If you ask players from any city in the state which cities are the power cities, you will hear Dallas and Houston. Austin and San Antonio are usually the next tier but the road to Nationals nearly always goes through either Houston or Dallas. Yet, we don't have much to show this year.
Before I get to our shortcomings, I must give out the bright spot first. Bartzen's 5.0+ 18s T-Bar team did win Sectionals and is headed out to Mobile, Alabama for Nationals this weekend. It is their duty to represent Dallas with pride. They are in a flight with the Caribbean, SoCal and Eastern. I like their team to do well but SoCal is always tough at 5.0+. Fortunately, it is not in California or Arizona so it is possible some of those usual SoCal former D-1 players won't make the trip. Also, I notice SoCal only has a single 5.5 listed on the roster. Good luck guys as I will be following closely. This should be some fine tennis.
Now my finger wagging begins...
This is a strange year and everything was there for the taking. Freeman's usual mighty Houston teams were Missing in Action so the usual roadblock wasn't there. I am unsure why we didn't break through.
In 4.5 18s, we were represented by Rossouw and Reiman. We knew SETX would be strong but they had depth issues. Rossouw had the bad fortune of drawing them on Friday when they were still fairly fresh. It happens but when you sweep singles, you must believe you can find a doubles line. It appears Rossouw outthought himself and tried to go 3-2-1 in singles and probably wins if he goes straight up.
Reiman (Wild Dallas) did make the finals. That is a good year but second is still the 'first loser' and is probably a bigger punch to the gut than eliminated on Friday of flight play. Nevertheless, they were one line away (even one tiebrak if Foster can pull it off) from a trip to Palm Springs and a chance to compete. Yet, there are more lineup decisions I am curous about.
Now this weekend, we go to San Antonio with Rossouw and Sweeney taking their shots at making it in 40s. After all, pretty much the same team that was close to beating SETX was about to take on a bunch of 40 year olds, except it wasn't as the better team somehow finished behind the worse Rossouw team. We should have a chance. Once again, it played out pretty similar to 18s.
Rossouw and Co. started with Abilene and lost 3-2. When I look at the lineups, it is clear Rossouw did not have his best available. I am nt even sure why this was the Rossouw team that snuck in with the Wild Card. The other team was much better. I do not fault Rossouw as he clearly had a thin bench but the other team should have finished no worse than second.
Sweeney is similar to Reiman except I cannot fault his finals lineup. He played Feldman and Todd is a solid 4.5 but he is no match for the ageless wonder Juan DeKruyff. I am sure some numbnuts will say if he only had Kelly but I have news, Kelly's chances are no better against DeKruyff. Most of us have to pay good money to get a lesson from someone like DeKruyff and Todd got a 30 minute lesson for free. Sweeney was down 1-0 before it started and this is not really a knock on Feldman; there is always someone better. On the flipside, Sweeney used his 5.0s to crush Austin's 1 Dubs line. At line 2 singles, Moore defeated Sevin... but not really as Sevin walked off the court with a lead after Austin gets three lines. The other matches were not really close.
I guess what I am trying to say is: I guess someone may actually be able to beat our 4.5s 17 times in a row. With 18s and 40s (and wildcards), it doesn't take as many years as it once did.
At 4.0, I am not going to be quite as hard on them as Dallas won a National Championship in both 18s and 40s as the troops should be depleted. With Move Up/Split Up, most of last years guys were moved up and the few who were not, were 1) not deemed good enough to move up and 2) just not enough players to make a difference.
With that said, at 18s, there was a new Sheriff in town that told everyone he was here to kick ass and chew bubble gum and he was all out of bubble gum. From all accounts, he had the best team but still failed to win his flight, cities and sectionals (as some anon in the previous thread so eloquently put it). Kanchi's team had clearly never faced any adversity and when they did their character was revealed.by losing three third set tiebreaks so they were very close. Only one line has to show up for 10 points.
Sisk's Dallas champions team went an underwhelming 2-2 at sectionals. They did lose to the ultimate Sectionals champs of NOHO right out of the gate. Yet, when one looks at that NOHO team, they are largely the same group of 55+ guys that have been eliminated in flight play for a very long time. They are not bad but I have no reason to think they will defend the 4.0 titles for Texas.
Now to 40s, Dallas had Clark's defending Nationals Champions and as I predicted last week, I saw San Antonio winning this. I must have a little Nostradamus in me as that is exactly what happened. They were close but they got swept in singles. It looks like it came down to a match tiebreak at 1 singles or 3 doubles. Someone has to win a third set tiebreak and San Antonio did while Dallas went 0-2. San Antonio beat down the Dallas Line 2 singles and Dallas Line 1&2 doubles beat down San Antonio's lines. You cannot get swept in singles... I need to repeat that and scream so it will sink in... YOU CANNOT GET SWEPT IN SINGLES!
Dallas gets shut out in these levels in a year that Freeman was nowhere to be found. This is problematic but there is a ray of hope for 4.0 in that Move Up/Split Up will not affect you and from some appearances there is a Move Down movement going on.
As for 4.5, it is time for Rossouw & Reiman to join and drop about 45 players from your cumulative rosters. Get the best of what you have ad pick up 4 or 5 ringers. 2 of those need to be singles ringers.