Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ratings, ratings go away, come again another day

If you play on television, you're a 7.0.  Past that you're just gonna have to wait.

As many of you are aware, the Monday after Thanksgiving is a very popular day for USTA year end ratings to come out.  While it isn’t always the case, it did seem that the USTA had initially targeted Monday (yesterday) as the target date.  I am know hearing and reading that the new target release date is this Thursday, although next week is a possibility.  Personally, I don’t care, but it does remind me of several years ago (2009?) when the USTA did its last massive reorganization bump.  For those of you who weren’t around or didn’t notice, in the 3.5/4.0/4.5 categories the bump up percentages ranged from about 38% to about 25% that year compared with a more normal range of high single digits to low double digits.   I neither seen nor heard any speculation at this point that another mass bump is coming but it does seem curious. 

As for the fall playoff predictions, ehh.

Since there was approximately zero interest in the last fall post about flight play finish and who would make the playoffs, I decided to save my energy and pass on predictions.  I’ll dutifully report the final results but past that no one seems to care.

Good luck to all the combatants this weekend.

And congrats to Murray on his world #1 ranking.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fall Flight Play Wrap Up


5.0 only had one flight but it finished up with a clear winner in Lakes/Jannasch at 9-0 and two teams coming in at 7-2, Prestonwood/Perkison then JCC/Reiman.

4.5 Flight A was the tightest race I've seen in a long time.  With the final match now posted, Greenhill/Rossouw and Lakes/Way finished at an identical 9-1, 36-14.  For the curious, Greenhill lost two less sets but as you will recall the USTA changed the tie breakers a couple of years ago and now head to head comes after lines.  So its Greenhill as the flight play champion on HTH.  That was a 3-2 win the first match of the season.  Kudos to Canyon Creek for what I thought was a somewhat surprising third place finish. 

4.5 Flight B also shows two 9-1 teams but Samuell Grand/Hanna squeezed into first place on a two line lead over TBar/McColpin.  Third place was also a nail biter with Brookhaven/Harllee and JCC/Reiman both coming in at 9-3 but Brookhaven ahead on a commanding line lead.

4.0 flight A has Garland/Sisk as the only undefeated team, Brookhaven/Bartlett in second and Canyon Creek/Nolan just getting nudged to third by three lines.

4.0 flight B has Greenhill/Davalos the only undefeated team followed by McKinney/Kanchi in second and a distant McKinney/Jacobsen in third.

4.0 flight C has Oak Creek/Iyer as the only undefeated (I’m sensing a pattern here) followed by two loss Huffhines/Jayaram then third place Tbar/Snow.
I'll have my playoff predictions out after the holiday.

Also, congratulations to Team Sisk/Kanchi on winning tri-level this weekend.  They went an impressive 4-0, 12-0 for the event.  Can't say who finished second because one match isn't posted yet but I hear Team Kingsley edged out Team Myers.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tri-level Preview - Mission Impossible 3 - And Then There Was One

Well, not just one.  I have to find something to do with my weekend.

 Lineups, let’s talk lineups.  It’s always the easiest thing for us Monday morning captains to criticize.  Why didn’t that guy play?  He was out of town; he was injured; he was cramping; he throws up on himself in matches that matter.  Even easier, why DID that guy play?  He is the captain’s buddy; he pays for the team parties; I promised him he’d play when I didn’t realize I’d find better players. 

I don’t see Team Mayer or Team Myers having trouble deciding on a lineup.  Hell, they may have trouble fielding a full lineup for all four matches.  I also don’t see Team Jeung having trouble deciding on a lineup.  They’ll have a lot more guys offering to sit than they will guys bucking for more match time. 

So let’s start with Team Kingsley.  I’m afraid if I start with Team Sisk/Kanchi I may run out of gas.  Personally I’d like to see Foster/Foster on the 4.5 line.  Since one of them is a self rate, let’s rule that out.  Well then, let's go with Foster/Hill.  Oops, Hill is also a self rate.  This is getting awkward.  Faris and Shreiner will want to play together but Foster is the cream of the crop here.  Another opportunity for a goofy lineup decision, great. 

As for the 4.0s, I’m envious of this Waters guy.  The last two years he’s only played tri-level and I can’t even get on a team.  Sawires only went 1-3 in 4.0.  That’s not the kind of record I’d look for if I was importing someone from Austin.  But he has accounted himself well against 4.5s.  I’d guess big, inconsistent hitter.  Vince loves those.  Another Kingsley on the team.  He held up pretty well at 8.5 combo so that will be interesting.   I don’t know exactly what to make of these guys.  They are all over map and none of them seem to have ever played together before.  They clearly have some talent here so it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Team Sisk/Kanchi, I’m tired already.  I’m not the expert here, and these guys are better than me, but on the 4.5 line I’d start with Davidson, Kelly and Davis.  Do I need to go any further?  Yes, yes, the other six 4.5s would be line one on several teams but that’s other teams.  The only real question here is who doesn’t play.  I’m sure someone will be injured when the time comes.

As for the 4.0s, I’d start with Kommineni (a 3.5C).  Did you see this guy and Jay Benjamin go three sets against Davidson and Abbruzzese?  He had the biggest serve on the court and played fantastic.  As we saw at 4.0 sectionals, he needs a partner, but they have several to choose from.  If Abbruzzese can replicate his play from that same 8.5 combo match I’d start with him.  They look like they’d be a natural fit on a doubles court.  They also have Josh Rivera who was a terror in 4.0 singles this year (12-0 in the playoffs).  While he only played singles in the playoffs his game did look like it would translate to doubles more than most singles guys.  Again, I would start with those three.  Of course Kanchi is a 4.0 so I’d expect his to push for playing time in the big match with Kommineni.  Let’s see who really has the pencil in this captaining duad. 

As I’ve often said, I don’t know the 3.5s so I pass on them but this time I’ve done the research and made some inquiries.  Here’s what I found.  For Team Sisk/Kanchi we can easily see that Hans Valaparla was Kanchi’s #2 singles guys on his spring 4.0 team and he plays nothing but Open level tournaments.  Let’s start there.  Sean Luh went 3-1 at 4.0 and I have it on good authority that he was working out regularly this year with a certain SpringPark 4.5 team.   Good enough for me.

As for Team Kingsley, good but not great.  All seem to be known commodities though.  Plenty of USTA results to look at.  Based on what I saw, think we’ll go with Hutchison and Chhajed. 

So, if I had the pencil it would be:

Davidson/Kelly versus Foster/Faris
Kommineni/Abbruzzese versus Hanna/Kingsley
Valaparla/Luh versus Hutchison/Chhajed

I see that as a win for Sisk/Kanchi with the results getting progressively more lopsided as you go down the ladder.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tri-level Preview - Mission Impossible 2 - Man Down

All dressed up and no team to play on.

Getting me on a tri-level team.  Seems to be impossible.  I know it’s too late this year but what would I have done anyway? 
I could have tried to join Sisk/Kanchi but what would they do with ten 4.5s.  And I’d imagine I wouldn’t even get a T-shirt if I didn’t play at cities anyway.  Clearly I’m not saying I’m better than the guys they have, although I’ve heard that Davidson guy is pretty rusty.  Where’s the love for blog guy?  I did pick you to win after all. 
Team Vince, what to say.  These guys are pretty likeable and I don’t think I’d embarrass myself.  I mean I wouldn’t be the worst 4.5 on this lineup.  But man, I really don’t think I could take the team practices.  I’ve heard it’s boot camp with a bunch of crazy-ass drills and games that make very little sense.  Maybe you should practice by just playing tennis.  I’m pretty sure that’s still how the event is played. 
Team Jeung is more my speed.  I said in the last post that this is the team I’d join and I stand by that.  Traylor, Robinson, Carlquist, Bearden, Somabut and Williams; those are some guys I could hang out with.  And you’d certainly be able to maintain your proper hydration levels.
Team Mayer and Myers, I’m sure you’re good guys but you fall into a void.  If I wanted a T-shirt I’d join Team Sisk/Kanchi.  If I wanted to drink I’d join Team Jeung.  If I wanted to spend all year explaining my team’s lineups I’d join Team Kingsley.  I just don’t know where you guys fit into the mix for me. 
So there you have it.  Maybe next year.  If you have a spot for 2018 let me know.  I’ll even bring the beer.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tri-level Preview - Mission Impossible 1 - Not Everyone Get's Out Alive

I'm still trying to figure out Sisk's lineups.

Evidently someone told Sisk/Kanchi that all tri-level matches for the weekend would be played simultaneously because they have signed up 500 guys on the roster.  Don’t know if it’s good news or bad news guys, but they actually play the matches one at a time.  With only five teams total I’d expect they will play a round robin format, so each team will get four matches.  And wouldn’t you know it, that still isn’t enough matches to get the NINE 4.5s all qualified for any post-Dallas play.  Mission Impossible indeed.

Not sure about you, but I noticed someone posted that Red Benzon moved to San Antonio last weekend.  At least he moved on tennislink.  He’s also playing on a Dallas team and a San Antonio team for tri-level.  Since I don’t captain I’m not as up on all the rules as some of you but help me out.  Does Dallas still have a rule where you can’t play tri-level in Dallas and another city?  Because Kanchi is playing in Dallas and San Antonio too.  Inquiring minds want to know.  But let’s move on.

20) Team Sisk/Kanchi wins this on sheer bulk.  I’m like the college professor who takes all the papers to the top of the stair well and tosses them.  The heaviest papers hit the bottom first and get the A.   This team is definitely the heaviest.  Twenty guys, wow, I still can’t wrap my head around that.   The ultimate in participation awards.  Let’s at least hope the tri-level T-shirts are nice this year because that’s about all some of these guys are going to take away from this.  That being said, I still think they win.  And hey, maybe they know something the rest of us don’t.  As you can see below, picking the order of finish by the size of the team isn’t the worst way to go this year. 

(15) Team Kingsley is always a contender and accounted itself pretty well last year.  Let’s not get into the whole lineup snafu again.  Too painful.  More interesting this year is how a guy who has done this several years seems to have forgotten that high tri doesn’t allow self rates.  Again, maybe I’m not up on the rules but its looks to me like both Hunter Foster and Chris Hill are self rates.  That still leaves him with four other 4.5s but I don’t follow what’s going on here.  This team has all it needs to finish second and watch for the wildcard again. 

(12) Next is Team Jeung with a very sensible twelve guys.  Everyone can play twice if they want.  Somabut can sign up and not play if he wants.  It’s not so many people that Bearden can’t handle the team beer needs.  And to keep it interesting they brought a 3.0 along.  They seem to have all their bases covered.  This team wins the boy scout award for preparedness.  If I was going to join a tri-level team (yeah, yeah, I have to be asked first) I’d join this one.  It looks like the most fun.

(10) Team Mayer rolls in with ten guys.  Again, fairly sensible but they don’t come close to the strategic preparedness of Team Jeung.  More importantly, this is a Fort Worth captain with several FW guys.  Evidently they decided FW was too difficult this year and came to Dallas to steal one of our sectionals invites.  That’s horrible; who would ever do that?  Oh wait, this just in.  Evidently Mayer and Shawn Arcaria got their RSVPs switched and Mayer went to the Dallas party while Arcaria RSVP’d for the FW party.  So confusing, happens all the time.

(8) Coming in lean and mean is Team Myers with eight total guys.  Won’t they be intimidated when the team busses pull up and Sisk/Kanchi unload an army.  At least you won’t have to wonder a lot about what their lineup is going to look like.  I’d guess Dendy and LaMoy play a lot.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it: 1) Can self rates play in high tri-level now, 2) can you play in Dallas tri-level and still play in another city’s tri-level event, and 3) where does Red Benzon live?

And, as always, this message will self destruct in five seconds.  Well, at least the Sisk/Kanchi team may self destruct at sectionals when people start getting really pissed about playing time.  From some of the stories I heard from last year’s sectionals win you’d have thought Team Sisk lost.  Those guys won the national title, only had twelve players on the team, and there were still at least four guys not named Rigney that were pissed they didn’t play more.  You won nationals.  Don’t you think the captain might have played the right people?

With any luck they will make nationals again and have to cut this team in half.  With some of the egos on that team it would be fun to watch.  As always, good luck to all. 

Final thought: I really miss there not being an Alzuro team this year.  It’s a shameless plug, but I thought the tri-level blog post that featured his team prominently was one of my highlights.  Every great artist needs an inspiration.