The Fairfield County Platform Tennis League (FCPTL) starts another season this Saturday, October 20. For those not familiar with the league, the FCPTL brings together 84 teams from 26 clubs, grouped into 7 divisions of 12 teams each. The season runs from October to the end of January, with the top 2 teams advancing to the next division and the bottom 2 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. will once again review the weekly play and highlight a Featured Match of the Week for each division. Below is a quick preview of how the divisions might shake out; however as with all things paddle, the final outcome is likely to be quite unpredictable.

Division 1
Wee Burn CC is the defending champion and with their entire team back, they are clearly the favorite to repeat. Rowayton and Wilton Y look to be the main challengers to Wee Burn especially as both clubs are able to draw from a larger pool of players. Newcomers, Middlesex and Patteron, will be looking to avoid a one-and-done visit to D1 and with pros, Faycal Rhazali and Scott Slobin respectively, heading those teams, their chances should be decent.

Featured Match of the Week:
Patterson Club vs Middlesex Club: the two newly promoted teams square off to start the season. Both clubs will want to start the season off strongly to bolster their chances of remaining in D1. With the Atlantic Classic APTA/NRT tournament scheduled for Saturday, the match may hinge on which team has their pro playing this Saturday.

Division 2
Division 2 is often the bruiser division – highly competitive teams all able to use pros in their lineups and all trying to get to Division 1. Trying to predict who might emerge as division winner and runner-up in D2 is like trying to return a corner nick shot – you are just making a stab at it. Recently-demoted New Canaan CC led by new pro, George Wilkinson, will definitely be trying to make their stay in D2 a short one. Woodway CC, Round Hill, Stamford Yacht, Tokeneke and Stanwich are also teams that were recently in D1. Consequently, new promoted New Canaan FC and Darien Town could have their hands full trying to stay in D2. The prediction here is a topsy-turvy division where every week will be a hard-fought challenge.

Featured Match of the Week:
Stamford Yacht vs Stamford Italian Center: two clubs that perennially contend for the D1 promotion, this match should be a good early indicator of which team might be in contention for division leadership. While Stamford Italian Center should have the services of teaching pro, Frank Lorenzetti, this year, depth may be a concern. Similarly, Stamford Yacht has talent but needs to remain injury-free and get their best lineup out there if they are to contend.

Division 3
A rule change for the 2012-2013 season allows teaching professionals to now play in D3. This development should be a boon for Greenwich CC and Burning Tree CC who can now utilize the services of Patricio Misitrano and Jack Waite. No other team in the division will have this luxury. Division 3 is also unique in that it has 2 clubs, Wilton Y and Wee Burn CC, with 2 teams in the division. Will the 2 same club teams play nice or look to move their brethren down?

Featured Match of the Week:
Greenwich CC vs Wilton Y 3.1: The 3rd and 5th place teams, respectively, from last year clash in match that could propel one of the teams to promotion to D2. However, Greenwich CC may be without the services of their pro, Patricio Misitrano, to the Atlantic Classic. If so, it should be an even struggle. If Patricio plays for GCC, then look for GCC to take the victory.

Division 4
As the highest division playing on Sunday, Division 4 is the most variable division in the league as you often seen paddle enthusiasts from Saturday teams also playing on Sunday. Newly promoted Roxbury dominated Division 5 last year and it will be interesting to see if they can repeat their success. Wilton Riding Club just missed promotion in 2011-2012 and should be one of the leading contenders for the division title. Tokeneke is another club that was close to promotion and bears watching this season.

Featured Match of the Week:
Rowayton 4.1 vs Rowayton 4.2: two teams that got to Division 4 from opposite trajectories – one that was demoted from Division 3 and the other promoted from Division 5 – square off in the season opener. It will be interesting to see if the two Rowayton teams divvy up the talent or favor one team over the other. The match results should give us the answer.

Division 5
The burning question in Division 5 is whether Aspetuck Valley CC can continue their blitzkrieg through the lower rungs of the FCPTL. Having won titles at Division 7 and 6, Aspetuck will clearly have league observers tracking their progress in D5. Darien Town has been nipping at the heels of Apetuck each of the last 2 years having also risen from Division 7 to Division 5 and will also be looking to make promotion for the third consecutive year. However, Aspetuck and Darien should find the road much harder this year as D5 has historically been a very competitive division. Wilton Y and Stamford Italian Center both just missed promotion to D4 last year and should be strong contenders. Meanwhile, demoted teams, Round Hill Club and New Canaan Town, are expected to re-group and make a push to return to Division 4.

Featured Match of the Week:
Aspetuck Valley vs Wilton Y: Aspetuck gets an early test as they open the season against Wilton Y, the 3rd place team from last season. Wilton Y just missed promotion last year and will be looking to keep the upstarts from Aspetuck from starting the season strong. The winning team should take early front-runner status for the division title.

Division 6
Weston Field Club moves up from Division 7 and it will be interesting to see if the club’s new platform tennis professional, Mark Parsons, a former national champion, can coach this team to victory (fortunately for the rest of Division 6, he is ineligible to play). Meanwhile Lake Club has two teams in the division due to a promotion and a demotion. Like Rowayton in Division 4, Lake should be able to challenge any club from either side. The lower divisions are usually harder to predict with newer teams and newer players. This year looks to be no exception.

Featured Match of the Week:
Lake Club 6.2 vs Weston Field Club: two of the newly promoted teams from Division 7 face each other in the season opener. The two clubs split their match 2-2 last year, so it should be an even tussle as the teams should be familiar with each other. However, both teams should be geared to start the season strong so it wouldn’t be surprising to see one side pull out the heavy hitters in an effort to start the season with a win.

Division 7
Division 7 is usually the wild, wild west division. With no threat of demotion to a lower division, D7 has less pressure than any other division. On the other hand, it is the entry point for all new teams to the FCPTL. This year, the FCPTL welcomes Silver Spring CC and another Darien Town team to the league. As new kids on the block, you’d expect Silver Spring and Darien Town to start strong in an effort to make it a short stay in Division 7. Roxbury and Stamford Italian Center just missed promotion last year and should be contenders for the division title again this year.

Featured Match of the Week:
Silver Spring CC vs Middlesex/Town Darien vs Tokeneke Club: Will either Silver Spring or Darien Town follow in the path of Aspetuck and dominate the division as a new entrant? The first week’s matches for both clubs should provide a quick answer to this question.

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D1 Week 1 Philly Paddle

David Lee