Monday, June 30, 2014

Season Over... Next Stop QT

The season is over and after a week long bitchfest about the DTA, the season is over.  All of the ones that matter have been decided.  The QT is coming up and it appears to be a very eventful one.

First, let me congratulate the flight winner:

JCC Reiman (Favorite to advance to sectionals)
Greenhill Rossouw (After the stumble, he came back strong and edged out Brookhaven by 1 line)
Village Warren (Edged out Brookhaven by 1 line) 

High Point Somabut (Never appeared threatened and favorite to make it to sectionals)
Fretz Clark (Death flight was very tight and 4 teams had over 30 lines won but Fretz came through)
Village Gordon (Not really threatened lost last match but it was already decided, probable Wildcard to Sectionals)
Brookhaven Bartlett (In the participation trophy flight, BH wins on tiebreaks after being tied with two other teams.)

Congratulations but the real season begins.  Pre-season is over boys.

I will make a QT analysis when the DTA puts out the flights and formats.  Can't prognosticate without seeing the schedules.

Best of Luck as my boys that had high hopes showed little fight.  I'll just be a spectator. :(

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Final Countdown... Last week of the season!

I don't have much time or motivation this week but my captain is pushing us really hard to finish matches.  Apparently the DTA says if you don't have your matches by the 28th entered into Tennislink, they will double default teams.  Also, for those matches on the 29th, you need them in by the 29th or a double default.

This all seems a bit harsh but it is their world and their rules.  It is a little reminiscent of the nice neighbor who gets in control of the HOA and becomes a tyrant. 

Be sure and get your matches finished or the DTA bogeyman will get you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Go West, Young Man! Or why sectionals are not necessarily your manifest destiny



According to the world-wide web (an Al Gore creation), historian Frederick Merk says the concept of Manifest Destiny was born out of “a sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example”.  Pretty heavy stuff for a tennis blog, but something of this nature played out in Fort Worth a few days ago with their city playoffs in full swing.  Marc Rossouw brought his vision of the USTA to battle the Old World represented by Joel Pickett (without you know who).   While I never envisioned a recap of Fort Worth city playoffs on this blog, or a recap of FW anything quite frankly, when most all of Dallas’ best 4.5s are playing in one place it probably deserves some attention.
Unfortunately, it never came to pass.  They did play, and Pickett won (sort of), but it was all made pretty anti-climactic by the fact that Rossouw’s troops had already lost.  In the first match Pickett’s team swept Southlake/Peterson at 9:30am.  Minutes later the 11:00am match takes the court and Rossouw’s team falls in a tight 3-2 loss to Walnut Creek with a three setter at #2 singles swinging the match.  Pickett then took the court and swept Walnut Creek with only one close match.  Bad luck for Walnut Creek having to play back-to-back matches.  They had to change out their singles guys and bring in a few fresh legs.  While they didn’t have the 50 man rosters of Pickett and Rossouw, they did have 17 guys but it doesn’t mean you want to go 17 deep. 

By the time the big showdown came about, it was both teams’ last match and the table was set.  With Pickett sitting at 2-0 and 10-0 and Rossouw sitting at 1-1 and 6-4, Rossouw needed a sweep to win cities.  Interestingly, it seems Rossouw won the battle but lost the war.  While the results show a 3-2 win by Pickett’s crew, it should have been the opposite.  Pickett took two quick doubles lines, which locked up the cities team win, but Wright retired for Rossouw’s crew up 6-2, 5-3 providing Pickett with a decisive third line. 

There’s still Dallas 18s.  Currently Greenhill is in a dead heat with BH/Goswami.  Both are tied at 6-1 (25-10) so the new head-to-head tie-breaker is currently in play with Marc’s GH squad having beaten BH on a DQ overturning one of BH’s wins in that match.  Shouldn’t matter as GH has last place SpringPark as its last match.  Half of the SP team are 4.0s so a sweep by GH would lock up their spot.  Flight C has Brookhaven/Harlee and Village Warren both tied at 6-1 currently, but I think the team to watch is the JCC/Reiman squad in Flight A.  They are very deep and very talented but they still need to get by second place Oak Creek.  They’ll need to be deep as several of their guys played on Pickett’s FW squad in cities so they’ll be frozen out of playing in Dallas cities.  Might be just enough to throw it Greenhill’s way.

On a side note, I was a little surprised a couple of weeks ago to hear that Canyon Creek’s 8.0 over 40s mixed team was swept at sectionals by Fort Worth, effectively keeping CC from advancing even though they beat the flight winner.  Then when I was doing my FW homework I saw that many of the same FW guys won the 4.0 playoffs there.  Don’t know any of them but they must know a little something about tennis.

This last week of 4.5 will be an exciting finish with all three flights pretty tight.  MOW is first place JCC versus second place Oak Creek in flight A.  Secretly I'm hoping there is a Pickett - Rossouw rematch at sectionals.  It makes for easy blogging.  Good luck to all.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp – New Rules Making Life Tough All Over

Just when you thought things had settled down into a nice rhythm, rules – rules – rules.  It was only a few years ago that the USTA unleashed their MASS BUMP on the tennis world.  I didn’t go back and research the percentages but I recall that 3.5 to 4.0 was the biggest group and I believe it was over 30%.  It took a couple of years to get adjusted to that shift, with players who should have never been bumped up finding themselves at a loss.  Now it seems we have hit an equilibrium of sorts, with all levels probably having dropped down 0.25 from the pre-mass bump world.

So obviously it’s time to make a bunch of rules changes and stir the pot up once again.  But while the mass bump was an across the board change, the new rules seem to me to be a combination of ‘everybody gets a ribbon’ and ‘let’s shift more burden onto the captains’.  Not to say that I disagree with all of them, but it’s just getting harder and harder to be a pimp.

New Nationals bump up rule – This was conceived at the national level based on complaints that mixed teams were able to have too many players who had gone to nationals at other events.  Basically, some captains were creating all-star teams with 3.5, 4.0 & 4.5 men and women who had all been to nationals on their respective 18s teams.  My only question is why wasn’t everyone doing that if they could.  After circulation to the sections for comment, nationals unilaterally decided to apply it to EVERYTHING and several sections aren’t happy about it.  This makes life very difficult for captains who now need to police 18s, 40s, 55s, men’s, mixed and everything else you can thing of at your level and one above/below to make sure you don’t have over three players that went to nationals at ANY level in ANY event.  What a needless beat down.  If you need it for mixed, ok, but applying it to everything is going overboard.  When players get booted for playing up but a different age division is ludicrous.

If your rating expires you can’t come back in lower than where you left – not as new but not very well understood and very difficult to administer.  If someone’s rating went to 0.0 how exactly can a captain tell what his old rating was?  Some are pretty obvious but it’s a compliance nightmare.  Maybe he didn’t get bumped up, maybe he got down, maybe he appealed, who knows?

If you’re playing in the playoffs in Dallas, better stay in Dallas – this is strictly a DTA rule, as Fort Worth doesn’t apply this to their leagues or players.  In the past, if you were on a Dallas and a FW team it was no big deal.  If both made the playoffs it still wasn’t a big deal, you picked one team to join in the playoffs and you were there until it was eliminated.  Same goes for playing 4.0 and 4.5 at the same time.  If both made the playoffs, pick one and stay with it.  So now we need a new DTA form that requires you to designate a team before you have any idea how good a team is going to be or what you might want to do.  These were due about the time the season started.  And if you didn’t turn them in the DTA defaulted you onto one of them.  Just another headache for captains to keep up with.  Maybe if you required them a few weeks before the playoffs, ok, but it’s a lot of paper to push and players to keep up with for teams who may not make the playoffs anyway. 

40 and Over League – this was a good idea and seems to have worked well, although the DTA shot themselves in the foot last year leaving the women with a November start but moving the men to a January start.  The move doesn’t irk me as much as the reason.  This was supposed to make scheduling easier, then we get a season where 40s cities end and men’s 18s start the next weekend – not ideal.  Or was it the ‘Austin wanted us to do it because they don’t like Early Start Rating leagues’.  Of course Austin itself didn’t change their league dates and still has an ESR league so I’m a little suspicious there.  On the whole though, this has been well received, the competition has been good, and Dallas has done well.  Old guy singles may not be tv worthy but some of those guys do know how to play doubles.

Added ‘Head-to-Head’ as a new tie-breaker – shocking that this was never a part of the tie-breaker equation before.

Not much we can do about any of this but grin and bear it, but let’s at least hope the DTA doesn’t get on a rules happy tear.  Yes, it’s hard out here for a pimp.

Finally, I want to congratulate the first nominees for the end of the year Pimp awards.  At 7.0 Mixed, Rene Alzuro makes his first trip to the Playa's ball.  The Wagon Wheel Madame, Krista Carlson gets to return to the Playa's ball.  Dallas went two for three in geezer mixed sectionals with Canyon Creek being very close.   

Monday, June 2, 2014

USTA Texas Section Executive Director, Ken McAllister to Retire

On May 14, 2014, the Texas Section issued a press release announcing the retirement of Ken McAllister as Executive Director after 24 years of service.

The announcement struck me a bit unusual, as I just learned this today doing a Google search.  This was after reading, what I thought, was an unusual interesting column of his titled “Kenny Mc’s Corner” which you can find on page 34 of the June 2014 issue of Inside Tennis.

Typically, the magazine makes its way from my mailbox to a stack of other magazines that tend to migrate their way to the head.  I tend to flip through them quickly and thoughtlessly, perusing the magazine to see if there are any hot pics of Ivanovic, Kirilenko, or Sharapova that might strike my attention.  I also like reading some of the submissions for “court of Appeals” which clarifies some of the quirky rules you might come across in match play.  In the Texas Section, you will see highlights of local league winners, and on the last pages, columns from the Section Directors.
For June, Kenny’s column was titled, “What I Have Learned”.  In this month’s column, he discusses the competitive nature of recreational tennis and quotes “…..recreational tennis ends when you start keeping score.  While 99 percent of all our tennis play has a high sportsmanship quality about it, the other 1 percent can be downright explosive.’

 He later states, “Finally and in our special case called NTRP, winning takes precedence over fairness when players deliberately lose to keep ratings down.  Sadly this 1 percent takes up about 25 percent of staff and volunteer time through appeals, discipline and grievance, and rule changes.  As it should be, it is our responsibility to minimize the negatives to keep tennis fair and fun for the other 99 percent.”

After being away from the blog a few months, I still see the same recurring chatter – the ongoing discussions and accusations of who’s tanking and who sucks.  We saw the rise, fall and resurrection of the unmentionable (personally I am tired of seeing his name).  We have seen recent rule changes, complaints, grievances, appeals, and everything in-between.   There have been an unusual amount of DQs recently.  Some explainable and some un-explainable.  Then I read Kenny’s column, thinking we really have gotten on his nerve, to learning this is probably his last column, and feels compelled out of all of his insights from 24 years of serving Texas Tennis, to go out talking about this.

It isn’t like Kenny is a stranger to success.  He is an accomplished player himself, who has held 35 Texas rankings, and won the 1988 PTR National 45 Singles Championship, named Texas pro of the year twice and the USPTA National Pro of the Year back in 1981.

So this leaves me asking, why does he go out of his way to make a point to discuss NTRP ratings and tanking as his last words of wisdoms gleaned from 24 years of service?  Have things in Texas really gotten that out of control?

It’s not like Texas comes home with a National trophy across NTRP levels each and every year like some Sections do (i.e. Caribbean).  Is this more of a National problem than it is a Sectional problem?

I also found his comments interesting –given a few years back, he seemed to have defended a captain who allegedly was able to appeal 8 players on his roster who were bumped up and received Benchmark ratings, when the rest of the whole metro-plex was unable to access Tennis-Link at all because the system was bogged down.  While I didn’t have direct communication with Ken, I do recall seeing emails that were forwarded to me where he completely discounted the whole altercation on a computer malfunction.  Not someone who seemed to be concerned about fairness at all.

Anyhow, thought it would be an interesting topic to debate or comment on since things have been slow this summer with the rest of league play.   Regardless, we wish Ken the best on his retirement.  The bigger questions now is who will replace him?  Will things be better off or worse? ... Sorry Marc – you already accepted the Dallas ED position.  Wish you would have waited now?

PS  - A special thanks to Murray Langston who has picked up the slack and kept the blog alive the past few months.