Kenyon's Paul Burgin
I thought I'd post this a few days ahead of time to let the fact that the season is finally here soak in. This is the first big match of the year and it has my #13 squaring off against #15 in a match where Chicago desperately needs a win. If you really take a look at the Maroons schedule, they are in huge trouble NCAA-wise if they don't win this match. And I mean huge trouble. The rest of the season, their only realistically winnable D3 matches that would count as quality wins are against DePauw, Wash U, and probably a crack at CMU in the UAA 3rd place match. If they lost this, even going 2 for 3 in those wouldn't guarantee them a spot. A win against Kenyon on the other hand, would probably put the Maroons in the top 12 and they may jump their NESCAC Pool C competitors in the rankings, with no matches in sight that would knock them out of the top 12. You know Chicago is going to bring a feisty attitude into Kenyon, and they will be very confident that they will leave with a win. The Maroons have been anything but impressive in the past few weeks, but none of that matters if they come out on top Friday night.
The other side of the coin is a young team who is trying to make a statement that they still belong in the conversation of best teams in the country. They put up a great effort in the Fall against Amherst and I'm sure coaches Thielke and Wilson have had their eye on this Friday for quite some time. Kenyon's home court advantage is one of the biggest in D3 and I expect them to come out firing in doubles to prove they aren't intimidated by Chicago. The Lords have history on their side and are 4-0 against Chicago since 2006. They aren't playing for as much, but with an inexperienced team, they certainly want to start well. They should go into this match with a nothing to lose attitude and know that they can win if they play well.
I expect Kenyon to get ahead in doubles. In the 4 matches they've played so far, Chicago is 0-4 at #1 doubles. Kenyon should take that spot and I would expect them to get either #2 or #3 to lead 2-1. The Maroons are the more talented team in singles, so I think a lot depends on how they play. I would expect Zhang to top Polster, and Chicago should win at #6, but the other 4 can really go either way. I think Kenyon has a slight edge with the more experienced Burgin at #2 and Ye at #5. This match should come down to 3 and 4 singles. Chicago really needs to play well to win and I'm going with Kenyon in a close 5-4 win that may come down to the last match. The Maroons have the potential to come in and absolutely dominate, and I think the rest of the country would take notice if they do. I'm also not sure if Chicago will come in with the same lineup they've been using, so that could potentially be a factor as well.
NOTE: If anyone is at the match and would e-mail me occasional score updates, I will post them on my Twitter to share with everyone.