Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Team Preview #9: MIT

Ken Van Tilburg

Coach: Dave Hagymas, 6th Season
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Conference: NEWMAC
2008 Ranking: NR
2009 Ranking: 30
2010 Ranking: 24
2011 Projected: 24

Something that often gets overlooked in D3 is how a coach can turn around a program by simply putting some effort into recruiting. If you want to talk about coaching pedigrees, MIT's Dave Hagymas may be #1 in D3. Before arriving in Cambridge, Hagymas was a long time assistant at Duke, winning a National Assistant Coach of the Year title. He has made this program from nothing into something, and he's the reason for their Sweet 16 performance last season. He is able to steal recruits from other technical schools such as Carnegie Mellon and Johns Hopkins, but this couldn't be done without recruiting. MIT is a very prestigious school to go to, so it really shouldn't be that hard to get smart kids to come there. The Engineers don't have to worry about making the NCAA tournament as they typically qualify through Pool B, so they can focus on development throughout the season and play without pressure. They had a good NCAA tournament win last year before giving Middlebury a tough time in singles, so that has to be a confidence boost entering this season. While I don't think team has top 20 potential quite yet, they are certainly a team to watch over the next few years. They've got a lot of talent on the team, but where they will probably fall short is development due to the difficult academics. If they can continue to rise in the rankings and recruit well, this could be a top 20 team by the end of 2012. Looking at their schedule, they play most of the powerhouses in New England, but the matches I'd pay particular attention to are Bates and Brandeis. These are teams that should be ranked close to the Engineers, and if MIT can win both of these and find their way to a second consecutive Sweet 16, that's a massive step in the right direction for this program. The talent is clearly there, and Coach Hagymas' tennis prowess combined with a lot of hard work has made MIT into a respectable tennis program.