Monday, January 18, 2010

Season Preview #12: Mary Washington

General Team Discussion – The Eagles were by far the biggest underachievers in the country last year. They were supposed to be making a national championship run but this turned into a team that slipped out of the top 15 and lost in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament. The bad news for Mary Wash is that this is a true rebuilding year for them. They have a very young team and they lack a superstar. The Eagles need to go back to basics and use their good development and rigorous training program to propel them back into the top 15. I really think they need to be concerned about winning the conference this year because Salisbury is not far behind. They have a promising freshman class and a good senior leader in Evan Goff that could allow them to pull a few upsets. They had no players perform well in their fall ITA tournament and the outlook does not look promising for 2010. I would expect them to barely hang on the win the CAC but don’t expect anything from them in the NCAA tournament. A finish somewhere between 15 and 20 is almost a sure thing.

Where They’ll Win – The Eagles are pretty even top to bottom so I think the bottom two to three spots in the singles lineup could be a strength. This team has done almost a complete turnaround with their strength. For the past three years they were very top heavy and now their depth may save them and help them to a win against Salisbury. Another spot where I see a potential strength is 1st doubles. I’m thinking that a possible Goff/Murata combination could be very strong and a potential NCAA qualifier. They have both been very good at their given spots but never played together.

Where They’ll Lose – A huge hole for the Eagles at the top of the lineup. They could have arguably the weakest top 2 or 3 in the top 20 in the country. Baver was losing a lot at 4 last year and he’s in line to move to the #1 spot. Against any ranked team I don’t see them getting a win at the top 2 singles spots. What they are going to do in doubles is unpredictable right now but I’d be surprised if they could put together good combos at 2 and 3 doubles.

Schedule Analysis – A pretty demanding schedule for the Eagles as usual. An early California trip consists of three matches against Pomona-Pitzer, Cal Lu and and Redlands. I would expect them to win the first two. They return home for a very winnable match against W&L on the road and the following weekend they host NCW. They have a brutal weekend in late March against Chicago and CMU at home before starting conference play. They need a regular season win against Salisbury so they can host the conference final.