The 2017 NorCal Juniors League is about halfway through the season and most kids are really enjoying playing the league. For many, it is their first introduction to competition. The league has been divided into 7 divisions with Division 1 having the best players and Division 7 having the most entry-level players. However, even in Division 7, most kids have played for at least 1-2 years. The top 4 teams at the end of the regular season will make the playoffs with trophies for 1st-4th place for each team member in each division. There will also be special awards for the top 3 players by individual performance in each division. In the playoffs, the semis will pair the #1 team with the #4 team and the #2 team with the #3 team. The winning semifinal teams will face off in the finals to determine the NorCal League Champions!
The Hornets A (2-0) and PongSquad (1-0) are the two unbeaten teams so far. They have 3 mini-cadet national team hopefuls in Mudit Mahajan (PongSquad), Samarth Ramesh (The Hornets A), and Ashwin Sankuratri (The Hornets A). Pranav Tantravahi (PongSquad) has been rated over 2,100 and now just under 2,100 and he rounds off the unbeaten players. Samarth Ramesh had a surprise loss to promising girl Kayla Goodwin of the Edge Hitters but has won his other 3 singles matches. Ashwin Sankuratri leads the Division 1 standings with a 4-0 singles record. The Vaidun Brothers are in 3rd place having won against San Jose 5-0 and having lost to The Hornets A 4-1 winning only the doubles but nearly winning that match. Rahul Vaidun almost beat Samarth Ramesh and Rithwik Vaidun almost beat Ashwin Sankuratri so that match was almost a loss for The Hornets A.
Division 2 has the least teams among all the divisions with only 4 teams. There have been only 2 matches played so far with The Hornets B defeating All The Singles Ladies 4-1 having lost only the doubles and Team O’Boll (named after German legend and former World #1 Timo Boll) barely defeating Circuit Breakers 3-2.
There are 6 teams in Division 3 with all players very close to each other in level where all matches could be going either way. The top 5 singles players so far in Division 3 are from 5 different teams. Horner, named after their junior high school, leads Division 3 with a 3-0 record led by Aaditya Jadhav who leads the singles standings with a 5-1 singles record. The Wolfe Pack led by young guns Tanishq Dhavali and Apuroop Padamantinti are tied with Team Evergreen (Tejas Vaze, Aditya Sinnarkar) from San Jose for 2nd with a 2-1 record. Middle School Girls (Rhea Ray, Trisha Dharmapuri) are in 4th place with a 1-1 record followed by Challengers (Ritam Chakraborty, Aditya Nair) and then Epic Masters (Andrew Chen, Poorv Patil) who haven’t won yet. However, Challengers and Epic Masters have both lost close matches.
There are 5 teams in Division 5 so one team will not make the playoffs. Ace Breakers with Varun Mohanraj and Aditya Pawar lead the standings at 3-0. They both are a combined 9-3 in their singles matches and 3-0 in doubles. Varun Mohanraj, Yajat Sharma (The Table Twins), and Bhavi Kenia (Topspin) are at the top of the singles standings with only 1 loss each.
After all teams have played 3 rounds, there are 4 teams (Gomes Gophers, Double A Batteries, SpeedRacers, Inferno Dragons) with winning records who look to be in good position to make the playoffs. Gomes Gophers is the only undefeated team led by Aadi Gupta who has a 5-1 singles record. Arul Mathur of Double A Batteries is the only undefeated singles player in the division at 6-0. Pranav Singamsetty of SpeedRacers and Nirad Kanada of Inferno Dragons are at 5-1 in singles. The top 5 singles players in the standings represent 5 different teams which is nice to see.
There are a lot of good upcoming young players in this division who could one day be very good tournament players. Pranav Sreeram of The Pros leads the division in team, singles, and doubles standings as he does not have a loss in any matches. He is 6-0 in singles, 3-0 in team, and 3-0 in doubles! He has won a lot of close matches as he has lost 8 singles games in his 6 singles matches. There are 5 players tied for second place at 4-2 in the singles standings. One nice stat is that all players have won at least one singles. This division is very evenly matches amongst its players. The Pros are in first place having gone undefeated but have lost 24 games so have nearly lost some matches. The Leitch Girls have not won a team match yet but have won 23 games so have nearly won many matches.
Hriday Shankar of Pong Typhoons is the only player in all divisions who has not lost a game having played at least 2 team matches as he is 6-0 in singles match record and 18-0 in singles games record after 3 team matches. Suraj Pangal of SuperSmashBros is also undefeated but has only played one team match and is 2-0 in singles. It would be interesting to see a match between Hriday Shankar and Suraj Pangal. The top 4 teams that would make the playoffs if they started now are Pong Typhoons, Thunderbirds, Ping Pong Rockstars, and SuperSmashBros.