Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 Team Preview #20: Williams

Will Petrie

Coach: Dan Greenberg, 2nd Season
Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts
Conference: NESCAC
2008 Ranking: 6
2009 Ranking: 8
2010 Ranking: 11
2011 Projected: 9

2010 was the first year since 1996 that Williams failed to make at least the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament and finish in the top 10 in the country. Losing to Amherst is unfamiliar territory for the Ephs, but I think it taught them a lesson and I expect them to be back in the top 10 this year. I think Williams is the only team in the top 20 who will start no seniors, so they certainly have a bright future. Last year, I think some questionable scheduling did in Williams. They started with a road match against NC Wesleyan. Going to that match, I'm pretty sure Williams was very sure that they were going to win comfortably. They were wrong and I think it took them a few weeks to recover after that loss and it also really did them in when it came to rankings. The problem is that when your season is only 6 weeks long, you've got to be sharp every match, and one loss can really hurt you. On the positive side, this really was one of the best teams in the country last year. They beat Amherst 2 weeks before the Jeffs made their run to the final, and they even played very close with Amherst in the NCAA regional final. That shows me that this team has top 8 potential if they are playing well. One thing that worries me is that freshman Matt Micheli is currently not on their roster, and he was slated to play #2 for them this spring and would have been one of the best freshmen in the country. I'm not exactly sure where he is but they will miss him a lot if he's not in the lineup this spring. Williams does have one of the best players in the country in Felix Sun who really should support them and get a lot of wins even in the tough NESCAC. They have a great supporting cast as well and really are as deep as anyone in the country. Traditionally, Williams doubles is not very good. They are known for getting swept and getting into fairly big holes, and it would make life a lot easier if they could avoid that this year. I expect the Ephs to grab one of the Pool C spots and hopefully they can put together a strong enough regular season to get a top seed in their region. They've booked a California trip this year and scheduled 4 ranked teams out there, and I certainly would think Redlands, Cruz and CLU are all huge matches for them to try to pad their out-of-conference resume. I don't think it even needs to be said that matches against their NESCAC rivals are very important to them. I definitely expect Williams to get back on track this year and be in the hunt late in May after last year's disappointment.