Thursday, October 31, 2013

2014 Tri-Level Preview

Looks like outside of Alzuro, there is no longer an interest in the Junior Tri.  They should probably just eliminate it all together given last year’s Sectionals was the best of 3 matches played against 2 teams (Dallas and SETX).  Why bother, and looks like that will be the case this year since Dallas has no teams. 

So the pursuit of real Tri -Level

First, to clarify why there is such a pursuit of putting together a team that can advance.  As other tournaments, the winner of City goes on to play Sectionals.  As far as the USTA and ratings are concerned, that is it.  It is a misconceived perception that Tri Level goes to a USTA Sanctioned National event.  IT DOES NOT.  That is why you will never find anything in tennislink beyond Sectionals for Tri Level.

There is a National event, but it is sponsored and run by the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, completely independent and outside of the USTA, called the Tri-Level Invitational Championships.  Well, I say independent.  Acutally, the players are chosen by taking the Sectional winners from the  USTA Tri-Level Tournament, and our local Section helps support the team and their registration.  But it is not sanctioned, and it does not count towards ratings.
Tom Fey, IWTG’s Tennis Director, runs the tournament and does a fabulous job.  He sponsors the event during the final weekend of the BNP Paribas Open, and provides players with tickets to the Quarters, Semis, and Finals of the BNP Paribas matches.  Nice little perk.  The winner is then acknowledged center court in-between matches if network scheduling allows (which is not always the case).  This is IWTG’s way of marketing directly to the top recreational tennis players around the country, and saying thanks for being a part of the game.  Now you see why teams are vying to win this thing?

Now that that is clear, who will be going and representing Dallas?

In prior years, Dallas typically would have their 2 strongest teams go, as Fort Worth Tri-Level was used as an outlet to have another Dallas team make.  This year, Dallas has all of their guns playing locally.  Dallas typically gets a Wild-Card so that means the two top teams will go.  Or does it?
From the looks of it, I have to give nod to Pickett and Le for having the 2 strongest rosters.  However, what happens if they land in the same flight?

From my understanding and past discussions with the DTA, it is a blind draw when it comes to tournaments like this.  You could possibly have a flight that has Le, Pickett, Sisk and McHugh all in one flight.  I would say those are the top 4 teams, and it would be an injustice to the tournament to have them all flighted together.   However, it could happen.

What it does do is open the door for teams playing out of Fort Worth.  Looks like Pickett was going to initially go that route (registering for a team) but elected to play Dallas.  Le has also done so in the past, but has decided to go head-to-head in the Dallas tournament.  Fort Worth’s tournament isn’t until December, so plenty of time to get a roster together if you want to make a trip to Houston for Sectionals.

That leads me to my next question, will it matter who wins Dallas given the strength of Freeman’s 4.0s and 4.5s ?  Personally, I still like Dallas’s chance because I think our city has stronger 3.5s, and like it or not, that is typically the determining line.  4.5 and 4.0 is so competitive and close, anything can happen and usually wins come down to 3rd set breakers.  With 3.5 secured, it makes a tri-level win much easier.

Those our my thoughts.  What are yours?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dallas 3.5s Bring Home 1st 40 and Over National Title

With all the flack the USTA gets, I have to give them credit for a job well done in running the 40 and Over National Tournament.  It was First Class all the way.  From the luxurious accommodations at the LaQuinta Walsdorf Asoria Resort, to matches being played where the pros play at the Indian Wells Tennis Center, this was truly an experience of a lifetime. 

The USTA goes even further by their actual wrap-up of the weekend and final showdown on their website.  See attached links:
In honesty, the past few threads have exhausted me with the multitude of comments and discussions about what it takes to get to Nationals and win, much less just to make an appearance.  This weekend I saw living proof that tennis is alive and well across the country.  From the shores of Jersey to the flats of Ohio, down to sleepy little towns like Lake Charles, Louisiana, there was talent abroad that made going to play for the first 40 and Over national title an exciting challenge that would not come easy.  Going to 3rd set breakers 8 times, the fate of winning or losing came down to a matter of a couple of points.
The chatter on the blog leads you to believe that you can’t have fun and have to be cheating or tanking to make the trip, but this year’s 1st Men’s 40 and over title winners tell you otherwise.  This year’s winner tells you that the key ingredients consist of a captain with wisdom, dedication, experience, and good intuition & judgment, teammates that have no egos, that have sincerity, compassion, and a drive to excel, and people who have the ability to share a vision that is far out but are willing to be patient, and slowly chip away towards their goal.  

We saw a season that started back in December 2012 and stretched through to Sectionals not being held until September 2013.  Memories of matches played in 30 degree temps and blustering winds to sauna like humidity down in San Antonio.

I have been fortunate to twice be a part of a team that has made the trip and has come back home with the hardware.  The common thread I see were a bunch of guys that truly had good friendships, respected what each person brought to the table, and truly enjoyed being around each other, both on and off the court. 
It truly is an experience of a lifetime to have from the hundreds of thousands of players, and thousands of teams, to have the top players from across the country converge all in one place competing.  The USTA "suggests" bringing a small token gift from your state for the players of the opposing team.  Of course the ladies have a hey day with this, but is rarely seen to be done by the men.  However, our stand-in-captain and singles player, Stephen Graham, decide to bring baseball caps that simply said "Dallas" on the front of them.  What I thought was once a hokey gesture turned into brilliance, as all of our competitors truly appreciated the gesture. 
On Finals Sunday, (as described by the USTA website, a "dramatic showdown"), players whom were knocked out in flight play, showed up at Indian Wells Tennis Center to come watch the finals.  Players and spouses of players, from the Pacific Northwest to Albuquerque, New Mexico were there with their Dallas baseball caps on, cheering for our Dallas team as it entered into a decisive 3rd set showdown.  Words can't describe what it is like to see people who you don't even know, pulling for your team, and wearing gear supporting your city. 
It then made me wonder, if other competitors whom we played and beat from across the country can pull together and support those whom they just played and advanced, why can't our own city do the same??
I have refrained several times from putting out new threads because the blog has become a place for people to maliciously bash one another.  Not what I think the purpose of the blog should be.  Perhaps we could refocus our efforts and learn how to make it a more resourceful place to help our teams here in Dallas continue building great teams.  Just a thought.

Anyhow, a well deserved toast to Keith Clark, whom if I had to describe with one word, it would be wise.  And to my teammates, whom I would describe as friends.  Thanks for the good times, and better times ahead.  Cheers!!

 Captain Fantastic