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Gruber and Santa Maria's Match Preview

And So It All Comes Down to This

Sometimes a Layer Tennis match is hard to preview, insofar as that we don’t yet know the story. This week’s season championship is not one of those matches. The story is set, and it is written in bold, broad strokes.

On the one side, Shaun Inman: the Juggernaut. Is he the best Layer Tennis player in the world? Best seems too certain a word for a game that has yet to conclude its second season. But is he the most successful, the winningest? That is beyond dispute. As last season's co-champion, Inman's return to the championship is a surprise to no one.

On the other side, Gregory Hubacek: the Cinderella Story. The heretofore unknown who played his way out of the qualifiers and into the championship, with, says me, the toughest draw in the entire tournament, beating the renowned and experienced Chris Glass and Aaron Draplin.

This is the stuff of myth. Cue the theme song from The Natural. This is the championship match we'd have if Hollywood turned Layer Tennis into a major motion picture. But this is real.

Joining me in the famous LT Commentators Booth will be Jason Santa Maria, himself one of the most popular, thoughtful, and successful players of the game.

After the "return champ vs. long-shot Cinderella" angle, the next thing that strikes me about this championship is that Hubacek used the exact same strategy in his victories over Glass and Draplin.

JSM: Hubaceck employed the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" strategy: emulate and infiltrate.

JG: Right. Hubacek's serve against Glass was a perfect remake of Glass serve from his previous Layer Tennis match. And his serve against Draplin was done in Draplin's own trademark style. But Hubacek struck a careful balance: mimicry but not mockery.

JSM: He out-Glass-ed Glass, and out-Draplin-ed... well you get the idea. He's also gone first in the previous two matches, essentially allowing him to establish the tones for the entire matches. It seems like he clearly threw his opponents off balance and they both had a hard time recovering.

JG: What's interesting is that Glass and Draplin won their coin tosses, but elected to go second. Inman won the coin toss for this match, and has chosen to serve. Do you think this is a turning point in the debate over whether it's better to go first or second?

JSM: It could be. Inman might have a trick up his sleeve to throw Hubacek off early on to make him change his game.

JG: Which would you choose, if you were Inman?

JSM: Man. If I were Inman, I would let Hubacek go, hedging a bet that he would play the same strategy. But Inman could be ready for it this time.

If I were me, I'd serve :)

JG: The only thing I'm certain of is that both these players know how to get into their opponent's head. Clear your schedule and stock your fridge, kids. This is going to be something.


John Gruber is the proprietor of Daring Fireball and has been in the booth for many of Layer Tennis' best moments. Alongside him for The Final is Jason Santa Maria who has participated in highly-rated and entertaining matches in each of the last two seasons.

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Congratulations to Mig Reyes, Layer Tennis Season 3 Champion. jc-12.20

Thanks to all the players, commentators and fans who made Season Three of Layer Tennis a big success. And thanks to the crew at Goodby Silverstein & Partners and all the folks at Adobe Creative Suite for making it possible. Watch this space (or sign up for Season Tickets or follow us on Twitter) for news about some special exhibition matches being planned and about Season 4. jc-12.20

Cast your votes on The Championship Match. Both Finalists will receive invitations to play in the post-season tournament for Season Four. jc-12.17

Here's how the voting works. Decide who you'd like to declare as winner and then simply tweet their first name following a hash mark. Either #mig or #noper and, this is important, also include #lyt in that tweet. We'll leave the voting open all weekend and announce our Season Three Champion on Monday. jc-12.12

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