Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 Team Preview #1: Bates

Matt Bettles

Coach: Paul Gastonguay, 16th Season
Location: Lewiston, Maine
Conference: NESCAC
2008 Ranking: 22
2009 Ranking: 23
2010 Ranking: 27
2011 Projected: 23

I'll probably use this phrase a lot during my previews, but the Bates Bobcats are the definition of what's wrong with the NCAA Selection Process. Before I did my research, I didn't know they were ranked at year-end over the past 3 years. The 2011 squad should definitely be top 30 as well. Clearly Coach Gastonguay is doing an outstanding job developing his top players as Bates has had an NCAA Singles Champion, an NCAA Singles Finalist and an NCAA Doubles Champion within the past 6 seasons. This is odd for a program that is consistently outside of the top 20. With the way he is progressing, Matt Bettles could soon be on the list as well. The sophomore quietly made the final of the New England Fall ITA, defeating favorite Andrew Peters along the way. Bettles can hold his own against anyone in the country, but the problem with the 2011 Bates team is the same as every year. They have no depth. Bates struggles to steal recruits from rivals Bowdoin and Trinity (CT) and this clearly shows in their team every year. They have 1 or 2 top players, but never get wins against the other NESCAC schools at the bottom of the lineup. Bates will finish 5th in NESCAC at the absolute best, and this gets them nowhere near the top 6 in Pool C. This is a hard-working team that deserves some post-season exposure, but it won't happen in 2011. Bettles has a decent supporting cast with Tim Berg and Robert Crampton likely to fill out the 2 and 3 spots. The Bobcats top 3 should be able to compete with the best in the NESCAC, but the team goes downhill after them. I just don't think they will be able to put enough points together match after match to break into the top 20 this year. Important matches to watch for these guys are road contests against MIT and Brandeis as well as a conference match at Trinity (CT). If Bates can go 3 for 3 in those matches and finish 5th in NESCAC, they should consider this season a success. The Bobcats are far from making the NCAA Tournament, but they are going in the right direction. Follow the Bobcats on their Team Blog