Monday, October 24, 2011


It is up to the Dallas 4.5 team to bring back home a National Championship Title for Texas.  While our state has been represented well, every team has come up short of 1st place honors. 

This past weekend, the 3.0 men led by Bob Benner (not Bob Bender) out of Oak Creek, fought hard but fell shy a line to get out of their bracket.  

Men’s 3.5 led by Bob Bender, and his 2nd back-to-back appearance, couldn’t handle the heat that comes out of the Caribbean.  They make it to the semi’s on Sunday, but lose to the Caribbean, claiming 3rd place.  Still a nice showing.   

Houston’s 4.0 team that waltzed through Somabut’s and Arcaria’s team in Sectionals, get stumped in the finals by the Pacific Northwest, losing 2 of 3 super tie-breakers in the Finals match.  They take 2nd place and make a great placing.    

At 5.0, Austin’s team makes the Finals, losing a 3rd set tie-breaker in the Finals to Southern.  They proudly take 2nd place. 

So looking to this weekend, Dallas is in a flight with Pacific Northwest, Northern California, and Florida.   Here’s the breakdown.

NorCal -  NorCal has the most extensive play going undefeated in a flight of 10 teams.  They also had to fight through 4 flights in District play and then a flight of 4 for Sectionals.  They play out of Chabot Community College, and included on their roster is the college's head coach, Rick Morris.  A few of their players like Jake Pawid and Phil Wan are listed on the college’s website as a member of their men’s team.  Looks like Cesar Hernandez may have played minor league baseball.   It appears this team is a bunch of 20 year old ringers.  While youth has its advantages physically, that is not always the case with mental toughness.

While impressive and going undefeated all season, they were 0-4 in 3rd set breakers in District, and just 4 of 10 (40%) in 3rd set breakers throughout the entire post season.   Compare this with our mighty Dallas team who were 5 for 6 in City, and 3 for 5 in Sectionals for a combined post season 8 of 11 or 73% conversion rate.   My guess is if it goes into breakers, Dallas pulls them out.

PacificNW – Their team is named “Code Violation” so that has to make you wonder.  Their regular season play was not as extensive, nor was their post season.  They had one match to play to make it to Sectionals, and then only 2 matches in their flight at Sectionals, then the final.   It's not always the case, but usually when a team doesn’t have many teams to play to become Sectional winners, they tend to be a bit weaker than the rest.    They were 5 for 7 (71%) in breakers, but I have a feeling their competition may not be as tight as Norcal or Dallas.   Hopefully most of their "4.5" level players were playing for their 4.0 team that edged out Houston.

Florida – They were in a flight with one other team and played them 5 times.  If I lived in there, I would want my money back.  Their Region was comprised of their own team and one other, of which for the playoffs, they played each other twice.  (And you think we have it bad here in Dallas and Texas??!!!)  Their Sectionals was at least a little bit better with 2 flights of 4 teams.  They were 4 for 5 (80%) in their breakers throughout Sectionals, with a lot of 3-2 match wins.  With not much regular season or post season on-court competition than the other teams have had, I think they finish at the bottom of the flight.

Based on paper, my guess is NorCal will be the team to give Dallas the toughest fight.  As I said before, while they may be a squad of young college players, our team has, shall we say, “wisdom” and better court sense to get them through the breakers. 

Well I would love to break down the other flights, but the World Series is about to start.  I’m sure Pickett has already done all the homework anyhow.  If not, you owe me one.     

We’re counting on you to bring the hardware back home to Texas – no pressure guys.  I’m sure you can do it !!   Have fun, and best of luck !!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Good Readings for the Fall

In light of the blatant tanking that is at hand this Fall, it appears that some may need a lesson in sportsmanship, and could use some tips to help them achieve their goal of losing a match, yet still keeping the game competitive.

Remember, the players on the other side of the court paid league fees to play tennis.   You can still give your opponent a challenge while still managing to lose.  Here’s how you do it.

1) Have a designated tanker.   Think of it as “Good Cop, Bad Cop”.   When playing doubles, have one partner play their game with the other partner making the majority of the unforced errors when needed, blaming it on a “off day”.  This can be set up with side- comments like, “I shouldn’t have had those 9 Tequila shots last night”, or “I’ve been working like a dog and haven’t touched my racket in weeks”.

Another card you can play is the injury card.  Show up with your knee wrapped and how you tweaked it playing soccer with your son.  Or perhaps your shoulder is sore from sleeping on it wrong or throwing the baseball with your son.  This can limit your mobility on the court and getting crucial points.  Whatever it is, have a game plan and stick to it.

2) Make it your goal to control the overall match by determining the exact # of games you want to have won in each set, and where in the set you will win those games.  This gives you something to work for and allows you to focus on key points. 

3) Have a stroke that you are “working” on.  Maybe its lobbing in the wind or a forehand drop shot.  Whatever it is, use it in crucial moments.  When your opponent is rushing to the net, use the lob.  If hitting into the wind, hit it short; with the wind, hit it long.  When the ball goes out, blame it on the wind.   Same with the drop shot.

4) Keep your games close.  Make it a goal to have several of your games go to deuce.   If you win the first point of a game, have your partner make an unforced error to keep the game even (see Step 3).  If your opponent is up 1 or 2 points, make an effort to get the next few points to take it to deuce.  This is good because it give you something to do by focusing on winning crucial points.  It also makes your opponent feel like they are “earning” their points.   

5)  Defer service if you win the toss.  This gives your opponent the opportunity to go up early in the set, and makes it easier for you to have a 2-6 loss.   By allowing your appointment to serve first and hold, then breaking your serve because of your sore shoulder, pulled groin, or taped up knee, before you know it you are down 0-3 and on your way to losing the set.    

Example.    Play the game as you normally would.  If for some reason your opponent is extremely weak and you are up on their service game about to break, make a return of serve error.  Keep the first game close and even allow it to go to deuce, multiple time.  Make your opponent work for a hold, so when they win their service game, they are patting themselves on the back thinking they just worked to win their game, not that you gave it to them.

Your service game is easy to control because when you need to shed a point, you can always revert to a double fault.  Rub your shoulder and follow up with one of the excuses in Step 1.  This isn’t rocket science.

Now you are down 0-2 and it is their serve again.  Allow them to hold, again, keeping it close.  Before you know it you are 0-3.  Now is the time to decide and get a game.  It is your service and you get a hold.  Again, make it fun and challenging by keeping it close or  staying in a long sustained rally.  If you are up 30-love in the game, throw in a double fault or two to get your opponent back to deuce.  Make it look as if you are working hard to hold your serve. 

Now you are 1-3 and it is your opponents serve.  Allow  them to hold and your 1-4.  You then hold and now you are 2-4.  They hold and it is 2-5.  Crucial game.  Again, make it a close one.  Take it to 2 or 3 deuces by doing the above.  Allow them to hold and take the set 6-2. 

Set 2.  Repeat the above.

You have now lost a match with a score of 2-2, meeting your objective, while your opponent felt as if they just played some of their best tennis to win.  Remember, most of your opponents on the other side of the court don’t know your strengths or weaknesses, they are just out there to play.

Lastly, if you are going to tank, don’t tell your opponent.   It just looks bad and is outright wrong.