Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Team Preview #10: Kenyon

Jeremy Polster

Coach: Scott Thielke, 15th Season
Location: Gambier, Ohio
Conference: NCAC
2008 Ranking: 7
2009 Ranking: 7
2010 Ranking: 12
2011 Projected: 15

Kenyon has always been a good team. In the early and middle part of the decade, they consistently won their conference and qualified for the NCAA tournament. The past 3 years, the Lords became an elite team. Even they will admit much of this was due to Mike Greenberg's leadership ability on and off the court. That era is now over, and it remains to be seen whether Kenyon will go back to being a good team, or remain as an elite team. This elite team could beat any team on any day, and we saw that at 2009 Indoors when they took down the eventual national champions. I don't see that potential in this year's team. I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that Kenyon is probably the most inexperienced team of anyone expected to be in the top 15 this year. They still have veteran Jeremy Polster, who should be an NCAA singles qualifier this year, and will try to fill the leadership role left by Kenyon's 4 graduates. Polster is the key player, likely to be in the 1 singles and 1 doubles spots for the majority of the season. He is the only player on this team who has really played in a big match. The other potential weapon for Kenyon is sophomore Paul Burgin, who's biggest match was probably the Indoors Semi against Cruz last year. Burgin has the potential to be a very good #2, and he will need to provide a lot of wins for Kenyon this year. Two other top players for Kenyon are transfer CJ Williams and sophomore Kevin Ye. Both should be strong in the middle of the lineup. This is probably as close as Denison has been to Kenyon since 2007, but I still don't think they are good enough to topple the Lords. This is Kenyon's last year enjoying fairly easy conference titles as DePauw joins the NCAC in 2012. I expect Kenyon to win the conference comfortably this year and they most likely will make it to the Sweet 16. If Coach Thielke can take this team further than that and get them in the top 10, he deserves Coach of the Year. They aren't as deep as their competition and based upon historical results, they aren't as strong at the top either. One thing to mention is Kenyon just hired an outstanding assistant coach in Ross Wilson who should really help this team. Kenyon plays a very tough schedule this year and notable matches include Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, Whitman in the Stag-Hen 1st round, and the GLCA tournament with DePauw and Carnegie Mellon. Kenyon should be a very good team this year, especially when considering their inexperience. I think they have to wait a couple years to get back to "elite" status.