With the weather turning colder, the paddle matches are just heating up. There were no matches last week due to Thanksgiving break, so this recap will take a quick look at the divisional races and as well as highlight a Featured Match of the Week.

Division 1
After a slow start, Wee Burn has swept its last 2 matches to take a 2 point divisional lead in its effort to repeat as Division 1 champion. Currently, only Wilton Y looks to be a threat to Wee Burn’s title hopes. Wilton Y is traditionally deep and has only gotten deeper with the addition of Michael Todd, a tournament-tested player who recently moved to Fairfield County from Cincinnati. Wilton Y and Wee Burn don’t face off until the last week of the season, so the question will be Wilton Y can keep pace with Wee Burn over next 6 matches. The fight to avoid relegation to Division 2, however, is shaping up to be a doozy. 6 teams are currently tied for the 2nd relegation spot while Milbrook, the cellar-dweller, is only 2 points behind the other 6 teams. It’s still early in the season but so far Division 1 race looks to be the one at the bottom, not the top.

Featured Match of the Week
Middlesex vs Wilton Y. Trailing Wee Burn by 2 points, Wilton Y cannot afford to fall behind any further in the title chase. Middlesex, on the other hand, is one of the six teams tied for the second relegation spot and can ill afford a loss either. Fortunately for Middlesex, they are strong at the top of their lineup with Faycal Rhalazi, Colin White and Michael Bennett; however, if Wilton Y brings out their depth, it could be a tough day for Middlesex.

Division 2
Division 2 is historically been one of the most competitive races in the FCPTL and this year looks to be no different. Wilton Y 2.1 currently holds the division lead at 12-4 but is only 1 and 2 points ahead of Woodway CC and Tokeneke Club. Five other clubs are within 4 point of Wilton Y and could contend for the title with a strong run. The bottom of the division does not look that tight right now. Stanwich, which has had trouble fielding complete lineups, sits in the cellar spot at 3-13 and Round Hill Club is only slightly above them at 5-11. Unless things change, Stanwich and Round Hill could be headed to Division 3. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time to turn things around.

Featured Match of the Week
Roxbury vs Woodway CC. Woodway has been tantalizingly close to returning to Division 1 the last few years. Currently sitting in 2nd place, Woodway controls their own destiny with top tandem Tom Richardson and Pat Mullins leading the way. However, they face a tough challenge in Roxbury who currently occupy 4th place just 2 points behind Woodway. Roxbury has a balanced lineup and could pull out a victory if Woodway is missing a player or two from their regular lineup.

Division 3
At 15-1, Rowayton has taken the early dominant lead in Division 3. Buoyed by the addition of several former college players picking up paddle such as Jeff Dawkins, Rowayton looks like they will be difficult to catch at this point. The race for the 2nd promotion spot, on the other hand, is very close. While Wilton Y 3.2 currently holds 2nd position, 5 other teams are within 3 points of them. At the bottom of the standings, Wee Burn 3.2 and Woodway have, unfortunately for them, separated themselves a bit from the pack as they find themselves 3 points out of the safety zone.

Featured Match of the Week
Darien CC vs Wee Burn CC 3.1. The cross-town rivals have identical records at 9-7, putting them both only 2 points from second place. A victory for either team will keep them in the running for promotion while a loss might prove to open a gap too much to close. The key for the match might actually lie in Division 1 where each club has a team. Should either club’s D1 team need reinforcements, it could weaken the D3 lineups enough to be the difference in the outcome.

Division 4
Division 4 looks to be a toss-up both at the top and bottom of the standings. Currently, Patterson Club is 15-5 and holds a 1 point edge over Middlesex at the top of the division. However, Stamford Yacht and Tokeneke are only 2 points behind Patterson. At the bottom, Rowayton 4.2 and Wilton Y 4.2 are at 6-14 but only trail Wilton Riding Club and New Canaan FC by 1 point to avoid relegation. Meanwhile the 4 clubs in the middle of the pack sit around .500 and are only a hot or cold streak away from moving into contention for promotion or having to fight for survival. Stay tuned for this race as it will surely go to the wire on both ends.

Featured Match of the Week
Middlesex vs Tokeneke. Two Darien-based teams squarely in contention for the division title and promotion face off this Sunday. With the divisional race so close, a win for either team will boost their title tremendously. Last season the two teams tied 2-2 with 2 matches going 3 sets. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see another tie this time around.

Division 5
The juggernaut that is Aspetuck Valley CC continues to roll on. With another sweep prior to the Thanksgiving break, Aspetuck sits in first place with a record of 20-0, the only undefeated team in the FCPTL. Currently in second place with an 18-2 mark, Darien Town faces Aspetuck December 9th in a match that could decide the league title. At the other end of the standings, Division 5 also has the only winless team in the league, New Canaan FC. Things are not looking good for them right now. The majority of the division must also worry about the 2nd relegation spot as only 4 points separate 8 teams for that ignominious spot.

Featured Match of the Week
Darien Town vs Stamford Italian Center. These next two weeks could be make or break for Darien Town’s divisional title hopes. Darien Town can ill afford to look ahead to next week’s match versus Aspetuck as they face third-place Stamford Italian Center this Sunday. Stamford Italian Center is 4 points behind Darien Town, and while an underdog going into the match, a Stamford victory would give them the edge for the 2nd promotion spot.

Division 6
Like Division 4, Division 6 is tight at both ends of the standings. At the top, Darien CC and Lake Club 6.1 are tied for the lead with records of 15-5. However, Weston FC is only 2 points behind at 13-7 and you have to believe that it should only be a matter of time before Mark Parsons’ teaching wizardry kicks in. Stamford Yacht, Wilton Y and Woodway are at 11-9 and could make a play for promotion before all is done with a few wins. At the bottom, 5 teams are separated by 3 points or less. Currently, Milbrook and Lake Club 6.2 occupy the bottom 2 spots, but there’s a lot of paddle to be played.

Featured Match of the Week
Lake Club 6.1 vs Weston Field Club. If Weston Field Club is going to make a move for the division title, it will have to start this week when they face co-leader Lake Club 6.1. Fortunately Weston FC will have the home-court advantage, which given the travel, usually works in their favor; however, Lake has one of the shorter rides to Weston. Lake Club enters the match in better form, having won 4 in a row since it’s opening day tie, while Weston has been more up-and-down with 2 ties in their last 2 matches. Hopefully the Thanksgiving break has given Weston some time to regroup a little.

Division 7
Aspetuck Valley is trying to follow in the shoes of its sister D5 team and ascend the ranks of the FCPTL. So far, so good as they currently sit atop the D7 standings based on win/loss percentage over second-place Stamford Italian Center. Wee Burn and Darien Town are in 3rd and 4th place, respectively, and are capable of making a move up the standings. Fortunately there are no relegation spots in D7, and thus, no need to examine the bottom of the standings here.

Featured Match of the Week
Aspetuck Valley vs Stamford Italian Center. As is tradition, if first-place plays second place, it is the Featured Match of the Week. ‘Nuff said.

Take that, Mother Nature!
No More Long Points!!!!

David Lee