain doesn't know what he's doing but I suspect a couple of more roster additions before the season begins. Loss of McCord and Fair to 5.0 will really hurt but Hawkins, Young, Xu, Wells, Mason, and, dare I say Noel, are all coming off solid seasons and will look to continue that trend.
LB Houston/Ratana--A couple of new players this season (Tom how could you?) should help this team but the departure of Forrest and Mark can't help their cause. I really like Ken and he deserves to have a successful team and if he plays like he did against me in the Brookhaven dubs final, he should win every week. Still too many 4.0s to make a serious run though it seems.
Oak Creek/Juhn--A couple of new players but mostly the same roster from seasons past. Frank is always good for several wins and this team has shown the ability to beat other strong teams in the past (i.e. High Point last season). Look for them to be in contention.
Lifetime--Another team of 4.0 bumpups. I don't think they will do quite as well as Bob's 4.5 team (let the hate mail begin). I see a former Branch player on the roster though with a very limited match history and Dante, Forrest, and Johan have all shown they can do well at the 4.5 level.
Order of Finish:
1. Northwood (I wasn't going to do it but I have to)
2. Royal Oaks
7. LB Houston
Another flight that is strong at the top but not quite as much depth as Flight A. Familiar teams will vie for the top position.
Hackberry--Strong doubles players highlight this team and the addition of Andrew Pretty (presumably in singles) will help them. Although I have to say, if his results are as I think they will be, expect a protest from somebody.
Oak Creek/Herget(Branch)--A new captain but roster is roughly the same minus the 5.0s. Outside of Slezak and Braswell though, the absence of Kiron, Branch, Kern, and Wesley James (who could still join right?) will make this team far less of a threat than last season. But it's just the fall right?
Brookhaven--Very strong team that retained Carl, David Hall, Ramos and Laselle who anchored their team last season. Hard to imagine them not returning to the playoffs.
High Point--So much for the loss of Phy hurting them? No Dustin yet either (is he 5.0?) but Rudy Peters joining the roster of other strong players from last season should make this team a force in the fall. Lineup decisions will be key for this team with so many players who can play singles or doubles.
The Lakes--Oberg and Pollock are the strengths of this team again but I'm not sure where the other wins will come from against the top teams. Singles players seem to be missing from the roster too unless more additions are to come.
T Bar/Snow--23 players on this roster for only 6 matches. That averages to about 2 matches per player. Not worth it for me. A lot of solid players but a lot of weak ones too. Best lineup can be competitive with most teams in doubles but singles will be a struggle.
LB Houston/Baird--A few people have laughed at me when I said to watch out for this team but I feel like a few ringers will emerge off of this roster. Still need a couple of more role players to fill a lineup but I expect strength at the top of this lineup.
Order of Finish:
2. High Point
3. Oak Creek
6. LB Houston
7. T Bar
T Bar, Northwood, Brookhaven, High Point, Royal Oaks, Feldman
High Point over Brookhaven in the finals.