After this week, the FCPTL will be on a three week hiatus for the year-end holidays. Just like all the holiday shoppers rushing around to get their presents and cards completed, the FCPTL teams are rushing to get some needed points before we enter the last month of the season. This season is witness to some of the closest division races in recent history – well with one exception. The competitiveness of the races is a testament to the growth of platform tennis in Fairfield County and the higher level of play at all divisions. Below is a recap of last week’s matches and a Featured Match of the Week.

Division 1
For now, it looks to be a two-team race for Division 1 title between Wee Burn and Wilton Y. Wee Burn maintained its 1 point divisional lead over Wilton Y as both teams took 3-1 wins over Darien CC and Milbrook Club, respectively. With the two teams not scheduled to face-off until the last week of the season, this looks to be a battle until the very end. At the other end of the division, however, it’s looking like I-95 on a Friday night as only 4 points separate 8 teams from the bottom two places. Lake Club was the only team among the 8 to record a win last week (3-1 over Patterson Club) keeping all 8 teams tightly bunched together. With the teams all so close to the precipice of Division 2, it will make for a pressure-filled January with teams trying to get their players out on the court and angling for the best lineups they can muster.

Featured Match of the Week
Wilton Y vs New Canaan FC. Wilton Y is neck-and-neck with Wee Burn for the Division 1 title. With probably the deepest D1 roster, Wilton Y has clearly set its sight on the division title. Lurking just behind in third place, though, is New Canaan Field Club. Led by pro Brad Easterbrook and top club players Hardy Manges and David Baldwin, New Canaan Field Club can stack up with any other team. However, New Canaan FC has been hurt a bit this year with depth issues as the roster has been split with their Division 2 team. If New Canaan FC can field its complete lineup, they can easily pull off a victory over Wilton Y and possibly get themselves into the title mix. If they are missing a few key players, Wilton Y’s depth should carry the day.

Division 2
Woodway CC closed ground on first place Wilton Y 2.1 by rolling over Stamford Italian Center 4-0. Wilton Y 2.1 took 2 of the 3 matches played against New Canaan CC (1 match is still to be played). The one match Wilton Y lost was a slug-fest as Wilton’s Andy Leggio and Paul Calzone took New Canaan’s pro, George Wilkinson (playing without a knee brace), and partner Lee Jones to a 3rd set tiebreaker. Stamford Yacht rolled over Roxbury 4-0 to stay within 2 points of Woodway and setting up a key match this week (see Featured Match below). In the race to avoid relegation, Stanwich lost 4-0 to Round Hill and unless things change greatly, look like they will be headed to Division 3. The other relegation spot looks to go down to the wire as only 3 points separate 8 teams for 11th place.

Featured Match of the Week
Woodway CC vs Stamford Yacht Club. Another 2nd versus 3rd place match-up, Woodway CC could put a little separation between themselves and the rest of the division for the second promotion spot with a victory against Stamford Yacht Club. Trailing Woodway by 2 points, Stamford Yacht’s chances to get to Division 1 may depend on a victory this Saturday. Both teams feature strong teams at the top but can struggle with depth issues at the bottom of the lineup. The match will most likely swing on the 3 and 4 lines – whichever team can bring out their deepest lineup should have the upper hand.

Division 3
Greenwich CC followed up their sweep of Rowayton with another sweep of Wee Burn 3.2 to catapult themselves into a tie for second place with Wilton Y 3.2 just two points behind first place Rowayton. Rumors are swirling in Fairfield County that Greenwich CC is already predicting a promotion to Division 2, but there’s still a lot of paddle to be played. Rowayton maintained their 2 point divisional lead with a 4-0 sweep over New Canaan CC, whose captain aptly described his feelings afterwards at bottom of the Game Result post on the FCPTL website. Other captains will surely empathsize with his sentiments on getting swept. Meanwhile Burning Tree and Darien CC sit only 1 and 2 points behind second place, so Greenwich CC shouldn’t count their chickens too soon.

Featured Match of the Week
Greenwich CC vs Wilton Y 3.2. Greenwich CC and Wilton Y 3.2 come into the match tied for 2nd place, trailing division-leading Rowayton by 2 points. Needless to say this match is huge for the divisional standings. Greenwich CC rides the hot hand having swept its last two opponents including Rowayton but Wilton Y’s depth is never to be underestimated. Greenwich CC should take the top spot if paddle pro Patricio Misitrano plays, but after that it’s anyone’s call.

Division 4
Teams in Division 3 might want to pay heed to last week’s Division 4 results. First place Patterson suffered a 3-1 loss to Stamford Yacht Club and is now tied with Middlesex Club who took a 3-1 victory over Lake Club. Tokeneke also took a 3-1 win over New Canaan FC, and has snuck into third place 3 points behind the division co-leaders. At the other end of the standings, Wilton Y 4.2 took a 3-1 victory over Rowayton 4.2 and thus leaped over Lake Club and New Canaan FC in the race to avoid demotion.

Featured Match of the Week
Lake Club vs New Canaan FC. No teams start feeling the pressure more than those that sit on the edge of relegation to the lower division. Lake Club and New Canaan FC are currently tied for that ignominious 2nd relegation spot with 10-18 records. Whichever team wins will gain some breathing room in the effort to avoid demotion. A tie, ironically, keeps both teams in the same spot with a three week break to sweat the consequences.

Division 5
Darien Town traveled to Aspetuck Valley in a showdown of first and second place teams. Darien appeared to be the last chance for a D5 team to derail the Aspetuck juggernaut. Unfortunately it was not to be as Aspetuck rolled to a 4-0 roll to keep their perfect record intact at 28-0. Until Aspetuck actually loses a match or point, this column will focus on the other races in D5 to avoid being repetitious. Fortunately for Darien Town, Stamford Italian Center was upset by Middlesex Club 3-1 and thus, Darien maintains a 1 point lead over Stamford IC for the 2nd promotional spot. While not mathematically relegated to D6, New Canaan FC at 1-27 looks to be headed down for sure. Wilton Riding Club currently occupies the other relegation spot but they are only 1 point behind 4 other teams, so one of the two relegation spots clearly remains in question.

Featured Match of the Week
New Canaan CC vs Wilton Riding Club. Five teams are within 1 point of each other for the 2nd relegation spot. With New Canaan FC pretty much resigned to relegation given their 1-27 record, the battle to avoid demotion should be intense these next 5 weeks. Two of the teams, New Canaan CC and Wilton Riding Club, face off this weekend in a match both need to win if they want to avoid demotion to Division 6. Wilton Riding Club enters with just a bit more momentum than New Canaan CC but anything can happen in paddle.

Division 6
The most interesting and competitive division is Division 6. Only 9 points separates the first and last place team in this division. 3 teams, Darien CC, Lake Club 6.1 and Weston FC, sit atop the standings with matching 18-10 records. This past week, Darien and Lake 6.1 faced off and played, not surprisingly, to a 2-2 draw, in a match that saw three 3-set matches and a fourth get decided by a single break each set. Weston FC also tied 2-2 with Middlesex Club where again 3 of the matches went the full distance. The divisional standings seem to change dramatically each week and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of the bottom teams make a late charge to the top of the division.

Featured Match of the Week
Lake Club 6.1 vs Lake Club 6.2. It’s always interesting when you have an intra-club divisional match on the schedule. Obviously both sides know each other well which can make for spirited and highly competitive matches. However, this intra-club match features the first place 6.1 team versus the last place 6.2 team, so a sisterly tie really doesn’t help either team. Will Lake 6.1 put the hammer down on its brethen 6.2 team in order to stay atop the standings even if it means pushing Lake 6.2 into Division 7? Should be interesting to find out.

Division 7
Aspetuck Valley and Darien Town continue to pace this division. Aspetuck took a 3-1 victory over Wee Burn (or maybe Wee Burn should be called WB/Cavanna as 3 different Cavannas graced the Wee Burn lineup this week). Meanwhile Darien swept Stamford Italian Center 4-0. With Aspetuck and Darien separating themselves from the rest of the division by 7 and 5 points respectively, the only question remaining might who takes the title, unless things change dramatically.

Featured Match of the Week
Wee Burn CC vs Darien Town. Second-place Darien Town trails first place Aspetuck Valley by just two points. Wee Burn CC has one of the deepest programs in the FCPTL. Darien will need to stay focused if they want to beat their in-town opponent and keep pace with Aspetuck Valley.

Paddle in Kansas City? Definitely!
Week 9 - D1 Review – No so Holiday Edition

David Lee