Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 Team Preview #15: Skidmore

Luke Granger

Coach: Nathan Simms, 5th Season
Location: Saratoga Springs, New York
Conference: Liberty League
2008 Ranking: NR
2009 Ranking: 21
2010 Ranking: NR
2011 Projected: NR

Before I start the preview, I will warn everyone that of all the teams I'm previewing, I probably know the least about these guys. I predicted them to be a top 30 team last year and they fell apart and finished 3rd in their conference, but after some good recruiting by Coach Simms, they seem to be flirting with the top 30 and a conference title once again. 2009 was a historic year for Skidmore tennis, as they finished 21st in the country, made the NCAA Sweet 16, and backed all of that up with a win against traditional powerhouse Washington & Lee. Last year, I'm not exactly sure what happened, but they seem to have put it behind them. From my point of view, they are fairly even with Vassar and the conference title may come down to whoever plays better in early May. Vassar may not agree with this assessment just like last year, and they may very well be correct, just like last year. It seems to me though that Skidmore has really restructured, and if they can somehow break the top 25 this year, I'd look at Nathan Simms as a potential Regional Coach of the Year candidate. This program was really a non-factor in the Northeast a couple years ago, but Coach Simms looks like he's starting to turn them around. The next step is to string together a couple of years that were just like 2009. That should start in 2011. Looking at the make-up of this year's team, I believe the truth strength could be in freshmen phenoms Oliver Loutsenko and Jimmy Sherpa. In Skidmore's lone fall dual match, these two played 5 and 4, respectively. This must mean that the Thoroughbreds have a respectable top 3. In my mind, Vassar probably can't keep up with them at the bottom of the lineup. That being said, Vassar seems stronger at the top of the lineup, so the end result may come down to doubles which is a huge question mark at this time. What Skidmore has done is load their schedule with great teams. They have a brutal California trip and the match I'd most pay attention to is against Pomona-Pitzer. If they can win that, it's a huge step for this team. They have scheduled the 3 NESCAC powerhouses in advance of their conference tournament, but let's hope that the beatdown they are going to take from these 3 doesn't hurt their confidence. This team will compete for a conference title, will be in the NCAA tournament and has a great chance at being ranked by year-end as well.