SRA Nashville Grand Slam - Tournament Preview


Written by Fredric Hinkle.

Pro Division

The Nationals Preview is upon us and the Pro Division is loaded. With a #1 C/S vs #2 Boysterous rematch possibly on the table, everyone is excited. This weekend in Nashville there are eight teams competing in the Pro Division and 20 teams competing in the Premier Division. Every team in Pro except Origin Hullabaloo has a pitcher win this year. Most agree that this tournament is a competition for third.

#2 Boysterous: Preston Bies & Caleb Heck

They put on a dominant performance at the Santa Monica Grand Slam and handily destroyed every team. They ran through Buddy Hammon and an on-fire Zack Duffy. Preston has taken full advantage of his athleticism by adding more serves and fakes with each hand. Caleb is hitting the ball harder than ever and creating ridiculous angles with mainly cut serves. Look for Boysterous to waltz to the finals.

#3 Flexual Healing: Jarratt Rouse & Travis Core

Flexual Healing smacked the field in Dallas. Following this success in Dallas, they played well in Santa Monica, beating Mauktega, but they couldn’t overcome Buddy and Zack which was a disappointing result for the number three team, but a standard result for Buddy. Defense is big for them, but they only have upset potential if Travis serves spectacularly.

#4 Mauktega: Troy Mauk & Kenny Ortega

Mauktega found their pitcher in Montreal, running through the Canadian teams and eventually going three games with Never Give Up. In New Jersey, Mauktega found big success on sand as they beat BranDan and fell narrowly in semis against Cisek/Showalter. They couldn’t find the win against Anchored LI in the third place game and will look to recover confidence with a big performance in Nashville.

#7 Trippy Lizard: Andrew Card & Clark Marshall

After, raiding the Midwest for an easy pitcher” in Indianapolis, it is time for Trippy to defend their soil. This is the best pure Southeast team in years and Clark is in form. Clark was dominant in Grand Rapids and has really put all the pieces together this year as a terrific defensive support player while taking aces left and right. The magic of this team has been Card’s defensive touches on Clark’s serves. They can silence any remaining naysayers with big wins in Nashville.

#10 Graham/Throw: Joel Graham & Jesse Throw

While they have not won a pitcher together, Jesse won one with Dylan in Milwaukee early in the season. Jesse and Joel have had some rough matchups in tour stops this year, running into Cisek/Showalter in both Jersey and Lancaster. They had a catastrophic meltdown in Raleigh, losing to Patric Chu and Cho (David Gonzalez). It appears they may have recovered in Columbus as they bested Vengeance in the semis before once again being stifled by Cisek/Showalter. They would love to keep building on their Columbus success with wins over top five teams.

#12/- Shake and Bake: Matt Bohnen & David Gonzales

This mashup(?) has completely come out of left field. David Gonzales, after spending a year messing around in the sport and playing a fun style, has churned out top level play this year. After stunning the community with their spectacular tour stop win over BranDan and Origin Vengeance in Boston, they fell quiet and couldn’t overcome Trippy in Charleston in a weaker field. Bohnen plays spectacularly one day and marginally the next. Which Bohnen will we see this weekend?

#5/#19 Origin Hullaballoo: Chris Hornacek & Fredric Hinkle

Chris Hornacek has a lot of points. He has tons of results over years of play. He knows everyone’s game very well. He has struggled a bit this season but has found some good results here and there. Hornacek and Hinkle are crashing the party as the only ones with no pitcher this season. Any wins are good wins for them. With expectations low, they only stand to make themselves look good with any win.

#1 Cisek/Showalter: Tyler Cisek & Peter Jon Showalter

The best team in the world in every way. They are the two best players in the world. A loss would stun the community. They are expected to destroy the field once again. Boysterous took them to three games in Lancaster, but fell short of victory. Cisek and Showalter have wins together or separate in Columbus, Lancaster, Jersey, Grand Rapids, and San Francisco. Many are hoping for Boysterous to beat C/S this weekend This is a competition for third.

Top 4 Prediction

  1. Cisek/Showalter
  2. Boysterous
  3. Trippy Lizard
  4. Flexual Healing

Advanced Division

Written by Solomon Berry

The last tour stop of the Southeast region is here, and people finally seem to have realized that the Southeast has tournaments too. With 115 teams and a stacked 34-team Advanced Division, this should have plenty of high-intensity matchups throughout the day. With some very experienced mashup teams and a couple teams that are just looking for that final breakthrough, let’s all just hope that someone is able to stream the Advanced bracket play.

Frontrunners

Shoenice (Grant Longland & Lucas Hill)

This teams pairs up two players that have a lot of Tour Stop experience in Grant and Lucas. They both played in the recent Columbus Tour Stop and did very well; Grant’s team, Gateway Spikes, took the eventual champions to a tight first game before succumbing to injury, and Lucas took third place as the Floor Captains. Lucas, a tall lefty, has a dominant, wide-ranging cut serve that will generate breaks throughout the day. Grant has a very clean mid game and solid defensive instincts that will help supply even more break points. Expect this team to do well.

Closed on Sundays (Brooks Anderson & Ian Timan)

Brooks and Ian are an Ohio State team that has been playing together for over a year, and have been on the edge of Premier for pretty much this entire season. Brooks got third place with Kyle Ackerman in Indianapolis, while Ian qualified with Kyle in Grand Rapids. After Brooks was injured days before Columbus last week, he should be ready to go with some great serves and body defense. Ian has a good step-out cut, and serveballed so hard while qualifying in Michigan that Kyle was complaining that he didn’t get to touch the ball. Keys for this team will be serve receive against other top teams, and making sure Brooks stays healthy the entire day.

WySpike Heroes (Luke Mowry & Colton Mowry)

WySpike Heroes have been playing together for over two years, and have the kind of chemistry you’d expect from a team of brothers. Both play really good offense with little to no errors and will not give up many breaks that way. Colton has some ridiculous serves that would not look out of place in Premier, and he could very well be there shortly. Luke has the edge on defense, where they both play with insane hustle leading to a lot of long rallies with lots of dives. They have been putting in the work at Texas Tourneys all year with multiple third place finishes, and might be considered the favorites here.

Some Nice Sticks (Chase Ehring & Nick Rushing)

Chase has been around for a long time as member of Bear Necessities. While he doesn’t play as much anymore, he is still a Premier level talent with a scary fwango, solid defense, and buttery sets. Nick has been described as “the young fun from Texas”, and should add some dynamism to this team. Absolutely crushing the ball on his knee level serves, he should generate plenty of breaks. He has plenty of experience playing against high level competition in Texas, and both of these players should be ready for anything that Nashville can throw at them.

Contenders

Incompetence (Luke Marshall & Ethan McWhirter)

Luke is a current Premier player from Texas A&M who should do really well here. He pairs some good serves with a normally clean selection of put-aways that should play well in Advanced. He normally plays in Premier with David Louis, but is playing with his former high school partner Ethan who is playing his first SRA Tour Stop. Ethan is a solid fundamental player, but the question for this team will be to see if they have the firepower on offense to keep up with this loaded field.

WySpike Stache Bros (Cooper Brown & Jeremiah Porter)

Cooper played as WySpike Disco Fever in Columbus last week and did extremely well before finally dropping in quarters to the half-premier team of Kyle Ackerman and Vince LoPrinzi. He has some nasty serves, combined with buttery sets and good offense. Jeremiah has a wide variety of serves, but needs to focus on consistency for this team to live up to their potential. While they both play with WySpike, they do not have much experience playing as a team which might play a factor, and will be important for them to figure out before bracket play.

Ravioli (Tyler Montgomery & Ali Jenkins)

This team will be super exciting to watch, as a higher level Premier player teams up with a top level Women’s player. Tyler just played in Charleston with Coleman Epperson and earned the three seed out of the gate with filthy serves and great long saves on defense. His serve receive won’t be challenged a lot, and his sets are absolute butter leading to clean put-aways. Ali doesn’t play quite as many tour stops as her sister, but is still nasty. She will bring consistent serves, and good sets along with plenty of experience playing with and against players like Clark Marshall, Coleman and Tyler. Depending on how consistently Tyler can generate breaks, and if they play clean offense they will do really well.

Superior (Ryan Marino & Nate Wilson)

This Michigan team from Livonia, MI had a breakout tourney in Grand Rapids, and followed that up with another strong showing in Columbus losing to WySpike Disco Fever. Wilson is a consistent player with very strong serve return skills for an Advanced player, thanks to him constantly practicing with the Michigan Premier players. Marino is a tall, lanky player that has some really good serves, and is very hard to read when he spikes. When Superior plays solid defense and consistent offense they are a fun team to watch in bracket play, as we have seen in deep runs their last two tour stops in Michigan and Ohio.

Unknown (Michael Zagone & Jack Matthews)

While they haven’t played together in six months, both of these players bring an extremely long track record to the table. Zagone used to play with Patrick Drucker as Origin Ignition, who found themselves on the podium often. Jack is a solid overall player with good fundamentals who has been playing for almost five years. Both have earned Premier at one time or another, and their return to the scene is a blast to past sure to excite.

Ripity Dipity (Nathan Ward & Nic Dewey)

Nic is one half of the Michigan Premier team Flicy and while they have not been tearing it up so far in Premier, not much is going to faze him here. His serve receive will be top notch, and he plays solid, clean offense. Nathan is another Michigan player with a lot of high level experience from playing/practicing with multiple Michigan premier teams. Their play will be consistent, so if they can turn up the heat and get aces down the stretch, they will be in good shape.

Dark Horses

Conner and Matty (Conner Bradshaw & Matt Thompson)

Conner just finished a strong tournament in Columbus, where he and his regular partner played very well until losing to the eventual champions. He plays really well on offense, with good vision on where to put the ball so that the defense will not be able to get there. With strong instincts on defense as well, he will not blow many points, but may not gain much from serving against some of the teams on this list. His partner Matt does have some solid serves, but may struggle at times in the mid game where Conner excels. If he can regularly put the ball away, this team will surprise some people.

Major Cheddar (Chris Rossi & Pat Dooley)

Chris is a sometimes inconsistent Premier qualified player who has been competing in Advanced for most of the year. A strong start in pools will be important for this team, as they may lack the firepower to generate a lot of breaks against locked in plays down the stretch in bracket play. They will need to focus on more consistent serve return and chemistry on offense to avoid giving up unnecessary breaks that could hurt them throughout the day.

Bridge 4 (William Hellier & Steven Hellier)

Bridge four played their first tournament together in Charleston, and podiumed with a third place finish. While their serves aren’t overpowering, they are fast and consistent and allow them to generate touches. They get those touches by taking away the offense’s best angle with solid body defense, and running down any mistakes made. If they continue that kind of hustle throughout the day, and don’t have too many slip ups with their offensive selections, they will look to prove their previous finish was not a fluke.

Shut Your Five Hole (Taylor Sanford & Nick Rankin)

This mashup team should be very interesting, with two very experienced players from Utah and Illinois, respectively. Taylor runs the impressive Utah roundnet scene, and is a good player as well. Along with that background he will bring decent serves and firm fundamentals to this pairing. Nick plays with Origin in Chicago, and is known for his mastery of the near net pocket and the hard and low serves that come from it. Nick will also play some solid body defense, so it will be interesting if Taylor will be able to take advantage of any touches that generates. Both players have plenty of experience, but the key will be how much energy they will be able to keep up throughout the day.

Weaboo Spikes (Nicholas Noguez & Tanner Hausman)

This team could do very well, but it depends in part on the health of Nick as he continues to recover from his broken clavicle. Nick has hard serves that will almost always find the net, and plays with an insane amount of energy that results in tons of touches on defense, getting some good breaks that way. However, he might be a little more restrained this time around, and it will be interesting to see how much he uses his right arm versus his left. Tanner is a solid player with some good serves, but has not been playing that long. If he can play with solid fundamentals throughout the day, they could do well in bracket play.

Team Sweet Cheeks (Jacob Lueckenhoff & Wes Huhman)

This team from Missouri will be attending their fourth tour stop together this year after competing at Boston, Grand Rapids and Columbus. At Columbus last week, they lost in the second round of bracket play to Chris Rossi in a close-three game series. Wes is more the complementary type, with consistent on the net serves, and good sets, while Jacob is more dynamic, and the key to how far/well this team can do. Jacob absolutely powders the ball, so if he consistently lands his serves and goes on a few runs, then watch for this team to surprise some people.

Top 8 Prediction

  1. WySpike Heroes
  2. Shoenice
  3. Closed on Sundays
  4. Some Nice Sticks
  5.  Ravioli, Bridge 4, Superior, Ripity Dipity

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