Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend Recap

The NCAA picture gets clearer and that’s what I’ll focus on in this post. I’ll begin in San Antonio with the Texas quad which produced a ton of drama over the weekend.  To start, despite going winless, I think Trinity has a lot to be happy about.  This is more along the lines of the Tigers team I was expecting this season.  They played very good doubles all weekend and their singles was very good in their last 2 matches.  They were points away from winning against Cruz and Wash U, so even though they didn’t win, they should come away from this weekend with their heads held high.  I think they sent a message to the country that they are dangerous and can beat anyone on any given day.  The doubles sweep isn’t coming now, but it may come at NCAAs.  The potential is there and if the Tigers are on, watch out for them.  I think they will continue to get better over the next few weeks and will be a serious threat in May.  They are pretty much done with D3 action until their conference tournament and I expect to see them at 10 in the country in Thursday’s rankings.  They will be right on the border for a top seed in their NCAA region, so we will see what happens.  Next is Wash U who continues to impress.  I have nothing but praise for this team at the moment despite the loss to CMS.  I see them at 3 or 4 in the country on Thursday, which is incredible for a team that lost key players in Watts and Levy.  Roger Follmer continues to do an outstanding job with this team and they proved they can play with anyone.  I think they will give Emory a real test at UAAs and I can see them heading to NCAAs as the #2 or #3 overall seed, which would be much better than I expected from them.  Cruz is Cruz and as I said in an Indoors preview, they just know when to step up.  That win over CMS was massive because even though they may be below the Stags in the rankings, I like the Slugs to get chosen as the host for the NCAA West Regional because of the head to head win over their regional rival.  ITA rankings and NCAA brackets don’t go hand in hand, and if I was making the bracket, I have Cruz hosting.  The thing they have to be careful of is their match against Pomona-Pitzer as well as Williams, because losing those could get them in trouble.  I see Cruz at 5 on Thursday, which is really great for them.  It will be significantly more difficult for CMS to go up to Santa Cruz and win at regionals versus playing on their home courts.  This make things very interesting and it’s possible the Stags won’t get a chance to play the Final 8 at their place again this year.  I really look forward to a potential NCAA Sweet 16 match between these 2, but I know not to count out P-P.  I’m very surprised CMS lost to Cruz, because they knew the significance of that match.  I bet if you told them they could only 1 win match and Texas and had to lose the other 2, they would have picked Cruz to beat.  I expect them at 3 or 4 in the country on Thursday, but I really think they will have to travel for NCAAs, which is not what they wanted.  The Slugs took their game to another level in singles and despite their talent, CMS couldn’t match it and Cruz got wins at some spots where I didn’t think they had a chance.  In conclusion, Texas was just amazing tennis start to finish.  A ton of close matches, but that’s what you get when 4 of the best teams in the country get together. Looking at other Friday results, Emory had a good win over Chicago and they are off from D3 play until the UAA tournament.  We will see what Middlebury does, but I think it’s highly likely they lose at least once to Amherst, which would make Emory the #1 team in the country.  If they win the UAA tournament, they should enter NCAAs as the #1 overall seed, which could give them a very nice first few rounds.  The Eagles have had a great season and remain undefeated in D3 play despite some scares.  I see Chicago at #7 in Pool C right now, with NESCAC teams holding the 4 through 6 spots.  Meaning Williams, Trinity (CT) and Bowdoin.  This means that the Maroons need to do something if they want to make NCAAs because I don’t think you can count on NESCACs handing away their NCAA spot.  They are now back in New England and protected from out-of-conference opponents.  When I say do something, I mean they have to beat Wash U, or beat Carnegie Mellon plus hope for some help.  If I’m Chicago, I root for Bates to knock off Bowdoin or Trinity (CT), because that could push the Maroons to the #6 spot in Pool C.  Chicago also has to root for Pomona-Pitzer against Redlands, because a Bulldogs win in that match could push the Bulldogs past the Maroons in Pool C. Also on Friday, Trinity (CT) beat Redlands in what was one of the closest D3 matches I’ve ever seen.  I believe there were 4 matches that were 7-5 or a breaker in 3rd.  That’s just incredible.  I underestimated the Bantams and they sure showed a lot of fight in this one.  They put themselves in an amazing spot for NCAAs, because as I just said they now make the tournament if they just hold serve and do what they are supposed to.  I see them at 12 or 13 in the country on Thursday, which is excellent for them.  I think this win shows that they are a contender this year and could surprise one of the top NESCAC teams.  However, I do think they are susceptible to an upset.  They have to root against the other Pool C teams, but a win against Bowdoin would almost lock them in the tournament.  This was a terrible loss for Redlands because they are now in huge trouble.  They had another chance against Williams for redemption but lost there as well.  The Bulldogs need to beat either Middlebury tomorrow or Pomona-Pitzer.  The way the Hens are playing, this isn’t likely.  I see Redlands sitting at 16 or 17 in the country as the 8th team in Pool C.  That means they have to make something happen to get back into the NCAA picture.  Their season could be over very soon.  A win over CLU won’t do it; they need to beat P-P, and they may get 2 cracks at the Hens. The loss to Denison wasn’t bad for Carnegie, it was horrible.  I don’t really get it either.  This same CMU team went to Indoors and beat a full strength CLU team and then was points away from beating Cruz.  Obviously the talent is there.  This had to be a combination of them being completely unprepared as well as Denison coming in with a nothing to lose attitude.  Denison is solid, but besides this match they haven’t done anything good this Spring.  They will move into the rankings but will sit between 25 and 30.  I expected them to go out and beat Mary Wash on Saturday, but they didn’t.  I just don’t understand this result at all.  CMU now has a lot of work to do to make the tournament.  They still have a lot of chances, and I think their best chance is winning the GLCA tournament.  That would potentially put wins over DePauw and Kenyon on their resume, and I think a win against the Lords could be enough for them to leapfrog Bowdoin or Trinity (CT) in Pool C.  And obviously for CMU, beating Chicago in UAAs is an absolute must.  They were in the driver’s seat, but now, just like Redlands, they need to make something happen.  Their season could be over in 3 weeks and as a Pool C team you can’t afford losses like this.  That’s why I’m surprised the players and the coaching staff let it happen.  I thought they had turned a corner and moved into elite status, but this weekend shows me they are back to their old underachieving ways.  Against Mary Wash, Wichlin didn’t play and CMU barely got the win, so they are lucky there.  They need to regroup and re-evaluate if they want to be in the postseason because they are not good right now.  I do think the potential is there, they just need to find their Indoors form and play with some desperation. A last thought on tennis: Midd struggled a bit against CLU in singles.  I’m very interested to see how the Panthers do against Redlands because that’s a real danger match for them.  Good stuff by Midd in doubles against CLU, but I was surprised to see Midd lose 3 matches after Williams swept CLU in singles. An incident happened at the Washington & Lee – Christopher Newport match on Saturday which makes you realize just how insignificant tennis is.  Will Hall of W&L suffered a severe leg injury that required him to be rushed to the emergency room and have immediate surgery.  I won’t get into details, because honestly, just reading about it made me sick to my stomach. I wish him the best on a speedy recovery and my thoughts are with he and the W&L program.  Freak accidents like this shouldn’t happen in tennis and it’s very unfortunate that a talented player like that may have his tennis career ended by such a terrible tragedy