Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reviewing 4 Close Matches On Tue/Wed

The past 2 days were certainly not lacking in drama. First I want to talk about today's match that saw Johns Hopkins travel to Emory in a 6-3 victory for the Eagles that was much closer than expected. For those who haven't seen it, check the box score to the right in the latest news section. Emory was lucky to win. This match says several things, but I don't want to read too much into it. First of all, I would bet Emory went in overconfident, knowing that they stand as the best team in the country and Hopkins was just beaten solidly by NC Wesleyan 2 days ago. The Eagles had to think they would run through this match, but they were very wrong. I think this is great for Emory because it's a wake up call. It shows them that they are susceptible to doubles sweep on any day and they are far from invincible. I'm sure a few points here and there could have given Hopkins a win. The Eagles pulled this out and they now know they have to be on their heels against pretty much anyone in the top 15. I thought the top 3 were on a different level than everyone else, but maybe that's not the case. The bottom line is this is the toughest match Emory's played all season, even tougher than CMS and Wash U. Emory was clutch and managed to survive, and I think this match helps them a lot going forward. I wasn't sure what to make of Hopkins performance when comparing this to the NCW match, but I got an email with a good idea. Hopkins doesn't perform when there are expectations. Looking at the past several years, every time you expect something from JHU, they fold. And when there are no expectations, such as this match, they do very well. That doesn't seem to be an easily fixable problem; Hopkins doesn't play well as the favorite. This match result shows me they have the talent to play with anyone in the country, but they are inconsistent. The Bishops rolled them in singles on Monday, and no disrespect to NCW, but I think Emory is a stronger team than NCW. Something clicked for Hopkins today, and this match has to give them confidence moving forward.

Tuesday's results are posted below in the previous post. Bowdoin took care of Cal Lu as expected. They had too much depth and it showed. The same thing happens to Cal Lu every match, and the truth is they would really be a dangerous team with Ballou. Right now they've got 3 guys who can win in Giuffrida, Wilson and Sousa and that's not enough to beat solid top 15 opponents. The Kingsmen are good, they just don't have the complete team to compete at the highest level this year. They need to do some serious recruiting for next year because their current personnel aren't getting the job done. Bowdoin has to be very happy with their trip. I think they performed quite well and got their young guys some valuable experience. I expect them to be sitting at 14 in the country in the next rankings which should put them as the 6th Pool C team for the time being. This is a typical Bowdoin year; a very solid team who's dangerous against anyone. I think they can go home quite satisfied with their performance and I expect them to keep up the high level in NESCAC play.

In DePauw-Chicago, we saw our first comeback from an 0-3 hole in doubles this season as the Maroons were swept but went on to win 5 first sets and hold on in all of those matches. A much-needed win for Chicago, and when you look at the Maroons resume, it's actually fairly solid this year. This win kept their NCAA hopes alive, but they still need to make something happen. They either need to take out Wash U in their regular season match or take at least 3rd in the UAA tournament, which would mean a win over Carnegie. When the next rankings out, barring any meltdowns from anyone or any unexpected wins from Redlands, I see Chicago sitting at 7th in Pool C right behind Bowdoin. The Polar Bears are going to pad their resume with wins most likely when they take on MIT, Bates and Trinity (CT). Chicago has to match that with a big win of their own because they don't have the amount of ranked wins that Bowdoin will have. The Maroons did a good job in this, but they still have work to do. DePauw is in a big hole right now and I think they may need to go and win the GLCA tournament, and at the very least beat Carnegie in a probable semifinal. They do have their conference tournament to fall back on, but they will have to beat a very good Rhodes team and then Trinity (TX) on back to back days. This was a match DPU needed to win and their NCAA hopes look grim at the moment. Chicago's talent showed in this match in singles and I think it's good for the Maroons to finally get a win against a big time program.

I predicted a win for Pomona-Pitzer against Williams and I was correct, but not in the fashion I expected. Williams has to be pleased with their doubles play against a team that took 2 of 3 from Emory and Kenyon this season. They just didn't get the job done in singles and I think PP's experience paid off. This is not a bad loss at all for the Ephs as PP is ranked ahead of them, but Williams needs to put this behind them because they have Redlands, CLU and Cruz all in the next week. If they can go 2 for 3 in this stretch, I think they are in good shape. They start a freshman and 5 sophomores in singles, so this is still a really young team that will mature throughout the season. I like this Williams team a lot, and if they continue with this level in doubles, they will be really tough to beat all season long. PP continues their dream season with another huge win. The Hens enter SCIAC play riding high, but now its time for them to win rivalry matches against Redlands and CLU. PP has done an amazing job so far, similar to CLU last year, but now is the time when CLU started to go downhill. PP needs to keep it up and carry this momentum all the way through the end of the season.