2017 Small College Nationals/ITA Oracle Cup: Doubles Preview

The singles are underway at the #OracleCup, but the doubles aren’t scheduled to start until the mid afternoon. That gave us a little more time to write another little ditty for you, this time with an eye on tennis played in pairs. Just like in the singles draw, Gustavus and Alhouni are the No. 1 seed, and just like the singles predictions, the bloggers (myself included) aren’t showing nearly enough respect. The most popular choice to win the doubles tournament is the No. 2 seeded Bowdoin Polar Bears, Tercek/Urken (7 out of 10 bloggers agree…that the other three bloggers are shortsighted). Again, if you’re looking to watch some FREE tennis this afternoon, head on over to Playsight by CLICKING HERE and you’ll have the option to watch six different courts, two of which will be playing DIII mens matches (schedule for Court 13 and Court 14 when 3 p.m. rolls around). You can also find the links to each court from the tournament home page. Enjoy the tennis!

No. 1 Mohanad Alhouni/Patrick Whaling–NewD3Central

Regional: Midwest

Team: GAC

Year: Senior/Junior

Why they’ll win: This pair has played with each other for a while now, and that combined experience is going to come in handy for this tournament of champions. Alhouni and Whaling missed out on this tournament last year, and will be poised and focused to live up to their one seed billing. As I said before, you don’t just happen upon the one seed, you must earn it and this fearsome team has used shown that they are one of the best teams in the country. The lefty, righty combination provides numerous advantages, especially if the sun becomes an issue because it can prevent either player from serving while looking into the sun. Look for this team to build on the momentum they garnered from running through ITAs and win this tournament.

Why they won’t: No one wins the double crown at Small College, no matter how good and efficient you are. It just doesn’t happen. While, I’m not picking Alhouni to win the tournament, he is the one seed, so you have to reckon the man has a pretty good shot. Regardless, he’s looking at another 3 matches on court than his opponents that are only playing doubles, and no matter your conditioning or ease of win (which is not guaranteed, especially at Small College) it will take a toll on your body. The biggest risk to this doubles team is the time and energy that Alhouni spends on the singles court. Oh! And making sure they make all their returns with forward momentum, but who knows. I’m just a pundit here.

No. 2 Luke Tercek/Grant Urken–D3NE

Regional: New England

Team: Bowdoin

Year: Senior/Junior

Why they’ll win: Standing a combined 12 and a ½ feet tall, this is one of the most physically imposing teams in the country. Tercek’s game is made for doubles, as he often serves and volleys even when he plays singles. Both guys have big returns, and Urken can absolutely smack the ball from the baseline. If these guys are serving well, they will be damn near impossible to beat this weekend. Given all of that, and that Terk and Urk have a full year of team chemistry under their belts, I will have trouble picking against this Bowdoin team to win it all!

Why they won’t: They may have a full year of experience from which to learn, but that year wasn’t all positive. The duo lost five of their last seven matches going into NCAAs, including losses to Tufts, Bates, and MIT. Tercek has played at the top of the doubles lineup for years now, but Urken didn’t play in the doubles lineup at all his freshman year, before jumping all the way up to #1 last year. This duo can be streaky; however, all I’m trying to do is fill out my assigned blurb here. I think this is a very good team with as good a chance as any other to win the tournament.

No. 3 Steven Koulouris/JT Wynne–D3RegionalNEC

Regional: Northeast

Team: Skidmore

Year: Senior/Sophomore

Why they’ll win: Both have big time doubles experience and although they didn’t play together last year, I think they have an excellent chemistry that possibly other teams won’t be able to match.  Wynne is very solid taking the ball early and coming forward, and Koulouris’ big serve and groundstrokes makes for a great complement. If they get hot and click, they have the firepower to take the racquet out of the hands of another team and just completely blow them off the court.

Why they won’t: Their opening match against Berber and Parodi (CMS) feels like a toss up, and I think a loss there could really hurt their confidence. I think the Skidmore duo will play really good fundamental doubles, but Berber and Parodi have the edge in terms of pure talent, and that is sometimes enough to get through.  While it wasn’t an issue in the regional tournament, the fact that Wynne is playing both singles and doubles could also be a disadvantage, though I suppose it could also help them.  The doubles at this tournament is so hard to predict because we only have small sample sizes, so I guess the easiest answer to why they won’t win is just that anything can happen in this tournament. On the flipside, that same answer also applies to why they will win.

No. 4 Jeremy Yuan/Tyler Raclin–NewD3Central

Regional: Central

Team: Chicago

Year: Freshman/Senior

Why they’ll win: This is Raclin’s second trip to Small College and we cannot stress enough how much experience at this tournament will play in a team’s future success. Similar to the GAC team in the region, this team gets to benefit from another lefty, righty combo giving them a slight advantage when it comes to outdoor play. The other advantage they have is the sliding serve of Raclin and the, to borrow a trait from Topspin 4, Diesel Returns of Yuan. Teams will have a tough time breaking them, especially with all the work they’re going to have to put it on their own service games.

Why they won’t: This team only just start playing together. While they’ve had early success, who knows if the honeymoon period is over. Yuan is also one of only four players that are playing in both the singles and the doubles draw, while the double All-American status is lovely, the extra three matches on court could take their toll on the success of this pairing. I think that if the first serves aren’t raining down from Raclin, or if Yuan isn’t feeling it in the legs after the tough battles to come this team could lose to one of the older more experienced pairings here at the Oracle Cup.

Derek Hagino/Patrick Hughes–D3AS

Regional: Southeast

Team: Mary Washington

Year: Junior/Junior

Why they’ll win: Because no one thinks they can. The team that probably has the least amount of star power in this tournament will be playing with a chip on their shoulder and with nothing to lose. Doubles has always been a solid portion of the UMW team and Hagino and Hughes will have a great fundamental base for sure. Now, they just need to keep playing awesome like they did when they smoked Levine/Downing in their ITA Final.

Why they won’t: They’ll be playing against some more talented players, and teams that have been playing great doubles for years. I think they draw the #1 overall seed in AL Houni and Whaling, who are kinda good at doubles. It will be a long road ahead for this Eagle duo.

Jake Berber/Niko Parodi–DIIIWest

Regional: West

Team: CMS

Year: Sophomore/Sophomore

Why they’ll win: We all know that Parodi is one of the most talented players in the country and Berber can flat out play some doubles. Going into Regionals, I knew this was a fiery duo and I see them translating their success into this weekend. What Parodi lacks on the doubles court, Berber certainly makes up. These guys certainly won’t be overwhelmed by the moment and we could see both their raw talent and skill propel them deep into this tournament. Any Stag duo is a team to keep your eye out for and I see them creating some magic this weekend yet again.

Why they won’t: This team may be able use their talent and racket skills to make some noise, however, they will be competing against seasoned doubles teams that have had prolonged success through the years. This overall lack of experience playing with one another could catch up with them this weekend. Parodi had a tough time last year on the doubles court (rotating in and out at #3 last Spring), so we’ll see if his lack of doubles awareness against top doubles teams is a liability for this Stag duo.

Adrien Bouchet/Will Wanner–D3AS

Regional: South

Team: Emory

Year: Junior/Freshman

Why they’ll win: Wow! A team that basically came from nowhere and won the South ITA will be participating in their first Small College National. They’ll be another ASouth team playing with nothing to lose, and Bouchet has championship experience under his belt. With a freshman that not many know about, this team will be playing in your face and will absolutely jump on any team that isn’t ready.

Why they won’t: Bouchet has never struck me as an incredible doubles player, so I’m a bit surprised that this team came out of the region. But, Wanner might be the truth and that will help. Emory has never had the most fundamental doubles style and I believe teams that have better chemistry and doubles prowess will take out this Emory duo.

Zach Hewlin/Robert Carter–D3NE feat. CHB

Regional: Northwest

Team: Whitman

Year: Senior/Senior

Why they’ll winMuch like Fagundes in the singles bracket, this Whitman team is already adjusted to the conditions down in Georgia. We’ve seen Whitman do some damage in this tournament when the make it out of the play-in match, making back-to-back finals during the 2012 and 2013 iterations of this tournament. Carter and Hewlin are a nice tandem, with Carter providing a little more of the power side of things while Hewlin has nice hands and some nasty touch to go along with his powerful baseline game. Also, you CANNOT overlook the fact that this is a senior pairing, and the only one in the draw at that. There is a reason that the Blog loves seniors. If Carter is on, we could be seeing another deep run from a Whitman duo. 

Why they won’tOne doubles match shouldn’t take too much out of you, but we all know just how much one extra day of rest can do for you. This Whitman team doesn’t have that luxury, and will take the court against the overall top seeds today in the quarterfinals. A tough draw, going up against one of the most experienced teams in the bracket. Both Carter and Hewlin are good at the net, and the former Squirrels will need to crash today, as I don’t like their chances if the Gusties get to the net first. 

  1 comment for “2017 Small College Nationals/ITA Oracle Cup: Doubles Preview

  1. Karl Lee
    October 14, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Blues go big!! Tough loss in semis 11-9 tb, but a portent to come.

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