OK, we are close enough to the season now for me to make some kind of legitimate predictions for the upcoming 4.5 season and give my opponents some bulletin board material. The playoff format isn't laid out in the captains' folder so I'm basing those predictions on how I think they will do it.
This is clearly the worst flight in my opinion. If you remove Branch, I really don't think any of the other teams would make the playoffs in any other flight. However, that does make for many competitive matches throughout the season. I'm not familiar with the 4.0 bumpups for the most part so the bottom of the flight is really just a guess.
1. Oak Creek/Branch--I expect another gaudy regular season record from this team as I don't think any team can challenge any possible lineup from this flight. It's always tough when every team brings out their best lineup against you but I don't think that will matter.
2. T Bar--This team really lost a lot of their strength from last season but they did retain their depth in doubles and the acquisition of Dick Fikes is a good one. However, almost the entire team is full of seniors and that is not usually a key to success in a league that goes through July.
3. Brookhaven/Ludwig--I will go with Andy's team here simply because of their success last season. I'm not that familiar with his players but I know he can recruit players and they have strength in doubles.
4. High Point/Somabut--Bob can always recruit but it remains to be seen if he is putting his emphasis on 4.0 or 4.5 this season. Addition of Keith from Hai's team will be good but I don't see any other players with winning experience at the 4.5 level.
5. Oak Creek/Smith--Strange combination of Bovermann's old team and 4.0 bumpups but there is some talent on the roster. Will be interesting to see how the captain can evaluate these players since it really looks like the meshing of two teams.
6. Hackberry--Some players here with winning experience at 4.5 but depth is lacking. This team has always had the ability to put a scare in the top teams but usually can't win consistently.
7. Canyon Creek/Rossouw--I have a lot of respect for Mark as a captain and I admit I'm not too familiar with his players but the ones I do know are not ready to compete for a playoff spot. Good luck and prove me wrong!! How's that for motivation?
8. Collin County/Aud--This team has a really strong line 1 doubles team and a few strong singles players but bottom of the lineup is weak like normal. Lineups are usually predictable which makes them an easy out.
9. Village--A few strong doubles players and some players' names I don't know which is always scary but I think the Village usually has a team for fun. A few teaching pros who have other priorities than to play tennis on Saturday.
10. Stonebridge--This team has lingered around the bottom of 4.5 for a long time and it's a shame because I really like all the guys on the team that I know. Tim has been a captain for a long time so maybe he can turn it around but the club just doesn't have enough 4.5 talent to compete. Mark Teat is the strongest on the team by far but I don't know who can help him out on the roster.
This flight looks like the toughest by far to me with as many as 5 teams with a realistic shot at making the playoffs. One or two roster moves before the end of the season could make the difference.
1. High Point/Nguyen--Have to go with the fall champs to win the flight and it would certainly help the other playoff teams if they did. Addition of Jamie Ribman and Blumberg will help counterbalance losing Keith and any others. They are still missing a singles lock but it's still early.
2. Brookhaven/Harllee--I give them the slight edge over the Lakes because of singles strength but so much of their success has always been dependent on lineups and injuries. With their top lineup, they are one of the best in the city easily. Subtract one or two, they are average.
3. The Lakes--This team rolled all season in the fall with their doubles. Only addition I see is Ryan Kirkpatrick and with the tougher spring competition, I'm not sure they can duplicate their success from last season. They are still missing a #1 singles player.
4. Las Colinas/Herget--This looks like the second-string Branch team which could still be good enough to make the playoffs. If they can recruit a player or two from their new club they could be really strong. A lot of reliable doubles players but they are missing at least two singles players unless Andre is going to play every week. Maybe the Buffalo can step in??
5. Garland/Sisk--The recruiter will surprise somebody in this flight. Based on current roster his team will not go far but Sisk's teams are notorious for late-season additions. I expect this team to compete with anybody.
6. DFW Hilton--This team has made slight improvements recently but the defection of Huffman to Branch's team takes away their best player. They have some good doubles players but not enough to compete with the best teams.
7. T Bar--This is the weaker T Bar team. They have strength in doubles but very little in singles. Without some recruiting they will be an easy out for most teams.
8. LB Houston--18-man roster with 7 4.5 players. I don't know that I know anybody on this team but I think it's safe to say they will stay bottom-feeders in the flight. With so many players getting moved up, how can you have 11 4.0s on a 4.5 roster?
9. Oak Creek/Smith 2--This is the B team for Don so I don't expect them to do anything. Should be good match experience for these guys and get them ready for future seasons, or get them moved back to 4.0, whichever they are hoping for.
This flight appears to be the easiest to predict with the top 3 teams pretty obvious but you never know what can happen. Kind of disappointing for me that of our 8 matches, 4 are the same from last season and 2 of the others are 4.0 bumpup teams.
1. Garland/Noel--OK, I know I'm jinxing myself by picking my team number one but I'm doing it anyway. We kept all of the key players from last season and added at least 4 new ones so I like the way the roster is shaping up.
2. Royal Oaks--Deceptively small roster at this point. John Ponder is a great player (I've heard) so adding him is big. Good doubles players and above average singles players will make this a tough team. I still expect a few additions though.
3. Greenhill--This team always just misses the playoffs or winds up in the QT and this season looks the same to me. Same lineup from previous seasons but they have a few tournament players on their roster which make it tough for consistency in lineups.
4. Lifetime--A few old team members return this season to make a playoff run. Strong players throughout the lineup but hard to classify anybody as unstoppable. Brandon should have more confidence after his win over Phillip Griggs this weekend. I will know more after our team plays them in week 1.
5. Oak Creek/Juhn--This team looks to be much improved from previous seasons. Singles players are very solid and a lot of veteran doubles players make this team much stronger. If Frank Vo signs up, that gives them three singles players that can compete with anybody.
6. High Point/Bowman--A few solid players on this roster will make this team competitive. If they can get a strong lineup, I see them being a tough out for any team. This is not the traditional bumpup team since many of these players have played 4.5 for a while.
7. LB Houston/Wise--This team has not done well historically but in the new 4.5 landscape they certainly have some players that can win. Nice all around players that can play singles or doubles give them a chance to manipulate lineups based on who they're playing.
8. Springpark/Walters--This team had some solid players in the past but this season appears to be almost all 4.0 bumpups. Not many on the roster that can compete with the top 4.5s.
9. JCC/Reiman--Jermaine and Justin are good and I don't know much of the roster but I don't see how they can compete at this level with 6 4.5 players on the roster.
1. T Bar
5. Royal Oaks
3. High Point
Top two advance to Sectionals
2. Noel (this is the year baby!!!)
I have no idea how many will be in QT, DCC, or Sectionals but this could be it. Or they could take 2nd place from each flight and the 3rd place with the best record to QT. Or they could take top two from QT to DCC. Also depends on how Hai's team does during the season.
Good luck to all!!