Sunday, October 21, 2007

Week 1: Gustavus Adolphus

Gustavus Adolphus has a streak of 8 straight appearances in the NCAA Elite 8 and 3 straight appearances in the Final Four. This team is a Division III powerhouse who has competed for a national championship every year for the last 15 years. This year’s team is no different. Coming off a 4th place finish last year in NCAA’s, Gustavus is looking to top that performance. They are known for their strong doubles, and this year it is doubtful that they will ever trail after doubles in a dual match. I had a chance to talk with Coach Wilkinson and he said that he feels “doubles strategy is one of the team’s strong suits.” GAC starts their real season by hosting the National Indoor Championships, where they are always the favorites, no matter who is there.

Gustavus has matches during the spring against all of the top teams in the nation at neutral sites, and this is where they will really be tested. Gustavus has the firepower and personnel to stay with anyone in the country. It is absolutely crucial for Gustavus to win at least 2 doubles matches against any top 10 team because they will struggle in singles against top teams. Coach Wilkinson said that he believes “there are more good teams out there this year and they will need to get better as a team to maintain a 4th place finish in NCAAs.” Coach Wilkinson also expects Andy Bryan to improve as a singles player and I expect him to be one of the contenders in NCAAs after his second place finish at the Fall Nationals in Mobile. He should make at least the quarterfinals of Singles and I am sure GAC will return to the Elite 8 for the 9th straight year as a team. Whether they can make the Final Four is still up in the air. Going in to the spring, I have them ranked as the 6th best team in the country, but a victory against Wash U, Emory or Middlebury is very do-able for this team. Expect Gustavus to be a threat to top teams all season long and expect Coach Wilkinson to have his team ready for a run at a National Championship in 2008.

Projected Lineup
1. Bryan/Paukert
2. Kauss/Burdakin
3. Hansen/Tomasek
1. Andy Bryan
2. John Kauss
3. Mike Burdakin
4. Charlie Paukert
5. Ben Tomasek
6. Aaron Zenner

Next Week: Williams