Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two More Things This Season

1. For each of my top 25 year-end teams, I'll do a season recap plus a look at next season. Coaches and players, if there are recruits that are NOT listed on, please e-mail me letting me know who you're getting. If I hear nothing, I will just use the recruits. Also, if you are getting any transfers, please let me know. Up to this point, I have not heard of any schools getting a transfer.

2. I'll be writing an article for on the advantages of going D3 over D1. If you wish to share any thoughts on the issue, please e-mail me. I'm going to discuss things such as 5-stars being standouts in D3 versus #7 or 8 on their top D1 team. The ability to compete for a national title versus being in the middle of your conference. And the fact that there's less pressure on non-scholarship players. Lastly, I will talk about the improving quality of D3. If you think I should highlight any other points or have any ideas, please email me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 Year End Top 25

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

All-Tournament Team

1st Team
1. Cocanougher/Kowal, Trinity (TX)
2. Jia/Olson, Middlebury
3. Pottish/Redmond, Emory

1. John Watts, Wash U
2. Andrew Lee, Middlebury
3. Conrad Olson, Middlebury
4. Max Woods, Wash U
5. Elliot Jia, Middlebury
6. Mac Cahill, CMS

2nd Team
1. Lee/Thomson, Middlebury
2. Caplan/Lopp, Emory
3. Carroll/Murray, Trinity (TX)

1. Austin Chafetz, Amherst
2. Mikey Lim, CMS
3. Moritz Koenig, Amherst
4. Colin Egan, Emory
5. Alex Johnson, CMS
6. Kareem Farah, Wash U

Final 8 Recap

I'll start by saying congratulations to Middlebury and their outstanding core of seniors. They deserve it after a great season.

I'll go through each day starting with the morning quarters on Tuesday. From what I've heard, the effort from NCW was not very good. It seemed as though they thought they couldn't win and gave Middlebury too much respect. After Midd swept the doubles, it was over and there's really not much more to say. Midd romped NCW in singles and this match was over in about 2 hours. The experience for Midd paid off in this one. Much like the other morning quarterfinal, one team was experienced and looking to win the tournament while the other one was just happy to make the Final 8. Midd advances to the semis. The other quarterfinal was the same result, just less extreme. I thought CMU would come out with a nothing to lose attitude, and maybe they did, but it backfired as Wash U's experience on this stage paid off and resulted in an easy doubles sweep. Like I said, the last time I picked Wash U to lose, they swept Hopkins in doubles at Indoors 8-4 across the board. The same exact thing happened in this one. The Indoors first round and this match were almost identical. CMU had a great season but they clearly were not ready to play and they couldn't match the intensity of Wash U. The Bears experience just paid off. After the doubles in this one, I thought Wash U may have a shot at Midd if they could keep that dominance in doubles going. The afternoon matches brought two much closer results. The doubles in the CMS-Trinity match was absolutely outstanding and maybe the highest quality doubles matches of the tournament. I wasn't wrong about Trinity's outstanding doubles lineup, but CMS managed to get the 1 very important point that they needed. CMS' dominance in singles was seen pretty quickly as they took first sets at 2 through 6. Trinity mounted a mini comeback when they won 2nd sets at 3 and 4 but wins at 2, 5 and 6 quickly pushed the Stags to a 4-2 lead before MacColl closed to end it. This is what I expected to happened as Trinity came out fired up, but the better team won in the end. CMS advanced to the semis but they had to be questioning their doubles a bit. The last match of the day will go down as the most amazing result in D3 history. Emory sweeps doubles with easy wins at 1 and 3 and a breaker at 2 which was actually a big surprise for me. Let's go over what Amherst was able to do. They were down 3-0. Emory has the best 1 in the country, the best 2 in the country and arguably the best 4 in the country. Pottish hadn't lost a D3 dual match all spring and Goodwin has never lost in a D3 dual match in his two year career. The chances of Amherst winning this were 1 in 100. Emory seems to be well on its way to its 9th straight Final 4. Despite losing 1st sets at 1 and 2 which was a shocker, Emory wins 1st sets at 3, 4 and 6. The report I got was that the heat and humidity were awful Tuesday afternoon. Amherst turned the match in an hour. The took second sets at 1 and 3 through 6. Despite Goodwin winning the second set to even the match, he was getting tired and Kahan looked on his way to an upset win. This is a big surprise for me given the heat in Atlanta. The comeback began with wins at 5, 1 and 2, but Egan won at 4 to force Amherst to win the last 2 matches. Caplan and Gross were late in the 2nd set but Gross got the set to turn the match and he easily took the 3rd. Koenig was so clutch and pulled off the unbelievable upset for Amherst. Emory was the team that had the best chance to beat Midd and I still am wondering what would happen if they won that match. Amherst just seems to always be prepared for the tournament just like last year. They moved on to take on CMS Wednesday.

We now had 4 teams left standing but all 4 knew they would be playing over the next 2 days. With the heat and humidity, there's something in the back of your mind that says save it for the final. This would not be the case as both matches turned out to be marathons. Starting with Midd and Wash U, I think everyone knew that the Bears had to take a lead after doubles to win this match. I knew Watts would win and the Bears had a shot at the bottom of the lineup, but Midd is a little too strong if they have a lead after doubles. 2 and 3 doubles were split quickly and it came down to 1 where Wash U had a match point serving up 8-7 but failed to capitalize and got crushed in the tiebreak. This threw the momentum in Midd's favor but that wouldn't stop the Bears from starting hot in singles. Wash U took 1st sets at 1, 3, 4 and 6 to turn the match in their favor. The first sets from Putterman and Woods were both big surprises to me since Thomson and Olson had both been great all season. Something I haven't mentioned yet is fitness and conditioning. It's something that I rarely discuss but it was certainly a factor during all 3 days of the tournament. Midd took second sets at 1 through 5 in this semifinal and I have to attribute this to superior conditioning. They were able to close at 2 and 5 giving them a 4-1 lead but Wash U was even or leading in all the remaining matches. Watts won as expected and Farah pulled what I would consider an upset at #6 singles to make the score 4-3. Woods hung on for a win but Olson was about to win at #3 to give the match to Midd and he did just that. Looking back, that #1 doubles match could have turned this if Wash U ended up winning. In hindsight, the Bears were only 1 point away from the national championship match for the 2nd time in 3 years. Midd advances in one of their closest matches of the season and they are the favorite in the final no matter who they play. The second semifinal was just an epic match between the underdogs from Amherst and CMS, who was just so hungry to break through and win a national title. The Stags have been to the semis many times but haven't won the title in over 25 years. This was a good chance for them with a very deep team. Both teams trailed in doubles in the their quarterfinal but it was Amherst who was able to jump out to a 2-1 lead with easy wins at 1 and 2. Herst's singles looked dominant the day before so you had to give them the edge heading into singles play. Just like the other semi, CMS comes out and takes 4 first sets to swing the match in their favor. 1, 2 and 5 were all straight sets and after these it was tied 3-3. CMS took a 4-3 lead with a hard fought win at 6 and it came down to 3 and 4. In one of the most amazing comebacks I've seen, Koenig was down 6-1 in the 3rd set breaker. CMS had 5 match points in a row to go to the national championship match and failed to convert. Koenig saved a total of 7 match points and made it 4-4 with an 11-9 win in the breaker. Shortly thereafter, Waterman closed for Amherst to give the Jeffs a 5-4 win and send them to their 2nd national final in as many years. The amazing part of this was that Herst missed the tournament all together in 2008. I don't know which result was more impressive for Herst between the quarters and the semis. An amazing job by Garner and by the team.

Just a quick note on the 3rd-4th match, impressive win by CMS. Every year this is a hard match to play after falling short of your goal of making the finals. Especially in the fashion CMS lost the day before, a very good win for their program. They were probably more ready to play than Wash U. The Bears had come so close the day before against the team that was supposed to be unbeatable and they seemed a little flat in doubles with the exception of the #2 position. The Stags were strong as always but I don't know when they are finally going to get over the hump and win a title. There will always be that cloud hanging over them until they do it and I can't wait to see them fight it out with Cruz again next year. Wash U had a great season but I would say they didn't quite live up to expectations. The semifinal was their season in a nutshell as they had 3 great opportunities and went 0 for 3 in their biggest matches of the season. The Watts loss will really hurt but this is still a young team who will be a contender for many years to come. There's not a ton to discuss when it comes to the final. Midd dominated start to finish and singles was an absolute blowout. I was surprised at the quality of Midd's 2 doubles team throughout the tournament and I give co-MVP honors to Lee, Olson and Jia. I don't know if I can pick 1 because they were all so tough throughout. After about 30 minutes of singles play, this wasn't a match. Amherst needed that lead after doubles but the freshmen Kahan and Sorrell both hit some rough patches and Midd took control with their experience. After doubles, despite the comeback on Day 1, the outcome wasn't really in doubt. A shame for Amherst getting crushed 2 years in a row for the final, but I have them as a huge favorite to win the title next year. Midd was the best team this year. They are probably the best team we've seen since the 2007 Cruz team and they deserved this win. They were only threatened twice during the season, but it's tough to lose when you have 5 great seniors. An unbelievable season for the Panthers and they bring home their 2nd national title of the decade.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Emory-Amherst Preview

I wouldn't have believed you if you said that these two would playing in the quarterfinals 3 months ago. Emory has quietly had a great season with no D3 losses since Indoors. Amherst on the other hand, hasn't quite met expectations but they have shown amazing potential with a 6-3 win against CMS on the road. Herst also gave Middlebury a very tough time in a 5-4 loss, but they also lost 7-2 against CLU and 5-3 against Williams. This match could come down to which Herst shows up on Tuesday. These two took opposite roads to get to this point. Emory cruised through their regional without dropping a match and Amherst played a great match with Williams where all 6 singles matches went 3 sets. Emory is clearly the favorite because of their top two players, and I feel like Herst may have to win 1 of those 2 spots to win. The deceptive part about Emory is the bottom of their lineup is also excellent. They can, however, be beaten in doubles. Amherst needs to have a great hour of tennis during doubles and a lead is must for the Jeffs. No one expected the Jeffs to make their run last year, but they got hot at the right time and they need to do it again this year.

In doubles, Amherst faces a must win situation at #2 doubles and I think they get this spot. Emory's 1 team hasn't been great, but Amherst's hasn't been either. I'm going to give this spot to Emory. The Pottish/Redmond duo haven't lost a match this spring in D3 and I think this trend continues. They should give Emory a 2-1 lead heading into the singles. Goodwin is almost an automatic win at #2 so this should make it 3-1 for Emory. Egan has also been nearly untouchable at 4 so I'd be surprised if he loses here. I think Chafetz needs a win against Pottish for Amherst to win this match and I doubt it will happen. Amherst also isn't deep enough to topple Lopp and Caplan at the bottom of the lineup. I think Emory wins this 5-1 and advances to the semis.

CMS-Trinity (TX) Preview

In my preview of the tournament for, I made a bold statement. I said that at the moment, Trinity (TX) has the best doubles lineup in the country. After dominating DePauw and then almost sweeping Kenyon, the Tigers are really looking tough. They are going to need the lead after doubles if they want to have any chance. This is the only quarterfinal that is a rematch of the regular season and as everyone knows, CMS won 9-0 only dropping 1 set in singles. Trinity is obviously playing better now than they were two months ago, but I would think CMS is as well. Will CMS come out with another 5-0 romp? Highly doubtful. Trinity should be able to hang in doubles if not win 2 or 3 of the matches. In singles, guys just need to step up for the Tigers. CMS is so deep and even a team like Cruz wasn't able to handle it. CMS is just better at every singles spot so Trinity almost needs to get lucky to win. I think the Tigers will really step up in doubles but it won't be enough.

Taking a look at the matches, all 3 doubles spots should be very close. Cocanougher/Kowal haven't been great but they need to win to keep their team in it. Then at 2 and 3, I think Trinity needs one of those spots and 2 is their best chance. The Tigers absolutely need to be up 2-1 after doubles and I think they will be. The good news for Trinity ends there. CMS should just take over in singles. The spots where Trinity has a chance are the top 3 and they would need all of them to win. My guess is that they will get none of them. I think CMS will easily run through the bottom of the lineup and win this 5-2. Trinity would need a massive effort in singles or a doubles sweep to make this match close.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wash U-Carnegie Mellon Preview

Most years, this is a no brainer and Wash U cleans up easily. This year, it's the complete opposite of that. I think it's the hardest quarterfinal to predict actually just because I believe 8 of the 9 matches can really go either way. Watts should get a point for his team, but other than that it's tough. Wash U was my preseason pick to win the whole thing, but after Indoors their results haven't been spectacular. I'd be a lot more inclined to pick Wash U in this if they didn't just lose 2 of 3 doubles to Kalamazoo, who's been getting crushed in doubles in the late part of the season. CMU lost 6 total games to Kalamazoo in doubles when they played this season. The Bears won a close one against Kenyon and lost to Emory in the UAA final. They just haven't been what I expected them to be this season and I'm questioning if they can win this match. CMU on the other hand, has put together a solid resume. Post-Indoors, their only losses are to CMS and Emory and they have wins against Trinity (TX), Kenyon, Hopkins and several others. They should go into this match with nothing to lose, because after all the pressure is on Wash U. The results of these two teams haven't been all that different this year and I just feel like an upset is coming. I question Wash U right now whereas CMU has been nothing but solid since February.

Both teams have been so streaky in doubles this year. All 3 of the doubles really can go either way so they are so difficult to pick. It depends who comes out more ready to play and more fired up. The advantage for Wash U is they've played on this stage, but at the same time the pressure is on them to win this. I'm going with CMU to take 2 of the 3 doubles and I doubt one of the teams will pull off a sweep so this will go down to the wire in singles. Watts should win and I think Wash U could have an edge at 4 as well. CMU probably has an edge at 3. The rest of the spots can really go either way. Both teams have some streaky players so a lot depends upon who's playing their best tennis. I'm taking CMU in an incredibly close match, but Wash U has the potential to come out and end it quickly. These two teams are very even so I expect a 5-3 or 5-4 no matter who wins.

Middlebury-NC Wesleyan Preview

This is the definition of a David and Goliath match. First we have NCW, who was counted out by many in their regional after losing their #1 singles player. They were even down 2-1 after doubles against Vassar in the round of 32. NCW then did the unthinkable as the tennisd3 blog said, and beat Hopkins' great singles lineup after being down 3-0. This is the first time this season in a big match that a team has come down from 3-0 after doubles. The advantage for NCW is that Middlebury doesn't really know what to expect from them. NCW's players weren't on the American junior circuit so they have the element of surprise going in their favor. In the other corner we have the powerhouse, Middlebury, making their 8th consecutive appearance in the Final 8 after an undefeated regular season. In my mind they are the overwhelming favorite to win the national title this year...if they are healthy. All indications point to Conrad Olson being ready to go for this match and because of that I think NCW is in trouble. NCW obviously has a ton of firepower and I admit I have underrated them all season, but Midd is just a different level from any team that NCW has seen this year. They cannot afford to get in a hole after doubles like they did in the regional.

Taking a look at the matches, NCW's best chance to get on the board is probably #3 doubles. On top of that, I think they also need to get lucky at #2 doubles because I don't see how their 1s have a chance against Thomson/Lee. In singles, I think it's hard to gauge how NC Wes will do. They clearly have a good chance at lines 2 and 5 and I also think they could have a chance at 1. The problem for NCW will be getting another point in singles. The Olson-Thomson combo at 3 and 4 has been incredible all year and I think these guys lead Midd to a win. To win this match, I think NCW needs to get 2 points in doubles and I don't know if they can do it. I'm taking Midd 5-1 but I think the singles wins will be very hard fought and won't come easily for the Panthers. NCW needs to believe they can win in singles and they need to have the fighting spirit that took them to the Hopkins win. An upset isn't impossible, but it is extremely unlikely.

Friday, May 21, 2010 Article

I will have an article on about the Final 8 next Tuesday.

Also, due to popular demand, will have recruiting class rankings for Division 3 this year. Coaches please make sure you report all of your recruits to the site so we can have an accurate list. Players, if you know any recruits who aren't listed, please tell them to do so.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Regionals Commentary


Just like the preview, not a ton I have to say here. Midd looked a bit shaky in singles which they can't afford to do at nationals. Against MIT in the regional final, Midd was losing 1 match and 2 more were even early in the 3rd set. It could have ended up being a 6-3. This against a team who lost 3 singles matches to Stevens the day before, not to mention a comeback win. The good news for Midd is they were dominant in doubles dropping only 6 games to MIT in the regional final. If Midd's doubles are on at nationals, they will be so tough to beat. A solid season for the Engineers who should finish the season ranked. Midd is still the favorite to win the whole thing with its biggest competitors probably being Emory and CMS at the moment. Despite a little bit of trouble in the regional final, Midd moves on to the Elite 8 as expected

Washington & Lee

Probably the least competitive of all the regionals this past weekend. The round of 32 match between W&L and TCNJ is worth discussing. TCNJ is noted for playing tough doubles and they took the top 2 spots from the Generals on the road to have a lead going into singles. W&L's singles have been up and down this year so I thought TCNJ had a pretty good chance to win. It seems as though Hayden White got injured as he retired while he was leading midway through the 1st set. He was also beaten 0 and 0 by Pottish the following day. If he doesn't get injured, I would suspect the Generals would have ended up sweeping the singles. A great performance by W&L in singles pulling out many close sets. I have to think that the home court advantage probably helped and propelled the Generals to a win. I'm impressed with the attendance of 127 for the regional final between W&L and Emory. You had to be crazy to pick against Emory in this match, but W&L certainly pushed the Eagles in doubles. An interesting thing to note is that Emory pulled Pottish from #3 doubles for this match and played Simonson instead. I wonder if this will carry over to nationals but it seemed to not work all that well resulting on only a 9-8 victory. 2 doubles was a spot where I thought W&L may have a chance but Emory pulled out a close one there too. There were some close matches in the bottom of the lineup but I would suspect the Emory players were semi-tanking just waiting for their 2 studs to win at the top and it worked. Emory drops only 2 games in the singles matches on record and moves through to the Elite 8 very comfortably.


With the exception of the Hopkins region, probably the most drama here. CMS took care of Whitman comfortably. The only slip up for the Stags was at #3 singles where Eric MacColl was trailing in his match. I thought that would be a huge spot for the Stags against Cruz the following day so that had to be a little alarming to see for CMS. Other than that, CMS took care of business against Whitman and got to sit back and watch as #4 and #6 in the country battle it out for a spot in the Sweet 16. I noted before the weekend that CLU's early season momentum had slowed down a bit. Cruz also always brings their best stuff at the end of the season after so much intense training. I talked about the big 3 matches in this one. #1 doubles and the top 2 singles spots. Whoever won that little best of 3 series was going to win this match. Cruz went 3-0 in those spots and won with a very comfortable 5-2 win. I actually expected this to be much closer and I even picked CLU to win. Hansen once again proved that he always has his guys ready to go. Once CLU got down in doubles, I knew it would be hard for them to win. And it doesn't help when your two superstars both get bageled in their 1st set. The Kingsmen were just done after this. Hopefully Giuffrida and Ballou will both bring their A game for individuals because Pybas and Vartabedian just owned them. So once again, we had a Stags-Slugs final. These two have alternated qualifying for the Final 8 over the past few years and it was CMS turn this time. Despite the rise of CLU this year, the usual suspects dominate the West.

I often make a big deal about experience. Having played in NCAAs before helps. Look at the doubles in the regional final. According to the CMS press release, after the 8-0 win by Cruz at 1, Cruz led 6-4 at 3 and had 5 match points at 2. CMS managed to get both points. Guys like Eric MacColl, Russell Brockett and Mikey Lim have experience, and that's my difference maker in this match. They were able to step up against the inexperienced Cruz teams and get those 2 huge points for their team. This allowed their depth to take control and it got them a win. Pybas was impressive again and has to be the MVP of this regional, but I had a feeling CMS would be too deep. They won at 4, 5 and 6 to clinch the match. They come into this match with probably the best 5 in the country in Alex Johnson and he could be very valuable in their run to a national title. CMS used their experience to win this match and it's as simple as that. The Stags now look to capture the national title that has eluded them. I will admit I vastly underrated CMS during the preseason but they are as good as anyone this year. I'm looking forward to a potential CMS-Emory semi which is a match I've wanted to see all season. A great regional weekend after a great season for CMS.

Wash U

I underestimated Kalamazoo and overestimated Luther. I thought Luther would have some of the NCAA magic that they had last year, but they got rolled by Kalamazoo who played like a top 15 team this weekend. The Hornets found their early season form that had them up to 13 in the country and gave Wash U quite a scare. First looking at the Round of 32, Kalamazoo was just the more talented team and this showed. I said in the preview that Luther had to be up after doubles if they wanted to win because they simply weren't as talented as their opponents. I'm very surprised by the 8-1 score at #3 doubles. Luther has had some good results from the top of their lineup this year but they just didn't show up on Saturday and Kalamazoo probably would have swept singles for an 8-1 win in this as they were winning easily in every match. Kudos to Coach Riley who really had his guys ready to play both days. Wash U had to take note of Kalamazoo's dominant win but it must not have clicked until after the doubles on Sunday.

In one of the most surprising turn of events of the weekend, Kalamazoo found the magic they had in early March and stole 2 and 3 doubles from Wash U. The Bears had to be sweating a bit after this but Follmer was able to get his guys to regroup and back on track for singles. It looks like Kzoo was going to win 3, so this would have ended in a 6-3 win, but instead Wash U finished at 5-2. Watts obviously wasn't going to lose, and I thought the bottom of Kalamazoo's lineup would have to come up big for them. Parizher didn't play on Sunday, but instead freshman Kareem Farah got the clinching win for Wash U. Adam Putterman had a bad weekend and Wash U is really going to need him if they want to win a national title. The Bears have to be questioning themselves after this match, but if you remember the last time Wash U had a questionable result in February, the bounced back the next match and beat Hopkins 8-1. The Bears survived which is what matters and it's probably good for them that they were tested. They can't have a repeat performance of Sunday's doubles if they want to beat CMU.

Carnegie Mellon

This region produced the biggest round of 32 upset in the tournament when unranked UT-Tyler beat 18th ranked Mary Washington even after losing 2 of the 3 doubles. I said in the preview that this was possible but unlikely and Tyler managed to pull it off. Funny that they came into the tournament last year ranked top 20 in the country and lost to Luther and now they are the ones pulling the upset. A great win for Tyler and this will almost definitely move them into the year-end top 30 which is a good accomplishment for a team this young. A fitting end to a poor season for Mary Wash but I expect this team to come back and be top 20 again next year if not better. They have good development in Mary Wash, but inexperience caught up with the Eagles this year. I thought they would be able to hang with CMU, but the Tartans had to breath a sigh of relief playing an unranked team at home for a spot in the Final 8.

The regional final didn't bring much drama as CMU ran through the top 2 doubles spots. Tyler was able to stay in it with a tiebreak win at #3. #3 could be a big spot for CMU against Wash U and a potential must win spot. CMU's doubles has been solid recently and I think a 2-1 lead against Wash U is a must if they want to advance to the Final 4. 3 through 5 singles have been great spots for CMU all season and Tyler was just overmatched. Tyler had leads at 1 and 6 so this could have ended up looking like a respectable score, but CMU was just a little too determined and a little too talented. Overall a great weekend for both teams. Tyler has to be very pleased with their performance and their upset and CMU qualifies for their first Elite 8 in school history. They also have a great chance to win against Wash U and this is a match I'm really looking forward to between two teams with some of the best singles lineups in the country.


To begin, I'll discuss the round of 32 between Carleton and Trinity (TX). I was really doubting the Tigers after this match due to the fact that both 1 and 2 doubles went to tiebreakers. If Trinity wanted to beat Kenyon in doubles they needed these spots to be sharp. Trinity used their advantage in talent to get through this match 5-0 having no trouble in singles. Kenyon easily took out host Whitewater setting up a regional final that I was really looking forward to. I said in the preview that it was a must for Trinity to get up in doubles and they did so with easy wins at 2 and 3. Delafuente/Frey is arguably the best 2 doubles team in the country at the moment and Carroll/Murray is one of the best 3 teams. Both of these teams came up huge for Trinity giving them an early 2-0 lead and they will need to do it again in the Final 8. You had to expect Kenyon's seniors to step up and keep them in the match and they did just that winning 1 doubles in a tiebreaker. The Cocanougher/Kowal team hasn't been as dominant as the past 2 years and Kenyon took advantage of it. I expected that win for Kenyon to give them momentum entering singles but Trinity showed resiliency and got on the board with an expected win at 3 singles. They also had first sets at 2, 4 and 6. Piskacek came storming back for Kenyon but at the same time the Tigers won at 6 giving them a 4-1 lead as Greenberg won as well making it 4-2. Kenyon won the first set at 5 and Piskacek split so the momentum was turning, but Kowal from Trinity who clinched the conference for them, was able to win his 2nd set tiebreaker to end the match. An amazing win for Trinity and a much needed one for their program. They are still young and will come back as a national title contender next year. As of now, they know they have nothing to lose against CMS after getting blasted 9-0 two months ago. I am very sure this won't happen again but Trinity's doubles needs to come up huge if they want to win. A disappointing end to a season that didn't meet expectations for Kenyon. The Lords graduate 4 great seniors after what has been a magical last 3 years. This program will enter rebuilding mode and hopefully we see them back on the national scene very soon.


The only thing to really discuss here is the Amherst-Williams match and I said beforehand that you can probably flip a coin to determine the winner. Amherst has slightly more talent plus experience from last year playing in a big match and the home court. I predicted the 2 and 3 doubles would be split and this time around these 2 went to the teams I expected to win. Williams carried their 2-1 doubles lead to a victory last match and this time Amherst was able to get that huge point at 1 doubles which will be absolutely crucial for them against Emory. Williams also dominated 3 through 5 singles against Amherst in the previous meeting and Waterman was able to come up with a big win for Herst. It's amazing that all 6 matches went to 3 sets and Amherst was able to take 5 first sets. A great comeback by the Ephs but Herst was just a little too much with their 1-2 combo of Chafetz and Kahan. I think Williams needed the win at 2 with a senior-freshman match, but a great win by Kahan to give his team the win. Herst also looked on their way to at least 1 more win. Williams has to be disappointed with their poor luck draw-wise and they are also not used to missing the Final 8. A good recovery near the end of the season by Williams but this season just didn't live up to their standards that they are accustomed to. A decent start for a first-year head coach but Williams has a lot of work to do to catch up with Herst and Midd. The recruits are clearly there for Williams but they need to pick up the development. Herst moves on to take on Emory is the Elite 8 match that I'm most looking forward to. Most people are counting them out but I think they have a great chance to win especially given their unexpected performance in the Elite 8 last year.

Johns Hopkins

Not only did NC Wesleyan beat Hopkins, but they also had to battle to beat Vassar. The results for NCW after this weekend are shocking, but impressive at the same time. Starting with the first match, Vassar did what they needed to do in doubles. NCW had a lead at the 2 spot and Vassar came storming back before losing 9-7. They did however, take a 2-1 lead going into singles which is something they needed. I said that Vassar didn't have the depth to match NC Wes and this proved to be correct as the Bishops ran off easy wins at 4 and 5. The swing spot here was the win at 2 for NCW. Rumyantsev after this weekend has to be considered one of the best 2's in the country and possibly the most underrated player in the whole country. He had an outstanding performance for his team this weekend. NCW was able to get 6 as expected and close this match with a 5-2 score. A good effort by Vassar but it's clear they just weren't deep enough to hang with the best in the country this year.

This regional final is arguably the most amazing result of the season. Let's take a look at what happened. On March 20th, these two teams played at a neutral site with Hopkins winning 8-1 after a doubles sweep. Also, NCW had their #1 player in that match. Now, they were playing with a Hopkins crowd of 100, NCW didn't have their #1 player and Hopkins swept doubles again. I can't remember a key match this entire season where a team came back from 3-0. A betting man would say Hopkins wins this match. Yet, NCW must have received quite the pep talk between singles and doubles because they started to mount their comeback. They took all 6 first sets and Hopkins knew they were in for a battle. Not too long after, NCW led 4-3 with Hop gaining splits at 1 and 6, two seniors for the Blue Jays. At this point it was a coinflip but NCW just dug deeper in this match and managed to get that win. An unbelievable performance from the Bishops and apologies to them because I counted them out in this match. You have to call Hopkins the biggest disappointment of this season. I had them at pre-season #5 and they will probably finish around 12 or 13. They have such a talented roster but they can't seem to put together a good NCAA run. NCW for the 2nd year in a row has brought their best stuff for NCAAs. Middlebury is a completely different level than Hopkins but NCW will certainly give them a hard time. They need to work on doubles and if they are playing flawlessly, an upset is an outside possibility.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Regional Preview: Hopkins

The huge news in this regional is that NCW's #1 Antti Saari will not be playing for undisclosed reasons. This just throws everything in favor of Hopkins, not that they weren't already the favorite. It also makes me question whether NCW can make it out of their 1st round. You have to like Mattleson to get his 2 points for Vassar and I think the Guzick brothers can also win at 1st doubles against a team that's missing Saari. My guess would the NCW is going to be a little too deep for Vassar. The Brewers had a great season and must win near the top of the lineup if they want a chance at a victory. I'm taking NCW 5-3 but I think they should run through 4 through 6 singles fairly routinely. Vassar would have to get the top 3 singles spots to win and this will be tough.

NCW lost 8-1 to Hopkins with Saari and although they are a better team now and will fight hard, you just can't pick against JHU in this match. If NCW had home court, that may be their only chance. Hopkins has looked shaky against top competition this year but I'm sure they will be ready to go. I like Hopkins to take the 1st 2 doubles spots but I think NCW may get on the board at #3. Heading into singles, the Maldow-Wang combo at the top of the lineup has the capacity to turn this into a blowout. The bottom of the lineup should be close but Hopkins should have a little extra at 3 through 5. I'm taking JHU in a fairly comfortable 5-2 and they will find themselves in what I think is their first Final 8 in school history.

Regional Preview: Whitewater

I actually voted for the regional in the poll because I would love to see the Kenyon-Trinity (TX) regional final. Before I discuss that I think Carleton deserves a few words as well. Carleton is making only their 4th appearance in NCAA history after ending Gustavus' run of conference titles. I don't think Carleton will pose much of a problem for Trinity (TX) because of the Tigers strong doubles play so I would suspect a 5-0 or 5-1 for Trinity just because they are a little too strong. Carleton has had a great season after the transfer of their top player, but it's a little much asking them to beat a top 15 powerhouse like Trinity.

So that brings us to the match that I've been hoping for since a month ago. Kenyon is unfortunate to not be playing at home because they have such a great core of seniors. Trinity only goes as far as their doubles will take them. I didn't realize that Kenyon's #3 doubles team is 15-1 on the season. However, this team beat DePauw 9-7 and that same team from DePauw was beaten 8-1 by Trinity (TX). The Tigers have to come out hot because they simply cannot afford to lose this spot. At 2 doubles, I like Trinity as the favorites. 1 doubles is another tough one and it pits two of the best teams in the country against each other. Another big spot that I think Trinity must win. I'm going to say the Tigers will lead 2-1 after doubles. Frey is tough, but I can't pick against Greenberg. The same goes for 2, Piskacek has had a rough year but you have to like his chances. 3 would be the one spot where I think Trinity (TX) will be favored. 4 is another must win for Trinity and 5 and 6 should go to Kenyon. I see a potential doubles sweep for Trinity, but I don't think Kenyon can do the same. Like I said, Trinity will go as far as their doubles takes them. I'm taking Kenyon in a very close 5-3 propelled by the bottom of their lineup, but if Trinity can sweep doubles or get a win in the bottom 2 singles spots, they could win this match and find themselves in the Final 8.

Regional Preview: Wash U

The question here is which Kalamazoo will show up this weekend. In their early season form, they beat DePauw and Chicago 7-2 as well as playing a tough 6-3 against Kenyon. In late season, Zoo lost 2 of 3 doubles to Gustavus, lost 5-2 against DePauw as well as losing to Salisbury. Unfortunately for Kalamazoo, they will have to work very hard to get the the regional final to take on Wash U. Luther is the 3 seed in this region and this is a very good and experienced team that made the Sweet 16 last year and upset UT-Tyler in the round of 32, which would be similar to pulling an upset this year. I think Kzoo probably has a little too much talent in singles for Luther so the Norse will have to take the lead with strong doubles play if they want to win the match. I think if this match goes down to the wire you have to like Luther because of their experience on this stage. I think Kalamazoo will win easily or Luther will win if it gets close. This is a hard match to predict but I'm going with Luther in a 5-3 upset that comes down to a couple 3rd sets.

The Wash U Bears are the top seed in this region and they have a bitter taste in their mouth after losing the UAA final against rival Emory. Wash U is hosting this regional and should run through whoever makes it to the final. Even if Kzoo wins against Luther and brings their best stuff for the regional final, I'm still take Wash U in a 5-0 rout. The Bears are a little too strong for the the next two seeds in this region and they should find themselves in the Final 8 fairly comfortably.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Regional Preview: Washington & Lee

The biggest question in this region is not who will advance to the Final 8, but rather who will take on Emory in the regional final. W&L is the host and the #2 seed in the region standing at #25 in the country. They have had a pretty good season actually with a win against Mary Wash, but they lack the depth to pose any sort of threat to Emory. Similar to the CMU regional, the #3 seed is an unranked sleeper with a pretty good tennis tradition. TCNJ was up to #15 in the country only 2 years ago and they beat Hopkins in NCAAs to earn a Final 16 berth. They graduated most of that team and haven't seen the top 30 since, but they have given top 20 teams some trouble this season. They lost 5-4 against Vassar, Kalamazoo and Salisbury, so this team can play. W&L doubles has been streaky this year and the Generals can get on top in doubles I don't see them losing on Saturday. I'm going to take W&L 5-2 in this match to advance to the regional final against Emory.

W&L played Emory recently at Emory and all the doubles were 9-7 which surprised me. I would say W&L's only real chance at winning a doubles match will come at #2, and I still think they are the underdog there. Emory should dominate throughout the singles lineup and I would expect this to be very quick after the doubles ends. The Eagles are one of the hottest teams in the country after their UAA title and I expect them to run through this regional with two very routine 5-0 victories.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Regional Preview: Amherst

This is the first region that really caught my eye when I first looked at the bracket and it may also be the toughest to predict. This is the 3rd match of the season between these bitter rivals. St. Lawrence had a nice season, but I don't think the bottom 3 seeds here should really be taken into consideration. Amherst won 7-2 when they played a month ago at Williams and Williams won on Saturday 5-3 when they played at Amherst. I was very surprised that these two ended up having to play each other. I thought the recent win would be enough to push Williams ahead of Hopkins for the final #1 seed but this is clearly not the case. On paper, 2 doubles should go to Herst and 3 doubles should go to Williams, but these results were switched on Saturday. Whichever way it may turn out, I would expect those spots to be split. I'll come back to 1st doubles. 1st singles should go to Herst. 2nd doubles is a senior for Williams against a freshman for Herst and I think this is a match Williams will need if they want this win. The 3 through 5 singles spots are where Williams won Saturday. Obviously if they can take 3 through 5 again, they will win, but I doubt Herst will let that happen. Williams also had a big lead at 6 when play was suspended. If Herst can split the bottom 4 spots with Williams, I think they'll win. But if Williams is able to dominate the bottom again, this could turn into an easy win. The #1 doubles teams for both squads are fairly weak for their team's ranking and this spot could be a huge momentum builder going into singles. I just have a feeling Amherst will put out a close one on Sunday. I'm taking Herst 5-3.

Regional Preview: Carnegie Mellon

Of the bottom 4 seeds, this is by far the easiest path to the Final 8 for the top seed. CMU really lucked out with this regional, but I know I shouldn't be underestimating Mary Washington. The Eagles had a pretty poor season besides winning their conference title that included losses to Christopher Newport, Washington & Lee and Pomona-Pitzer, all of whom are outside the top 20. The Eagles only quality win with the exception of Salisbury was Redlands. Mary Wash got destroyed by most of the top 15 teams they played, but there was one exception to that and it was Carnegie Mellon. That regular season match was played at UMW and ended in a 5-4 victory for CMU. Mary Wash took 2 easy doubles matches but they were blown out by the bottom of CMU's lineup, failing to win more than 4 games in any set 3 through 6. Mary Wash did win at 1 and 2 making the score seem close. Carnegie's doubles has been up and down all season, but they didn't have their new doubles lineup for this match and in fact it was the last match where they played their old lineup. Their new lineup seems to be quite a bit stronger so I would expect a 5-1 or 5-2 win for CMU if these two meet in the regional final. I just don't think Mary Wash can hang in singles.

The sleeper here is UT-Tyler. The Pats had a season where they dropped out of the top 30 and they don't have any wins over top 30 opponents. They do however, have a former NCAA doubles qualifier in David Ashlock as well as the Fall ITA regional doubles champions for Texas. The Patriots could probably hang with a team like Newport who in fact beat Mary Wash. I think if Tyler could somehow get on top in doubles, it's possible that they could pull an upset. If I'm Mary Wash, I don't want to underestimate Texas-Tyler because they are a good team. They played 6-3 with Redlands as well as 5-4 with Pomona-Pitzer, so the talent is there. They all need to come together on Friday to pull this upset. I'm going to take Mary Wash 5-2 in this match but as I said if Tyler gets ahead in doubles this will get interesting.

Regional Preview: CMS

I have a vision for D3 tennis that someday all the regionals will have equally distributed strength. But until that day comes, we have #3, #4, #6 and #22 in the country in a 4-team region. I thought that it may be possible for Whitman to avoid this region because UT-Tyler may get sent here. This didn't happen and unfortunately for Whitman they have to take on the host Stags in the 1st round. If they play flawless doubles, I think it's possible they could get a match but I'm going with CMS in a fairly close 5-0. Whitman is no pushover and as I said a few weeks ago, they could give some of the lower top seeds trouble. The Stags are too tough on their home court and should advance to the regional final. The other regional semi is a rematch of the regular season and a match that one should be seeing in the Final 8, not the round of 32. Both of these teams are interesting cases. Cruz had pretty much no expectations on their shoulders entering this year and they end up winning Indoors. They are #1 in the country and have a stretch where they lost 5-4, 8-1, 8-1 to CLU, CMS and Midd. They followed it up by beating Whitman and Redlands, but after this stretch of matches, no one took them seriously anymore as a national title contender. Pybas won Ojai, but some top competition was missing. I would be surprised if Cruz doesn't come out swinging in their 1st round match, especially since they know CLU swept them in doubles during the regular season. If you remember the Indoors final, Cruz swept Wash U in doubles losing only 11 games. They have that potential to just turn it on and they will need it this weekend.

CLU is also an interesting case. They were the talk of the country from Mid-February until the end of March, but since then we haven't heard from them. Giuffrida looked like one of the best players in the country but he recently lost to the #5 from CMS. They have a 7-2 win against Amherst as well as several other great wins, but they were all over a month ago. I don't know what to make of this team right now but I also think they will be ready to play. They've lost to CMS twice on their home court but the important thing for both teams is to focus on their first round. It's quite hard to predict who's going to win this round of 32 match. If I had to guess, I'll go with CLU just because I think their chances at the top 2 singles spots. Take 1 doubles, and the top 2 singles spots as the most important lines in this match. Whoever gets 2 of those 3 will win.

CLU beat Amherst 7-2. Amherst beat CMS 6-3. Amherst also just lost to Williams at home. I think most of the country is automatically putting the Stags in the Final 8, and I think that is a poor assumption. They are my favorite to win this region, but they are going to have to come up with some great tennis to do it. They beat CLU 6-3 twice and both of them were at home. They also absolutely dominated Cruz at home winning all 6 singles in straights. I don't think CMS will lose, but if they come out and have a bad day in doubles, it can happen. Their middle of the lineup is really solid and I think those 3 through 5 guys as well as 2 and 3 doubles propel them to victory in this region. I think both CLU and Cruz would have to sweep doubles to win.

Regional Preview: Middlebury

Not a whole lot to discuss here. Middlebury is the host and the overwhelming favorite to win the national title. MIT probably has an outside chance at winning a doubles match against them but they should win 5-0 in both of their matches. An interesting thing to note that I discussed in my bracketology is that I wasn't sure if Skidmore would make the tournament over UW-LaCrosse. This did end up happening and Skidmore finds themselves as the 4 seed in this region. Stevens may give MIT a little trouble but the Engineers should come away with a victory. Overall MIT has to be pleased with their season but I think it will end quite promptly once they step on to the court with the best team in the country. Midd wins this easily and advances to the Elite 8.

Monday, May 10, 2010

NCAA Brackets and a Few General Comments

The bracket is here

Definitely the committee's best job since I started the blog 3 years ago. 4 very intriguing Sweet 16 matches and also some very tough round of 32 matches. I was discussing the potential seedings on Saturday and from the looks of it, it's something along the lines of:

7. Carnegie
8. Kenyon
9. Amherst
10. Hopkins
11. NC Wes
12. Williams

Basically, Williams upset win on Saturday did nothing for them in terms of their NCAA fate. The bracket was made almost as if it never happened. My guess would be that Williams and Amherst are paired together purely for geographical reasons. If Williams traveled South to Hopkins, then NCW would have nowhere to go. JHU has to be breathing a sigh of relief after seeing their regional. They don't have to travel and they get a team that they beat 8-1 during the regular season. As a sidenote, the Blue Jays will be hosting their regional at the great facilities of nearby Goucher College. A pretty nice region for Emory, although they do have a 9 hour bus ride. They beat W&L 9-0 not even a month ago, Trinity (TX)-Kenyon is the Sweet 16 match that I would most like to see. California is the region of death once again and I don't know who to take in the CLU-Cruz match. Also unfortunate for Whitman that they get sent here. CMU may be the biggest winner in all of this with a nice regional and a host site. They had a tough match with Mary Wash mid-season though, and UT-Tyler has a great chance at a round of 32 upset. Wash U has a nice region and I also have a feeling Luther may beat Kzoo. Midd has the easiest region but they definitely deserve it.

Tuesday I'll be previewing regions 1, 3, 5 and 7 (Midd, CMS, CMU, Amherst)
Wednesday I'll be doing 2, 4, 6 and 8 (W&L, Wash U, Whitewater, Hopkins)

Play begins Thursday at CMS and CMU, and Friday at the other 6 sites.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday May 8th

Two big pieces of news from today. The first is that Gustavus had its streak of 22 consecutive conference titles snapped when they fell 7-2 to Carleton. This loss marks only the 4th time the Gusties have failed to win the conference in the past 40 years. This was something that I speculated early in the season but after Gustavus won the regular season match between the two, I didn't see them losing in the conference final. It's May and not snowing in Minnesota so the match was played outdoors and I have to think not playing in the very loud Swanson Tennis Center had to help Carleton. I'm still in a bit of shock that Gustavus went from #9 in the country at the end of last year to being out of the top 30. The Gusties have to be questioning their program after this season and they need to hope for some good recruits and a quick turn around because a season like this is unacceptable for a program with a rich tradition like Gustavus.

The second occurrence of the day surprised me even more as Williams finally played to their potential and upset Amherst in the NESCAC tournament semifinals. Williams #1 doubles team has been weak all season but they came through today as well as #2 doubles. I think Amherst has arguably the best 2 doubles combo in the country so this is a great sign that Williams was able to take the lead. If Amherst wants to make a run to the national finals again I think they need big contributions from the bottom of their lineup and Williams just killed them today in the 3 through 5 spots. Chafetz is looking like one of the best singles players in the country at the moment but he didn't get much help today. Midd took out Trinity (CT) with a very routine 5-0 ending the Bantams chances at a surprise NCAA bid. On Friday, Trinity was able to squeak out a 5-2 win against Bowdoin who has to be disappointed after the news about their NCAA hopes being dashed. I expect Midd to dominate the final tomorrow, especially if Olson is ready to go in singles. Unless they play spectacular doubles, I don't see 5 wins for Williams in this match. Midd has been rock solid everywhere and Williams will need to turn in an even better performance than they did today if they want to have a chance.

So the question I've been pondering is what do these two upsets mean for NCAAs? The first thing to look at is the seeding of the top 8 teams. The top 4 stay constant obviously but the bottom 4 can now be numbered several ways. You can make arguments for many different combinations, but I'll share me personal opinion and support it. I think Carnegie Mellon gets the 5 seed because Amherst drops. Post-Indoors, CMU has only lost to CMS and Emory and they have wins over Kenyon, Hopkins and Trinity (TX). That's a solid resume in my book and I think they are in line to take on Wash U in the quarters. Amherst gets the 6 seed. Herst could definitely be 5, but they just lost to the #12 team, for me offsetting their great win against CMS. They have also lost to CLU and their next best win after CMS is Williams. I hate to dwell on this, but if they aren't going to count, why even play dual matches in the fall? Herst has also lost to Kenyon and CMU. I think number 7 goes to Kenyon. One could make an extremely valid argument for Williams being at #7 as well. The Lords have lost to no one below them and also have a win against Hopkins. The problem with them is that their only other respectable wins are DePauw and Kalamazoo. Williams on the other hand has lost to NCW who's out of the top 10. They now have wins against Bowdoin, Trinity (CT) and Amherst. I think you could almost flip a coin for who gets #7, but it's an important spot because Emory is significantly more beatable than Middlebury.

I don't think this is going to have a huge effect on Hopkins. My guess would be the Blue Jays will now travel north like they did last year, but it will be to Williams rather than Amherst. That would be a fantastic regional final and I really hope it happens. NCW is an interesting case since Hopkins will now most likely go north. The two possibilities for them are either being grouped with Emory at Washington & Lee or potentially making the very long trip to Pittsburgh to take on CMU. The latter would probably mean Mary Wash also goes to W&L and becomes Emory's 2 seed. I personally think the first scenario is more simple as well as more likely. I know NCW wants a shot at Emory and I think they will get it. Mary Wash will probably travel north to CMU. A W&L host site with Emory and NCW allows that to become a 5 team regional when I had it as a 4 in my bracketology. With the lack of teams in the northeast I think Amherst probably takes on Vassar and Midd takes on MIT. The fact that Carleton won doesn't really change anything because they are just out of driving distance of St. Louis. Whitewater is a probable host site and I think Kenyon probably goes there to take on Trinity (TX). As I mentioned, the only way things would get complicated is if there are too many teams in the Midwest which is a definite possibility. It's possible that Trinity (TX) goes elsewhere and Wash U or Kenyon could get a cupcake #2 seed. I'll be very interested to see what the brackets look like on Monday.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bracketology Issue #3

Before I begin, I will say that I received a couple of e-mails after my last bracketology issue. I received two pieces of information that were fairly important. The first said that Hopkins entered a bid to host but they were turned down due to poor facilities. The second said that the Emory men and women have an agreement that they switch off years for hosting NCAAs. This is supposed to be the women's year, so I was told that the Emory men would not put in a bid to host. That being said, I know both Williams and Amherst hosted men's and women's last year. Both of those teams also have 12 or 18 court outdoor facilities where the matches can take place simultaneously. If anyone has reliable information about whether or not Emory will host, please let me know. I have done the bracket with and without Emory hosting. I have a lot of commentary afterwards.

ASC - UT Tyler*
CAC - Mary Washington*
Centennial - Johns Hopkins*
CUNYAC - Staten Island
Colonial States AC - Marywood*
Commonwealth Coast - Salve Regina*
Commonwealth - Elizabethtown
Empire 8 - Ithaca
Freedom - Wilkes
Heartland Collegiate AC - Transylvania*
IIAC - Luther
Landmark - Drew
Little East - Western Connecticut
MIAA - Kalamazoo*
Midwest - Grinnell*
MIAC - Gustavus
NESCAC - Middlebury
NCAC - Kenyon*
Northern Athletics - MSOE
NWC - Whitman*
Ohio AC - Ohio Northern
ODAC - Washington & Lee*
Skyline - St Josephs LI*
SCAC - Trinity (TX)*
St. Louis AC - Westminster*
USA South - NC Wesleyan*
UAA - Emory*

Pool B
1. Santa Cruz
2. Vassar
3. MIT
5. Eau Claire
6. Whitewater
7. St. Lawrence
8. Carthage
9. Skidmore

Pool C
1. Cal Lutheran
2. Wash U
3. Amherst
4. Carnegie Mellon
5. Williams

The teams with asterisks have already won their conference tournament. The teams without are just the top seeds entering the conference tournament.

Without Emory hosting:

1. Middlebury*, Vassar, MIT, Salve Regina, Staten Island
2. Emory, Washington & Lee*, Transylvania, Ithaca
3. CMS*, Cal Lutheran, Santa Cruz, Whitman, UT-Tyler
4. Amherst*, Williams, St. Lawrence, Skidmore, Western Connecticut, St. Josephs LI
5. Wash U*, Kalamazoo, Luther, Grinnell, Westminster, MSOE
6. Carnegie Mellon*, Mary Washington, TCNJ, Ohio Northern, Wilkes
7. Kenyon, Trinity (TX), Gustavus, Eau Claire, Whitewater*, Carthage
8. Johns Hopkins, NC Wesleyan*, Elizabethtown, Drew, Marywood

With Emory hosting:

1. Middlebury*, MIT, Skidmore, Salve Regina, Staten Island
2. Emory*, NC Wesleyan, Washington & Lee, UT-Tyler, Transylvania
3. CMS*, Cal Lutheran, Santa Cruz, Whitman
4. Amherst*, Vassar, St. Lawrence, Western Connecticut, St. Josephs LI
5. Wash U*, Kalamazoo, Luther, Grinnell, Westminster, MSOE
6. Carnegie Mellon*, Mary Washington, TCNJ, Ohio Northern, Wilkes, Marywood
7. Kenyon, Trinity (TX), Gustavus, Eau Claire, Whitewater*, Carthage
8. Johns Hopkins, Williams*, Drew, Ithaca, Elizabethtown

One important thing to note is that there's a tough choice in Pool B. Skidmore versus UW-Lacrosse could determine a lot. If Lacrosse makes it, things get messed up because there are too many teams in the Midwest region. The next closest host site is Pittsburgh and none of those teams could go there under the 500 mile rule. So for simplicity, I had Skidmore make it and stay in the Northeast. Things could get quite complicated if the committee gives the nod to Lacrosse instead. Emory hosting and not hosting obviously mixes things up quite a bit as well. With them not hosting, I gave the benefit to the next highest team in line to host which is NCW. Emory is then forced to travel to W&L because that's the only other place they could go without being flown.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In Disbelief...

So I got an email a little bit ago with some interesting news. Bear with me here. Apparently this isn't common knowledge because it's been posted for only a few days and no one had brought it to my attention.

The 2010 NCAA breakdown was:

27 automatic qualifiers
9 Independents
6 from Pool C

On April 28th, the NCAA men's D3 championships handbook was updated. Someone forgot to include a conference in Pool A when the original handbook was posted. The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has an automatic bid to the tournament but was omitted in the handbook until a week ago because someone just forgot about them. This now means there are 28 teams coming from Pool A.

Possible solutions: Increase the field to 43. Take away a bid from Pool B. Take away a bid from Pool C.

The last option was selected. There will now only be 5 teams qualifying through Pool C.

Sorry, Bowdoin. You thought you were going to be in the tournament but someone just messed up and now you're not. Good season.

How does this happen? This is so bad it's unbelievable and this NCAA selection process is getting out of control. #14 in the country is now not making the tournament due to awful organization. I'm shocked and if I were Bowdoin I'd be outraged. This is ridiculous.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Revisiting 10 Things to Watch in 2010

My first post to kick off the 2010 season was titled "10 Things to Watch in 2010." I want to go through each of them and see how they've turned out. The original post is here

10. Kenyon continues to plateau - This has been quite accurate so far this year. Although they've moved down to #9, this is simply due to the emergence of CLU and CMU. They've played very close matches with Emory, Wash U and Cruz and have a dominant win against Hopkins. They look to be on track for a third consecutive quarterfinal match with Emory and I think they can win despite the fact that Emory is playing great tennis. Their seniors need to step up and they can't take their Sweet 16 opponent lightly. I would love to see a match between Kenyon and Trinity (TX). Kenyon didn't have the regular season that they hoped for, but they can make up for it in the postseason.

9. NC Wesleyan in the top 15? Mary Wash out of the top 20? - NCW was as high as #10 with a win over Williams and Mary Wash was as low as 27 I think. NCW also has an 8-1 win over Mary Wash. We knew this would be a rebuilding year for the Eagles and I also expected big things out of NCW. Mary Wash has to consider it a victory to be ranked 18 in the country with a conference title under their belt after the season they've had. This is a bad season by Mary Wash standards but this is an inexperienced team so I think they did well accomplishing what they have. If NCW continues to recruit at the level which they have the past couple years, I think we can see them in the top 8 as soon as next year. They are very serious about their tennis and will pose a threat once they schedule more national level teams.

8. Trinity (TX) ends their year long meltdown - I was right on here as the Tigers took back their conference title even after a rocky start. I think they learned their less not to schedule 3 good teams in under 24 hours because this nearly took them out of contention for NCAAs. Trinity has nearly their whole team coming back so they should be good in the coming years. I said earlier that I would love to see a match with them and Kenyon in the Sweet 16. Just off the top of my head I think it's possible that Trinity would be favored at all 3 doubles spots and Kenyon would be favored at 5 of 6 singles spots. That match could get very interesting especially if its on a neutral court. Trinity has had a solid year but I have a feeling they aren't done yet.

7. Continued UAA Dominance? - They are 2 and 7 at the moment, but Emory and Wash U were 2 and 3 in the country for a good portion of the season. Neither won Indoors but they were both consistently a presence in the top 5 in the country. They won't enter NCAAs as the favorites unlike the past 2 years, but it looks like they will start the tournament as the #2 and #5 seed. It's definitely not out of the question that one of these two will win the whole thing. You can make an argument that these two dominated the national scene after Midd and after Cruz's mid season losses.

6. A lot of very even teams - I don't think we had a lot of upsets this year. Ranking wise it wasn't an upset, but the biggest surprise on the season was probably Cruz winning Indoors. While CLU was going on their tear those matches were upsets as well but looking back they really weren't upsets at all. I would probably say that I was incorrect with this prediction just because I don't see many upsets being possible in the tournament. The higher seeded team should win most of the time. Unlike 2 years ago, there aren't going to be any matches where #18 beats #1. The top 10 have stood out this year and asserted their dominance over the rest of the country.

5. JHU and CMU announce themselves on the national scene - With season high rankings of 8 and 7 and current rankings of 10 and 8, I would say both of these teams have had great seasons. Hopkins is an interesting case. Take away one bad weekend and they've had an excellent season. They've dominated the #4 through #10 teams in their region and also have wins against CMU and DePauw. However, against teams ranked ahead of them, they have a 9-0 loss, an 8-1 loss and a 7-2 loss. I am waiting to see their NCAA performance before evaluating their season. CMU has had their best year in program history being s high as #7 in the country. They didn't start well with losses to Cruz and Hopkins but quickly rebounded. Their only other losses came against Emory and CMS and they have many wins against ranked teams. They are a Final 4 contender.

4. Gustavus doesn't win the MIAC - I made this statement before I knew that Carleton's top player was transferring. Even given this, GAC will still have to fight hard to win their conference. After a recent loss to Luther, GAC is probably dropping from the top 30 for the first time since before I can remember. For their confidence and for the program in general, GAC needs to win a conference title. They should have 250 fans in attendance if they take on Carleton so this should help in doubles. I'm anticipating that GAC will win this match as they did in the regular season. They need to develop their players in the off-season and come back with top 20 intentions next year.

3. A down year for West powerhouses - I couldn't have been more wrong about this. Cruz won Indoors and CMS has had a great season, not to mention CLU having their best season in program history sitting at #4 in the country. Starting with Cruz, I don't know how they do it, but they lost their top 5 from last year and still managed to win Indoors. In their other D3 contests they had rocky results and this will cause them to be #3 seed in their region for NCAAs. Pybas is arguably the most valuable player in the country combined singles and doubles and obviously he has helped a lot. With the loss of Larry Wang, Robbie Erani had big shoes to fill this year but he's done a great job playing 1 singles and 1 doubles. Whoever comes out of the West is a legitimate national title contender and even in a "down year," the West is still very strong.

2. 3 of the top 5 in NESCAC? - NESCAC has #1 and #5 right now, but Williams has not met expectations this season. I think this is the first year where you could actually have a debate about the strongest conference in the country. I anticipated Amherst to be a little stronger than they are, but the loss of Jung hurts and I think they were caught off guard by a very hot CLU team. Midd has just been dominant and if they are healthy I don't see them losing a D3 match this year. Herst is on pace for a quarterfinal match with Wash U and this will probably decide if they finish the year in the top 5. Williams still has a good opportunity to make the Final 8 if they find themselves in a nice region, possibly with Hopkins. This should salvage a fairly poor season for them and we could see a potential all-NESCAC quarterfinal between Midd and Williams.

1. Wash U returns to the winner's circle - Obviously my national championship favorite has changed after seeing the strength of Midd, but it's not outrageous to call Wash U the 2nd best team in the country. They did split with Emory this year and despite a recent loss, the result could be different if they played tomorrow. Wash U is a deceptively low #7 in the country and all it takes is 3 good days in a row for the Bears to have their 2nd national title in 3 years. They most likely will meet Midd in the semis if they make it that far which is unfortunate. Midd is good, but this past weekend shows that they are beatable if injuries are a factor and they are at the moment. I would love to enter into NCAA Final 8 having 5 or 6 teams that could potentially win it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

ITA Rankings from April 29 and Weekend Recap

ITA Rankings were released last Thursday. The most notable move is Wash U moving from 2 down to 7 after their UAA final appearance. I believe this is justified though if you look at Wash U's resume compared to other top teams. They have wins over Kenyon, Emory and Hopkins as well as a direct loss to #6 Santa Cruz. I was actually a bit surprised they feel below Cruz but I understand why. As it stands now, they will take on Amherst in the national quarterfinals in a rematch of last year's semifinal.

The Bears were dominant over the weekend in a win against DePauw and look to be playing well heading into the tournament. There were 3 close contests in this one, but when the Bears cleaned up easily at the top 2 doubles spots you could tell this one was over. DePauw is an interesting case when you look at their resume next to Bowdoin. DePauw's best win is #20 Kalamazoo but they also have a loss to this team as well as Chicago who sits at #21. Bowdoin on the other hand has a win against #16, #17 and #19 with their worst loss coming against #13, a team that's ranked ahead of them. I don't think there's any real debate here. DePauw had a good season but will fall just short of the tournament.

CMU had a rare post-UAA match against Washington & Lee and they were able to take care of business without their normal #2 singles and doubles player. CMU has to be pleased with their effort in doubles here because the Generals have been pretty solid all year in dubs. CMU proved to be a little too deep for the Generals as well but if CMU wants to make a deep run in NCAAs they will need contributions from the top of their lineup as well as their doubles because other teams can play with them in the bottom of the lineup. They are a lock for hosting a regional and they should be very pleased with their regular season.

Two NESCAC duels took place. Midd cleaned up against Williams even without Conrad Olson playing singles. The Ephs are just in a down year and I see them making the Final 8 at best. They may not even make it that far. I have been saying that Midd can be beaten in doubles all season but this may not be the case. They swept the doubles against Williams and won 2 of 3 against Amherst with the lone win for the Jeffs coming from their strongest team at #2. If Midd plays great doubles they are nearly impossible to beat...if Olson is healthy and ready to go in singles. Without him playing, as shown in the Amherst match, they are drastically weaker. Thomson is still a great 3, but he's an unbeatable 4 and if Peters goes down, Midd could get in trouble quickly. The bottom of their lineup dug them out of a hole and they need to hope Olson is ready to go for NCAAs. I would almost suggest resting him at regionals. This was a positive sign for other contenders though since Midd only won 5-4 and it came down to the decider. They are potentially vulnerable if injuries are an issue. However, I give them credit for getting the win and they still head into NCAAs as my favorite to win it.