Thursday, January 7, 2010

Season Preview #3: CMS

General Team Discussion - The last three years CMS and Santa Cruz have alternated winning the West regional and qualifying for the Elite 8. However, Cruz won nationals both of their years and a national title has still eluded the Stags. They have an excellent team as always but when you have a singles and doubles superstar like Larry Wang graduate, it's tough to fill those shoes. Robbie Erani has certainly stepped up in an attempt to fill those shoes, but I don't seriously consider CMS as a national title contender this year. They are awfully tough to beat on their home courts, but unfortunately for them they won't be hosting nationals again. The good thing for the Stags is they have their regular season match against Cruz at home and hopefully this will lead to NCAA regionals at home as well. They should have a tougher time than last year against Redlands, but I would expect them to repeat as SCIAC Champions.

Where They'll Win - Certainly one of the deepest teams in the country in singles. They have an extremely capable bottom of the lineup that can compete with anyone in the country. I expect to see Ronald Wu and Russell Brockett be dominant potentially playing 5 and 6 singles. Erani has established himself as a top 10 player in the country if fall results hold true and he should be able to compete with the best #1's in the country. Their 1 doubles team is definitely their strongest of the 3 and they need consistent wins to give the Stags a chance to win in singles.

Where They'll Lose - I think a lot of CMS' success rests on Captain Mikey Lim's shoulders. He has been up and down during his college career, but he needs to step into the role of both 2 singles and 2 doubles this year. I don't see him being able to compete with the best in the country this high in the lineup. I'm also concerned about their #3 singles. Maybe MacColl or Chien here, but again I think both of them will struggle. I think another weakness here is the bottom of doubles, which is often a strong suit of the Stags. They need to find a competent 3 doubles team to allow them to hang in doubles and let the bottom of their singles lineup to win the match for them.

Schedule Analysis - An interesting choice by Coach Settles to skip Indoors. I'm sure he has his reasons. As usual, CMS plays one of the toughest schedules in the country. A tough two days early in the season against CMU and Trinity (TX). Another huge one 10 days later against Amherst. If they can beat Amherst, I think you could call them a legitimate national championship contender. The same goes for the Middlebury match. If they can compete with these NESCACs, I'd say they have the potential to make a Final 4 run. The biggest match of the season is March 25th at home against Cruz, a must win for the Stags. They also need to make sure they take care of business at the SCIAC Championship where they most likely will face Redlands in the finals.