Friday, May 13, 2011

Regional Preview: Middlebury

Midd is looking for their 9th consecutive Elite 8, Bowdoin is looking to avoid the typical Bowdoin performance and MIT is looking for a breakthrough that is within reach. To begin, 2 solid New Jersey teams and an interesting story with MIT’s opponent, Hunter College.

Drew and Stevens face off for the right to play Middlebury and these are 2 teams who consistently win their conference and qualify for the tournament They always seem to be floating around the Northeast regions as 4th or 5th seeds, so a match win for either of them would be a good accomplishment for the programs. I don’t think either could pose any sort of threat to Middlebury. I’m pretty unfamiliar with both of these teams so I won’t make a prediction, but I will say Midd wins 5-0 in the round of 32. The best player in this region most likely plays for the 6th seed, Hunter. I was doing my research and noticed a familiar name in Yevgeny Perepelov as Hunter’s top player. Perepelov was a former top Eastern junior who won several matches at the Kalamazoo nationals and reached a Tennisrecruiting ranking of 27 in his class. I believe he took 3-4 years off and competed on the Futures circuit, and he is currently listed as a sophomore at Hunter. He hasn’t lost a match this year, so I’ll be interested to see how he does against MIT’s top player. Hunter doesn’t have much after him so I’ll go with the Engineers in a 5-0 win.

I’m assuming the committee placed MIT in this region rather than Amherst’s with the thought that they would rather be the 3 seed in the #8 overall team’s region versus the #2 seed in the #3 overall team’s region. Either way, Bowdoin is going to have their hands full with MIT. In the regular season match, the score was tied 4-4 and MIT led 5-1 in the 3rd set at #6 singles before Bowdoin came back to win. Granted, the Polar Bears were playing short handed that day and they are now back to full strength, but this is going to be a really good match. If MIT can get up in doubles, anything can happen, but I think Bowdoin is playing well right now and I like them to win 5-2.

Bowdoin’s typical season is to finish about where they did this year, qualify for the tournament and then lose to their regional top seed in the Sweet 16. Since Bowdoin’s NESCAC title run in 2008, they have not knocked off a top-notch team. They beat people below them and lose to teams above them. They are always dangerous, but they never seem to break through and make a Final 8. This is a great opportunity. Midd is fairly inexperienced, however they did beat Bowdoin in what I consider a comfortable 5-4 win during the season. Midd has done what they were supposed to do this season, but they are susceptible to an upset. Bowdoin has the firepower to take on the Panthers and I’m surprised more people in the poll haven’t picked Bowdoin. Bowdoin has the experience edge here, but I can’t pick them due to the track records of these teams. I’ll take Midd in a 5-3 win that goes down to the wire.