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Metz Fan
Posted 10/09/2007 @ 6 :24 PM

I’ve started to think tournament draws are a psychological experiment designed to trick me into believing only a handful of players actually play on the ATP tour.  This past Sunday night I printed out the draw sheets for this week’s tournament and found my eyes scanning the same names: Davydenko, Verdasco, Ferrer, Moya, Haas and Karlovic.  Does anyone else even play this game?  Does anyone select other names in the draft?  I have decided to avoid all of them this week to protest their extreme tournament participation except Ferrer who might end up as my MVP this season.

Before I continue, I’d like to say goodbye to Lleyton Hewitt.  I used him for the fifth time last week and he has become nothing more than a red highlighted rectangle on my “pick your team” screen.  Lleyton collected a total of $272,130 for team davidtennis.  Not much considering one tournament was Wimbledon and a couple of others were Masters Series.  He did run into Federer and Djokovic for three of his defeats but he let me down in Mumbai and Tokyo when I needed him to pull through.

Speaking of psychological experiments, have you seen that trophy in Metz?  I think if you look at it too long you might pick a winning doubles team each week - something i finally managed to do.  As much as I've bragged about picking most of the tournament winners each week, I have been a lousy player when it comes to selecting doubles teams.  Doubles is tricky stuff and in fantasyland the level of difficulty rises.  Players switch partners often and even the best paired teams sometimes aren't listed in the draft.  Clement and Llorda are a great team and it seemed they might do well in their own country.  Since Robredo won the singles title in Metz, I ended up with both titles.  I'm now a Metz fan.
This week is the first triple tournament week we’ve seen in a while.  Because the prize money is about even for all three, I spaced my picks out equally: Djokovic and Gonzalez in Vienna; Blake, Ferrer and Nieminen (have to go as local as possible!) for Stockholm; Murray, Stepanek and Youzhny (again, local) in Moscow.

I realize now that I made a couple of foolish choices.  First, Murray and Stepanek are both in the same quarter in Moscow, as are Blake and Nieminen in Stockholm.  I should have considered that before picking them to make some more cash.  If I look at the other side, my chances are that much better one of them will make the semis.

I will be in Madrid for most of next week’s tournament to check on some of my players.  I’m getting close to my new goal of finishing the season in the triple digit rankings (I’m hovering around 1200 at the moment) and I hope my presence will inspire them to win. Many of my players will be turning into red rectangles over the next couple of weeks so I'm going to have to be careful with my Madrid picks.

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Lucky Loser
Posted 10/02/2007 @ 6 :40 PM

I ended up slightly irritated last week.  I knew it would be a difficult week post Davis Cup.  Both tournaments were in slightly hard to reach locations and the top players were either pulling off emotional victories in Davis Cup or pulling out sick – not a good indication of success the following week.  Add to that the list of top players I have already chosen 4 times and I was forced to dig deep to come up with a decent team.  I had what I’m now calling my “nervous team” which included Mathieu, Gasquet, Haas and Berdych.  Fortunately, Gasquet held out the longest and at least got me back into the winner’s circle. 

I also went with what I thought would be a sure thing: Djokovic.  There is nothing worse than a player pulling out of the tournament and in fantasyland it really creates a problem.  I won’t go into my Wimbledon Murray woes again but it’s a tough thing to swallow when you pick someone who ends up on the sideline.

I think the obvious solution is a lucky loser system.  Each week, when we pick our teams, why not have one or two backup players who could be used in case a player decides to pull out of a tournament?   Pick the top eight players and then two subs.  If one of the eight pulls out before you can sub in a new player, the first choice would automatically enter the team.  Makes sense, right?  Let me know if this already exists and I’ve overlooked yet another rule.

I found this week to be somewhat tricky as well.  Let’s start with the Open de Moselle.  The total prize money is much less than the Japan Open so I only went with two guys: Robredo and Kohlschreiber.  I thought about going with a French player but both Santoro and Mathieu had tough first round opponents (including the French player Benneteau) and I fortunately read in time that Monfils pulled out.   There are a bunch of other dangerous French guys floating around but I'm just not certain any of them can do too much damage.  That said, I'm a bit nervous to see Kohlschreiber play Tsonga in the next round.  I'm also still irritated that I haven't been able to select my favorite French player Mahut.  I'll say it again: I don't like the  static roster of players in the fantasy draft.

The indoor season always seems like such a tossup and the Japan Open is no exception.  After Federer pulled out, the tournament became another mix of nervous players, underachievers and those players probably too exhausted to continue their stream of good play.  When I went to select my team I decided to go against my idea of form and go with form: Gasquet and Tursunov.  I chose Ferrer because he probably has the safest quarter and he has done really well for me this season.  Speaking of lucky losers, both Hewitt and Verdasco played pretty well last week and lost with enough time to travel and put up a good fight in Japan so I went with both of them. Finally, I picked Berdych because –well, he really should do well, right?  Dancevic, Del Potro and Querrey keep daring me to pick them but I’m not quite ready to mark them down.  Maybe next year.

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Posted 09/14/2007 @ 4 :50 PM

$8,300.  That’s it for me this week.  I got caught up with the US Open, saw my ranking shoot up to the 1400 range and completely forgot about changing my team this week.  By the time I remembered on Sunday night the deadline had already passed.

Most of my US Open team preformed well during the final slam of the year.  Of course having Federer, Djokovic and Davydenko helped. I lost a couple of my players to 5th sets (Blake and Wawrinka) but I ended up with $2,512,500 and a respectable spot in the rankings.

The only member of my US Open team to play this week was Davydenko, of course.  Does this guy ever skip a week?  Good for me because although he lost I wasn’t completely humiliated and get to collect $8,300.  I’m disappointed because my streak of picking tournament winners is going to end and I was hoping to get my ranking up to 3 digits.  I also feel helpless watching my ranking drop and not being able to do anything about it. 

I’m curious about the team names around here.  I feel like the kid who started school late.  Everyone seems to have a name inspired by their favorite player, the city where they live or something quirky and impossible to figure out.  I have a boring team name (davidtennis) but I signed up at the last minute and wasn’t able to be as creative as I would have liked. 

I’ve already mentioned “Pressed Ham” but I am really interested in this name.  Is this person sarcastic?  Do they really enjoy ham?  Or is it something else?  I have my suspicions.  Regardless, “Pressed Ham” is doing quite well.  And what’s up with our #2 team “HaHaHeroToZeroUltimateTeam”?  Would someone please explain this to me?  I am also very impressed with the arrogance of “I’ll be ahead of you next week.”  I think that team has actually been true to their word.

If I could change my name I would probably call myself “missed opportunities” or “sour grapes.”  I could be cheeky and give myself the name “Caution: falling rankings ahead.”  Maybe I could go with my city and call myself “New York attitude problem” or “Brooklyn guy has problem following rules.”  Until the next change, you can just call me bitter.

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Stan the man
Posted 09/03/2007 @ 3 :16 PM

I’m starting to feel like my high school tennis coach. Unlike him, I don’t have a comb over and I don’t chain smoke cigarettes past the filter. I’m reminded instead of one thing he did have whenever he watched my teammates and me play: an intimidating glare. That glare was usually something my teammates and I noticed when we started to lose. Both intimidating and frightening, it was a stern reminder to get back to what was really important: winning.

I’ve taken this glare with me to the US Open as I’ve watched the players I picked to represent my team “davidtennis” over the next two weeks.

We all know this is the last big money making opportunity of the fantasy season and I’ve spent more time watching my “investments” during the Open than I would have had they simply been players at the US Open. Of course there are the players I’ve chosen who are sure things: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Roddick. They have moments when I’ve gotten a bit nervous watching them but deep down I am pretty certain they’ll pull through.

Of my eight picks, only Youzhny has lost so far. While I know that Philipp Kohlschreiber is a good player, I honestly didn’t see him beating Youzhny. I went to the Kohlschreiber/Moya match yesterday to try to figure out what went wrong and I was even more surprised. Both Moya and Kohlschreiber played the match as if it were on clay. Since Youzhny took out the ultimate clay court player Nadal last year, I really can’t believe he went down to Kohlschreiber.

So that leaves me with my MVP so far: Stanislas Wawrinka. I picked “Stan” almost by default: there really wasn’t anyone else in that quarter. I watched him take down Marat Safin in the 2nd round (or did I see Safin take himself down?) and then yesterday I hung around for most of his victory against Robby Ginepri.

The first thing you notice about Stan is how solid he is. He doesn’t really look like a tennis player. His legs are more like tree trunks and I would probably be less surprised to see him tilling the land with his trusty Ox up in the mountains of Switzerland instead of playing tennis at the US Open. He has a solid baseline game that thrives on pace. His one handed backhand down the line is a beautiful shot, but he seems unpredictable and on the verge of losing even when he’s up two sets. I feel as if I’m channeling my high school tennis coach when I watch him but the bottom line is he’s winning matches and helping me in the rankings.

Speaking of rankings, I have a habit of checking out the period standings after just about every match. If I were invested in the stock market, I’d probably watch the ticker as much. As I write this (James Blake is still playing), I have $648,500 which places me in a massive tie at #103. My current ranking is #1879. It’s much better than my post Wimbledon ranking. As we get closer to knowing the quarterfinalists, I’m pretty certain we all have the same six guys. It’s the other two who will determine the strongest team at this year’s Open. I’m happy I still have Stan around. If he can take down Chela, who knows how far I can climb?

How are the rest of you doing? Let me know.

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Back Again
Posted 08/29/2007 @ 6 :57 PM

Hello again everyone. Sorry for the delay but I’ve been out sick with a late summer flu/strep throat. For much of the time I’ve been caught between a form of sleep and a strange hallucinatory state of mind triggered from medication and discomfort. A sort of fantasyland of my own that I’m all too happy to leave.

So this is it! Our last big chance to make some cash and try to catch the likes of Pressed Ham, Swinging Monkeys, KingTut and the current #1, 007 (is that Marion Bartoli’s team?).
How did you pick your team this week? I went with the direct strategy: 2 players per quarter. That makes Federer, Roddick, Blake, Davydenko, Djokovic, Youzhny, Nadal and Wawrinka. I had wanted to pick Baghdatis but went with Blake at the last minute. One of my better decisions so far. I was also tempted to go with Hewitt, thinking that either Hewitt or Djokovic were a sure thing for the semis but I figured it would be better to split the draw evenly and Youzhny always seems to do pretty well here.

The bottom quarter seemed the most complicated for me. Of course there is Nadal but he's always iffy this time of year and there are plenty of excuses not to have picked him. But in the end it is a slam and he is Nadal, so I put him down. After Nadal, who is the second guy in that quarter? Gonzlez, Safin, Chela, Ljubicic didn’t seem good choices. For me it came down to Ferrer or Wawrinka so I went with the guy I figured more people wouldn’t pick: Wawrinka. I figure everyone has the big boys at the Open, why not go for one true dark horse? That said, Wawrinka almost let me down today but came through in 5 tough sets. I'm uncertain if he can carry the davidtennis flag much further, however. Maybe Federer needs to have a chat with his Swiss teammate.

Finally, how was New Haven? I was lucky that Blake won. Not only for the cash but also because my tournament win streak was on the line. I still haven't missed one. Apart from Blake, just about everyone I picked seemed to lose early.

Let me know how you all are doing. I'll be heading out to the Open for much of the next 11 days to keep an eye on my team.

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