Monday, May 19, 2008

Pre-Season Rankings for 2008-2009

1. Emory - This should just be an incredible team next year. You have both Goodwins on the team, and only Ehlers leaves. Boren should be untouchable at 3 and Lopp near the bottom will be excellent. You'll have to beat Emory in doubles, which is easier said than done. If anyone can beat Kenyon next year, it's this team. They have great players top to bottom and outstanding doubles and they fight hard. Couldn't ask for much more. They have to be the favorites for the national title next year.

2. Kenyon - A lot depends on how good Piskacek will be. All of his rankings point to him being the #1 player in D3. Kenyon would then have the #1 and #2 players in the country and probably the best doubles team. With 3 automatic points and Becker/Brody at 2 doubles, it will be almost impossible to beat the Lords. This is why they will be ranked so high. They should be able to get a win between 3 and 6 singles against anyone.

3. CMS - If the Stags can stay out of injury trouble, the sky is the limit for them. If Lim and Wu are healthy and Wang and Schils are in good form, they will be a great team. They bring in some good recruits who could make an impact. They should be able to beat Santa Cruz next year and make a run at national title if they can avoid injuries. The Stags' program just keeps getting better and they have a lot to look forward to next year.

4. Washington - WashU will return every member of their 2008 National Championship team, but they really don't help themselves much with recruits for next year. They bring in a couple of 3-stars. Watts and Cutler are obviously great players and WashU has a lot of depth, but I will be very surprised if they can beat Emory next year. Teams are just getting better and even though they won nationals, WashU stays about the same.

5. UC Santa Cruz - Despite the lack of recruits, UCSC always seems to come up with a great team. They don't lose anyone big, and with Kamel, Pybas and Ortiz back, the Slugs should be very tough again. Coach Hansen is great with developing his players and UCSC should be great again. Whether or not they can beat CMS is another tough question. The teams will most likely be battling it out for a spot in the Elite 8 again next year.

6. Middlebury - Midd was very young this year, but really were outstanding. They were swept in doubles several times, so they know what they need to work on. Marinkovic leaves, but they have everyone back and get an underrated 3-star in Derrick Angle. He should come into the starting lineup. Midd should be in the top 8 again and have a shot at winning NESCAC, but they aren't quite ready to win a national title with this team.

7. Williams -The Ephs lose the heart of their team, but they are bringing in good recruits and will definitely compete next year at a national stage. I don't expect them to be top 3 like this year, but they should be a fixture in the top 10. Lebedoff needs to improve and become a good #1 and Simonette was great at #3. Williams seems to always have very good depth, and this will help them in a brutal NESCAC conference.

8. Amherst - Amherst basically recruited a whole new team to go along with an already respectable group. Lerner is tough at 1 and 4-star Chafetz should be good near the top. I wouldn't be surprised if NESCAC had 4 in the top 10. Garner is an outstanding coach and recruiter and will need to get his guys ready. This team has the potential to be top 5, but I still think they are a few years away. Inexperience could hurt them.

9. Bowdoin - They only lose Gates, but Sullivan proved that he can play with the best in the country. He should step up to #1 next year. They bring in a very good recruiting class and this should have a big impact. Bowdoin fought hard this year towards the end and hopefully they can put together an entire good season next year. This team is very dangerous with their outstanding depth. They need to improve middle of the lineup.

10. Mary Washington - The Eagles had an up and down season, but look for them to be more solid next year. They have some of the best development in the country and they return their whole team. James and Loden just keep getting better, and if they can improve doubles, they have a good shot at being a top 5 team. They should dominate the AS region, with the exception of Emory, and they could find themselves back in the Elite 8.

11. Gustavus Adolphus - Gustavus' season could rest on whether they win Indoors. If they do, they should find themselves in the top 5 again. If not, they will struggle. Andy Bryan is gone and Kauss will need to step up and become their next superstar. Wilkinson is great at developing his players but he will need some real magic in his last season as head coach. The Gusties' are just overmatched by most of the top 10.

12. Trinity(CT) - Feldman did an outstanding job this year turning the Bantams into a national power. Ramsay and Dolan leave, but Trinity(CT) gets 4-star Anson McCook from Florida who should play in the 2 or 3 spot. This team was the #1 seed for the NESCAC tournament and was very dangerous this year. Look for Trinity(CT) to be back in the top 15 and potentially make a run at the top 10 next year.

13. Redlands - They run a tennis factory in Redlands, CA. Wagar is leaving, but they are replacing him with a new crop of players. The Bulldogs should have another good year next year with a solid recruiting class. They will have a tough time competing with CMS and UCSC, but they should be top 15 for sure. I'll be interested to see whether they accept a bid to Indoors because fast Indoor courts don't suit their team.

14. Carnegie Mellon - Carnegie had a good year but someone needs to teach them doubles. If they can get their doubles in order, they can be better than 14. They lose their #1, but he is replaced by an underrated Eastern section recruit. Carnegie should compete well next year and have a similar year to this year. If they can figure out their doubles, it's very hard to beat Carnegie more than 3 of 6 singles because of depth.

15. Trinity(TX) - Trinity(TX) is another team that gets killed with graduates. They lose their top 3 singles players as well as their top 2 doubles team. They have some major rebuilding to do, but a good recruiting year helps that a little bit. They won't find themselves back in the Top 5 like this year, but they should win the SCAC title next year.

16. Johns Hopkins - Hopkins loses their on-court leaders to graduation and this can't be measured in quality of recruits. They are bringing in a good 4-star who should play at the top of the lineup with Maldow and Wang. They'll be very good and should be better than they were this year. They need to work on their doubles as well.

17. Chicago - On paper, Chicago underachieved this year. They've brought in good recruits and continue to do so. I think next year could be a breakout year for them as they make themselves known as a contender on the national stage. Look for Zhang to build on his outstanding Freshman year and become a top player in the Central region.

18. DePauw - Losing Keith really hurts the Tigers. DePauw has good depth, but they will really struggle on a national level at the top of the lineup in singles and doubles. They need to do some good recruiting to find their way back to the Elite 8. They could crack the top 15 next year, but I wouldn't bet on it. They have work to do in Indiana.

19. UT-Tyler - A breakout year for the Patriots this year, but it's going to be hard for them to beat top teams without bringing in good players. They have great development and have really got the most out of their current team, but until they bring in some better Texans, it's going to be tough for them to be the best team in Texas. Expect a similar year for Tyler next year.

20. Whitman - Whitman was very young this year but competed well. They have good development in Walla Walla and the Squirrels will need this for next year. Matt Solomon is a good leader, but Whitman doesn't have the players at the bottom of the lineup to be a top 15 team. They always bring it in doubles, but this won't be enough.

21. Washington & Lee - A pretty good season for the Generals this year but they really get hurt with graduates. They lose arguably their best 4 players and it's tough to recover from that. They are bringing in decent recruits and have a lot of depth, but they won't be able to compete with the best in the AS region due to lack of experience.

22. Bates - Bates suffers from playing in the toughest conference in the country and they just can't beat those other tope NESCAC teams. However, they return Ben Stein and 4 other starters and they are bringing in a pretty good class. They will almost certainly finish 6th in NESCAC but this should be good enough to keep them in the top 25 for the whole season.

23. Carleton - A young team who is starting to recruit on the national stage. They return most of their starters and they also are bringing in some good recruits. They aren't ready to compete with Gustavus or break the top 20 yet, but they should be able to crack the top 25, which they came very close to doing this year.

24. Pomona-Pitzer - Good development out there and they are bringing in some solid players and Cameron Taylor is back to lead this team. Unfortunately, it will be difficult for them to finish better than 3rd in the conference, but they should be able to crack the top 25. They play a tough schedule which will pay off and get their players some experience.

25. Kalamazoo - Maybe the worst year in history for K-College but I have a feeling Riley will be able to shape up his guys during his second year. They don't have the players to compete with the top 20 teams in the country, but they should be able to win their conference and make it back to NCAAs. Solid doubles and depth should win for Kzoo against lesser teams.