Monday, May 5, 2008

Thoughts on Regionals

CMS Regional: Obviously an unbelievable win by CMS to defeat the defending national champions twice in a row. I knew Santa Cruz would be vulnerable after they played so close with Redlands. The bad news for CMS is that they got crushed by both Williams and Wash U. I think they are a new team now. All in all, I'd say a disappointing season for the Slugs. They lost at Indoors and they lost to their rivals twice. They will be back with a vengeance next year. A good season for Whitman, and a great win for the Solomons at 1 doubles. Redlands had an unbelievable season and hopefully they can push to be shipped out of California for NCAAs next year. They should be in the top 12 next year again. Good luck to CMS at Bates.

TCNJ Regional - 2 great finishes and 2 not so great finishes. To start with the bad, who should be more disappointed than Hopkins? They thought that they could make the top 8 this year, yet they barely saw the top 15 after their showing at Indoors and now they lose to a TCNJ team who they are probably better than. The CNU Captains also had high expectations. It's not the fact that they lost to Williams, but how they lost to Williams. I expected a better fight than that from CNU. TCNJ had an amazing year. A win over Mary Wash highlighted their season, and now beating Hopkins and playing close with Williams. They had great Seniors and should leave this season with their heads held high. And Williams had it's ups and downs through the season but they prevailed and are definitely a favorite for nationals.

WashU Regional - This was probably the most predictable region, especially with DePauw's key injury. The Bears are an excellent team if they play good doubles, but they are only a good team if they don't. This will be the key for them. Everyone is assuming they will handle Gustavus pretty easily. A not-so-great season for DePauw besides their conference championship. Granted they lost Webeler, but to go from #6 to #16 in the rankings and barely make the tournament is disappointing for them. They lose their #1 again and they will have to do a lot of hard work to get back to the top 10. They were just overmatched by this WashU team as shown by the score and I don't think Sandager would have made a difference here.

Gustavus Regional - Gustavus won the regional as expected, but UT-Tyler is the real story here. They ended HSU's streak of consecutive conference championships and the Patriots put themselves on the map as a national power. I'd expect to see UT-Tyler as a fixture in the top 20 for many years to come. That being said, I think they expected more out of themselves against the Gusties. I would have expected at least 2 wins out of Tyler, especially since it was played outside. A good season, but not that great of an ending for Tyler. Gustavus still remains overrated, but they just keep winning. They did their job this weekend and they did it in convincing fashion. Nobody gives them a chance against WashU, but this team is dangerous if they can dominate in doubles. Bryan is a great leader and this team will fight until the end against WashU.

Bowdoin Regional - I'll start by saying that I'll give Skidmore credit for this season. They played well and I wouldn't be surprised to see them crack the rankings next year. But the question on my mind is which Emory doubles will show up? We have Emory dominating doubles at UAA against good opponents and then losing 2 of 3 to Bowdoin. This will be huge for the Eagles if they want to win it all. Emory is solid in singles, but there are teams that can beat them. A good battle by Bowdoin, but they just couldn't get it done with all of the momentum they had. A solid performance in doubles and this put them in the driver's seat, but they were just beaten in Singles. A bad start to the season and a great ending for Bowdoin. They should be pleased with their performance and if they played Emory again tomorrow, it could be a different story. The Eagles are still the favorite to get to the finals in my opinion.

Kenyon Regional - What a bad season for Kalamazoo and what an unbelievable season for Kenyon. No one gave the Lords a chance in the beginning of the season, and here they are with a chance to win nationals. They beat a very good Carnegie team in convincing fashion. Kalamazoo had been a fixture in the top 20 for many years and they really didn't give the effort this year. This team needs to rebound immediately to meet expectations. Carnegie had a pretty good season. They had their ups and downs and they certainly had an impressive performance beating Kenyon. This team can be in the top 10 next year, they just need to work a little harder. Kenyon matches up very well with Emory and I truly believe they can pull the upset after their domination this weekend against a worthy opponent. This is the Elite 8 match I'm most looking forward to. Good luck to the Lords.

Middlebury Regional - Midd took care of business as usual. They struggled in Doubles against MIT, but recovered well in the Sweet 16. Middlebury is an annual powerhouse for a reason. No matter what their team looks like, they always find a way to win. This team can definitely make it to the finals this year. A 5-1 win over Trinity(CT) certainly was impressive to me. The Bantams really put themselves on the map this year. They came out of nowhere from the beginning of the season and crept into the top 10 for some time. They earned the top seed in the NESCAC tournament and this was no fluke. They were a good team and they should also be happy with their performance this season. A decent season for Vassar and MIT as well. I really like Midd's chances in the Elite 8.

Mary Washington Regional - By far the region with the most intriguing results. We have Mary Wash barely beating an overlooked W&L team and then beating a top 5 team in the nation after being down 4-1. This is just an incredible result. The one thing I will say about the Eagles is that they believe in themselves more than any other team. They may not have the talent that other teams have, but they think they are the best every year. Whether it's true or not, this belief that you are the best team in the country can carry you very far. A decent season for W&L with some good wins and a very disappointing end to a great season for Trinity(TX). They had outstanding doubles and were a favorite to win Nationals entering the tournament. I think that Mary Washington is slightly overmatched against Middlebury, but they were also slightly overmatched against Trinity(TX) and look what happened.