This past weekend, the Fairfield County Platform Tennis League (FCPTL) kicked off its season with great weather and enthusiasm. The FCPTL is composed of 84 teams divided into 7 divisions of 12 teams. Each team plays each other team in their division once during the season with a point awarded for each victory out of the 4 matches played. At the end of the season, the top 2 point-getters in each division move up to the next higher division, while the bottom 2 teams are relegated to the lower division. With no playoffs, each match understandably carries season-long implications and relegation or promotion has often come down to the tiebreaker of the head-to-head match.

PaddleTimes will provide weekly coverage of the FCPTL with a focus on key matches that just occurred and a preview of the match to watch for each division. Hopefully the coverage, like the sport itself, will be fun and best enjoyed over a beer. Readers can track the ongoing standings here.

For Week 1, much of the focus was on the teams that were promoted or relegated this season. Observers were curious to see if the rising teams could continue their path upwards, while also wondering if the demoted teams could get back to their prior perch.

Division 1

Last year’s second place finisher, New Canaan Field Club, opened with a strong 4-0 sweep over a solid Lake Club team. Led by top 10 pro, Brad Easterbrook, New Canaan FC looks to be on a mission to capture the D1 title that has traditionally gone to Rowayton or Wee Burn.  Rowayton 1.1 started their title defense with a 3-1 win against Greenwich Field Club. Recently-promoted Town of Darien got off to a strong start with a 3-1 victory over the other recently-promoted team, Rowayton 1.2. With the likes of Mike McCann and Scott McKessy at the top of lineup, Town of Darien looks like it has no intention of making their promotion to Division 1 a short stay.

Featured Match of Week 2: New Canaan FC vs Rowayton 1.1. Pitting last year’s #1 and #2 teams, this match should indicate the early front-runner for the division title. It might also feature a partial re-match of the Patterson Open semi-finals if Brad Easterbrook and Jared Palmer square off against each other at the 1 spot. Definitely the match to watch for the entire league this week.

Division 2

Patterson Club featuring pro Scott Slobin started with a 4-0 sweep against Stanwich Club, providing ample notice to the league that they may make their promotion to D2 a short one as they try to move to D1 in 1 year. The other promoted team, Lake Club, also opened with a 3-1 win to get off to a solid debut as well. The two relegated teams, Round Hill and Stamford Yacht, played to an not surprising 2-2 tie. D2 could be the division battle to watch as it is shaping up to be the most competitively-balanced division with Stamford Italian Center and Woodway, who both opened with 3-1 victories, likely to be in the mix for the title.

Featured Match of Week 2: Patterson Club vs Lake Club. The two most recently-promoted teams each look to maintain their momentum in their new division. A clear-cut win for either team could help propel them to promotion to Division 1.

Division 3

Recently demoted Town of Darien began their campaign to get back to Division 2 with a solid 3-1 win over Rowayton. Greenwich CC, the other relegated team, split their opener with New Canaan Field Club, who has also let it be known that they are gunning for promotion having been relegated 2 years ago. Burning Tree CC, up from Division 4, made a strong debut with a 3-1 win over Wee Burn, serving notice that they plan to make their stay here a short one. The other promoted team, Lake Club, got off to a rough start, losing 1-3 to New Canaan CC, and will need to re-group if they plan to maintain their status in the division.

Featured Match of Week 2: Burning Tree CC vs Town of Darien. The match features a recently-promoted team versus a recently-demoted team and should provide early evidence where both teams stand in their quest to move up to the next division.

Division 4

Neither of the two promoted teams got off to particularly auspicious starts. Patterson managed a 2-2 split with Round Hill while Milbrook got swept 0-4 by Wilton Y. Tokeneke, one of the two relegated teams, also struggled in week 1 with a 3-1 loss to New Canaan Town. Of the four new teams in Division 4, only relegated Wilton Riding Club was able to post a victory (3-1 over New Canaan FC). With many Division 4 teams sharing players with higher and lower teams at their club, Division 4 can often be topsy-turvy with unpredictable results and rapidly-changing standings. Definitely a Division worth watching.

Featured Match of Week 2: New Canaan Town vs Wilton Y. Match features two early-season contenders for the division title and should be a close.

Division 5

It was 50/50 for the four new teams in Division 5. Just up from Division 6, Rowayton made their presence felt quickly with a 4-0 victory against New Canaan FC. Stamford Italian Center, the other promoted team, lost 1-3 to New Canaan CC 5.1 in their higher debut. Roxbury started their campaign to regain a place in Division 4 with a 4-0 sweep of New Canaan 5.2. However, Greenwich CC’s journey back to Division 4 took a stumble with a 1-3 loss to Wilton Y.

Featured Match of Week 2: Roxbury vs Rowayton. Like the featured match in Division 3, this pairing has a recently-promoted team versus a recently-demoted team squaring off against each other. In addition, both teams started the season 4-0, so it should be a good test for both teams as to their competitive stance in the division.

Division 6

Last year’s story of the year continues to be this year’s story until further notice. Aspetuck Valley CC won promotion to Division 6 last year by going undefeated in all of its matches, compiling a 44-0 record in the process. AVCC continued their undefeated ways with a 4-0 victory over Wee Burn, running their streak to 48 matches and counting. Fellow promoted club, Town of Darien, matched AVCC with a 4-0 win over Roxbury. The two relegated clubs, Country Club of Darien and Stamford Yacht, faced off and played to a 2-2 tie.

Featured Match of Week 2: AVCC vs Country Club of Darien. Until they finally lose a match, all eyes will be on AVCC. This week should be a good test for AVCC as they face a team that was recently relegated from the higher division and will be looking to get atop the standings.

Division 7

Division 7 is always one of the more interesting divisions in the league. You have a spate of new teams that must enter the league at the bottom and are trying to work their way up the divisional ladder plus teams that often feature new enthusiastic paddlers to competitive play. Plus with no worries about relegation to a lower division, half the pressure is off. One might call it the “Wild Wild West of the FCPTL” as anything can happen. Not surprisingly, Week 1 saw 3 matches end in 4-0 sweeps and 2 matches end in 2-2 ties. As the season progresses, we look forward to seeing the storylines emerge.

Featured Match of Week 2: Stamford Italian Center vs Roxbury. An intra-town match amongst 2 clubs located in Stamford that one imagines will feature some familiar faces pairing off against each other.

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David Lee