Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Recap of Monday-Wednesday and This Weekend

Not too much has been going on this week compared to the last few weeks. Williams continued its poor start against Emory, we had arguably the best match of the year played today and Gustavus is getting crushed in California. To begin, the Gusties don't look like a top 30 team and I really fear for the future of this program. Something that I thought of after Gustavus got destroyed by Pomona-Pitzer is what happens next February when Gustavus doesn't qualify for Indoors? Do they not host or do they take the spot of the team who would normally be the 8th seed? Anyone with any info on this, please e-mail me. Clearly, a real rebuilding year for GAC and they will really have to battle to win their conference. If Carleton somehow wins, things will get interesting for NCAAs because there are several Minnesota and Wisconsin teams who will qualify that normally just go to Gustavus.

Williams needs to go back to the drawing board in doubles. 10 games against Emory in three matches is unacceptable for a team as talented as Williams. The Ephs need to go back to Massachusetts and regroup or this season could get ugly quickly. A good performance by Emory. 4 of their 6 points coming from their two studs. Nothing in D3 for the Eagles until UAAs and you may as well flip a coin as to who will win between Emory and Wash U.

Off the top of my head I can't think of a better match this spring than Mary Washington vs. Christopher Newport today. The decider at #3 singles lasted just under four hours I think and Newport was able to pull an upset even after losing 2 of the doubles and with their #2 player out with mono. This is a new low for Mary Washington and I can't believe they've gone from beating Trinity (TX) to make the Elite 8 to losing to an unranked team. A bit of a shock for me, but somewhat like Gustavus, the future of Eagles tennis does not look good right now. They have to find a way to beat Salisbury or this season will be a huge failure for them. This was a big win for Newport, but the bad news is they will be drained when they play NCW tomorrow. They probably also lost Widing for the year if he has mono. A great effort by Newport but tomorrow is the one they really need.

A couple important matches this weekend, with Kenyon vs. Hopkins clearly being the biggest. I'll be doing a preview of that on Friday and I may have some thoughts on Trinity (CT) vs. Vassar as well. A four team round robin taking place in Tyler, Texas this weekend as well and the weekend ends with an Easter match between Hopkins and CMU which is a rematch of Indoors.

Monday, March 29, 2010 Power Rankings March 29th

Another note I'd like to add: When considering these rankings, assume that home court advantage does not exist and all teams are playing at a neutral and outdoor site.

1. Middlebury
2. CMS
3. Cal Lutheran
4. Wash U
5. Amherst
6. Emory
7. UC Santa Cruz
8. Johns Hopkins
9. Kenyon
10. Carnegie Mellon
11. NC Wesleyan
12. Williams
13. Bowdoin
14. Trinity (TX)
15. Chicago
16. Trinity (CT)
17. Redlands
18. Kalamazoo
19. DePauw
20. Salisbury
21. Whitman
22. Mary Washington
23. Vassar
24. Hampden-Sydney
25. Washington & Lee

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend Recap: March 26-28

Alex Dombos, Kalamazoo

7 matches of note that I'll be discussing in this post. To begin, I'll say I'm quite disappointed that the Hopkins-Chicago match was cancelled on Friday because it was a match I was looking forward to. Chicago doesn't have any tough matches until UAAs so they will hope that their Pool C competitors beat up on each other. Now, moving on to the Friday matches we had Trinity (CT) wrapping up their spring break at Pomona-Pitzer. I said this was a do or die match for both teams as far as NCAAs are concerned and the Bantams came out on top with an easy victory. If they are losing to Trinity (CT) in this fashion, I don't think the Hens are top 20 material. They showed promise early in the season but weren't able to keep up the level of the Mary Wash match. Another year where P-P will fall victim to the poor NCAA selection process. Trinity (CT) stayed alive, but just like last year, they now need a win over a top 3 NESCAC team (possibly more than 1), if they want to make the tournament.

The Midd-CMS match Friday had a lot on the line, most importantly the #1 ranking in the country. Midd continued their incredible play and came away with a fairly routine 7-2 victory. The Panthers will sit at #1 in the ITA rankings on Tuesday and they look to continue their domination in conference play. An undefeated regular season for Middlebury would certainly be an impressive feat. Their weaknesses were supposed to be the bottom of the lineup and doubles and these were both strengths on their trip. If you can rest your 3 and 4 and still win 4 singles against Redlands, you are a very good team. They look untouchable at this moment and if they continue this level, then they will be national champions. CMS needs to start preparing for the Cal Lu match in 2 weeks because this could determine the host institution for the NCAA Regional.

I didn't think Saturday would be all that competitive, but we had three matches won by a 5-4 score, including one of the biggest upsets of the season. Cruz was reeling entering their match with Redlands on Saturday and I felt the Bulldogs would be ready to go because they knew they needed a win like this to get back into the NCAA hunt. Cruz just dominated and got back on track. They won't see any D3 competition until the NCAA tournament, but we know they will be training hard. The Slugs know they have a lot of ground to make up if they want to come out of the West Regional playing on the road. As for Redlands, they just aren't the same team that they've been the past few seasons. They lost some key players and weren't able to recover. They aren't completely out of it yet but the future doesn't look bright this season. The other fairly lopsided match was Hopkins over Washington & Lee. I expected Hopkins to win easily and they did, once again securing their top 10 ranking. W&L needs to regroup after their in-conference loss and get ready to play HSC again in their conference tournament.

We also had three competitive matches Saturday. I expected Carnegie Mellon to crush Mary Washington, but they continue to struggle in doubles. I believe they have played 6 top 25 teams this year and they have been down 2-1 after doubles all 6 times. They've come back to win 3 of those times but losing doubles over and over will catch up with you. That being said, they dominated at the bottom of the singles lineup which is also Mary Wash's strength. I don't think the outcome was ever really in doubt despite the 5-4 score. Mary Wash has to be worried now after Salisbury's big win this weekend. I don't think the Eagles have another gear and at this moment it seems like they won't win their conference. The last two matches of note took place at Salisbury. Kalamazoo finished their spring break trip with two matches against Salisbury and Newport. I was following live stats for the morning match and Salisbury jumped out to an early doubles lead and never let up. They ended up winning 5-4 with #4 singles being the clincher when the match was tied 4-4. I don't know if I've said this before, but I hate results like this. It's a huge flaw of the 9 point system. Kalamazoo wins this match 5 years ago, but again that's just the way things are. This result was important not only for these teams, but it was felt across the country. I didn't take Salisbury seriously after they got crushed by a short-handed Bowdoin team, but I forgot that the Sea Gulls are always very tough on their home courts. Now we have Chicago and DePauw with losses to Kalamazoo, and therefore they should both move behind Bowdoin in the rankings. This pushes Chicago out of the tournament at the moment, even though they've been winning. Kalamazoo was looking really good, but I'm doubting them after this result. I think Salisbury could move into the top 15 on Tuesday. In one of the weirder results I've seen, Kzoo beat Newport 5-4 later in the day. Newport was without one of their top players and Kzoo was able to pull out a win to save themselves from another loss.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tuesday-Thursday Thoughts

An action packed week with many blockbuster matches, however most of them lacked the drama that I expected. Starting Tuesday, CLU continued their undefeated season with an expected win against Trinity (CT). Giuffrida lost his first match of the season but it didn't matter as the Kingsmen collected a 6-3 win. Whitman traveled to Redlands and looked to continue their hot streak after their win against Pomona-Pitzer. The Squirrels were looking like a top 15 team for a while there but Redlands beat them badly. The Bulldogs got a win and kept their NCAA hopes alive. They have a good chance to knock off Cruz tomorrow. CMS took care of Bowdoin on Tuesday night but it was a good fight by the Polar Bears. In the biggest match of the day, Cruz tried to rebound from their loss against CLU, but they got crushed by an excellent Middlebury team who will be #1 in the country next week. Cruz was just in over their heads and I see them most likely moving back to #5 in the country when the next rankings come out. I think the Slugs just played 3 great matches at Indoors and they weren't able to keep up that level once there were expectations. It's easier to play when you have nothing to lose and this certainly showed for the Slugs. They have to be careful that they take care of business against Redlands tomorrow.

Midd took care of Redlands easily and they rested two starters in singles. Chicago picked up a win against a ranked W&L team in a 6-3 win that enhanced their NCAA resume. Kalamazoo looked great early in the season but they were subdued by a much better Hopkins team. JHU established themselves as a top 10 team in this match and it was never close. I think the Blue Jays will just get better as the season progresses. Despite Oscar Pena being injured, Bowdoin picked up a much needed win against their rival Trinity (CT). Bowdoin won 2 of 3 very close doubles matches and this proved to be the difference, as well as Sullivan's unexpected win over Feldman at #1. I thought Trinity could take the top 4 singles spots but Sullivan's win saved his team. Bowdoin had a decent California trip with the only blemish being their blowout loss against Trinity (TX). I think Bowdoin will need to beat one of the NESCAC top 3 if they want to make the tournament this year because I think Chicago may edge them by a little bit. I'll be interested to see if UChi is ahead of Bowdoin in next week's rankings.

Thursday brought the most surprising result as well as the best match. To begin, Chicago traveled to Mary Washington and beat the Eagles fairly comfortably. I thought this could be a potential upset, but the Maroons did well never to let the Eagles into the match. Cruz traveled to Claremont for their annual clash with CMS. CMS dominated start to finish and singles was just an absolute blowout. They made Cruz look like a team that was 20 in the country rather than 1. What we do know is that CMS will play CLU for the top seed in the SCIAC tournament and potentially the right to host the West Regional. Cruz has now lost 3 of 4 and needs to regroup. They don't have another D3 match until NCAAs so they really need to train hard if they want to get out of their region. In the best match of the week, NC Wesleyan upset Williams after a doubles sweep. The match came down to 1 singles and NCW was able to pull it out, even after losing 5 first sets in singles. Williams now has their back against the wall and they need wins against Bowdoin and Trinity (CT) if they want to make the tournament. I see them moving back to #12 in the rankings next week and they may have played their way out of hosting a regional. NCW gets to relax for the rest of their season until they meet CNU in the conference final. A great win for the Bishops, they are dangerous going forward.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

3 Friday Previews

Conrad Olson, Middlebury

Trinity (CT) @ Pomona-Pitzer

This is a match between two teams that desperately need a win. Pomona-Pitzer only has one quality win on their resume and Trinity (CT) lost to their rival in a match that they really needed to win. The loser of this match can kiss the NCAA tournament goodbye. Both of these teams need to start producing quickly if they want to be in the tournament and that starts tomorrow. If Pomona-Pitzer is going to win this match, it has to be in doubles. Trinity (CT) hasn't looked all that sharp in doubles this week and I think this is arguably P-P's strength. They will be pumped up on their home courts and I think it's very possible that the Hens can win 2 of 3 doubles. Things turn in Trinity's favor when singles start. I think the middle of the lineup will definitely go in favor of Trinity. The top two spots and bottom two spots both can go either way, but I'd consider Trinity a slight favorite at 1 and 2. 5 and 6 are both tough to call. I think the Bantams will come out on top in this match because they have too many good singles players. 6-3 Bantams tomorrow.

Chicago @ Johns Hopkins

Kalamazoo beat Chicago 7-2. Johns Hopkins beat Kalamazoo 8-1. Easy win for Hopkins tomorrow? Not so fast, my friend. The Maroons have been playing good tennis this week in a trio of 6-3 wins against quality opponents. They will be in top form tomorrow to face a top 10 team. All that being said, I think Chicago may be in over their heads tomorrow. Hopkins is an excellent team who seems to also be in great form after a trouncing of NCW highlighted by doubles sweep. Hopkins will also be playing on their home courts and I think they are the better team. In doubles, I think Chicago is lucky to get 1 point. They have a decent chance at 3, but the top 2 spots clearly favor Hopkins. In singles, Zhang hasn't been great lately but his team really needs him tomorrow. Chicago is probably also a favorite at 6, but besides those I think Hopkins has too much game. I'll take Hopkins in a 7-2 victory tomorrow but I think most of the matches will be competitive.

Middlebury @ CMS

I thought Midd made a statement crushing Cruz the other night but CMS goes and does the same thing in even more convincing fashion. This will be a war between two outstanding teams and national title contenders. The matches are extremely interesting. CMS needs to use their home court to their advantage, particularly in doubles, because Midd is so strong in singles. Another important thing is that CMS has to not have a letdown after such a huge win against Cruz. I'm sure they were so ready for that match and it's tough to do that two days in a row. They will need to bring that same intensity if they want to have a chance to beat Middlebury. I think a Midd win tomorrow will put them at #1 in the country in the rankings next week. A CMS win would give that title to CLU. Looking at the matches, Midd is a pretty sure thing at #1 doubles. 2 and 3 are close, but I feel that both favor CMS on their home court, especially after their dominance against Cruz. Singles is very tough to call. I like Midd at 3 and 4. I think the Panthers have the best 3 and the best 4 in the country. CMS probably has an edge at 5. This would put things at 3-3 with 3 matches remaining. 6 is tough to call and I like Peters in a close one against Erani. He beat him in the fall. Lim and Lee at 2 could determine the outcome of the match. I think Midd will win 5-4 and this will come down to the wire.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thursday March 25th

Three matches of note taking place tomorrow and I'll just run through them quickly. To begin, Chicago looks to move their spring break trip record to 3-0 when they travel to Mary Washington tomorrow to take on the Eagles. Every match is important for the Maroons because NCAAs are constantly on the line. Chicago made a fairly drastic switch moving Stefanski to #1 and Zhang back to #2. No matter the order tomorrow, I think Chicago will win the top 2 spots. The Maroons match up well with the Eagles in my opinion and I'm expecting a fairly easy win for Chicago. Mary Wash's only chance is to take a 2-1 or 3-0 lead in doubles. The Eagles haven't shown much promise this year and Chicago has played solid but not great tennis during their first two spring break matches. The Maroons need to run through the match tomorrow to gain momentum for the big one against Hopkins.

Williams plays their first D3 match of the season in North Carolina against NC Wesleyan. NCW got a wake up call on Saturday when they were beaten badly by Hopkins, so they will be hungry to play good tennis tomorrow. Both teams are very deep in singles but I think Williams is a little bit stronger. They should get wins from Lebedoff and Sun and NCW will need to match those wins in the bottom spots which I don't know if they can do. Williams has been traditionally weak in doubles so this is a question mark for me. NCW swept Mary Wash in dubs then they were swept by Hopkins. They need to be on their A game in doubles if they want to have a chance tomorrow. I think if Williams leads after doubles, things are looking good for them to get a win. An upset is possible but I'm thinking Williams should win a close 6-3. Williams needs to get some out of conference wins on their resume.

The biggest match of the day is Cruz at CMS. Santa Cruz has lost two recent matches after winning Indoors so I'm not sure what type of mindset their team is in. CMS lost a surprise match to Amherst but recovered nicely against a strong Bowdoin team. If Santa Cruz loses tomorrow, we know for sure that they won't be hosting the West Regional for NCAAs. This could end up being very important. This match is a battle every year and I expect a match coming down to the wire tomorrow. In singles, I think things will be very even. 1 through 3 can both go either way, but I like CMS towards the bottom of the lineup. In doubles, Cruz should win 1 and the bottom 2 are unpredictable. CMS will get at least 1 on their homecourts, but I'm not encouraged after either team's doubles performances in their recent matches. I'm going with CMS in a nailbiter tomorrow but obviously this one can go either way.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wednesday March 24th

Spencer Feldman, Trinity (CT)

We have 4 big matches set for Wednesday with two taking place in the AS region and two taking place in the West. To start, we have Chicago continuing their spring break trip and traveling to Lexington, VA to take on Washington & Lee. The Maroons were tested by Newport on Monday but took care of business and they face a tougher test tomorrow. The Generals have been playing good doubles lately, but their singles let them down against Hampden-Sydney in a 5-4 loss last week. I expect a competitive match and I'm looking forward to the 1 singles match. I think Chicago will be a little too strong at the bottom of the lineup and I would predict a 6-3 win for the Maroons. This would be a good win for Chicago's NCAA resume.

Besides Cal Lutheran, I think the most pleasant surprise this year is Kalamazoo. They have quietly been going about their business and they have wins over Chicago and DePauw. They find themselves ranked 13 in the country and they travel to Baltimore to take on a Hopkins team who is fresh off an impressive win against NC Wesleyan. I think Hopkins should be a little too strong but Kzoo has surprised me all year long. Kalamazoo needs to jump ahead in doubles if they want to have any chance at a win. Hopkins should be too strong and I'll go with JHU in a 7-2 win at home.

Middlebury crushed Santa Cruz today and made a statement that they too could be the best team in the country. It's unfortunate that Midd and Cal Lu won't face off, but instead Middlebury needs to continue their impressive play against a hungry Redlands team. The Bulldogs are desperate right now and they need a big win like this if they want to get back into the NCAA hunt. Redlands had an impressive showing against Whitman today with good wins everywhere, especially in the bottom of the lineup. Midd needs to be careful that they stay ahead in doubles and don't let Redlands in the match. I would expect Midd to take at least 2 of the doubles and I think they can win 5 and maybe all 6 singles. I'll take Midd in another 8-1 win but they should be pushed in a number of the matches.

The last big match of the day is a NESCAC showdown taking place in California between Trinity (CT) and Bowdoin. To put it nicely, these two teams hate each other and they always have matches coming down to the wire. I would expect nothing less tomorrow. Trinity (CT) was surprisingly good in singles today against CLU but only managed 7 games in doubles. Bowdoin has also been struggling in doubles so this could be the key to the match. Pena is still nowhere to be found and if this is the case, we could see Trinity (CT) taking the top 4 singles spots. Bowdoin should be a little too tough down low so I think this could come down to doubles. With Pena I think Bowdoin wins, but without him I'm taking Trinity (CT) in a 5-4 win that comes down to the final match. This is a huge match for NCAAs and the loser of it is in very bad shape. I don't know if either of these teams has the ability to knock off one of the top 3 in NESCAC, so this is a match that they both really need to win.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tuesday March 23rd

UPDATE: Not sure how I missed this on the calendar but Trinity (CT) plays at Cal Lutheran tomorrow. This will be the last test for the Kingsmen before CMS. CLU matches up well with Trinity (CT), and since they are both top heavy teams I don't think CLU will struggle too much, especially since Trinity (CT) won't really be used to the outdoor conditions. I think the Bantams have a decent shot at the 3 and 4 singles spots but other than that, they're in trouble.

Just a brief Tuesday preview. We have 3 important matches set to take place, all in the West. Whitman looks to carry their momentum from the Pomona-Pitzer win into Redlands. At this moment in time, Whitman is probably ranked higher than Redlands but I think these teams are even. They both play good doubles and have deep lineups. However, I think Whitman has the advantage at the top of the lineup and I'm guessing this will push them to victory. The Bulldogs need to be ahead after doubles if they want to have a chance. Bowdoin travels to CMS for the Stags second NESCAC opponent in a row. I think CMS should win fairly comfortably, but I also thought that about the Amherst match. CMS needs to get back on track after that tough loss and this match would certainly help. At the same time, an upset would greatly enhance Bowdoin's NCAA chances so they should be hungry for a win.

The biggest match of the day is Middlebury vs Santa Cruz. Cruz doesn't want to lose 2 matches in 4 days but Midd is one of the most talented teams in the country. There should be some real heavyweight matches at the top of the lineup. What Midd can't afford is to get swept in doubles. They have been questionable in doubles early in the season in previous years. Cruz will be hungry for a win, but if they lose they could find themselves back to #3 in the country. I'm expecting a Midd win in a very tight match but if Cruz plays great doubles I think they could win. If UCSC isn't up at least 2-1 after dubs they don't have a chance.

Weekend Recap: March 19-21

Dillon Pottish, Emory

There was a ton of action and a lot of drama this weekend. We learned a lot about many teams and obviously the headliner was the #1 team in the country fell. I'll start with the Atlantic South Region matches.

The morning match was a lopsided affair where NC Wesleyan absolutely dominated Mary Wash. I expected a better performance from the Eagles, but a great job by the Bishops to turn things around in doubles after dropping 2 to W&L. This is just a rebuilding year for Mary Wash, I don't know if there's anything else to say. At this point I see their Redlands win as a fluke after they swept the doubles. This is the only win that is keeping them afloat right now and if they aren't careful they will lose to Salisbury this year. NC Wesleyan looked like a top 10 team for a few hours before getting beaten by Hopkins 8-1. I expected a closer match, but Hopkins won a 9-7 in doubles as well as all 3 3-setters. This was closer than the score but it was still 8-1 and I think it woke NCW up. It showed them that they aren't ready to compete with the best in the country just yet. They have a good shot to knock off a vulnerable Williams team Thursday. I think we've seen that NCW is a little up and down so far this season. A good showing by Hopkins establishing their dominance as #2 in the AS region behind Emory who had a convincing win over DePauw on Saturday. The Eagles went from dropping 2 of 3 doubles at Indoors to sweeping DePauw. A 7-2 result is about what I expected.

The other 4 matches on Saturday took place in the West. Redlands jumped out to an expected doubles lead against Bowdoin but then proceeded to falter in singles. The Bulldogs just don't have anyone who can win near the top of the lineup and their depth isn't good enough to carry them. They are pretty much out of NCAAs this year unless they pull a huge upset. This has to be the first time in a while they miss the tournament. Bowdoin got a much needed victory but they are still playing without Oscar Pena. They face a must win situation early this week when they play Trinity (CT). If they lose, they can count themselves out of the tournament this year as well. Whitman defeated Pomona-Pitzer in a very close match with 4 3-setters. The difference was Whitman winning in the middle. The Squirrels are a tough team this year. If they don't get stuck in Cali for NCAAs, I think they could definitely pose a threat to a top seed in their region. They have a lot of experience and are solid everywhere. They pushed Cruz to a 6-3 match on Sunday which is an improvement from their result 6 weeks ago.

The 2 biggest surprises of the weekend involved the 3 top teams in the West. Amherst rebounded after getting spanked by CLU and beat a CMS team who looked very tough in their first few matches. CMS may have been overconfident going into this matches but I'm very surprised they were beaten at the top 4 singles spots. A good showing by Herst to get them back on track heading into NESCAC play. CMS needs to regroup and get ready for some upcoming tests including the new #1 team in the country, Cal Lutheran. I was getting updates from the match and I was told Cruz was not sharp in doubles. CLU took advantage of this and took the 3-0 lead to basically end the match. Despite the 5-4 score, it was clinched at 5-1. Giuffrida and Ballou both have individual records of 24-0 right now and they are the best doubles team as well as the best 1-2 punch in the country at this moment. CLU is not just beating these opponents, they are winning comfortably. I love the fact that a team who was supposed to be #25 in the country is now ranked #1. Just goes to show what hard work and confidence can do for a team. Cruz had no expectations at Indoors and played loose tennis to win it. Now that they were expected to win, they folded. CLU plays CMS on April 10th and I think they are well on their way to undefeated regular season. Crazy to say it, but at the moment they are the favorite for nationals.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NCAA Tournament Outlook

We are a little beyond 1/3 through the season but it's never too early to start discussing the NCAA tournament because after all, it's definitely the biggest event of the season. I first glanced at the NCAA handbook about 2 weeks ago and the first thing that caught my eye is the field for 2010 had been expanded from 41 to 42 teams. I hoped that this meant Pool C had been expanded, but much to my dismay, the Independent Pool B has been given a 9th bid. The breakdown is now 27-9-6. Pool B is fairly weak, but includes teams such as : Santa Cruz, TCNJ, Vassar, Skidmore, Whitewater, Oshkosh, Eau Claire, Carthage and MIT.

Pool A will obviously have several hotly contested conferences most notably:
UAA (Emory, Wash U, Carnegie, Chicago)
NESCAC (Amherst, Midd, Williams, Bowdoin, Trinity (CT))
SCIAC (Cal Lutheran, CMS, Redlands, Pomona-Pitzer)
SCAC (DePauw, Trinity (TX), Rhodes)
CAC (Mary Washington, Salisbury)
ODAC (Hampden-Sydney, Washington & Lee)

I just listed 6 conferences and 20 total teams. Clearly, only 6 of the teams can win their conference so that leaves 14 teams competing for 6 Pool C spots to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Here's a look at where most of the teams stand.

Pool C Rankings

#1 - UAA #2 - Wash U and Emory both have established themselves as top 5 teams in the country, at least it seems that way right now. Chances are excellent that they will meet in the final of UAAs. The winner goes through Pool A, the loser goes through Pool C. Besides Emory's home match against Williams, neither team has much in the way of D3 competition before the conference tournament. It's a lock that one of these teams will qualify through Pool C.

#2 - NESCAC #2 - Pretty much the same scenario here. This is most likely going to be Amherst or Middlebury. I view Williams as a fairly distant 3rd this year. Whoever finishes 2nd in this conference should be in the top 8 in the country and should have no trouble qualifying for Pool C. Amherst had a slow start to the season but after their CMS win, I see them moving into the top 10 most likely and I'd be surprised if they aren't top 8 by the time the year ends.

#3 - SCIAC #2 - This will be CLU or CMS. Right now, it looks like that will be CMS, but either way both of these teams are a lock for the tournament. CLU already has a good enough resume to make the tournament through Pool C and CMS will at the end of the season barring a meltdown. It's possible that Redlands pulls 1 upset in the conference tourney, but I don't see them winning the SCIAC tournament the way they've been playing.

Note : These top 3 are interchangeable. They can go in any order. It doesn't matter because they will all make the tourney.

#4 Carnegie Mellon - The saving grace for the Tartans is that they have the Amherst win to fall back on if they get into trouble. Even if they fall to #6 in Pool C and have a direct loss to a team like DePauw or Chicago, I still think they will make it because they will have a better overall resume than these teams. They've been taking care of business and I definitely see them making the tournament unless they also have a huge meltdown.

#5 Williams - It's hard to gauge the Ephs because they haven't started their season but you can speculate they should make the tournament comfortably. I can see scenarios where they don't make it, but they are a good team. What they don't need is to go and lose to NCW this week and put themselves in a hole to start the season. Wins against Bowdoin and Trinity (CT) are a must for this team because they don't play a good out of conference schedule this year.

Note: 4 and 5 are pretty interchangeable as well. I have CMU ahead because they've played matches and Williams hasn't. Again, I'd bet that both of these teams make the tournament so they should both be pretty relaxed. They both just need to beat the teams ranked below them and they are in a good spot.

#6 - Many Contenders - According to the ITA rankings, Chicago holds this spot right now. But the truth is there are about 5 or 6 teams right on their heels. The issue is that no one team has separated from the pack like the top 4 Pool C teams have. They all seem like they can beat each other on any day. Teams that I'd throw in this category are Chicago, DePauw, Trinity (TX), Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands and Bowdoin. Trinity (CT) also belongs here but they haven't started their season yet. If they have a convincing win over Bowdoin this week, they could take over this spot. I have a feeling that the SCAC #2 won't make the tournament, and I also think P-P has a ton of work to do, as does Redlands. Chicago has some chances this week to pad their resume with wins, so to me they are the frontrunner here at the moment.

I will do a tournament outlook every 10-14 days so stay posted.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Two Saturday Previews - March 20th

Andrew Wang, Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins vs. NC Wesleyan

Hopkins has been away from D3 play for about a month now, but they should be sharp after spending spring break in Florida. NCW struggled in their first real test against Washington & Lee. This isn't a promising sign for a team that expects a lot from themselves this spring. W&L managed to get both of the top 2 doubles spots on Wednesday against NCW. Hopkins is clearly stronger at both of the top 2 doubles spots so I would expect them to get comfortable wins from their top 2 teams. I think NCW needs a win at 3 to stay alive. I would expect wins from Hopkins at the top 2 singles spots to put them up 4-1 heading into the bottom 4 spots. Both teams are strong at the bottom, and I would expect a split of the 3 through 6 lines. #3 is a match to really pay attention to and #4 should be highly contested as well. I'm going with Hopkins in a 6-3 win that never really gets all that close. I think NCW has a while to go before they can break into the top 10. Another factor to consider is that NCW has a morning match against Mary Washington, taking place in Fredericksburg. This will surely be a long, grueling match and I think NCW could be feeling the effects of the morning against Hopkins.

Amherst @ CMS

Amherst has not looked impressive so far this week and CMS was really sharp taking down CMU and Trinity (TX) with ease. The CMS doubles lineup has been outstanding and I think they will dominate Amherst here. The Jeffs are lucky to get 1 win in doubles and honestly I'm expecting a sweep. Amherst picked up their doubles against Redlands and this was a promising sign. CMS has been mixing things up in doubles over their past couple matches but I would expect them to come out hot on their home courts and take at worst a 2-1 lead. #1 will be a great match but Erani has been very strong lately so I have to give the edge to him. #2 should also be close but I have to go with Lim. 3rd singles is a potential winning spot for Amherst and a spot they really need. #4 is also a potential winner for Amherst. At 5 and 6 I have to go with CMS in 2 pretty easy wins. The Stags are just a little too good everywhere and given the home court advantage, this should be a routine win. Remember that CMS beat Amherst 7-2 during the regular season last year and the Jeffs went on to make the national finals. I'll take CMS 6-3 tomorrow.

Kenyon @ Emory Post-Match Thoughts

The scoreboard says 6-3 but I would argue that the match was much closer than that. Taking a look at doubles to begin, Emory took #3 in a very close match as expected. You have to expect the Eagles to take evenly matched spots at home. The surprises were the first two doubles lines. The Goodwin/Pottish team is not living up to expectations and Kenyon took advantage of this with a new #1 doubles combo giving them an early lead. Kenyon held match points at 2nd doubles but wasn't able to close it out. I'm impressed with Emory's strength at the #2 doubles spot so far this season. Good singles wins for Kenyon at #3 and #4 singles. These are spots that both teams really need in their respective runs toward a national title. Piskacek is not living up to expectations in singles this year and he was beaten by the best #2 player in the country. Greenberg held match points at the #1 position and this would have made the score 4-3 in favor of Kenyon heading to the last two matches. Pottish held his title as top singles player in the country and managed to get the win for his team. Emory is always tough down low in the lineup so you have to figure they would get at least 1 of the 2 remaining spots. I think this is a somewhat positive result for both teams. Emory is obviously very tough but I don't know if they look like a FInal 4 team right now. Kenyon seems to be improving and was right on the doorstep of winning against the current top 3 in the country.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cal Lutheran @ UC Santa Cruz Preview

Erich Koenig, Santa Cruz

This one has the makings of a classic and every time Cruz steps on the court, they are putting their #1 ranking on the line. CLU should be 10-0 heading into this match with most of those wins over ranked D3 teams. These are probably the two most confident teams in the country given their undefeated records in D3 play. CLU has been playing high quality tennis and Cruz really stepped up their play during the finals of Indoors after not looking all that impressive the first two rounds. The x factor in this match is how much of a factor will the Slugs home court advantage play. We have two undefeated #1 doubles teams squaring off and this will definitely be a close one. I'm going to give the nod to Cruz at 1st dubs and 2nd dubs and I would expect CLU to win at 3rd dubs. Cruz has the potential to take a 3-0 lead but I don't think it will happen. I don't know if I would say CLU has that same firepower. In 9 matches, CLU is 27-0 at the top 3 spots. That's some unbelievable play by those guys. Cruz's strength is also the top of the lineup so I expect 3 great matches. I'll go with Giuffrida at 1 and Ballou at 2, but I think Cruz could take 3. I would be shocked if CLU wins the top 3 spots. They will definitely win the match if this happens. The bottom is a real coinflip, CLU has an edge at 6 and Cruz has an edge at 5 so I think this match could come down to #4 singles. Great matches throughout the lineup and I'm really looking forward to this. I won't be predicting a winner because I just don't know.

ITA Rankings March 18th

Latest ITA Rankings

Rankings very accurate in my opinion. Cal Lu moving up after their wins and also Amherst down to #12 after their loss. The only thing that somewhat puzzles me is why Mary Wash is so low after a fairly convincing win against Redlands. W&L is decent, but nothing great and UMW did lose to them. W&L also lost to Salisbury but was pretty close to knocking off NC Wesleyan yesterday. I wouldn't have believed you if you told me a month ago that Redlands, Trinity (TX) and Bowdoin would be 18 through 20 and Kalamzoo would be 13. Definitely a lot in the way of surprises this season.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cal Lutheran Kingsmen

Nick Ballou, CLU

I know that Cal Lu expected a lot out of themselves this season, but I don't know if they expected to start with a 9 match winning streak including a 7-2 win over the defending national runner-up. It is clear to me that on their home courts, they are one of the best teams in the country, if not the best. I have doubted them all season but they have come through every time. What I like is that they are getting contributions everywhere. Right now I think Giuffrida could be considered the 5th or 6th best player in the country in singles and if you count doubles, he could be considered the overall best player. But it's not all about him, their bottom guys are coming up huge as well. I expected Kahan and Waterman to get easy wins yesterday and the opposite happened. I see the makings of a great team here when everyone steps up. They've even been down twice after doubles and managed to cruise in singles.

This Saturday they will face their biggest challenge yet. They've made a believer out of me if they are playing in Thousand Oaks. But can they beat Cruz on the road? I know you are reading Kingsmen so consider this a challenge. Prove to everyone that you can win away from home and you will be #1 in the country. The important thing to remember is that if Cruz wins Saturday, the road to the Final 8 won't be going through Thousand Oaks, it will be going through Santa Cruz or Claremont. To be the best, teams have to prove that they can win anywhere, not just at home. If you asked me about the March 20th schedule a month ago, this match may have been the least interesting to me. But with both teams having great results so far this season and being undefeated in D3 play, I think this is arguably the biggest regular season match to date.

Bowdoin @ Redlands Preview

Someone who doesn't follow D3 tennis closely may ask why this is such a big match. Both of these teams have been fixtures in the NCAA tournament for a very long time, yet both of them don't have promising NCAA outlooks and it's just the middle of March. I don't think either of these teams have the potential to win their conference tournament so they have to look to Pool C for bids. Redlands started slow but they seem to be playing better the last few matches and Bowdoin lost a match to Trinity (TX), a loss which they really couldn't afford. I see this as a must win for both teams, although I think Bowdoin needs it more than Redlands since the Bulldogs still have opportunities to knock off some big time opponents. The question mark for me is where is Pena for Bowdoin? He's a defending NCAA doubles finalist and one of the most valuable players in the country. Starting with doubles, I think Redlands will come out ahead on their home courts. Sullivan should run through Spearman to even the score at 2-2 and I would expect Redlands to strike back at #2. Liebman has been great all season and I would expect him to give Redlands 4-2 lead. I'd also expect the Bulldogs to win at least 1 of the bottom 3 spots. I'm going with Redlands 5-4 in this.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 Power Rankings March 16th

Note: The first list of rankings is my personal opinion and reflects both results and speculation. It is not meant to be taken as a literal ranking list based upon results that have occurred.

1. Middlebury
2. UC Santa Cruz
3. CMS
4. Wash U
5. Emory
6. Johns Hopkins
7. Cal Lutheran
8. Amherst
9. Kenyon
10. Williams
11. Carnegie Mellon
12. NC Wesleyan
13. Kalamazoo
14. Trinity (TX)
15. Chicago
16. DePauw
17. Redlands
18. Bowdoin
19. Pomona - Pitzer
20. Mary Washington
21. Whitman
22. Vassar
23. Salisbury
24. Washington & Lee
25. Gustavus

And my guess at the actual rankings to be released tomorrow...

1. Cruz
2. Wash U
3. Emory
4. Midd
5. CMS
6. Kenyon
7. Williams
8. Hopkins
9. CMU
10. Cal Lutheran
11. Amherst
12. NC Wesleyan
13. Kalamazoo
14. Chicago
15. DePauw
16. Trinity (CT)
17. Pomona - Pitzer
18. Mary Washington
19. Redlands
20. Trinity (TX)
21. Bowdoin
22. Washington & Lee
23. Salisbury
24. Vassar
25. Gustavus

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekly Preview March 15-19

Austin Chafetz, Amherst

March 20th is probably the biggest single day of the regular season, but to get there, we have to get through this week first. The upcoming week has several story lines headlined by the first matches for Amherst and Bowdoin. Both of these teams must transition from indoor practice to outdoor matches and they both face stern tests immediately. Monday brings an excellent warm-up match for the Jeffs. Salisbury is a team they should beat, but they will certainly be tested. I would expect the Sea Gulls to steal a couple points from Amherst and push them in a number of the matches. The bigger match on Monday is the contest between Bowdoin and Trinity (TX). Trinity is 0-4 in California so far and will find themselves out of the top 20 come Tuesday. They have almost 0 chance at qualifying through Pool C so they need to focus all of their attention on their conference tournament. Trinity's meltdown puts incredible pressure on Bowdoin to win this match. If the Polar Bears lose, they most likely fall below Trinity (TX) in the rankings, and this could mean 23 or 24 in the country. A loss Monday could eliminate Bowdoin from Pool C after their first match unless they come up with some magic later in the season. This is an absolute must win for Bowdoin and it's a tall task for their first match of the season.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that Andrew Jung won't be competing for Amherst this spring. This certainly puts Amherst in a tough spot losing their #3 player, but they are deep enough to handle it. The match I'm most looking forward to this week is Amherst @ Cal Lu on Tuesday. CLU is by far the hottest team in the country, but they will face by far their toughest test of the season when they host the defending runner up. I'm on upset watch and a win here could potentially catapult the Kingsmen into to top 10. Cal Lu also must beat Salisbury on Thursday. The Sea Gulls beat CLU last year so Cal Lu will be looking for revenge. If CLU gets through this week still undefeated, I won't hesitate to call them a national championship contender. They have really impressed me so far this year and they deserve a ton of credit. I vastly underestimated them.

Wednesday brings three more good matches. Amherst will play against a struggling Redlands team. Redlands beat both Texas teams, but they still aren't where they want to be this season. A win against Amherst could turn the season around for the Bulldogs so this is an important match for both teams. Redlands has looked tough in doubles lately so if they can get ahead 3-0, an upset is very possible. NC Wesleyan will be tested for the first time this year when they travel to W&L. The Generals are coming off a big win against Mary Wash so they look to carry that momentum into this match. NCW is a big question mark for me and they have two big matches Saturday as well. They have to remember not to take W&L lightly or this could be an upset. The only match of top 10 teams this week is a rematch of Indoors 3rd place. I would expect Emory to handle Kenyon on their home court although I'm expecting a close match. If the Lords can pull the upset, we could see Emory drop from the top 5 for the first time in a very long time.

The last match I'll have my eye on is W&L vs. HSC on Friday. This is a preview of the ODAC final and W&L looked strong over the weekend beating Mary Washington. If W&L loses this match, it could really throw the bottom half of the national rankings into a tailspin. I think an upset is possible if the bottom of the lineup can come through for HSC.

I will provide coverage throughout the week and I'll start preparing for a blockbuster weekend on Wednesday with previews of several of the matches. I'm really looking forward to the next 6 days so stay tuned.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ITA Rankings Preview

The ITA Rankings are due this upcoming Tuesday. I was thinking about what they could look like earlier today and what I came up with surprised me. The 11-25 range has been completely turned around. This is my prediction for what they will look like given that Cal Lutheran beats Trinity (TX) later today. If Trinity wins, this could get very messy. A Bowdoin loss to Trinity (TX) on Monday wouldn't complicate things all that much, but it may throw Bowdoin out of the top 20 for the time being.

1. Santa Cruz
2. Wash U
3. Emory
4. Middlebury
5. CMS
6. Kenyon
7. Williams
8. Hopkins
9. Carnegie Mellon
10. Amherst
11. Bowdoin
12. NC Wesleyan
13. Cal Lutheran
14. Kalamazoo
15. Chicago
16. DePauw
17. Trinity (CT)
18. Pomona - Pitzer
19. Salisbury
20. Washington & Lee
21. Mary Washington
22. Redlands
23. Trinity (TX)
24. Vassar
25. Gustavus Adolphus

18-23 is in perfect order based on direct wins. Each of those teams has a win over a team below it. I don't think the top 10 will change and we can see a lot of switching of this order in the coming weeks because there's a lot of tennis coming up. Redlands and Trinity (TX) are #12 and #13 in Pool C, respectively. They've really been hurt during their past few matches and if Trinity (TX) doesn't beat Cal Lu, it's going to be a do or die for them in the conference tournament. I'll have my own power rankings released Monday night and they will look quite different from the ITA rankings, I guarantee that.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekly Thoughts March 8-12

The week kicked off with UT-Tyler starting their season against a Pomona-Pitzer team that was fresh off a huge win against Mary Washington. The Hens were able to hang on for a 5-4 win in what was a very tight match. UT-Tyler got absolutely destroyed by Cal Lutheran later in the week, and this was the Kingsmen's only big match this week. I get the following info from these results. I think Pomona-Pitzer's win against Mary Wash was a bit of a fluke and my guess would be that they were pumped up on their home courts in doubles and the Eagles weren't adjusted to outdoor tennis. Mary Wash beat Redlands who went on to beat Trinity (TX) so I think the Eagles will be on the border of the top 20. Pomona-Pitzer probably sits between 20 and 25. UT-Tyler is a 25-30 team and they are slightly worse than Pomona-Pitzer. Cal Lutheran is looking very strong and I'm really look forward to their match with Trinity (TX) on Monday.

Carnegie Mellon had 3 big matches this week and they did well in my opinion. They dropped 2 of the doubles to Redlands but came back to take the match after dominating singles. Their second match was a loss to CMS. I was expecting a bit of a down year for the Stags this year but this certainly proved to be incorrect after two very impressive results from this week. The Stags are a national championship contender in my mind and these two results alone have made a believer out of me. It's just unfortunate they won't be hosting nationals again. In a match that i was really looking forward to, CMU beat Trinity (TX) 5-4. We don't have a box score at the moment but I'm sure it came down to the wire. These are two evenly matched teams but I think CMU proved they belong in the top 10 in the country.

Trinity (TX) didn't pass their first 3 tests, but they still have 2 more opportunities to redeem themselves. They got crushed by CMS and I am attributing their Redlands loss to just being tired after two difficult matches. I think they are a better team than Redlands but this could certainly hurt Trinity (TX)'s NCAA chances. Both of the SCAC big fish have had tough losses in the past week and we could see both of them out of the top 15 in the rankings. Trinity (TX) desperately needs a win against Cal Lu or Bowdoin to get their confidence back and more importantly stay alive Pool C.

In the only match of the week between top 10 teams, Wash U edged Kenyon 5-4. Apparently, the singles were played first and #1 doubles was ultimately the decider in the match. This was a very close contest and what i get from this result is Kenyon could potentially be a top 5 team. They can beat anyone on any given day. I was disappointed to see the wash U-NC Wesleyan match cancelled. We have to wait a bit longer to see how strong NCW is.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wash U vs. Kenyon Pre-Match Thoughts

At first glance I want to say the Bears will win this one easily but it's hard to know about a neutral site at 8am. Anything can happen. Looking at the doubles, I think Wash U has a clear advantage at 1. 2 and 3 are both questionable. I think if Kenyon wants to have any chance they need both of these spots. Kenyon needs to take a lead into singles play. 2 years ago, a Watts-Greenberg match at 1 would be much anticipated but I definitely think Watts should win easily. I like Piskacek over Stein at #2. Putterman and Woods should be able to win at 3 and 4 for Wash U. 2 is a match between freshmen and it's a tough call but I like Burgin after his performance at Indoors. 6 is a huge spot but I'm going to take Levy. Like I said a lot depends on doubles, but I'm going to take Wash U in a 6-3 win. This should show Kenyon they need to improve and Wash U should definitely benefit from a win.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend Thoughts March 5-7

A lot of matches this weekend but I'll only touch on important results. A lot of surprises this weekend in my mind. DePauw had 3 matches and they did not end up like the Tigers wanted. DePauw lost 2 huge matches that were very important for their NCAA hopes and they now have a lot of pressure to win their conference tournament because their NCAA resume may not be strong enough to qualify for Pool C after this bad weekend. At the same time, Chicago redeemed themselves after their terrible showing against Kzoo. This was a much needed win for the Maroons and they kept themselves alive for NCAAs. Kalamazoo is a real pleasant surprise this year and they must be playing some excellent tennis. These wins should put them in the top 15 for the first time in several years. An excellent beginning to the season for the Hornets, they just have to keep it up.

Another surprise this weekend was Mary Washington rebounding and beating Redlands fairly easily after a doubles sweep. They went from getting swept by Pomona-Pitzer to sweeping Redlands and my question after this match is how week are the Bulldogs? They should drop out of the top 20 after this and they could be in trouble as far as NCAAs are concerned. Basically, no one has established themself as a clear frontrunner in Pool C. The 11-25 range in the rankings is very ambiguous at this moment and I feel like anyone can beat anyone else on any given day. Another team to watch is Vassar. They are looking very strong so far this year but they won't be tested again until earl April.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Preview: Kalamazoo at DePauw

I didn't expect much from the Hornets this year but they have been on top of their game this year. They have no freshman and 3 seniors I believe so this is a very experienced team. Even with their experience, I don't know if they can manage to beat DePauw on the road. This should be a fairly even match for the most part but I feel as though DePauw is just a little bit stronger everywhere. I would expect DePauw to win 2 of the doubles. I'm really looking forward to the #1 match because these have been two doubles teams that have been on fire lately. The DePauw team went 3-0 at Indoors crushing Emory. I would be surprised if one of the team manages to pull a doubles sweep. The top 3 singles matches should all be pretty even and could go either way. Kzoo could be a little stronger here and I don't think they can win this match without winning 2 of the top 3 matches. The bottom is also fairly even but I like DePauw's depth a little more. I think they will manage to take 2 of 3 in the bottom 3 spots. I'm going with DePauw in a 6-3 win but all the matches should be close.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two Saturday Previews

Mary Washington @ Redlands
***Match moved to Friday***

A week ago, I did not expect this to be a match between #17 and #28 in the country. I thought the combined rankings may add up to 28. This just goes to show how important this match is for both teams. Neither of them started the way they wanted to, and this is a chance to get a good win under the belt and start moving in the right direction. Redlands has the home court advantage, and even a week doesn't fully adjust a team from indoor to outdoor tennis. I'll get a better feel for this match after the UMW-Cal Lu result comes in from tonight, but I'll try my hand at predictions before seeing that. I'm going to make the assumption that Redlands will be playing the same lineup from Monday and won't return their two missing starters for this match. Even without those two, I like Redlands to capture 2 of the doubles, most likely #1 and #2. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a doubles sweep, but I think UMW will keep themselves in it. Redlands should get wins at 1 and 2 to give themselves a big lead and I would expect Mary Wash to strike back at 6. The big three spots are 3 through 5 where both teams are pretty strong. I think Redlands will win 2 of those 3 spots giving them a 6-3 victory and a much needed confidence boost.

Chicago @ DePauw

DePauw had a rough draw at Indoors but faired well and Chicago looked great very early in the season but just faltered against Kzoo. This is a big match for both teams, but much more important for the Maroons. I'll say it now, if they don't win this match they will miss NCAAs. It's just very important that they get a top 15 win on their resume. DePauw could use a win too, but they still have their conference tournament to fall back on. If Chicago wins this, I think it has to be in singles. DePauw could very easily sweep the doubles here and I see them being stronger at all 3 spots. For the sake of this preview, I'll give DePauw 2 of the doubles. Chicago should strike back at #1 to even things up. The bottom 5 spots will be very interesting. Rardon and Schouweiler have been very good for DePauw and I think they will both win. This means the Maroons will need wins at 2, 4 and 6 and I don't think they can get all 3. I'll take DePauw in a 5-4 win. Whoever wins doubles in this match is the favorite in my mind.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

ITA Rankings and a Look Ahead

Scott Sandager, DePauw

New ITA Rankings can be found here

There's not much info so far and what we do know was properly reflected in these rankings. Cal Lu made a drastic move but it is certainly justified and I think Kalamazoo's upset win is also reflected well. The only thing I question is dropping Mary Wash out of the top 30 but even that is justified after their recent loss to Pomona-Pitzer.

There is rarely a result that I find favorable for both teams. Tuesday's match between CMU and Newport may fall into this category. CMU switched their lineup in doubles and it worked as they swept the doubles with 2 close matches. Whether this is a permanent switch, I don't know, but it certainly worked. Newport struck back and took the first two matches and they have to love the singles results. CMU was a little too deep for them and this showed, but CNU certainly won the spots they can win and I have high hopes for Widing after this win yesterday. This should be somewhat of a confidence boost for both teams going forward.

I count 9 important matches in next 4 days. Mary Wash is in 2 of them and DePauw is in 3 of them. Friday's contest between Salisbury and NCW may not be competitive because 3 Salisbury starters will be out of the lineup for disciplinary reasons dating back to the fall. Salisbury will have plenty of chances the rest of their season but this is a disappointing way to most likely lose a winnable and important match. I am interested to see how Newport responds against Vassar. Vassar apparently has lightning fast indoor courts and I'm sure CNU won't be used to this. This should be a highly competitive match. I spoke earlier in the week about UMW needing a win this weekend for their confidence. They definitely have a better shot against Redlands because I feel they match up better. I think they are going to need at least 2 of the doubles if they want to have any chance against CLU.

The busiest team this weekend is DePauw and they are taking part in the 2 biggest matches of the weekend in my eyes. They have 3 very tough matches in 36 hours and although they did the same thing at Indoors, this has an effect on your team. I don't think they can get away with playing their B team against Luther. The Chicago match is huge for Pool C standings. UChi will be hungry for a win after they got blown out by Kalamazoo and they know that every match is so important for their NCAA chances. Chicago also needs to not overlook a tough Luther team on Friday. It would be tough for their seniors to go out without having played an NCAA tournament and never having been out of the top 25. I think Chicago will come out firing so DPU needs to use their home court to their advantage. I'm also looking forward to the Kzoo-DPU match and I think I smell an upset here. DePauw will be beaten up and tired from Saturday and Kzoo will be fresh and ready to go after moving up to #16 in the ITA rankings. Every match is important for DePauw because of Pool C standings as well. This is a huge weekend for the Tigers and if they can escape 3-0, I will be very impressed with this team.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Thoughts and Tuesday Preview

Eric Shulman, CNU

I spoke with several sources about their thoughts on the CLU-Redlands match and most of them gave me the same conclusion that I came to. Redlands will probably win a close one. This proved not to be the case and Cal Lu pulled quite an upset, really shaking things up on the national scene. The poll to the right shows that most people viewed Redlands as a real contender this year but maybe this isn't the case. However, I do see players missing for the Bulldogs when I look at the box score. No Reading, but he hasn't been around all spring and no Dahl, who is supposed to be their best freshman. This definitely could have changed the match, but take nothing away from CLU because they deserve the win. They nearly swept doubles and I thought that 1 point for Redlands could be important. CLU took the top 2 and Redlands took the bottom 2, but the middle is where CLU won this match. My hat goes off to CLU's middle of the lineup as well as their 3 doubles team. A great win for the Kingsmen and they should be moving into the top 20 now. This is definitely a result that other potential Pool C teams should love.

In the other surprise of the day, Pomona-Pitzer rebounded from the CLU loss and took down a young Mary Washington team. I was expecting the Eagles to win this but once they were swept in doubles, it was nearly impossible for them win. What happened to UMW today is what we thought would happen, they can't win at the top of the lineup. The depth is clearly there, they are just lacking that top player. Once they got down in doubles, they just get steamrolled at 1 and 2 and the match is over. UMW did a good job making the score look respectable, but they needed to be on top in doubles. This was a much needed win for a great program. P-P has struggled for a couple years and this is a promising start to their season. They have to play another beatable ranked team in a week and that 6-3 loss to CLU looks pretty good after today. The Eagles need to bounce back and they have two great chances on Thursday and Sunday. I think UMW needs one of those wins for their confidence or it could be another very long season. Granted, this is their first match outdoors so a rough day can be expected.

Tomorrow, CNU travels to Carnegie Mellon. The week before spring break usually means exams, and at Carnegie Mellon which is infamous for its difficult schoolwork, this could mean no sleep and very little tennis. CNU better hope this is the case because it's their only chance for a win. I think there's a couple spots CNU can win, but unless Carnegie doesn't show up, this won't be all that close. Theoretically, CNU could win 2 of the doubles, but I'd call CMU is the favorite in all 3. I'd also consider CMU the favorite at every singles spot besides 1. I'm calling a 7-2 tomorrow and I don't think the bottom of the lineup will be all that close. Newport needs to hope their opponents are having a very bad day.