Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Recap, Brief Wednesday Preview

Pomona-Pitzer was not playing over their heads at the Stag-Hen and Amherst is just really good. The Jeffs knocked off Trinity (TX) today without both Joey Fritz and Mark Kahan, 2 of their top 4 players. The box score isn't available at the moment but this Trinity release has scores.

Emory is tough and CMS is also very good, but what Amherst did today is just unmatched. Kahan and Fritz played 1 and 3 yesterday and Garner didn't even bother to bring them to play a top 10 quality opponent. They just have unbelievable depth and it's a gutsy move to not bring 2 of your top guys. Either way, they came away with a comfortable 7-2 win in a danger match. I'm really looking forward to their match with CMS this weekend and I assume they would bring a full lineup to play the Stags. After seeing Emory win like they did, I was impressed, but now I remember why I thought Amherst was a level above everyone else. At the same time, Trinity can't go home happy. I ranked them 4th in the country based upon the assumption that they had the best 1 and 2 doubles team in the country. Clearly, that is far from true, particularly at 1. If you look at Trinity's 3 matches at Indoors and their 5 matches in California, their #1 team is 3-5. This team was an NCAA semifinalist in '09, and NCAA finalist last year and an ITA national champion in the fall. Why can't they do the same thing in dual matches? I think this Tigers team is better than the Trinity team that was #1 in the country for a portion of 2008. It would be a shame for them to waste this season. They've got 10 days to regroup and I think they need to get at least 1 win at their quad for confidence purposes. It's not going to be easy with Cruz, CMS and Wash U coming to town, but so far they've shown they are just another team and nowhere near elite. I expect the Tigers to end up somewhere between 12-16 in the next rankings which is just not good for a team of this caliber.

Kenyon is a great story this year, but if you want to talk about surprising, look no further than Pomona-Pitzer. The Hens will most likely come in at #9 in Thursday's rankings, 11 spots higher than I had them projected. Coach Belletto has done a fantastic job and their 2 wins today prove that they are really tough. I think they are just about a lock for Pool C at this point barring some very unforeseen circumstances. Bowdoin was clearly a better team today than they were Monday and the Hens really took it to them in doubles and never let their feet off the gas. I'll say again that I'm impressed, especially with their absolute destruction of Tyler. I know PP always thinks highly of themselves, but this year they are actually walking the walk. They have a tricky match against Skidmore Saturday and Williams in a week, but for now that single digit ranking next to their name should feel great.

Bowdoin and Whitman are interesting stories. The Polar Bears clearly played better today than they did against TU with a solid win over Whitman, but as I mentioned yesterday, Bowdoin can't get in holes in doubles because they don't have enough players to dig their way out against top 15 teams. Pena is not in his freshman year form, as he is losing matches at 3. If he's not a strong 2, this team is nothing special. Sullivan has won all of his matches, but 1 player is only going to take you so far. I like Bowdoin around #15 or 16 right now the way they are playing and that may not be high enough to get them in the tournament. They actually don't play Redlands this year but have some other big matches coming up. This has been a crazy season and Whitman has been in the middle of all of it. After their results the past 2 days, I think they may have just caught an unprepared and downtrodden Trinity team on Saturday, because I'm not too impressed with them. The same Tyler team they lost to also lost to Rhodes and Cal Lu and got destroyed by PP today. Whitman had an opening to get themselves very highly ranked, but after a trip with huge swings, I think they probably go home where they started at about 18th. The glimmer of light was there but they couldn't take advantage of it. I really like this program and that's disappointing to see, but they may very well find themselves in California for regionals again. They finish against Cal Lu tomorrow which is a match I think they can win.

Whitman-Cal Lu occurs tomorrow along with Bowdoin-Skidmore and Amherst-Redlands. I'm really looking forward to seeing Skidmore play a top team because I think they are very tough this year. This will be a good test for both teams, but more pressure is on Bowdoin due to Pool C hanging over them. That match headlines tomorrow for me. Given Redlands performance against Emory and Cruz, I don't think tomorrow's result against Amherst is in doubt. Herst can probably bring half their lineup and win comfortably, but the Verdieck Tennis Center is never an easy place to play. I like Redlands to put up a fight in doubles and possible get a match, but they probably fade after that against a more talented team. Lastly, Whitman-Cal Lu is a match of contrasting styles as we have depth against a top heavy team. Given the results over the past few days, this should be a very even match that can go either way. If Cal Lu wants to keep Pool C hopes alive, they need a win, and at the same time, Whitman wants to go home to Washington with a win as well.