The LCWTL may have a new website and a few new rules, but it remains the league that provides more tennis activity and generates more tennis conversation than any other in the area. Although there is still plenty of time to make up ground in most of the divisions, some teams are already distancing themselves from the competition.
One such team is Gulf Harbour’s (GH) 2.5 team, which has been the dominant force in this Division since its inception two seasons ago. After 6 matches played (some teams in the Division have played seven), Gulf Harbour sits in first place, 43 points ahead of second-place Landings, and 52 points ahead of third-place Legends. The prospects for GH’s opponents don’t look very good, as GH has taken at least three of four courts in all but one match as of this writing.
The race is considerably closer in the 3.0-Minus Division with Paseo a mere 21 points ahead of second-place Heritage Palms (HP), and just 30 ahead of third-place Cape Coral Yacht Club (CCYC). Things promise to remain tight in this Division, as HP has been the only team to take three courts from Paseo, and appears to be hitting its stride.
CCYC and Gulf Harbour (105 & 103 points respectively) are well within reach of the top two teams, and with more than half the season yet to be played, several teams are likely to be in the mix for the top spot in this Division as the season winds down.
Perennially one of the largest divisions in the LCWTL, the 3.0 Division is also one of the most competitive. This time the twenty-two 3.0 teams represent a tie for the most in the LCWTL, and only 14 points separate the top eight teams in the Division.
Leading the way after nine matches is Gulf Harbour’s Racquettes with 168 points. A testament to the Division’s parity, GH has only recorded three sweeps to date, has split the four courts twice, and lost three of four once…oh, and that loss was to a team that is not currently among the top eight. Yes, a very tough division.
Second-place Heritage Palms (HP), which trails GH by four points, has taken three of four courts in six of its nine matches and has split the other three, Unlike GH, the ladies at HP can claim no losses on their record thus far.
Third place Verandah, trailing the leader by eight points, have just one loss on its record, and that was in the first match of the season to Judd Park, where they lost three of four courts. Since then, Verandah has posted three sweeps and posted splits in its other matches, scoring at least as much as its opponents in each match.
None of the top three has opposed another top-three team, and each has played a match in which they have posted fewer points than the opponent. As I suggested in the League Preview, the parity of this Division promises to make the end of this race one of the more exciting finishes of the season.
With 21 teams in the fray, the 3.5-Minus Division is another that will require consistent high level performance to conquer. Given their last-place finish last season, GH's SliceGirls have to be considered the surprise of the season thus far. Their four sweeps lead the Division and they have yet to post fewer points than an opponent.
Another GH team the LoveLeeLadies are 17 points behind in second, and just three points ahead of third-place Cape Coral Racquet Club. The LoveLeeLadies are seeking to improve on their fourth-place finish last season, and CCRC is trying to make a splash as a new team that didn't play in the Division last season.
Given the start the Slice Girls have had, it’s tough to envision them falling from their current pedestal, but they have some matches against the other top teams yet to be played, so the Division is still up for grabs.
Defending Division Champion Judd Park and Gateway are locked in a tight battle for the division lead after 10 matches, with only four points separating the two. Judd has demonstrated high level consistency, posting three sweeps, four matches with wins on three courts, and three splits.
Gateway has been a bit more uneven in its performance, sweeping five of its 10 opponents, but also dropping three of four courts on two occasions. One of those losses was to a team that is not currently in the upper echelons of the Division and isn’t likely to be.
Both third-place Landings and fourth-place Heritage Palms (HP) are within reach of the top two, sitting 21 and 23 points respectively behind division-leading Judd. Cape Coral Yacht Club is just another four points back in fifth, and if performance to date is any indication, it appears that the division winner is likely to come from this group of five.
Fort Myers Racquet Club’s Ace Kickers and Gulf Harbour (GH) have separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the 4.0-Minus Division. The Ace Kickers have posted 183 points, with four sweeps and just two splits in their nine matches. Despite three sweeps of its own, GH is 19 points behind the leader, and has not been nearly as dominant, posting fewer points than an opponent twice thus far.
Another 18 points back in third place is Plantation with one sweep to its credit. With just 11 teams in the Division, it appears unlikely that another team will emerge from the back of the pack to overtake either of the top two. However, the season has a ways to go and one never knows how a team can change over the course of the season.
Among the rated divisions, one of the clearest case of division dominance can be seen in the 4.0 Division. Ordinarily one of the more competitive divisions in the LCWTL, Cypress Lake (4th last season) has jumped out to a 58-point-lead after eight matches. Cypress’ ladies have swept five of their matches, won three of four in two matches, and split the other.
The next six teams, in places second through seventh, are separated by a total of seven points. Landings Legends (127), Gulf Harbour (126), Dunes (125), Landings 4Love (123), Plantation (122) and Paseo (120) all appear to be fighting it out for second place. If Vegas is giving any odds on Cypress to take the Division, I’m definitely in, but the race for second is a “pick ’em” for sure.
The cream of the crop in the rated divisions, the Dynamo Division, fields its typical six teams, and Park Meadows’ Passing Shots appear destined to repeat as Division Champs. The Passing Shots have swept five of their eight matches, and split three. In one of those splits, they were outpointed (14-12) by second-place Paseo Poachers.
The Poachers got off to a slow start, splitting three and losing one of their first four matches. However, they have some on strong since then, posting two sweeps and taking three of four courts in the other three since outpointing the Passing Shots in match five.
Paseo Power sits in third place, 20 points behind the second-place Poachers, and it doesn’t appear likely that the Power will overtake the top two. Despite the Passing Shots 25-point lead, I suspect they will be in a close battle for league supremacy with the Poachers through the end of the season.
The 60-Plus Division is unique in the LCWTL as it is not impacted by player ratings. A player can hold any rating in this division and it makes for some interesting matches along the way.
Two Fort Myers Racquet Club teams are vying for division dominance, and only 11 points separate them. The GoodTimeGals have swept four of the seven matches they have played, won three of four in two others, and took 14 of the available 26 points in the one match that they split.
As you might have suspected, that one split took place against the other FMRC team, the CourtChix. After splitting two of their first three matches, the CourtChix have swept their last four, so the GoodTimeGals are going to have to work to stay ahead of them. The Landings Rackettes are in third place, but they are a considerable distance behind the CourtChix and aren’t likely to threaten the leaders.
|Pelican Preserve Bronze Team|
The Racketeers have staked their position on consistency rather than dominance, splitting the four courts in five of their nine matches, and just one sweep to their credit. Third-place Del Tura appears to be the team to watch, because they are just two points behind the racketeers, have played one match fewer than the other teams in the top four, and have posted more sweeps (3) than any other team in the top five.
With 21 teams, the second most among the Senior Divisions, and almost half the season yet to be played, the Bronze Division race should be exciting all the way to the end.
Heritage Palms Hotshots edged The Forest to claim last season’s Copper Division Championship, and they appear poised for a repeat in the most populous of the Senior Divisions (22 teams). In eight matches the Hotshots have posted four sweeps, have won three of four in three others, and have split one match. Not a single opponent has scored more points than the leaders in a contest, with the 13-13 split coming against Gulf Harbour’s Copper Coins.
Lexington’s ladies, who finished third last season, are close on their heels, just three points behind with four sweeps of their own. Since splitting courts in their first two matches, Lexington has taken at least three courts in the subsequent six matches. The big matchup between these two teams will take place in Week 13, and that could very well decide the Division.
Well within reach, however, are the Pelican Landing Copper Pelicans and the Heritage Palms Ball Blasters, both of which are within one sweep of the top team. With 13 matches still to be played, this one is far too close to call, and will likely come down to the final week as it did last season when the Hotshots’ sweep clinched it.
After four matches of 15 matches played, Cape Coral Yacht Club (CCYC) is holding an 11-point lead over second-place Gulf Harbour (GH). In sweeping two and winning three of four courts in the other two, CCYC has won 14 of sixteen individual matches played thus far. GH has been consistently good, winning three of four courts in all four matches. The matchup between these two will come in Week 9 at CCYC.
Rutenberg, Gateway and Cape Coral Racquet Club (CCRC) are third through fifth respectively, all within six points of each other. With almost three quarters of the season yet to be played, and the league leaders still with the tough portion of their schedules to come, anyone in the top five of the Division could emerge on top.
The top three teams have opened a bit of separation from the rest in the Gold Division after the first eight matches, with GH clinging to a two-point lead over CCRC. Heritage Palms Golden Lovelies are sitting in third, 18 behind CCRC, but 17 ahead of fourth-place FMRC Ace Kickers. GH and CCRC battled for the top spot last season as well, with CCRC cruising to a 30-point division lead.
When the top two teams met in in Week 3, CCRC took Courts 1 and 2 and GH took Courts 3 and 4. GH has won three of four courts in all but one since that match and so has CCRC. After a strong start, sweeping one and taking three of four courts in their first three matches, the Golden Lovelies lost three of four in their fourth match, and have split three of the other four matches played.
The Ace Kickers were in the mix last season as well, finishing third in the standings, and as of this writing had played one match fewer than the other teams in the top five. From the looks of things, the Gold Division will come down to the same few teams again this season.
Last season, League Champion Park Meadow posted six sweeps and won three of four courts in in seven of the remaining eight matches. The one match in which they didn’t take at least three of four, they were swept by second-place finishers Paseo in Week 3. Park Meadow returned the favor in Week 10 and went on to win the Division by 35 points.
Things are certainly different this season. After eight matches, just over half the season, Paseo has jumped out to a 53-point lead over second-place Vasari, the fourth-place finisher last season. Park Meadow trails Vasari by three points.
Paseo looks unbeatable, as they swept in three matches and won three of four courts in the other five. Vasari on the other hand, have lost three of four courts twice and split courts two other times. Park Meadow has done no better, and both lost three of four courts to Paseo the first time around. It doesn’t look like any team in the Division is likely to pick up any ground on division-leading Paseo.
Well, I'll just say "better late than never" and sign off. Enjoy the season and I hope my next update will be more timely. Game, set, match...T. A.