Saturday, February 12, 2011

National Indoors Preview: General Discussion and Interesting Stats

Mary Washington's University Tennis Center

I wanted to make a post to discuss some general thoughts on Indoors as well as provide some stats on Indoors history. To begin, the ITA published stats on Indoors through 2008. I updated them to include the past 2 years. Stats are courtesy of the ITA, so thank you to their team for putting this together. I just did the easy part.

Most Championships: Gustavus Adolphus - 4; Emory, UC Santa Cruz - 3.

Most Final Appearances: UC Santa Cruz - 7; Emory, Gustavus Adolphus - 5; Washington U (MO) - 2; Claremont-Mudd-Scripps - 1

Most Victories: Emory - 20; UC Santa Cruz, Gustavus Adolphus - 19; Trinity (TX) - 11; Washington U (MO) - 6; Claremont-Mudd-Scripps - 5; DePauw, MIT, Mary Washington, Washington & Lee - 3; Redlands, Kenyon, Johns Hopkins - 2; Kalamazoo, Carnegie Mellon, Pacific Lutheran - 1.

Most Tournament Appearances: UC Santa Cruz, Emory, Gustavus - 10; Trinity (TX) - 9; Washington U (MO) - 5; Mary Washington, DePauw - 4; MIT, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps - 3; Kenyon, Johns Hopkins, Redlands, Washington & Lee, Whitman - 2; Washington Coll (MD), Bates, Carnegie Mellon, California Lutheran, Kalamazoo, Pacific Lutheran, Swarthmore - 1.

10 Interesting Tidbits About Indoors That I've Put Together:

-10 years of Indoors: only 3 different champions and 5 different finalists. I found this very interesting, but I also think the chances of that changing this year are very slim.

-We have 4 teams playing Indoors for the 2nd consecutive year and they are all in different 1st round matches. This is the first time NCW will be participating. All others have been here before.

-Wash U and Emory have played at Indoors in 3 consecutive years with Wash U holding a 2-1 advantage. All 3 years, whoever won the Indoors match lost in the UAA final.

-Wash U has lost in 2 consecutive finals. In 10 years, no one has lost in 3 consecutive finals.

-Last year was the only year in the 10-year history of Indoors that Trinity (TX) didn't qualify.

-The last time Trinity (TX) won an Indoors 1st round was 2004. They've lost 5 consecutive 1st round matches since then. In the same time period of '05-'10, Cruz is 5-1 in the 1st round. Their only loss came to Kenyon in 2009 and they went on to win the NCAA title that year.

-This is the 3rd site for Indoors. Whitman hosted for 2 years and then Gustavus hosted for 8 years.

-This will be the first time in the history of Indoors that none of the top 3 ranked teams in the country are participating. CMS turned down a bid for the 2nd consecutive year after attending in 2009 and finishing 3rd.

-Emory and Mary Wash played in the first round in 2009. Emory won 9-0 and didn't lose a set. Cruz and Trinity (TX) played in 1st round consolation in 2009. Cruz won 9-0. From those teams, all 6 of Trinity's doubles starters from that match are still on their roster. None of Cruz's doubles starters are still on their roster.

-Mary Wash is 1-5 in their last 6 Indoors matches.

General Discussion: Heading into the tournament this year, it's hard not to pick top seeded Emory as the favorite. They won the tournament 2 years ago and I don't see anyone getting in their way this year. Cruz won the tournament as the top seed last year and returns as the 2 seed, opening against a Trinity team who they haven't lost to in 10 years. I think a potential Emory-Cruz final is a definite possibility. A big point of discussion is the transfer to indoor tennis for the California teams. Cruz has always seemed to take this like fish in water, so we will see how Cal Lutheran handles it this year. They take on last year's 6th place finisher Carnegie Mellon and I would assume this is the first ever meeting between these 2 teams. The winner gets the luxury of playing Emory in the semis. I think the Wash U-NCW quarterfinal has a lot of potential to be a great match. I spoke with a coach of NCW after their 5-0 loss to Midd last year and he said they weren't ready to play. I'm sure they will be ready to go in this one. Outside of Hopkins and Midd in NCAAs last year, this is probably the biggest match in the history of their program. Mary Wash did a great job taking over the tournament, but they are in over their heads just as Gustavus was last year. I've been debating what's more of a mismatch: last year's Kenyon-Gustavus opener or this year's Emory-Mary Wash opener.

The draw is here
If you were to re-seed Indoors according to my preseason rankings it would be: #1 Emory v. #8 UMW, #4 Wash U v. #5 Cal Lu, #3 Cruz v. #6 NCW, #2 Trinity v. #7 CMU. I personally think the matches we have right now are better than these re-seeded matches. Given the current bracket, I don't think it's a stretch to say that the worst team in the bottom half would be the 2nd best team in the top half. We will find out because I'm sure Cal Lu does not agree with this. Mary Wash has slow indoor courts, so this will be a large contrast from the quick surface at Gustavus. This should suit Emory well and will certainly play an impact in all doubles matches as I expect service breaks to increase. With only 3 courts available per match, Indoors is a lot of pressure and a much different experience than playing all 6 matches at once. This is why I throw the advantage to the players who have been there before. I'm looking forward to a great tournament.