Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 Team Preview #19: Redlands

Anish Nanda

Coach: Geoff Roche, 12th Season
Location: Redlands, California
Conference: SCIAC
2008 Ranking: 12
2009 Ranking: 10
2010 Ranking: 16
2011 Projected: 16

I have mixed feelings about the state of Redlands tennis. There are two sides to this: one being that they are clearly not as good as they used to be, and the other is that they are still a good team who finished 10th in the country only 2 years ago. 2010 was clearly not a good year, as they missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in 17 years, and they have now finished double digits in the rankings for 4 consecutive years, something that only happened once between 1992-2006 when they finished 10th in 2003. The thing that puzzles me is that I'm not sure if the team just isn't there, or the talent is there and they just can't win. They enter this year on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA tournament. With 2 top 10 teams in their conference, it is going to be very difficult for the Bulldogs to make the tournament, but I feel it's something they have to do to get back on track as a program. When you have a tradition like Redlands and you train as much as they do, things better go well or alumni and the athletic department will start pointing fingers. That finger pointing will start if they have another bad year in 2011. There's a lot of pressure on this team, but I feel they have both talent and experience. They've got 4 very solid players led by senior Cam Spearman who should see time at both 1 singles and 1 doubles. He's got arguably the biggest serve in D3 and is a great doubles player. After him are sophomores Anish Nanda and Darren Dahl, and grad student Jeff Hammond who missed his first year with an injury. Dahl was supposed to be a 1 or 2 player last year for Redlands but rarely saw the lineup, so hopefully he will meet his expectations this year. Nanda was one of my players to watch and should form the other half of a potential NCAA doubles qualifier with Spearman. Redlands also has one of the most underrated doubles teams in the country in Hammond and Keven Wong. Doubles was a big problem last year, and it's something they are known for and need to fix to get some wins against their daunting schedule. 3 matches I have my eye on are an early season contest against Mary Wash, a mid-season date with Williams and a home match against Cal Lutheran. Redlands really needs to put together a team effort because they don't have that star player in their back pocket. 3rd in the SCIAC and 16th in the country isn't bad by any means, but it's not up to Redlands' standards.