FCPTL_LogoThis weekend marks the start of the 2013-2014 Fairfield Country Platform Tennis League (FCPTL) and the FCPTL is back and bigger than ever! Due to strong continued demand for competitive weekend league play, the FCPTL has expanded by 13 teams for a total of 97 teams spread across 7 divisions. To accommodate the expansion, Divisions 1-6 were increased from 12 to 14 teams with a corresponding increase to a 13-game schedule. Beyond that, not much has changed.

The league runs from October to early February with the top 2 teams advancing to the next division and the bottom 2 teams getting demoted to the lower division. The play is always competitive and entertaining with division promotions and relegations usually coming down to the final week of play. PaddleTimes will once again strive to review the weekly play and highlight a Featured Match of the Week for each division.

Division 1
The happiest captain in Division 1 has to be David Mueller of Country Club of Darien (CCD). Going into the last weekend of the season last year, there were 9 teams at risk of moving down to Division 2. CCD was sitting in the best position to avoid relegation needing only 1 point in its final match. With rumors swirling about some snarky pre-game smack talk emanating from Mansfield Road to the other teams at risk, CCD wound up getting swept 4-0 and was looking at the long trip to Division 2. Fortunately the decision of the FCPTL board to expand the divisions to 14 teams spared CCD, as well as Patterson, the demotion and allows them to compete with the top teams for another year.

Wilton Y took the Division 1 title last year in a nail-biter over perennial powerhouse, Wee Burn CC. With their entire squad back, Wilton Y starts the year as the pre-season favorites to repeat as division winners. Meanwhile, Wee Burn will have to overcome the loss of their pro, Sebastian Bredberg, who is sidelined due to injury, if they hope to re-capture the title. With some new talent on their team, New Canaan Field Club, led by Brad Easterbrook, could emerge as the strongest challenger to Wilton Y. Newcomers, Woodway CC and CC of New Canaan, will be looking to avoid a one-and-done visit to D1 and with pros, Amy Shay and George Wilkinson respectively leading those teams, they should put up a good fight.

Featured Match of the Week
Greenwich FC v New Canaan FC: A good first challenge for New Canaan FC which could feature a terrific 1-line match with New Canaan’s Brad Easterbrook facing off against either of Greenwich FC’s top-ranked pros, Lennart Jonason or Martin Bostrom. A win by New Canaan could be just the start they need to win the division. While a loss would not leave either team like frogs without legs, ie hopeless, it’s doubtful either team wants to start week 1 in the L column.

Division 2
Historically Division 2 is the toughest, most competitive division. With the pinnacle division just in their sights, the league promotions/demotions are usually decided in the final week. Interesting for this season will be the fact that there are 3 Wilton Y teams competing in Division 2. The question is whether they will play nice and just neutralize each other or if one can emerge as the dominant team in the club? Tokeneke Club may be the early favorite for the title as they are unconfirmed reports that their team has been bolstered by the addition of two highly-ranked pros, Faycal Rhazali and Marco Grangeiro. The other team to keep an eye on is Greenwich CC, which is led by Patricio Misitrano.

Featured Match of the Week
Wilton Y 2.D vs Wilton Y 2.B: The question above should be quickly answered in this first intra-club match for the Wilton Y teams. Based on past history, you would expect this match to be a no-holds bar event, just like two brothers battling for family supremacy. Let’s just hope no one gets disowned.

Division 3
Division 3 could be the Battle of the B’s. 10 of the 14 Division 3 teams are their club’s B team, ie 2nd-strongest team for the club. It should make for a very competitive Division. Wilton Riding Club 3.A has historically played their opponents tough and could potentially be an early favorite if they can get their full team out on the courts. However, some of the clubs (Darien CC, New Canaan CC, Patterson, Wee Burn) may be able to use their other racquet professionals to bolster their lineups and provide the edge needed. It will be interesting to see how this division develops during the year.

Featured Match of the Week
Darien CC 3.B vs Wee Burn 3.B: Nothing like an early cross-town match to get the competitive juices flowing. The early question will be if Darien CC will use Mark Innes, their assistant paddle pro, for their D3 matches. If so, can Wee Burn, known for their paddle depth, answer?

Division 4
Just like last year, the burning question will be whether Aspetuck Valley CC can continue their dominant run through the lower levels of the FCPTL. After 3 consecutive division titles including last year’s undefeated 44-0 record in Division 5, AVCC might find the going a bit more challenging in Division 4. While the shift from Juan Arraya to Javi Ferrin as head paddle pro should have little impact on AVCC’s program, there are some rumors that AVCC may be missing some of their key players from last year. Darien Town 4.C has risen with AVCC through the divisions the last three years. Maybe this will be the year Darien Town gets the upper hand on AVCC. Division 4 is always unpredictable so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Greenwich CC 4.B, or New Canaan Town 4.B or some other club emerge as the contender.

Featured Match of the Week
Darien Town 4.C vs Wilton Y 4.F: This match should provide an early indication of the strength of Darien Town as they face one of the multitude of Wilton Y teams. A good start from Darien could propel to another divisional promotion.

Division 5
Weston Field Club 5.A has been emulating Aspetuck Valley, having taken the journey from Division 7 to Division 5 in the last 2 years. It’s hard to imagine WFC not moving up the ranks again given their strong play in other Fairfield leagues. Also, given that a majority of the D5 teams were competing in D6 last year but got promotions due to the league expansion, WFC will not be seeing too many unfamiliar foes. Darien CC 5.C, Lake 5.D and Wilton Y 5.H all battled WFC hard last year and should expected to do so again.

Featured Match of the Week
Lake Club 5.D vs Weston Field Club 5.A: These two teams battled it out last year in Division 6 with Weston Field Club only finishing 1 point ahead of Lake. When the two teams met, Weston Field Club took a narrow 3-1 victory. A win by either team could give them the early upper hand on the division title.

Division 6
As Yogi Berra was known to say, Division 6 is deja vu all over again. With the league expansion, Division 6 is pretty much the same teams that comprised Division 7 last year. Aspetuck Valley 6.B, Darien Town 6.D and Silver Spring CC 6.A finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd last year, so it’s hard to argue that the 3 teams won’t be competing for the 2 promotion spots again this year.

Featured Match of the Week
New Canaan CC 6.D vs New Canaan FC 6.E: Intra-town rivalry matches are always fun. The players generally know each other and each team likes to have bragging rights. This match should be no different.

Division 7
Welcome to the FCPTL! Division 7 is comprised of all new teams including 4 clubs that are entering their first teams into the FCPTL: Belle Haven Club, Brooklawn CC, Innis Arden Club and Shorehaven Golf Club. Of course, Wilton Y is entering their 9th team into the league as well! With Division 7, it’s hard to predict what can happen. However, if Innis Arden can get their top players to commit to playing, they most likely will follow the path paved before them by Aspetuck Valley and rapidly move up the divisional ranks.

Featured Matches of the Week
Belle Haven 7.A vs Wee Burn 7.F
Shorehaven 7.A vs Stamford Yacht 7.D
Brooklawn 7.A vs Wilton Riding Club 7.C.

Inaugural matches for 3 new clubs – enjoy the league!

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