The FCPTL enters its final month of play, and many teams remain in the fight for wining division titles, gaining divisional promotions and avoiding divisional relegation. Below is a quick look at the divisional races and the Featured Matches of the Week.
As always, current standings can be found here.
Wee Burn CC has been the frontrunner the entire season and their play to date would indicate that they will walk away with the title at year end. However, Wee Burn still has a tough schedule in front of them with Greenwich FC, Rowayton 1.1 and notably 2nd place Wilton Y 1.2 still to play. Wee Burn and Wilton Y 1.2 play on January 21st and that may be deciding match for the league title. At the bottom of the standing, Wilton Y 1.1 appears to be headed for relegation unless they can greatly change their playing form. At the moment, New Canaan CC and Darien CC are battling to avoid the other relegation spot and their match on January 14th will be do-or-die for both of them. Still, Rowayton 1.2, Lake Club and Milbrook are only a few points above New Canaan CC and Darien CC and cannot be resting on their laurels if they don’t want to slip down.
Featured Match of Week 8: Wilton Y 1.2 vs Rowayton 1.1. Rowayton 1.1 is the defending Division 1 champion and could still take the crown with a win over second-place Wilton Y 1.2 and then another win over Wee Burn the following week. Wilton Y 1.2 is also chasing Wee Burn and can’t afford a loss here if their match versus Wee Burn on the 21st is to mean anything. This match is a toss-up with both teams having deep lineups; however, if Jared Palmer is in the lineup, that could provide the edge that Rowayton 1.1 needs for a victory.
Division 2 has been a tossup all year with different teams getting hot, making a run and then hitting a speed bump. Seven teams are within 4 points of each other at the top of the standings with 4 matches left, so it’s anyone’s game for the division title and 2nd promotion spot. Pre-season favorite Patterson is currently tied with Middlesex for first but Round Hill has come on strong and is looking to make a late move. At the bottom of the division, Wee Burn looks like it may be moving down, while Lake Club, Wilton Y and Stanwich appear to be fighting it out to avoid the 2nd relegation spot. Expect this division race, both top and bottom, to go to the final weekend.
Featured Match of Week 8: Patterson Club vs Middlesex. Anytime the top 2 teams in a division face off, you can expect it to be the Featured Match of the Week. Most observers are not surprised that Patterson, led by their paddle pro Scott Slobin, is competing for the title as they have fielded strong teams in other leagues. Middlesex, though, with the addition of a couple new players and strong play from Faycal Rhazali, has quietly moved up the Division 2 ladder and is vying for Division 1 promotion for the first time in a while. Patterson has home-court advantage, which has been important for them, but Middlesex is clearly hungry for a banner to hang in their paddle hut. If this were an NFL game, the line spread would read, “pick ‘em.”
New Canaan FC appeared to have the league title in hand until a surprisingly loss to Woodway in their last match before the holidays brought them back to the pack. Fortunately their remaining schedule does not include the 2nd place Darien Town and Greenwich CC, and so they should firmly control their own destiny. Darien Town and Greenwich CC look to be vying for the other promotion spot and are scheduled to tangle on January 14 in a key match. In the race to avoid relegation, Lake Club is staring at a 6 point deficit that might be too much to overcome. Meanwhile, Burning Tree, Rowayton 3.1 and Wee Burn are tied for the 2nd relegation spot and will need to step it up if they want to avoid the trip to Sunday play.
Featured Match of Week 8: Greenwich CC vs Burning Tree. A critical match for both teams, but for different reasons. Greenwich CC will be looking for a sweep to hopefully make up some ground on second-place Darien Town prior to their heads-up match the following week. With a new paddle pro scheduled to come on board for next season, Greenwich CC would like to make the jump to Division 2 so that they can utilize the new talent. Meanwhile, Burning Tree is in a 3-way tie for the 2nd relegation spot to Division 4. Burning Tree needs to avoid a loss here if they want to reduce the pressure of their last three matches.
Wilton Y 4.1 has dominated Division 4 and is also in the running for best overall record in the FCPTL. Only a January 22 match against second-place Wilton Riding Club seems to stand in the way of a division title for Wilton Y. New Canaan Town 4.1 has made a late charge to enter the race for the 2nd promotion spot. With the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wilton Riding Club and the easier schedule on paper, New Canaan Town 4.1 definitely has Wilton Riding Club looking over their shoulder. At the other end of the division, Round Hill and New Canaan Town 4.2 occupy the bottom 2 relegation spots. However, Patterson, Milbrook and New Canaan FC are still within closing distance, so the relegation race looks to be the barn-burner in this division.
Featured Match of Week 9: Stamford Yacht Club vs Wilton Riding Club. If Wilton Riding Club is to gain promotion to Division 3, they will need a strong January finish. Wilton Riding Club can’t afford to look ahead to its next match versus Wilton Y 4.1 as they face a solid Stamford Yacht Team. With New Canaan Town 4.1 facing 10th place New Canaan FC, Wilton Riding Club will need a win, if not a sweep, if they are to stay ahead of New Canaan Town in the race for promotion.
Roxbury has been the class of Division 5 and having already beaten the 2nd and 3rd place teams, Rowayton and Wilton Y respectively, the Stamford-based club should probably be clearing a space for their championship banner. The race for the second promotion spot should come down to the wire. Rowayton holds a 1 point lead over Wilton Y while Stamford Italian Center lurks in the wings 4 points behind. New Canaan FC and Stanwich occupy the two relegation spots at the moment. While Stanwich has 3 tough matches left including Roxbury this week, New Canaan FC has two teams that are just above them in the standings remaining and could make a move out of the division bottom.
Featured Match of Week 9: Wilton Y vs Stamford Italian Center. A match-up of the 3rd and 4th place teams, this match is critical for both teams if they hope to move up to the 2nd promotion spot. Both teams need a win, while a split might knock both teams out of the running for second.
The Charlie Scott Division 6 Championship banner looks to be all Aspetuck Valley’s. Aspetuck has already beaten co-2nd place teams Darien Town and Wee Burn, so unless they truly stumble, Aspetuck should continue their ascent in the FCPTL ladder. The race for the 2nd promotion spot looks like it will come down to the final week of the season when Darien Town and Wee Burn face-off on January 29th. At the other end of the standings, Tokeneke and Burning Tree will need to make up a 5 point deficit in their last 3 matches to avoid relegation. In paddle, anything is doable, but it could be a tall order.
Featured Match of Week 9: Darien CC vs Darien Town. Darien Town faces 4th place Darien CC in a match of not only in-town teams but also with promotion implications. A win by Darien CC would keep them in the hunt for 2nd place while Darien Town can’t afford a loss if its match versus Wee Burn at season’s end is to have meaning.
Next to Division 2, Division 7 has been the most competitive in the race for division title. Lake Club 7.1 currently has a 4 point lead on the field, but 6 teams are within 5 points of each other for 2nd place and the move to Division 6. Anything can happen in Division 7, so look for a wild finish over these last three matches.
Featured Match of Week 9: Wilton Y vs Roxbury/Weston Field Club vs Stamford Italian Center. Given how tight the standings are in Division 7, there are two featured matches this week. #3 Wilton Y faces #4 Roxbury, while #2 Weston FC faces #5 Stamford Italian Center. As these 4 teams are only separated by 4 points in the race for the second promotion spot, these two matches either create some breathing room for Weston FC or make the standings even tighter with only 2 matches remaining. Weston and Wilton Y have the home-court advantage which generally has been the difference in a lot of matches this year. Regardless, it should be an wild and exciting home stretch for this division.