Thursday, January 21, 2010

Season Preview #15: UT-Tyler

General Team Discussion - Tyler had about 1 year of glory on the national scene. They really weren't noticed as a national power until midway through to 2008 season and they fell off drastically at the midway point of the 2009 season. Entering 2009, Tyler was one of the most promising teams and a sleeper for the Elite 8. They had a great win against Redlands early in the season and peaked at #12 in the ITA rankings, but things would go downhill from there. A first round NCAA loss to Luther would be the low point of the past two seasons for Tyler. They lost their top two players in Phillips and Sajovich and they are now clearly the 2nd best team in Texas. I thought this would be a true down year for Tyler, but they showed a bit of promise with an ITA doubles championship and a win over the NCAA semifinalists from Trinity (TX). I think Tyler will repeat as ASC champions for the 3rd year in a row and I would expect them to hover in the 20-30 range for the whole season. I think this is a good team but I won't expect much from them in NCAAs.

Where They'll Win - No true strengths in singles for Tyler but I have to look at the bottom of the lineup as a potential winning area. From what I know, they don't have the players to win in the top of the lineup, the Texas ITA had 4 Trinity players in the semis. Tyler's depth is still good and they have some experience in the 4-6 position. Another strong point is 1 doubles, and actually 2 doubles should be tough as well. They had the ITA champions in Fenter/Kreines and Ashlock is a former NCAA doubles qualifier who should be in the #2 spot.

Where They'll Lose - Really no one on this team who can compete at the top of the lineup. With Phillips and Sajovich gone, they are really lacking a superstar and I expect to see very few wins in the 1-3 spots when they are playing against ranked teams. They have a good training program at Tyler, so it is possible to see some improvement from their players in the next few months. I'm also not sure what to make of their #3 doubles team right now. I would expect them to field a good team but whether it will be a winner is another question all together.

Schedule Analysis - 3 good matches out in California against Pomona-Pitzer, Cal Lu and Redlands. P-P is a team I consider comparable to Tyler and this will be a good indication of how strong the Pats are. Cal Lu is a similar situation. Tyler takes on Redlands in a rematch of one of the best matches of last Spring and Redlands should come out with an easy win. 2 more tough matches against Luther and Trinity (TX) at home. The Patriots will be looking for revenge against Luther and this is a potential win but I expect them to get beaten up badly by Trinity again. The ASC final is always a big match and I'm assuming they will see LeTourneau or HSU in the finals.