Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Season Preview #20: Kalamazoo

General Team Discussion - Mark Riley left his job as the head coach at UPenn after the 2007 season to return to his alma mater. He left for two jobs. The first was to coach the men's tennis team, and the second was to be tournament director of the nationals. No offense to Coach Riley, but I think he's slacking on the first one of his jobs. This is a program that is used to being a national championship contender and they haven't had a whiff of the top 10 in the country in quite some time. Corwin left Riley with a program about 15 in the country in 2007 and they've gone backwards since. This is a team that has been hurt with an improving D3 and they haven't stepped up their recruiting. They may not have the academic draw as some other top schools, but who wouldn't want to play and practice at Stowe Stadium? It's the best facility in the country and just amazingly historic. I would hope K-College steps up their recruiting in the next couple years to get back to where they once were. This year's team should be similar to the previous two years finishing between 20-25. This is a huge year for Kzoo because their top 3 are seniors and need to be replaced. If Riley doesn't bring in a top notch class, we could see the legendary Kalamazoo College fall off the map in tennis. They should win the conference but I don't expect anything from them in the tournament.

Where They'll Win - I have to give Kalamazoo credit because they still play pretty good doubles. They just don't have the singles personnel to compete with the top 20 so they have to bring it in doubles. Brown/Jadun are a good 1 doubles team and although I wouldn't expect them to be an NCAA qualifier, they can definitely knock off some good teams. Whoever plays #2 singles should also be pretty strong. Brown and Jadun seem pretty even so whoever is #2 out of those could generate some wins. Eddy had some good fall results so he should be tough in the #4 spot as well.

Where They'll Lose - They seem to be pretty weak after their top doubles team and I don't think you'll be seeing many wins against top 15 teams at the bottom two doubles spots. They are fairly inexperienced near the bottom of the lineup so I think 5 and 6 are potential weak spots in big matches. Boyd has been up and down as a #3 player and a lot of their success could depend on him generating wins. #1 is also a weak spot, they just don't have the superstar to compete with top teams.

Schedule Analysis - A tough schedule as always for the Hornets. We get a look at them early on as they host Kenyon in 10 days. They then have another test against Chicago and I think this match could be a big indicator of how good they are this season. They have their annual match against DePauw in early March before spending spring break in Maryland with tough matches against Salisbury and Hopkins. If they don't beat Salisbury, this team isn't top 20 material. They need a win against Denison at GLCA and they will also have a crack at a vulnerable Gustavus team at a neutral site. They need to bring it in the conference tournament because Calvin is tough.