Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011 Team Preview #4: Washington & Lee

Jeremy Becht

Coach: David Detwiler, 11th Season
Location: Lexington, Virginia
Conference: Old Dominion
2008 Ranking: 18
2009 Ranking: 29
2010 Ranking: 26
2011 Projected: 27

The Generals have quietly fallen during the past couple years. I know there's not much pressure on tennis coaches from athletic departments, but Detwiler needs to get his guys back into the top 20 quickly. I really don't have many nice things to say about this program right now. They aren't a very strong team, their players and coaches get in fights with other teams, and they have been surrounded by accusations of stacking for the past couple years. The good news for the Generals is that they took back the conference last year after losing to Hampden-Sydney in 2009. Prior to 2009, W&L had won 13 consecutive conference titles, so that now stands at 14 of the past 15. Depth has really been a problem for the Generals during the past 2 years as they just can't find enough players to compete against the other top teams in the Atlantic South. They really didn't do much right last year, but they did win a close match against Mary Wash which had to be a big boost for the team. To put it simply, the talent is just not there right now and the blame clearly goes to the coaches for not recruiting. This team has two bright spots and those are their top 2 players. Junior Jeremy Becht is hot and cold, but should be a solid #2 player for a team in the 20-30 range. #1 singles player Hayden White won Atlantic South Rookie of the Year and I'd be surprised if he doesn't make his way back to the NCAA Singles Championships in 2011. He didn't have a great fall, but he should be the best player in the conference this year and one of the best sophomores in the country. After these two, W&L doesn't have much. The Generals will win the conference with ease in 2011 and have another season where they finish in the 24-30 range, but they should be doing so much more. They seem to be satisfied with mediocrity at the moment and that needs to change. They play most of the top teams in the Atlantic South, but two matches I'd pay close attention to are road contests against Mary Washington and Christopher Newport. These are two foes about even with the Generals and we will see how they fair. W&L needs to turn it around quickly, because a program with good tradition shouldn't be doing what they're doing.