Monday, January 25, 2016

How well do you know your tri-level team?

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                    I've just seen the lineups and I can't bear to watch the match

We've got the right players.  We're convinced we can go the distance.  If we can survive our captain.  Yeah, you can only play the match if you're in the lineup but it may be won or lost long before the players take the court.

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                             Every year they come in larger and larger hordes

Freeman used to have hundreds of 4.0s to choose from.  Then it was a seemingly unending stream of 4.5s.  Fresh off his 2015 national title now he seems to have waves of 3.5s to choose from.  But it all starts with the loyal immortals.  His Thursday night guys.  Can he convince a few to stay home or will he be saddled with having to play them all at Kingwood.  He has done well in the past steering a few guys towards the bleachers and still having them ready to saddle back up next year.

                                               The true 300, but all at 4.0

As the story goes, many moons ago Sisk had a team that got the wild card option but he couldn't accept it because he couldn't field a full team on late notice.  Since then he has filled his cupboards with players at 8.5 combo and tri-level.  This year it's only at 4.0 but he has a lot of them and it's a tough flight.  He's also too nice a guy to say no so we'll see if someone on his team steps up to deliver the bad news or if his two 9.0 lines can carry the day.

                             We've made sweet music all year, why stop now

Tony has ridden with his guys all year and it has paid off well for him.  But it's a little different now.  He had 4.0 cornered but he's had to step outside the band for 3.5s and 4.5s and I'm just not sure the music will be quite as sweet.  And yes, that is Tony on the right.

                                        I don't know, they all look the same

And finally it's everyone else.  Austin could be good.  SETX is respectable.  NETX always finishes in the middle.  San Antonio has the potential.  Wild Dallas already beat Dallas once.  What can I say?  At least this year, the rest all looks the same.  Pygmy cannibal mummies nipping at the big boys heals.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Monster Lives

Sisk's challenge will be managing all the heads of his monster.

Yes, Virginia, the tri-level draws are out.  Have you figured out by now that they show up on tennislink last? 

Somebody really likes Tony.  They back door into the Dallas title after losing to team Vince/Corey.  And now they end up in a flight that does not have Freeman, SETX or the FW team.  Yes, it is cobbled together from various parts but it’s dangerous.  Bring your pitchforks and torches if you want to have any success, but FW is the favorite at this point.

Flight 1 Friday: play begins at noon with FW taking on Wild Dallas (Vince/Corey).  Congrats on your wild card invite.  Wild Dallas has already shown they can play but they start off down 1-0 on the 3.5 line, as will everyone else.  If you aren’t a believer yet look at the doubles finals of the 4.5 Cotton Bowl.  Yes, 4.5.  (One of Rigney's 3.5s beat Michael Reiman/Wyekhuen Hong, Sam Huynh/Victor Tran, Krystan Lazarin/JD Miles, Sam Huynh/Victor Tran and Tom Adcock/Brandon Myers on the way to winning 4.5 doubles).  At 1:30 its SETX versus NOHO.  Since SETX is basically SEHO, Freeman knows these guys well and I assume he will be adequately prepared.  At 3:00 Dallas Wild draws San Antonio.  No disrespect to SA but this may be as easy as it gets if you want a win.  Finally, NOHO versus San Antonio at 6:00.

Flight 2 Friday:  Tony’s biggest issue will be not looking too far ahead to the final and slipping up.  Dallas opens with Austin at noon so that should keep them sharp.  At 1:30 it’s Houston versus NETX.  Both teams are respectable but the Houston team actually finished second and NETX usually does ok but won’t contend.  At 3:00 Dallas has San Angelo and at 6:00 it’s San Angelo versus NETX. 

Flight 1 Saturday:  now it gets really interesting.  At 9:30 FW plays San Antonio but SA could be out of the running by then.  At 1:00 NOHO plays Dallas Wild.  This will be a fun match to watch as DW continues to find a combination that makes a statement.  SETX versus SA at 1:30 – yeah, yeah, get on with it. 

And at 3:30 the much anticipated tri-level final of FW versus NOHO.  A rematch of sorts at 4.0.  FW took out Freeman at 4.0 (18) sectionals and Dallas took out Freeman at 4.0 (40) sectionals.  We have a lot of those same players out on the court.  It’s a true heavy weight brawl.  So FW starts up 1-0 with their 9.0 line of 3.5s.  Actually, if they want to FW can roll out a 9.0 line at every level of play.  Should this have just been 4.5 tri-level instead of 4.5 and under tri-level?  Don’t think Freeman comes defenseless but it’s an uphill battle starting off 1-0.  And you still have to play Kelly and Faris.  I have to wonder if FW’s best line might actually be Kelly paired with Faris.  Much remains to be seen about who they will play with and will Kelly have to play every match for FW to win.

Oh, wait.  There are more matches?  Huh?  Wild Dallas plays SETX at 5:00 and the final is actually Sunday morning?  WTF?

Yes, it seems to be true.  There are more matches.  I am a big conspiracy theorist but I tend not to think USTA Austin conspired on the flights (we can discuss certain DTA actions another time) if for no other reason that I don’t see them rewarding Tony this year. 

I see no reason it shouldn’t be a Dallas versus FW grudge match in the final.  There is always the issue of guys who can't get to matches on Friday but I have to assume everyone is available.  Tony took out Rigney’s guys in 4.0 (18) finals but other than the 9.0 3.5 line, these aren’t Rigney’s guys.  And I do like Kelly as my second line.  Have to give this one to FW.

I am going to write a more in-depth analysis later but this is for today...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Champions often rise and fall with the bottom of the roster

                  Play me or I will share your weaknesses with your enemies

You didn't get him enough playing time at sectionals last year.  You owe him for bringing over one of your best players.  He runs down other team members thinking he can get more playing time.  He just plain nags the shit out of you until you put him in the lineup.  Yeah, that guy.

You hope for weak matches and good partners.  Maybe a default at cities would come his way.  Would that be enough?  What about if he actually thinks he's good?  The rest of the team literally holds their breath when he's serving in a tie breaker.  At least he got to a tie breaker, maybe that will help down the line.  But he knows about the secret path that would allow your enemies to overrun you so you can't just send him packing.  The yearly trials and tribulations of captaining. 

This is never a bigger issue than a three line event like tri-level.  There is very little margin for error, particularly when everyone else has ringers too.  There's an old saying that goes keep your friends close but your enemies closer.  The hard part is you aren't really sure which he is, or which he will become.  It's a day to day, week to week exercise and it changes constantly.  And he holds a grudge. 

How you handle this guy can effect your team long after the event is over. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tri-level Update - Rebirth of an Empire?

                             Will All Bow Down Before the Mighty NOHO?

As you are all now aware, Tony Le’s team back-doored into a city championship in tri-level but will be representing Dallas nonetheless.  Also no surprise that Jason Freeman won the Houston berth.  Fort Worth was won by the Sisk's Dallas West squad.  Austin will be represented by the Matthew Grant squad, although I’m not sure how good a team a 3.5C captain can put together.   San Antonio was won by The Borg.  They seem to take care of SA year in and year out.  And for any of you who may be new, don't fall asleep on the SETX team this year.  None of this is really much of a surprise so why the post?

NOHO is now represented by Freeman North, otherwise known as Woodlands-Spearman.  It is basically Freeman’s Houston team (the 3.5s and 4.5s are identical) plus some 4.0s extras, plus Red Benzon.  I’d say being able to add Red is worth starting another team, and they are abiding by Texas Section rules.  But how can they do it and Dallas can’t.  Well, for all of you who have heard that you can only play on one tri-level team, evidently that’s just a Dallas rule and not a Section rule.  Feel free to discuss with your local DTA rep if you like.

So kudos to Freeman for finding a way to strengthen his team.  That definitely makes his 4.0 line a lot stronger.  It also makes the potential sectionals matchups more interesting.   Fresh off losses at 4.0 18s and 40s, can the Houston boys have rebounded this quickly?

This story line is too interesting to drop.   More to come.