Here’s the first-ever GMB’s player rankings, based on club, USTA and Ultimate Tennis results and the opinions of a carefully-chosen, deliberately-decisive, systematically-sequestered panel of experts. I know everyone’s first reaction is going to “Oh….shit….” But these aren’t meant for any purpose other than having a little fun and allowing a 25-year, award-winning (13 but who’s counting?) sportswriting veteran to feel alive. And we stand by their veracity. However, if you think this is getting too personal and too raw, let me know. But I know y’all got thicker skin than that, right?
GMB 3.0 RANKINGS (July 14)
1. Scott Jankes
A little story: Jankes showed up his first day for 3.5 team practice back in January and promptly lost two sets to different players 6-0 and 6-0. Ouch.
But determined, he stayed on his grind and quickly improved. He played J.R. Daws in the club championship, losing a tough match, but continued practicing, joing MP Tennis and practically playing every day.
That culminated in a relatively easy straight sets victory over Daws in a recent flex league championship, and last week he picked up his first USTA win (he has two singles wins on the 3.5 team, but by forfeit) when he teamed up with Marisa Martin for a 6-3, 6-3 win. Impressive, considering they beat a pair of 3.5s. Jankes’ athleticism, solid flat forehand and steady style makes him the guy to beat right now.
2. J.R. Daws
If not for inactivity, childbirth and a minor surgery, Daws would likely be No. 1. But in a head-to-head match-up last month, Jankes was the better player, and the lefty’s doubles victory in 7.0 mixed last week nudged him ahead. But Dawes is poised to retake the top spot with a good run. If he can get his first serve in, Daws can use his quickness (easily the best at the 3.0 level) to push an aggressive pace. He is a solid defensive player who will make you work for points, and he has the best lob game in his division when he hits his spots. If he can develop some power and a consistent finishing forehand, a 3.5 rank may not be far behind. This site, which we do not vouch for because it factors in doubles results more than the USTA does, has Daws with a 3.12 ranking (ahead of a handful of 3.5s) and projects he is due a USTA bump up in December. Regardless, he has shown flashes that he can compete at that level.
3. James Hann
Green Machine CEO John Cotey is fond saying if he could buy stock in any 3.0 player, he would buy a shitload of shares of HNN.
In January, Hann was able to work on his game over a 2-week period prior to USTA 6.5 sectionals, and then went 2-1 with Cotey in Altamonte Springs. He needed a few months to mentally recover from blowing a 9-3 third-set tiebreaker lead in 3.5 USTA, going into self-imposed exile. But like Rocky Balboa in the harsh Russian winter before defeated Ivan Drago, Hann has come back and shown he is a player once again. His forehand can be divine and is his best weapon, and his height and wingspan should make him a force at the net though he struggles there at times. He is a consistent serve and a steady backhand away from the top of this list.
Quick story: The top three is quite strong. TAC head Allegra Campos said that if they ever put together a 3.0 league in this area, the club’s 3.0s from top to bottom are strong enough to win at sectionals and make it to nationals. I agree wholeheartedly.
4. Jim Dicesaro
Jimmy Dice is a left-handed version of Hann. Tall, rangy lefty with a killer first serve when he has it going and a net attacker, Dicesaro is an unknown at the moment but he played in the 3.5 flex league and impressed. We think he beat 3.5 Peter Groer but can’t remember. Or it went three sets at least. We’re still hiring in our research department. Dicesaro Could be a key player on the Green Machine 6.5 combo team, elevating his profile.
5. Stephen Hunter
Hunter, like Jankes, is a guy we see out on the courts quite a bit working on his game (i.e. losing to his wife). He made a run at Daws in the flex league before losing in three sets, and is pesky enough to upset anyone on this list. One of the most improved players at this level in the past year.
6. Georges Kaufman
Gorgeous Georges has a USTA sectional win to his credit this year, but the mixed doubles season has not been kind as he is 0-3, though he had to face off twice against 4.0 men. We’re not sure Kaufman is a singles threat anymore, but he was 4-1 on the Green Machine 6.5 team last year so his doubles acumen keeps him ranked.
7. Adam Hogan
Big, intimidating presence but doesn’t show in his results. However, he doesn’t play often enough to develop his tools.
8. Dave Mardo
Stunned Andy Ritter at the club championships in the consolation round, but has been slowed by birth of a child and inactivity. Awkward but steady style.
9. Andy Ritter
Ritter was once regarded as the best 3.0 at the club. But judging by his Facebook page and the pictures posted of him and his family enjoying wine on the French Riviera, beers on the 18th at The Player’s Championship, bourbon from the Stanley Cup and the blood from a bull he killed in Pamplona, Ritter has other things on his mind. It’s his world. We’re just renting space in it.
10. Cotton Lowe
RIP, good friend. Wait…what? He’s still alive?