This post is written by Mike White.
Over four months have elapsed since 2017 Spikeball™ Roundnet Association Nationals. The new year has brought some rule changes, season structure changes, and, of course, team changes. With that said, the first tour stop of 2018 will be this Saturday in Huntington Beach, will feature many familiar faces, and may give us a good look at what lies ahead.
Last year ended with Cisek/Showalter (Tyler Cisek and Peter Jon Showalter) taking first at 2017 Nationals and holding onto the #1 spot in roundnet to end the season. Both players will be heading out west for this event but will be playing on separate teams. Showalter is teaming with former Shekinah Christian School classmate Zach Webb and Cisek is joining Jordi Vigna of Whipper Snappers as a coed force. There won’t be a Cisek/Showalter win to start the year, but we will get a look at how sharp they look early on in 2018.
Without the #1 team in attendance, who is going to take it? Well, the safe bet is either Wabi Sabi or Origin Impact. With Devin Matson of Strange Embrace and Troy Mauk of 2 Guys stepping back from playing, their counterparts Jarratt Rouse and Preston Bies will be joining forces as Wabi Sabi. This mixture of the end of 2017’s #2 and #3 teams is an easy pick for the favorite, but without any big SRA tournament results, it is hard to be so sure.
Preston Bies of Wabi Sabi slides to set a ball.
Origin Impact, on the other hand, is a solid team that we have seen time and time again, recording over 10 podium finishes in 2017. Chris Hornacek and Patrick Drucker did finish 0-3 versus 2 Guys in 2017, but their record against Strange Embrace was much closer at 2-3. A win here for them is certainly not out of reach and they may have an advantage with their established team chemistry. Given the resumes of Origin Impact, Bies, and Rouse in 2017, if one of these two teams wins this event they’ll likely be considered #2 in the nation.
Those are the safe bets, but there are couple West teams that could give these front-runners a run for their money. In 2017 Point Loma Spike (Zach Wood and Kenny Ortega) also played Impact, Strange Embrace, and 2 Guys tightly, despite going 0-2 versus Impact, 0-3 versus 2 Guys, and 0-3 versus Strange Embrace. They battled especially close with Impact, taking both series to three-games and extras. Strong off-season training may give Wood and Ortega the ability to push through and earn a big win.
Zach Wood of Point Loma Spike dives to hit a ball.
The other West wild card is a team that has been around sporadically since 2015. Los Chicos (Skyler Boles and Cody Thompson) will be attending after Boles’ expected partner Peter McCarthy had to back out due to injury. A few weeks back Los Chicos were able to take first at a small tournament in Colorado, but the past successes of Boles and Thompson are better examples of why the pair should do well. Both are former Spikeball™ Elite and found multiple strong finishes in 2017, most notably Boles’ first-place finish at West Regionals with Buddy Hammon. If Boles and Thompson are in good form, a top 4 finish would not be a difficult feat for them.
Looking to defeat these top contenders is a motley crew of West teams and a couple out of towners. Forming that group is Ball Vacuums (Kit Ryan and Zach Zimmerman), Sub-Par Team (Josh Fragiacomo and Jacob Martinez), Spicy Milk (Ian Golembeski and myself), ‘Valley Dogs (Ridge Bertuccio and Alex Gong), and NorCal Gravity (Mike Eberhardt and Tom Witt). The first top 8 of the 2018 roundnet season is wide-open.
Ian Golembeski stands while veinte hamburguesas takes to the ground for a hit.
Huntington Beach will also make history by having the first-ever SRA sanctioned Coed Division! Sunday we will return to the sand for 14 teams battle it out! The favorite for that event is Santa's Helpers (Tyler Cisek and Jordi Vigna), but there are many others that will be competing for that top spot.
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 email@example.com or @mwhitey17 on Twitter.
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