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.