Last weekend, top West and Southeast roundnet players headed to Santa Monica and Atlanta to compete in their respective SRA Regional Championships. This weekend, it is the East and Midwest’s time to battle.
In the West, Wabi Sabi and Point Loma secured Pro Division bids with their expected top 2 finishes. The Southeast was a wilder affair, with Chubby Bunny (Harding Brumby and Troy Mauk) upsetting Easily Dug in the Grand Finals to take first place and earn themselves a spot in the Pro Division. As Easily Dug is not heading to Nationals, the Southeast's second Pro Division bid went to third-place finisher Tetelestai.
The tournaments this weekend in Boston and Chicago should be action-packed as teams have one final chance to earn points for Pro Division (see how that works HERE) or score a Premier qualification.
East Regionals Premier Division
Three of the top contenders heading into East Regionals contain a former SRA Regional Champion. Surprisingly, the favorite to win the tournament isn’t one of them.
Three years ago, #3 Hilltop Spikes (Max Model and Cole Model), competed in 2015 East Regionals as their first roundnet tournament. The next year, they placed in the top 8, and the year after that they made the top 4. This season, the Model brothers are the favorites. Hilltop has had a strong season thus far, only falling to #1 Cisek/Showalter, #5 Origin Vengeance, and the mash-up of Tyler Cisek and Kenny Ortega. To take home first this weekend, they’ll have to go through some tough competition.
Max Model of Hilltop Spikes serves at 2017 East Regionals.
Following Hilltop is #6 Anchored LI (Ryan Fitzgerald and Anthony Alvino), the 2017 East Regional Champion. Last season, Anchored LI shocked the roundnet world with their Boston Grand Slam win and followed up that performance with an East Regionals win in Boston. Last month at the 2018 Boston Grand Slam, Anchored LI once again made waves by defeating both #2 Wabi Sabi and #1 Cisek/Showalter. After defeating Cisek/Showalter once in Grand Finals, Cisek/Showalter fought back and took out Anchored LI in the second series to end their run in second place. With Anchored’s historical success in Boston, no team should be sleeping on them this weekend. Both Hilltop and Anchored LI will enter the 2018 Nationals Pro division based on points, but their placements here could be a big help in securing Spikeball Elite for 2019.
Back in 2015, at Hilltop’s first SRA event, Joel Graham and Scott Wilson became the East Regional champs. Three years later and Graham has teamed up with Caleb Heck as The (717), the team currently ranked #7. The (717) has played in a total of 10 Tour Stops this year and have found success at many. The pair is 0-1 versus Hilltop Spikes, but 2-0 versus Anchored LI on the year. The (717) is likely to earn the #5 seed in the Nationals Pro Division, but a win could bring them to the #4 seed.
This wouldn’t be a typical roundnet tournament without one mash-up team looking to shake things up. Daniel McPartland, who placed second at both East Regionals and Nationals last season, is joined by four-time West Regional champion Skyler Boles. Unlike the aforementioned teams, a top 2 finish is essential for Boles and McPartland to score a place in the 2018 Nationals Pro Division. McPartland placed fourth at the Boston Grand Slam with Ezra Dantowitz and beat The (717) in the process. It is anyone’s guess where this pair will land on Saturday.
Becca Graham of Snickersnee serves at the Jersey Shore Tour Stop.
These teams making the top 4, although likely, is anything but locked. Eight other strong East teams will be joining the fight, most notably Snickersnee, the combination of Tyler Cisek of Cisek/Showalter and Becca Graham of the #1 Women’s team Ogres Heroes. #19 Old Line State (Mark Borunda and James Swanson) and #24 Kobe or LeBron? (Brian Johnson and Jonny Dariano) are coming as well.
Rounding out the Premier Division is Never Peter North, Ghost LI, Kardia. The Hustle, Everybody Hates Chris.
Midwest Regionals Premier Division
In the three years that a Midwest Regional Championship has occurred, the tournament was won twice by a team with Peter Jon Showalter and once by Origin Vengeance. With Cisek/Showalter not attending Midwest Regionals, Origin Vengeance is in a great spot to tie up the score. With plenty of other top Midwest teams in attendance, though, this will be all but an easy feat.
After landing in the #3 spot midway through the 2018 roundnet season, Origin Vengeance (Dylan Fogarty and Chris Hornacek) recently fell to #5 due to some unexpected losses. Although they remain the favorite to win Midwest Regionals, a few players that have given them trouble this year will be standing in their way.
The currently #8 ranked Schweppes (Micah Zimmerman and Jesse Showalter) of Ohio first found a big win of 2018 at College Nationals by upsetting Spicy Rubi. At SummerSpike 2018, the pair topped this result with a quarterfinals win over Origin Vengeance. At the Chicago Grand Slam, Schweppes was able to take out another top Midwest team in Origin Worldwide and finished T-5th. Showalter and Zimmerman should feel good heading into the weekend.
Chris Hornacek of Origin Vengeance plays defense at the Montreal Tour Stop.
Another top threat is Joey & Joey (Joey Hafertepe & Joey Pierron) who has landed in many top 8’s this season. At the Madison Tour Stop in May, Joey & Joey were narrowly defeated by Origin Vengeance. Some cleaner play from Joey & Joey could turn their rematch into a victory. The pair also fell to Schweppes in Columbus.
The #9 ranked Origin Worldwide (Patrick Drucker and Chris Wilkins) will not be competing, but Drucker will be joined by his former partner Tom Cortesi as V3: Revenge of the V. In their first tournament together, Origin Worldwide defeated Origin Vengeance en route to a second place finish in Columbus. Given the success of Origin Worldwide this year, V3 could be a podium finisher.
Like East Regionals, a total of 12 teams will be competing in this Premier Division. The only other Power Ranked team attending is #21 Origin Valor (Joey Connolly and Michael Zagone) but there are many other strong competitors that could score a big upset on Origin Vengeance, Schweppes, or Joey & Joey. They may even have a day and find themselves in the top 2 and the 2018 Nationals Pro Division.
Got something related to roundnet that you want to know more about? Have any topics you want to be discussed on the podcast? Contact Mike White at firstname.lastname@example.org or @mwhitey17 on Twitter.