SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW DAAAYYYY!!! What better way to celebrate the Bomb Cyclone with another season preview. As we all know, season previews are the bloggers favorite parts of the season, for good reason. We all love speculation with absolutely no team results and no way of knowing if Rex Serituk picked up a racket all winter. We put ourselves on the line with predictions based off of very little knowledge so people like Matt Heinrich can ridicule us at the end of the year when he makes nationals and does well. It’s a great day when you make great trades (shoutout to D3Central and D3Regional, but not Coach Fried), get to stay in, and get to write a season preview about your favorite team. Off we go!
Welcome to the nest of the defending champion Emory Eagles. D3NE has been trying to steal the trophy from them ever since May, but because he’s D3NE, he just hasn’t been successful. Anyways, Emory is arguably the most successful DIII Tennis school in recent memory, notching multiple championships, a long string of UAA Conference titles, and are pretty much a guaranteed top 8 finisher at the end of the year. The faces change every year, but the coach remains the same. The results more or less remain the same as well. Emory is a powerhouse and honestly, I believe they are being overlooked this year because of the Middlebury (D3NE) hype train. The fact of the matter is this is the team that should be the favorite going into the year, simply because they bring back a ton of guys that won it last year as well as some top notch freshman talent. They have a coach that has won multiple championships. Don’t believe me? Let’s get to the breakdown, then.
Coach: John Browning, 18th or 19th Year
Location: Atlanta, GA
Preseason Ranking: #1
Blog Power Ranking: #1 (this might be wrong but they are #1 in my book)
Twitter Handle: @EUTennis
Twitter Hashtag: #FIGHT
Hayden Cassone (4 Star, #48 Overall), Alec Rabinowitz (3 star, #222), Will Wanner (3 Star, #158)
Aman Manji (#1 Singles), Josh Goodman (#5 Singles)
#1 Singles, Jonathan Jemison, Junior, 13.01 UTR
Jonathan Jemison has been on my BUY BUY BUY list from the day he stepped foot in Atlanta, and that does not change this year. He takes over the #1 spot that his relatives have so coveted for him and this will be a very important year for him – but not in the way that you think. We all know that he is a stud and probably one of the top 5 players in the nation. This is an important year for Jemison because he SHOULD be the leader of this team, along with his counterpart Adrien Bouchet. Emory doesn’t have many seniors this year, but their juniors have been through the ringer already. A lot of this season will come down to what kind of team the juniors lead. We all know Jemison will have an undoubtedly solid year at #1, where he’ll probably come down with a few losses but for the most part be on top. The rest is the more important part.
#2 Singles, Hayden Cassone, Freshman, 12.43 UTR
I’m going out on a limb here and naming Hayden Cassone my #2 singles player for Emory, but it really could be a mix of about 4 players. This bodes well for Emory’s depth, and whoever they put at this spot will be a very good #2 player. I expect Browning to throw the freshman in this spot, mostly because we’ve seen what Bouchet and Spaulding can do at the 3 and 4 singles spots already and it’s quite good. Cassone brought Jemison to a tiebreaker in the regional ITA and judging by his UTR page, continues to play tournaments in the winter. That shows dedication to me and if Cassone can develop into a lights-out 2, Middlebury better stop counting their eggs before they hatch.
#3 Singles, Adrian Bouchet, Junior, 12.19 UTR
Adrien Bouchet had 3 losses all of last year in DIII play, all early in the year. He took out players such as Daniel Morkovine, Charlie Pei, Patrick Wildman, Chaz Downing, Bernardo Neves, and others. He was the man to clinch the NCAA Title over Morkovine in an epic three setter. Needless to say, Adrien Bouchet is a stud at #3 singles. I expect him to stay there and continue to notch consistent wins in the middle of the lineup despite losing to his counterpart James Spaulding in the ITA Regional tournament. Just remember, last year he lost to Serituk in that tournament. I think something similar happens this year. The kid is just too good to be lower than the middle of the lineup.
#4 Singles, James Spaulding, Junior, 12.10 UTR
Spaulding came onto the scene last year out of nowhere, debuting at the #4 singles spot at Indoor Nationals and never really looking back. He was very much an up and down player all year, suffering losses to a few players including the Rhodes #4. However, Spaulding really came into his own at the end of the year, posting a strong playoff performance. He’s continued that success this year, taking out his teammate Bouchet in the regional ITA in a surprise result. In another surprise result, he lost to Rex Serituk, who was a star in last year’s ITA as well. More on him later. Spaulding, if he slots in at #4, should be performing similar to Bouchet at 3 – expecting a lot of wins and should be in every single match. That’s legit.
#5 Singles, Rex Serituk, Sophomore, 12.11 UTR
T-Rex is a total wild card this year, as he was last year when RegionalNEC drafted him in like the second round of the fantasy draft. If he can keep up his fall play, Emory is going to be in the mix for the national championship from start to finish. If he falls off like last year, then Emory will be searching for top performers at the bottom of the lineup that I am not sure they have. Insert a 12 UTR fellow at #5, though, and we’re talking cash money. I’ll be waiting to see what Rex brings in the spring before I make a decision on how good this team can be.
#6 Singles, Alec Josepher, Junior, 11.99 UTR
When I read the Middlebury Preview written by D3NE, I exclaimed, “damn, a lineup full of 12 UTR and higher.” With Josepher at 6, Emory can more or less claim the same. Yet, we are mentioning Middlebury a whole lot more than we are the Eagles! Last year, Josepher entered the singles lineup as a surprise along with Spaulding to come in at #5 singles – notching wins over Jeremy Bush, Timo Van Der Geest, Mark Prettyman, and others. Impressed yet? Good. Because Josepher could be slotted in at #6 singles this year, which just means more success in my eyes. I don’t see a weak spot in this Emory lineup, which should really scare the rest of the nation.
Ugh, writing about doubles. Emory doubles is always an enigma considering they play very little competition in their ITA, usually end up winning the whole thing, and don’t have any other results in the fall. Most of the time, the teams aren’t even the same come Spring. What I will say is that the team of Bouchet/Wanner that won ITAs will probably not play #1 doubles, as that spot will be taken by the longtime team of Rubinstein/Spaulding. They’ve been playing together for what will be their third year with great success and I don’t expect Browning to change the chemistry there. What could happen is Bouchet/Wanner at #2, with Jemison pairing with someone else at #3 doubles. This would be a classic Emory doubles lineup, with their #1 singles player at #3 doubles basically trying to outclass anyone that opponents put there. With the success of Bouchet/Wanner as well as the long standing team of Rubinstein/Spaulding, this lineup is legit and has the ability to sweep a ton of teams on any given day. Expect Emory to come out of matches down by no more than 1 point at the worst.
Here is the Emory schedule:
Another well made schedule as it looks like the teams from the UAA and NESCAC have finally decided to start beating each other up in the regular season. Here are the key matches to watch on the Emory schedule:
- Indoor Nationals (Gustavus, Chicago, Wash U/CMS?)
- Wesleyan on Spring Break
- @ Amherst in April
- Middlebury @ Trinity CT courts
- UAA Tournament
Indoors will start the Emory defense campaign, and I fully expect them to win this tournament. Despite CMS being an absolute beast this year as well, Emory’s favorite tournament is Indoors. Anything less than a victory would be disappointing, especially when your main challenger is a West Coast team. They should have some interesting matches throughout, as GAC is much improved and Chicago is Chicago. This will be a nice test for the Eagles. After that, they’ll play 3 of the NESCAC’s best teams in Wesleyan, Amherst, and Middlebury, with only Amherst being on the road. The match against Middlebury is the obvious one to watch, but I am interested to see the results of the other two, particularly Amherst. Either way, Emory is going to make the playoffs and these matches will be previews to potential playoff matchups. I honestly don’t think we’re going to learn anything from these matches other than seeding – NCAAs are a different beast. Lastly, we get the UAA Tournament, which Emory has historically dominated. Chicago is the key challenger here in the blogger’s eyes, and I agree. Wash U will always challenge the Eagles simply because of the rivalry factor but I expect Emory to always win these matches at this point. End of year, Emory is in, as I mentioned earlier. Seeding will matter and that’s what they are playing for throughout the season.
ASouth’s 3 Keys to Success
Off the Court – I mentioned this in Jemison’s paragraph earlier, but Emory’s season will probably be won off the court. This team is as talented as any other team in the nation with national championship experience. They had a great couple of leaders in Manji and Goodman last year, who complimented each other with their leadership styles. Coach Browning obviously plays a big part here. Assistant Coach Mosetick (who has now departed) was a factor as well. This year, they will be relying on mainly juniors as well as the senior Rubinstein for leadership. It will be interesting to see what the dynamic of this team is, especially considering some of the chatter around Jemison and the um, well, people that come with him.
Seeding – An always interesting storyline for these specific years is how much home court advantage CMS gets by hosting nationals. Some say a lot, some say a little, some say none at all. But the fact of the matter is this – Emory is going to have to go into CMS and potentially beat them and Middlebury consecutively to win another title. If Emory gets the #1 seed, I fully expect CMS and Middlebury to be #2 and #3 in any order. That means they avoid playing them both and potentially getting another team, such as Chicago/Wesleyan/Williams. It’s easy to see which is the easier choice. I don’t see any team beating CMS on their home courts and then Middlebury the day after, so this is important.
Hayden Cassone – Playing #2 for the #1 team in the country is a big deal. And that is potentially what Emory will be asking of their new freshman. With Bouchet more suited to play the 3 spot and none of the others really looking like a true #2, it is up to Cassone to be the guy at the top of the lineup. When you look at his key competitors, we’re talking potentially guys like Nik Parodi, Will de Quant, and whoever is playing #2 for Wesleyan. Cassone is the biggest unknown out of those guys and the last thing Emory needs is a auto loss at the top of the lineup. Cassone also might slot into the doubles, where I wouldnt be surprised if he teamed with Jemison at the bottom.
Another great preview from ASouth – keeping it short, sweet, and to the point. I don’t expect ASWomen’s to beat this preview even though she’s been keeping it real. Shoutout to Coach Browning, who so kindly came onto the site for a podcast last year and we hope to have him again. As always, go Eagles, and #FIGHT. ASouth, OUT.