10/1 JCC – I was surprised that this team lost to the Village. I don’t know if that is because JCC are not as good as we thought or because Village are better? The bottomline is that these guys have a tough 3 days ahead of them. They can field 5 solid lines but I don’t see any that are clear favorites in any matchup against the other 4 teams. Shulman is a strong player and so obviously are Vahdat and Reiman. Tim Williams can also be tricky. I don’t expect them to be blown-out by anyone but expect some a few 2-3 losses and some surprise wins. (I am putting them behind Garland only because in the fall playoffs Garland won the head-to-head but these two teams are close.)
8/1 Garland – this team has made the QT based on the exceptional singles form of Trent O’Bannon & Jermaine Mayfield. Hiram Gonzalez is a good player who has hopefully returned from his travels and will be in form by the QT weekend. Andy Xu has proven to be very good also but his work and family commitments have made his practice schedule questionable. The big question is what Big John does with his doubles lines. We know Brent O’Bannon and Vassberg have done well together. Hai Nguyen has Nationals experience and Jimmy Fenn is always dangerous! Like JCC we may suffer a few 2-3 losses but hopefully squeak a few 3-2 wins also…..
6/1 Lakes/ Way – knocked-off TBar 3-2 to secure their Qt berth and made it out of a very tough flight. Not to be underestimated this team has a weakness at singles although Blake Wittacker has been the stand-out exception. If he is not available for any matches this team will be in big trouble. Welwood may be good at singles but hasn’t proven it yet and my guess would be that they would field Oberg & Pollock and then Welwood & Jannesch on 2 of the dubs lines with Wittacker hoping to pickup the 3rd win? Feldman is just returning from surgery so his fitness is questionable and while Dunford, Richardson & Fankhauser are solid I don’t think they can stack up against Royal Oaks exceptional depth.
5/1 Favorites: GlenEagles – This is a very dangerous team! Culley & Brown won Cotton Bowl together and have done well at 5.0 this season. Tim Brownlee went to Nationals with Hi Pt last year and their supporting cast of Tom Juhn, Robert Reeves and Chris Lewis make them a similar proposition to the Lakes team. Again though I don’t see them matching up with Royal Oaks in quality depth. However, you only need to win 3 lines in each match.
1/8 FAVORITES: Royal Oaks – have made it by virtue of winning the Fall but lost to both Garland and Lifetime during this past season. They definitely have the deepest roster. Last year they had numerous players unavailable for play-offs but essentially finished second to High Point in the final push for sectionals berth. I believe this is still the team to beat at QT and possibly even at Cities but they have a tough path. The best 8 players on this team in my opinion are: Lawrence, Flores, Vogl, Moore, Wooley, Waldrep, Bell & Durten. Clossen is a strong player as is Warner. Apparently Molina is also good but I don’t know anything about him. Stidham is solid as are Devereaux and Wegmann - most teams would be excited to have them in their top 8. Of course there is always the wildcard Webb, who when on, is a 5.0 player! With this kind of depth, if Rothwell avoids the pressure to play the other guys on the roster, and assuming they are all available – he should field 5 strong lines and often fresh players, for every match! This is key in the July Dallas heat.
Hit 'em hard; hit 'em in and call them fair!