As the FCPTL moves into the final few weeks of the season, teams are being forced to step up or step down.  Yes, there’s probably an even better expression here related to bathroom usage but this is a family website.  With division titles, promotion and relegation on the line, teams are often now playing pressure-packed matches. Some of the teams are stepping up; others not so much. Unfortunately with only 2-3 matches left for each team, time is running short for making a run, so it is quickly becoming do or die.  Below is a recap of recent FCPTL action plus the Featured Match of the Week for Divisions 1-3 (4-7 are on bye this week).

As always, standings can be found here.

Division 1
Wee Burn has been head and shoulders above the division and for good reason. Their modus operandi is like the instructions on the back of the shampoo: play, win, lead the division, repeat. This past week, Wee Burn defeated New Canaan CC for their 8th straight victory. New Canaan CC’s number 1 team of Patricio Misitrano-Pete Doehla defeated Sebastian Bredberg-Bryan Kelley 6-4, 6-0 in the featured match, but as always, Wee Burn’s depth allowed them to take the other three points. With the win, Wee Burn increased its division lead over Wilton Y 1.2 to five points asWilton Y 1.2 could only manage a split with the always tough Rowayton 1.1 team in a match that saw the first three spots go to three sets and the 4th go 7-5, 7-5. At the other end of the standings, Darien CC picked up a critical 3-1 win over Lake Club and to the detriment of New Canaan CC, opens up a three point lead for avoid relegation before their match this week.

Featured Match of the Week: New Canaan CC vs Darien CC. While the battle for first place seems to be almost a fait accompli, the race to avoid relegation to Division 2 remains heated. With their victory over Lake Club last week, Darien CC currently sits 3 points ahead of New Canaan CC for second-to-last place and the trip down a division. This match looks to be New Canaan’s best (and possibly last) chance to make up the deficit with Darien CC. New Canaan, at a minimum, needs a win and more likely hopes to net a sweep in order to pull ahead of Darien CC. While NCCC has the home court advantage, a sweep might be a tall order as you’d expect both clubs to field their strongest teams, both of whom feature pros at the top of their lineups in Patricio Misitrano (CCNC) and Karl Levanat (CCD).

Division 2
Co-division leaders Patterson Club and Middlesex faced off last week in what was labeled a “pick ‘em match.”  The line proved true as the teams split a tight match. While Michael Bennett and Faycal Rhalzi continued their strong play at the 1 spot for Middlesex with a straight set win over Scott Slobin-Glenn Levinson, the other three matches went the full 3-sets with Patterson winning the 2 and 4 spots and keeping Division 2 tied at the top. Round Hill had a chance to catch up with division leaders, Middlesex and Patterson, but lost a surprising 3-1 match versus Lake Club, one of the teams fighting to avoid relegation. With Stamford Yacht and Woodway both taking 3-1 victories, Round Hill, Stamford Yacht and Woodway now sit 3 points behind Middlesex and Patterson. With three matches, nothing in Division 2 has been decided and the title race should come down to the final week. On the flip side, Wee Burn is looking hard at relegation with a 6 point deficit, while Stanwich and Lake Club are tied for the other demotion spot. Stanwich and Lake face off on January 21, for what may decide the 2nd relegation team.

Featured Match of the Week: Round Hill vs Patterson. Despite its disappointing loss to Lake Club last week, Round Hill has another shot to jump into the top 2 spots in Division 2 when it hosts Patterson this week. The name of the game for Round Hill is always which players they can get into the lineup each week. With a chance for division promotion on the line and a convenient home location, one would expect that Round Hill will field one of their stronger lineups this Saturday. Patterson will have to come equally prepared if they hope to keep pace with Middlesex and capture the league title.  If Round Hill can rally the troops, this should be a tight contest. If not, expect Patterson to take it down.

Division 3
Darien Town and Greenwich CC managed to make up a little ground on New Canaan FC as the two teams swept Darien CC and Burning Tree, respectively, while New Canaan FC managed a 3-1 victory over Rowayton 3.2. However, with Greenwich CC and Darien Town set to play this week (see below), New Canaan FC controls its own destiny for adding another banner to the Paul Fowler Hut. At the bottom of the standings, last place Lake Club is facing a 6-point deficit and looks to be one of the two demotion teams. The other demotion spot should go to the final week as Rowayton 3.1, Darien CC, Wee Burn and Burning Tree are all within two points of each other with three matches to play.

Featured Match of the Week: Greenwich CC vs Darien Town. 2nd place Darien travels to 3rd place Greenwich CC in a match that most likely determine which team will gain promotion to Division 2. Both teams come into the match in good form, as each has swept their last two matches. However, Greenwich CC trails Darien by two points and will have the pressure on them to squeeze out a win, if not a sweep, if they hope to gain that second promotion spot. A loss by Greenwich CC or even tie may be fatal to their chances with only two matches left to play.

Division 4
Wilton Y 4.1 continues to dominate this division and posted another 4-0 victory, this time over Round Hill. At 34-2, Wilton Y 4.1 now holds the best overall record among all FCPTL teams across the seven divisions. In what is probably as close a 4-0 victory can be, Wilton Riding Club managed to eke out the sweep over Stamford Yacht as they pulled out all four matches in three sets. New Canaan Town 4.1 kept pace with Wilton Riding Club with their own sweep of New Canaan FC. At the bottom of the standings, New Canaan Town 4.2 and Round Hill after being swept this past weekend, now must overcome formidable deficits to avoid demotion. Fortunately both teams still have 10th place New Canaan FC on their schedule and could push New Canaan FC towards relegation with victories.

Division 5
Congratulations to Roxbury, who, with their 4-0 victory over Stanwich, became the first club to secure promotion to the next division. Rowayton also swept Wilton Riding Club to mathematically keep their chances alive to catch Roxbury. More importantly, with Wilton Y’s 3-1 loss to Stamford Italian Center, Rowayton’s magic number to secure promotion now sits at 1. The Division 5 race to avoid demotion remains in doubt.  While Stanwich’s loss to Roxbury hurts them greatly as they are now 5 points down with only two matches left, there are still 4 other teams separated by only 3 points for the second relegation spot. New Canaan CC 5.1, Middlesex, Lake and New Canaan FC will have two matches left to pick up points in the effort to avoid relegation to Division 6.

Division 6
Aspetuck Valley continues atop the division with a 3-1 victory over Milbrook. Having already defeated co-2nd place teams, Darien Town and Wee Burn, Aspetuck remains firmly in control of its own destiny for securing its second straight division banner.  In the race for the 2nd promotion spot, Darien Town and Wee Burn both earned 4-0 victories over Darien CC and Roxbury, respectively, to keep the teams deadlocked and setting the stage for their season-ending finale match. At the bottom of the standings, Burning Tree and Tokeneke look to be making late-season pushes to avoid relegation. Burning Tree managed a split with Middlesex, while Tokeneke took their first win, 3-1 over Woodway. Burning Tree and Tokeneke still have 5 and 6 point deficits to make up with only 2 matches and 8 points remaining, but they are serving notice that they will not go down without a fight.

Division 7
Lake Club 7.1 picked up its third straight sweep with a 4-0 win over Patterson and has opened up a five-point lead in the division. Weston FC and Wilton Y could only manage 3-1 wins over Stamford Italian Center and Roxbury and now look to being fighting it out for the 2nd promotion spot. The match between Weston FC and Wilton Y on January 22 looks like it will be the ultimate decider in that race.

Shea-Arraya make it three in a row
The wild, wild Westchester league

David Lee