Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fall Team Rankings

After reviewing last year's results and this year's new freshmen and ITA results, I've put together a power rankings list for the fall. These rankings are based upon my own judgement after reviewing results and in no way do they reflect the ITA's rankings. I'll give a short summary of each team with a projected lineup for each team.

Ranking, Team, 2007 Year-End Ranking, Lineup (in order), Team Analysis

1. UC Santa Cruz (1)- Pybas/Liberty-Point, Kamel/Vartabedian, Ortiz/Fong, Pybas, Kamel, Fong, Ortiz, Mark-Griffin, Liberty-Point. Even with the loss of Seeberger, the Slugs are still the most complete team in the country top to bottom and are the favorites to repeat as NCAA champions. The emergence of Brian Pybas as the #3 player in Division 3 last year has made the Slugs a powerhouse at the top of the lineup to go with their depth. Doubles is solid but vulnerable and if you are going to beat them, winning at least 2 doubles is neccessary.

2. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (4)- Wang/Hough, Starr/Lim, Sabater/Narasimhan, Starr, Wang, Lim, Brockett, Hough, Schils. CMS has the most talent in the country and it's a shame that they are in the same region as Santa Cruz because this should be the NCAA final. A lot depends on the health of Michael Starr and whether he can recover in time to once again be the best player in Division 3. Lawrence Wang is the best #2 in the country and their doubles teams are a force to be reckoned with. CMS may beat Santa Cruz 4 out of 10 times but this year they are only the 2nd best team in the country.

3. Washington University St. Louis (7)- Cutler/Hoeland, Watts/Stein, Woods/Howard, Watts, Cutler, Stein, Woods,
Hoeland, Levy. Wash U is the most improved team since last year with the addition of 2 great freshmen in Stein and Woods, who both had very good showings in the fall. John Watts was NCAA finalist last year and will almost never lose at #1 singles. Wash U has the deepest lineup in the country but they are a little vulnerable in the middle and at 2 and 3 doubles. This may be the first year in a while that the UAA has a new champion.

4. Emory (2)- Goodwin/Lopp, Boren/Caplan, Ehlers/Kaufman, Goodwin, Boren, Lopp, Ehlers, Caplan, Kaufman. Emory really didn't gain anyone who would have an impact this year and that may hurt them against the best teams in D3 as they try to make their way back to the finals. It will be tough for Emory to beat Wash U, especially with the unpredictability of Goodwin, who is one of the most talented players in Division 3. If he can step up for the Eagles in singles and doubles, they could be contending for the national championship again this year.

5. Middlebury (3)- Marinkovic/Thomson, Olson/Lee, Peters/Jia, Olson, Marinkovic, Thomson, Lee, Peters, Odell. If Middlebury has recruit Richard Bonfliglio in their roster, they would be higher in these rankings. It is uncertain why he is not rostered. Middlebury almost always dominates the Fall ITA regionals, but they failed to do so this year. However, They are still very strong everywhere and will be very hard to beat. Their players possess several different gamestyles and it will be very difficult to beat their top doubles teams.

6. Gustavus Adolphus (5)- Bryan/Paukert, Kauss/Burdakin, Hansen/Tomasek, Bryan, Kauss, Burdakin, Paukert, Tomasek, Hansen. Gustavus streak of NCAA semifinal appearances could end this year. Their inability to recruit top juniors is catching up to them with a lot of other D3 schools attracting all 3 and 4 star recruits. But besides that, Gustavus might be the most dangerous team in the country. Their players possess a lot of firepower and they can beat anyone on any given day especially at the ITA indoors on their fast indoor courts.

7. Williams (8)- Greenberg/Thacher, Lebedoff/Simonette, Furmaga/Devlin, Greenberg, Lebedoff, Simonette, Furmaga, Devlin, Weinberger. Williams is just a solid team overall. It is hard to beat them, but don't expect them to knock off any top teams. Greenberg is an adequate 1 but will have trouble against other top #1's. Williams doubles is not spectacular and they can be beaten here. They need to improve their doubles and they should always win in the middle of the lineup. With a nice region they may be able to qualify for NCAA Elite 8.

8. DePauw (6)- Keith/Swanson, Heck/Sandager, Gates/Hunter, Keith, Swanson, Gates, Heck, Sauer, Schouweiler. The loss of #4 Evan Webeler really hurts DePauw. They don't have the players this year to breakthrough and make a run at an NCAA championship. Last year, DePauw won their conference and region and they should repeat this performance this year but they should get dominated by the other top 8 teams and they are also vulnerable to lower-ranked teams. Heck may be the best #4 in the country but their lineup is not that strong after him and 1 doubles.

9. Carnegie Mellon (18)- Muliawan/Ljuboja, Mactaggart/Raghavan, Nemerov/Clearfield, Muliawan, Nemerov, Spero, Raghavan, Mactaggart, Clearfield. If you like established junior players, this is the team for you. CMU has a ton of talent but really underacheived last year and they had a poor showing at Fall ITA's. This is a team that no one wants to play because of their talent, but they have yet to prove themselves as a powerhouse. Their doubles and top of the lineup are suspect, but they will be really tough to beat at positions 3-6.

10. Trinity(TX) (9)- Desantis/Gaines, Cocanougher/Kowal, Furr/Tran, Gaines, Furr, Tran, Munjal, Ramirez, Desantis. Trinity is a very good team, but their problem will be their lack of a top player. They had no singles or doubles players in NCAA's last year and it will be tough for them to win at 1 and 2 in both singles and doubles. If their top players can pull upsets, the team may be able to do the same. Trinity will be good but not great this year and it is doubtful that they will return to the Elite 8. Even if they do, it will be tough for them to make an impact.

11. Redlands (17)- Wagar/Reading, Cook/Hasenyager, Ouye/Trippel, Wagar, Ouye, Cook, Hasenyager, Reading, Trippel. After being a d3 powerhouse for many years, Redlands has had some dissapointing seasons. They also have trouble recruiting top juniors and can't get out of their region trying to compete with UCSC and CMS. Redlands has good team spirit and strong doubles but they don't have enough depth to be a top 10 team. They are dangerous in NCAA's, but they are very unlucky to be in the same region as the best two teams in the country.

12. Bowdoin (10)- Gates/Sullivan, Neely/Fried, Anderson/White, Gates, Caughron, Sullivan, Anderson, White, Neely. Bowdoin overacheived last year and the loss of Sam Bitetti hurts this team. Sullivan is one of the best incoming freshmen in the country and expect him to have a real impact. Bowdoin will be good on fast indoor courts, but will struggle against more consistent teams when playing outdoors. They had a fairly poor showing at Fall ITA's and it would be a surprise if Bowdoin found their way back into the top 10.

13. Johns Hopkins (11)- Vasoontara/Blythe, Maldow/Wang, Vale/Myers, Maldow, Wang, Blythe, Vasoontara, Roberti, Myers. Hopkins is a very intense team with dangerous players throughout their lineup. They posses decent doubles and a very strong top 4, but they are vulnerable in the lower part of the lineup. They added two new freshmen that should make them a better team than last year. Maldow should be able to make a good run at NCAA singles championships, but his supporting cast may let him down against a really strong top 10 team.

14. Mary Washington (12)- Loden/Murata, Parrish/Goff, James/Pollak, James, Loden, Parrish, Goff, Dunn, Carver. Mary Wash doesn't have as much talent as other top teams, but they have a ton of heart and belief. This team is very confident, but they will struggle against higher ranked teams because they top players throughout their lineup. Their 1-2 punch of James and ITA regional champ Loden is one of the best in the country but the rest of their lineup and their doubles aren't that strong. It's possible that they could win their region and make the Elite 8 but they would be overmatched against other teams there.

15. Kenyon (23)- Greenberg/Brody, Alef/Vandenberg Becker/Sussman, Greenberg, Becker, Alef, Vandenberg, Sussman, Polster. Wake Forest transfer Mike Greenberg really makes this team into a contender by himself. He will be a top 8 player in Division 3 and will add to their doubles lineup also. Kenyon's middle of the lineup is strong as well and they should be able to dominate archrival Denison this year. Kenyon is a dangerous team because a lot of their players have big shots and if they all have good days, Kenyon is tough to beat.

These are preliminary team rankings for the fall. Singles and Doubles rankings should be published within the next few days.