Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Recap: April 9-11

I'm pretty behind on a lot of the results so I'll go through important matches that have taken place and discuss their implications.

Mary Washington d. Salisbury 7-2

Just about everything that could possibly go wrong for Mary Wash this season has happened. They went into this match struggling and ranked 26th. Salisbury on the other hand was hot and boasted a #14 ranking. I had little doubt in my mind that this would be the year where Mary Washington's streak of 10 consecutive conference titles would come to an end. I said in my preview that this is the one win that could salvage Mary Wash's season. They not only got the win, but they got it in convincing fashion. The Eagles now get the conference final on their campus and Salisbury who was cruising through their season, now has doubts about their NCAA tournament hopes. I never thought Mary Wash would come out and sweep singles for a 7-2 win. I thought they had to get it done in doubles. On paper and recruit wise, the Eagles are the more talented team and this showed today. The Gulls need to regroup for the conference final because this is a do-or-die match for both teams.

Middlebury d. Trinity (CT) 8-1

Trinity (CT) has four outstanding singles players that could potentially propel them to a win against Amherst or Williams this spring. The problem for the Bantams yesterday was that Middlebury is stronger at those top 4 spots. Midd has established themselves as the clear #1 team in the country but at the same time, I wouldn't say they are unbeatable like the 2007 Cruz team. I would make the claim that no one can win for than 3 singles matches against Midd, but their doubles can be beaten, and with the 9-point system, anything can happen. Trinity has a couple more chances to enhance their NCAA resume and they need to make a move soon. Midd needs to prepare for Amherst and Williams so they can continue their undefeated regular season in D3.

Williams d. Vassar 8-1

I was pretty impressed with Vassar after the Trinity (CT) match. I didn't expect them to do as well as they did. This match, on the other hand, has caused me to doubt if they deserve a spot in the top 20. If Vassar isn't winning at the top of the lineup, they just can't compete with other top 20 teams. Williams strength is their depth, so this is really just a bad matchup for Vassar and playing on the road didn't help. Williams finally got a good win under their belt but they really need to keep it going. I still question their doubles. Vassar will obviously make the tournament with ease but due to geographic proximity, I think it is very possible they will end up playing a regional at Middlebury. A sweet 16 appearance isn't out of the question for Vassar, but they don't have the team to go any further. Williams has 4 tough NESCAC matches remaining and they need to perform well if they want to be in the tournament.

Gustavus d. Carleton 6-3

Not too much to say here besides the fact that I doubt Gustavus will fail to win the conference this year. The Gusties won a match with their singles, which doesn't happen very often. The match really wasn't all that close which surprises me and Carleton has a lot of work to do if they want to win a conference title this year. This is about as weak as GAC will ever be and they still managed to get a win. The box score shows an attendance of 166 which is impressive and I'm sure had a lot to do with a GAC victory. It also mentions that GAC has a win streak of 228 consecutive regular season wins in their conference. If I were Gustavus, I'd consider it a successful season if they ended up winning the conference tournament. This was a much needed win for the Gusties.

Johns Hopkins d. Salisbury 7-2

Both squads were struggling entering this match with Hopkins getting crushed in two winnable matches and Salisbury losing against the one team they need to beat. Salisbury needs to be playing at home to have any chance against a team this good and that showed with the end result being an expected routine victory for Hopkins. 6 of 7 wins for Hopkins in this match were extremely easy. My instinct after their last two results is that Salisbury just isn't that strong this year and got hot against an overconfident Kalamazoo team. I don't know if Salisbury will be in the top 20 in the next rankings and they need to regroup and get ready to go in the conference final if they want to make this a worthwhile season. As for Hopkins, they face one more real test this season and that's Mary Wash on the road. They are sitting in the position of the 8th #1 seed for NCAAs right now and I think it would take some magic from Williams to take that away from the Blue Jays.

Amherst d. Bowdoin 5-4

This match was a bit closer than I expected, but I still think Bowdoin is an underrated team this year, even without their most valuable player. Herst got the win they needed and they will remain in the top 10 in the country. They have 3 huge NESCAC matches still to play so their season is far from over. Trinity (CT) is a team that matches up fairly well with them so the Jeffs need to make sure they stay sharp. They have all but locked up an NCAA bid, but they need to make sure that they remain as #1 seed. With the CMS win over CLU, that win for Amherst is looking quite impressive. It's not completely clear at the moment, but I still think Bowdoin holds the #6 Pool C spot with three wins against top 20 opponents. The Polar Bears will have a good shot to beat Williams soon. I still think Bowdoin is in a great spot and I think it would still take a big win from Chicago to knock them out of the tournament.

GLCA Tournament

I did a pretty good job predicting the scores of the semifinals, but it's about the only thing I've predicted correctly this season. DePauw had a chance to take a 2-1 doubles lead and this is something they needed to do if they wanted to win. Kenyon was just a little too tough and top heavy for the Tigers. Carnegie seems to have completely turned things around in doubles as they absolutely destroyed Kzoo, losing only 7 games in the 3 matches. After a doubles sweep, it was pretty much impossible for Kalamazoo to win. In my opinion, the strongest two teams would compete in the finals. I expected DePauw to get revenge on Kzoo for earlier this season, but I actually expected them to do it in a little more dominant fashion than they did. It took 2 tiebreakers in dubs and a 3-set singles win for the Tigers to get a win. They face a do-or-die in their conference tournament and they will likely be entering as the 2 seed. They will need to get through a dangerous Rhodes team as well as Trinity (TX) if they want to be in NCAAs this year. Kzoo is taking steps in the wrong direction as the season progresses. They started great, but they are now playing the tennis that I expected from them in the pre-season. They won't have trouble making the tournament, but the way they are playing they won't pose any kind of threat to the top seed in their region. They will remain in the top 20 for the moment but I don't know if they belong there. Onto the finals and this is one of the more impressive box scores I've seen this season. If you told me before the match Kenyon would be ahead after doubles, I would have given them a victory. CMU impresses me more and more with each match. When they aren't winning in doubles, they are winning in singles and vice versa. They are playing like one of the best teams in the country right now and I think they locked up a #1 seed in NCAAs after this weekend. I think they will pose a real threat to Emory in the UAA tournament semifinal. Kenyon has to be scratching their heads after blowing a match where they had a 2-1 lead plus 5 first sets under their belt. They need to go back to the drawing board after this one if they want to compete for a national title. I think they also have locked up a number 1 seed and definitely pose a threat to the top few teams, but they have yet to prove they can beat those teams.

CMS d. Cal Lutheran 6-3

I said in the match preview that CMS needed one of those 3 key points if they wanted to win. Although 2 singles wasn't the decider, it was a huge swing point and CMS did win. They had a little too much depth, but that's where you have to beat Cal Lu. The good thing for the Kingsmen is that they get another shot at the Stags in a week. These teams will also probably meet in the final of the best regional, unless Cruz pulls an upset. If CMS can beat CLU three times in a season, I will be quite impressed. They just have to be careful that they don't slip in the really important one in mid-May. This was a very close match between two top 5 teams and I can't wait for the rematch in a week. After being up in doubles, I think Cal Lu wins this match most of the time, but CMS just came up huge at 5 different spots. A huge win for the Stags and I wouldn't be surprised if they were the new #2 in the country come Tuesday. Despite the loss, a good result for both teams in my opinion.