Thursday, January 14, 2010

Season Preview #9: Kenyon

General Team Discussion - The Lords have been to the Elite 8 for the past two years and it is unlikely that they will be derailed this year. They have a very strong core of four senior leaders who should help this team make a national title run. This is probably their strongest team in the history of the program, but on the flip side it is also their last chance at a top 5 finish for several years to come since they will be killed by graduations. Kenyon had an up and down year last year with a win over the national champions, but at the same time they barely made it out of their regional. They are playing the Indoors for the second straight year and are the favorites to make the finals from their half. I think Kenyon has the ability to beat anyone on the right day as shown by their fall Amherst win, it is just rare to see them all on the same page at the same time. I think this team is a darkhorse for a national championship, but I'd say another Elite 8 finish is a more realistic goal for the Lords in 2010.

Where They'll Win
- If healthy, they have two of the top 10 players in the country and it's probably the best 1-2 punch with the exception of Emory. Their doubles was shaky at times in 2009, but I really like the Piskacek-Polster team as a very strong 2 team. In the 3 through 6 positions, it seems to me like they have 4 pretty equal players so I would expect whoever steps in at 5 and 6 singles to be consistent winners. Despite an NCAA quarterfinal appearance, the Greenberg-Vandenberg combo is still a question mark for me.

Where They'll Lose
- As I mention above, I think #1 doubles is a potential weakness, but it could also be a potential strength. I think the biggest trouble spots for Kenyon are definitely the middle of the singles lineup. Polster seems as though he's a fairly weak 3 for a top 5 program so he needs to step up against top competition. I'm not calling it a weakness, but I need to see some good results from their #3 doubles team before I'm a believer that they are a consistent winner.

Schedule Analysis - Indoors is huge for Kenyon. The pressure is on them to make the finals and they need to come through to gain confidence. They really lucked out with their draw so they need to make the most of it. They have two tough matches in Mid-March against Emory and Wash U. These are definitely teams they will see again at nationals so they need to prove to themselves that they can be competitive. The last big one on their schedule is a home match against Hopkins which will be a tough test between two borderline top 5 teams.