Sunday, February 14, 2010

Season Preview #31: Williams

General Team Discussion - Williams had a disappointing year by their standards in 2009 and the past few years they haven't been able to match their success from early in the decade. This year's team has a lot of talent and Williams boasts the best D3 freshman class including Felix Sun, who looks to be the best freshman in D3. Williams underwent a coaching change and Dan Greenberg is now in charge after a very successful career with Williams that ended in 2008. He looks to add a lot to this program and lead them back to the Final 4. As everyone knows, Williams is one of the "Big 3" in the best conference in the country and their ongoing rivalry with Amherst and Middlebury is one of the best story lines in D3 this year. I mentioned this team is talented, but I'm not quite sure what to expect from them this year. They have been a consistent quarterfinalist in NCAAs and on paper this is a great team, but I wasn't impressed with the fall results. They had a trip to California in 2009 and Texas in 2008, but they do neither of these this year. They only play 2 teams out-of-conference who are projected to be top 20 and this could hurt them if they don't beat the top NESCAC schools. I think Williams will float between 6 and 11 in the rankings for most of the year and I'm unsure about their NCAA outlook as of now.

Where They'll Win - Williams has a great top of the lineup to go along with outstanding depth. Nick Lebedoff was a very established junior player and he is now the senior leader for this team at #1 singles. Jeremy Weinberger will most likely fit into the #3 spot and he is another senior. They mix their experience with youth and as I said above, Felix Sun beat Chafetz in the fall and most likely will spend time in the #2 spot this spring. They also have a very tough 4 through 6. Williams just doesn't have any holes and on a good day they are competitive at all 6 singles spots against anyone in the country.

Where They'll Lose - Doubles has been a big issue for the pas few years and I think it could become an even bigger problem this year after graduating Bret Thacher, who played #1 doubles for a good portion of his career. Williams has the talent, they just can't seem to put it together in doubles. Too often, they find themselves down 2-1 or 3-0 and can't recover against teams who can match them in singles. They need to get their doubles figured out or they won't have a chance against Amherst or Middlebury.

Schedule Analysis - I'm not sure why Williams doesn't play more of a non-conference schedule. They travel to NC Wesleyan and Emory in the beginning of their season before NESCAC play. They have to be careful that they don't go winless in those two matches. During NESCAC play, they have Amherst and Middlebury at home so this goes to their advantage. They need to watch out for a dangerous Bowdoin team on the road though, and they also have to travel to Trinity (CT), who upset them two years ago. The NESCAC tournament will be big for Williams to see how in form they are heading to NCAAs.