2018 Season Preview: #27 New York University

After a few long conference previews, you’d think writing about just one team would be a breeze, but I’ve struggled to get going with this preview. I think I overlooked it, to be honest. I had some behemoths in the NCAC and Liberty League staring me down, and after getting by them I think I took this NYU preview lightly.  That’s why I tweeted that it would be out TONIGHT—setting myself a deadline. And while I’m okay letting myself down, once D3ASouth retweeted me I knew this was bigger than just me. I can’t let the headmaster down, so here I am, ready to grind this preview out. And now that I’ve given myself a nice little pep talk, let’s get to it.

New York University Violets

Head Coach: Horace Choy

Assistant Coach: Ben Lee

2017 ITA National/Regional Ranking: 27/11

Blog Power Ranking: 30

Twitter Handle: @NYUTennis. Perhaps the most polarizing account in D3 Tennis. Looking back now I was reminded of one of the highlights of last spring— when @D3RegionalASouth spotted the team at the airport and went back and forth with them on twitter.

Key Losses:
Matt DeMichiel: gritty, fiery mid singles and doubles guy who, most importantly, has been a loyal blog reader for many years!
Sammy Aronson: Lefty who was in and out of the lineup, having more of an impact on the doubles court. I don’t thikn he’ll be upset if I say that he’ll best be remembered for his tweets.

Background: For the record, the reason NYU gets their own preview is because they are in the UAA, and the six teams ranked ahead of them will all be covered by other bloggers. As for Rochester, the bottom team, they’re not quite in season-preview range, leaving NYU out on their own.  

The Violets are coming off a 2017 season highlighted by an early season win over Brandeis that kept them in the 20s in the rankings for the remainder of the year despite no other wins of a similar caliber and a loss to Brandeis in a rematch at UAAs. An 8-1 win over Hobart, along with 5-4 wins over Colby, Stevens, and TCNJ marked the other notable wins for NYU. Just as with season previews, NYU was out on their own when it comes to UAA results, as they showed they were a step behind Brandeis and Case but still far better than Rochester. While the gap has been closer in both directions if you go back a couple of years or more, any other finish at UAAs besides 7th for NYU at this point is a surprise.

Coach Choy deserves more recognition for being the longest tenured coach in the UAA!

In terms of just general NYU tennis facts, it’s important to know that the Violets always have one of the toughest situations in the country when it comes to court time. As you might expect, indoor courts are expensive and hard to come by in Manhattan, meaning NYU is often stuck practicing far away from campus and early in the morning or late at night. This has likely played a role in why NYU has quite a high turnover rate, which is also something worth pointing out. NYU tends to have a couple core guys that are always in the lineup (recent grad Matt DeMichiel comes to mind), but beyond them you never know who Coach Choy is going to put in there. I guess that can happen when you’ve got 25,000+ undergraduates. The good side of this is that you never know when NYU is going to have some really good player show up (Umberto Setter, anyone?), but the downside is that they might disappear just as fast as they arrived (Ian Combemale, anyone?).  

To sum it up, don’t ever get too attached to an NYU player.

What’s New: Five freshmen! Jay Min had an impressive junior career (TRN #154) and his UTR last summer was as high as 12.42, but with no singles results in the past year from either juniors or college and only three doubles matches from an early season tournament this fall, his lack of play leaves me with an eyebrow raised.  

The other freshman that are listed on the roster are Justin Chong (10.47 Low Reliability), Rahul Das (11.06), Aaron Mackie (10.89), and Stefan Rodic (9.77).  

These five guys are the only ones remaining of the eight listed on TRN, all of whom made up NYU’s first ranked recruiting class (#19) in school history.

Also new is Josh Piatos, who transferred from Case Western, where he did not really crack the lineup.

No one really stood out too much this fall, and the only one I could see playing #3 or higher is Min, and he’s really an unknown at this point. Rodic went three sets with Polk (Stevens #1) and Mackie beat Kyle Henry (Stevens #2-#4), so those two guys, along with Piatos and Das, will all likely be in the mix for #5 and #6 singles at the very least.

There are also some new matches for NYU this year. The Violets have really stepped up their scheduling in recent years, a trend that continues this season. New matches include a trip to Maryland to play Johns Hopkins and Salisbury and a journey to play D1 Colgate in upstate NY.  Don’t underestimate the value of these road trips both from a competition standpoint and in terms of their team-building value!

What’s Not New: Umberto Setter! Umbe is back for his fifth season of college tennis and third at NYU after transferring from a STRONG D1 team in East Tennessee State where he did not see any playing time. Last year he really emerged as one of the top non NESCAC players in the Northeast, and I expect him to be a rock for NYU at #1.

See bro tank for caption

Other familiar faces include sophomore Vishal Walia and junior Ben Teoh, who was abroad this fall. Michael Li and Zeb Zheng both had impacts as freshmen last year and are back, and Li in particular I have my eye on as a guy that could take a big step up this year and be a solid #2 or #3 for the Violets. Yanik Parsch is a great lower lineup guy who doesn’t have a ton of weapons but has improved throughout his career and will be a tough matchup if he plays #6 this year.

Also not new is the bulk of the schedule, and that’s okay, because last year’s slate was a good mix of teams. NYU has gone up and beaten Skidmore in Saratoga Springs before, and that match will once again be a good opportunity for an early season upset.  Brandeis and Case will likely be the matches NYU has circled, as both teams are probably within striking distance and a win would be huge when it comes to UAA seeding. While those are both big matches, the Violets shouldn’t overlook playing at Hobart, where home court advantage could come into play. And it’s more of a stretch, but history tells us that NYU does not fare well in Rochester, so if the Yellowjackets prove to be better than expected, they could cause NYU some trouble on their home courts.  

And of course, ol’ reliable, the UAA tournament will be there for NYU in late April. It’s quite simple for the Violets—any finish better than seventh is a great success.

Doubles: NYU does not have a good track record in doubles. You could even say they are traditionally bad at doubles. This year’s team doesn’t have any obvious doubles standouts, so I wouldn’t expect much to be different in 2018. Hopefully Piatos brought some of Todd’s Case doubles magic with him.

Realistic Best Case Scenario: I actually could see NYU beating both Case and Brandeis at UAAs to finish fifth. This is unlikely, but it’s possible. A more realistic best case scenario is that they beat one of those two to finish sixth.  The regular season doesn’t even factor into this.

Realistic Worst Case Scenario: No notable wins in the regular season, lose easily to both Brandeis and Case at UAAs and struggle to hold off Rochester in the 7-8 matchup.  It’s not realistic to say they could lose and finish eighth, but with this team you never can be completely sure of anything.

With the winter weather set to impact a lot of the country in the next few days, now’s a great time to hunker down and catch up on any previews you might have missed. I know we’ve got a couple more from D3Regional and RegASouth coming in the next couple of days as well, so there’s plenty to keep you occupied while the weather outside is frightful.  Thanks for reading, feel free to post any comments below or reach out via email or twitter. Happy New Year D3Tennis world!

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