Hopkins d. Vassar 9-0
Emory d. Newport 9-0
Redlands d. Mary Washington 7-2
I apologize for not being very active lately, but there hasn't been much going on. The season really kicks off this Wednesday, and there is a match almost every day until early May. The Stag-Hen this weekend is really the kickoff to the spring season after Indoors and I'll be previewing that later this week.
This weekend we had 3 noncompetitive matches. To begin, Hopkins dominated as expected, although they were tested at the top 2 doubles spots. This was a good warm-up match for the Bluejays and they won't be tested again for 2 weeks when they have a brutal 6 day stretch that includes matches against CNU, Bates, Emory, NCW and Kalamazoo. If I were Hopkins, I'd be working on my fitness a lot to make sure I don't wilt by the end of that string of matches. JHU did what they needed to do this weekend, but they need to be ready for some tougher competition. Vassar travels to California this week and they have a shot at newly ranked Whittier on Tuesday before Coach Cox takes on his former team Kenyon on Wednesday. They then participate in the Stag-Hen where they get to play Enory first round which I'm sure will be a great experience for them. They have to put their focus on improving to beat Skidmore, and they now know what they need to do since they've seen the Thoroughbreds before.
In the other 9-0, Emory topped Christopher Newport as expected, but with much more ease in singles than I was expecting. The Eagles dropped 4 games in the top 3 singles spots, which is just flat out impressive given that CNU's top 3 aren't too shabby. Emory played good enough doubles and they will need to play great doubles if they want to return to Atlanta with a Stag-Hen title next weekend. The Eagles have a tricky match against Redlands on Thursday before the Stag-Hen Invite where likely matches with Trinity (TX) and CMS await. Those 2 will really test the Eagles, and a CMS-Emory final could be a national title match preview. Newport is an interesting story. I don't like to be harsh on teams, but I have a feeling they think they are a lot better than they actually are. The Captains need to win their conference this year and it will be tough to do. They don't play the schedule to get a Pool C bid, so their only road to the tournament is through NCW. The fact is they should be a good team with a top 2 like they have, but I haven't decided whether or not they are a top 25 caliber team. They don't have much until they play W&L in 3 weeks, and I'm expecting that match to tell me a lot about them.
The past several years, the Redlands-Mary Wash match has always been a war, with the 2009 match being tied at 4-4 before Spearman won it for Redlands. This year it was quite a different story. This was exactly the start that Redlands needed to their D3 season and I'm glad to see it. They got a little confidence under their belt heading into matches with Emory and Cruz during the next 6 days. I think Cruz is a winnable match and it will show us what Redlands is really made of this year. I will also be looking at this match later in the week. A wonderful result for Redlands, but the question is how much of it was them playing well and how much of it was Mary Wash continuing to be terrible? The Eagles were an absolute joke this week, and for the players they have on their team, I don't know how they lose like they do. Something happened to this team between '08 and '09, because they haven't been the same program since that NCAA quarterfinal against Middlebury in 2008. I can't put my finger on what's wrong either, but they are horrendous. As I said, I thought this year's team got on the right track after that Cal Lu win, but I was very wrong. They sit at #27 in the nation, and a loss to W&L next Saturday may very well drop them out of the rankings, which is just inexcusable for a program like this. They are lucky to be in a weak conference, but that doesn't mean they should cruise through the season. On paper, I think this team should be in the low 20s and possibly the top 20, but they aren't playing like it. I wondered if the weather adjustment was a factor, but they still got crushed a week after they got there, so that doesn't seem to be the case. Right now I think they just played over their heads at Indoors, riding their home court advantage. The good news is they still have 2 months to turn it around, but things are looking grim for the Eagles.