Man, I guess I’ve gotten a bit complacent, haven’t I? Ever since the end of the season I have been going through a tennis withdrawal, trying to wash my pain away in any way possible. Nothing has solved the problem so it looks like I’m back to write the Atlantic South Recap, because I owe it to you faithful readers who I know have been asking for it for weeks! Better late than never. Everyone knows my best time of the year is during the year, when I absolutely kill it. Sometimes you have to bear with me. Anyways, it really wasn’t a banner year for the ASouth, but it was an encouraging one for sure. For the first time in a long time, the ASouth had 3 teams in the top 8 at one point in the season. Mary Washington and W&L were able to keep their rankings and UMW even improved into the top 20, and we saw shades of better play from the boys down at the University of the South. Unfortunately, we lost a fellow region-mate in North Carolina Wesleyan, but there was a bit of a language barrier there anyways. Anyways, I’m going to get right to it (yea right, I know what you’re saying) and make sure most of these ranked teams get some recaps as well as some bonus teams. Unlike some of the other guys, I’m going to go through all of my teams from top to bottom. This works when your region isn’t all that deep.
Preseason Prediction: #2
ITA Regional Ranking (as of May): #2
Blog Finish: #6
Graduating Seniors: Nick Szczurek, Ayush Bajoria, Jackson Issacs, Simon Lavoie-Perusse
Best Win: 7-2 over Johns Hopkins. This was truly the best win of the season for the Eagles. It put them back onto the national championship map because they went out there and swept singles against the Blue Jays, who were basically ranked like #4 at the time. Although it was on their home courts, the Eagles continued their momentum of beating both Middlebury, Kenyon, and Case the week before by crushing the Jays.
Worst Loss: 6-3 to Carnegie in the UAA Semifinals. Not that this was a bad loss, but this was one that really stuck a bit of a dagger in the Emory season. They had never failed to make a UAA final, but went out and got swept by a CMU doubles team that had not done all that much in dubs all season. This was really demoralizing for the Eagles and although they were able to take down Case in the 3rd place match, it had to have felt disappointing to get 3rd.
Verdict: Definitely not the season I was expecting out of the Eagles, but it wasn’t necessarily a disappointing season for Emory. They finished #6 in our blog rankings and should be around there in the ITA rankings as well (if they haven’t come out yet). I thought the juniors Halpern, Ruderman, and Wagner could really up their games and take this team to the next level. Alas, this year was not the year. However, next year brings the trio as seniors as well as the always fiery Rafe Mosetick, so expect big things from these Eagles after two somewhat disappointing season.
Hopkins Blue Jays
Preseason Prediction: #8
ITA Regional Ranking (as of May): #3
Blog Finish: #7 (not bad!)
Graduating Seniors: German Gonzalez, Jeremy Schwartz
Best Win: 6-3 over Emory at Indoor Nationals. In a match no one really gave them a chance to win, Hopkins got their win of the year in literally their first match of the year. With a sweep of Emory and the emergence of Buxbaum, Walsh, and Dubin as impact freshmen, Hopkins started off the year with a bang and showed the DIII world that they were legit this year. They moved onto beat Case Western in the 3rd place match, solidifying that momentum and earning their first ever Indoors Finals berth. This Emory win essentially kept them afloat all season as they continued to do well against ranked competition.
Worst Loss: This is a really tough one, but I have to go with the 7-2 loss to Emory as Hopkins worst loss of the year. Without this loss, they could have had an argument for the #3 spot in the country, which would have in turn made them a potential Final 4 contender. Instead, they got CMS in the first round and lost despite an incredible effort. That same effort as the #3 seed could have gotten them a team like Case Western or someone else, and potentially vaulted them to their first Final 4.
Verdict: Hopkins did a lot of things that I expected this year and got that signature win. This season was a success for the Jays and they can only think what might have been if they didn’t have to play CMS in the Elite 8. Hopkins would have been a tough out for anyone and they proved that against the Stags. I’m looking forward to next year because this team is not graduating any contributing seniors and has a lot of experience coming into next year.
Carnegie Mellon Tartans
Preseason Prediction: #13
ITA Regional Ranking (as of May): #1
Blog Finish: #9
Graduating Seniors: Julian Pearlman
Best Win: Easy pick here, as CMU beat the Eagles of Emory 6-3 in the UAA Semifinal to make their first ever UAA Championship. This made them a #1 seed in NCAAs and got them home court, which is always a good feeling. CMU had been lurking all year with great wins against teams like Bowdoin, Case, Kenyon, and others, but this was the statement win of the year for them. It got them their first top 5 ranking of all time and gave them the potential of making a Final 4 if everything went right. Until…
Worst Loss: Another easy pick and it has to be the 5-4 loss to Case Western in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. This will mark the third year in a row that Case has “ended” Carnegie’s season and that can’t feel good as it was on their home courts. This was a team riding a lot of momentum but it looks like experience caught up into them and they faltered in what was probably one of the matches of the tournament. A learning lesson for the Tartans as they hope for better next go around.
Verdict: Wildly successful season for CMU as they did a lot of things I didn’t think they could. This was a team mired by underachieving and one could argue that they overachieved this year. The next step is keeping the momentum, so next year is probably the most important year in the history of the program.
Mary Washington Eagles
Preseason Prediction: #26
ITA Regional Ranking (as of May): #4
Blog Finish: #16
Graduating Seniors: Alex Blahkin
Best Win: Mary Washington had a crazy year, especially out West, and their best win was clearly the 5-4 thriller over California Lutheran at Thousand Oaks. The thriller started off the Eagles Spring Break and they were able to get the win that they really wanted to vault them into the top 20. Remember, CLU started off the year in the single digits and this was the win that kind of compromised the two teams into where they are now. Once UMW beat CLU, their season was set and they were able to cruise their way to a solid end of year ranking.
Worst Loss: Tough to choose here, but I have to go with the 5-4 heartbreaker to Redlands. Redlands was a team that struggled a bit during the year, but UMW played them at almost full strength and was able to really give them a battle. If you remember, this match came down to the third set breaker at #6 singles, which happens to be one of UMW’s best spots. Unfortunately, Griffin at #6 lost that breaker to the tune of something like 10-8, and then the Eagles had to hurry to the airport and fly back home right after. That’s brutal.
Verdict: Another overachieving team in the ASouth makes me pretty proud, as the Eagles were able to fight off regression for another year and really take a step forward. With only one senior graduating in the enigmatic Alex Blahkin, the Eagles can definitely keep their ranking next year with some work over the summer.
Washington and Lee Generals
Preseason Prediction: #23
ITA Regional Ranking (as of May): #5
Blog Finish: #29 (but ITA Ranking higher)
Graduating Seniors: Trey Hatcher, Vincent Kim
Best Win: It’s saying something when your best win of the year is against Sewanee, 5-4. Honestly, look it up. The Generals didn’t really notch too many impact wins this year but they were able to stay afloat by not losing to any teams ranked below them. They beat Sewanee in a really tight one that was probably a bit too close for comfort.
Worst Loss: The worst loss on the year for W&L probably had to be the 7-2 beatdown that was handed to them by their rival, the UMW Eagles. Normally, these matches are very close (they even play home and homes sometimes) but this year was a bit of a different story. UMW took advantage of the W&L weaknesses to quickly put away the Generals and squash any potential upsets.
Verdict: As expected, W&L just went status quo on the year. This was a team that beat everyone they should have beaten and lost to everyone they should have lost to. An uneventful year from a usually eventful squad, but this team is very young and has some nice talent headed into 2014-15. Look out for the Generals next year to have a an upset here or there, but potentially being upset as well. Just how we like it.
NC Wesleyan – SKIPPPP
Preseason Prediction: Unranked
ITA Regional Ranking (as of May): #7
Blog Finish: #33
Graduating Seniors: David Human
Best Win: Well, I’m grasping for straws here but their best win of the year has to be their first round victory over Elmhurst College. I know a lot of you are saying “Who” but trust me, D3Central and I know that these guys are not a terrible team. Sewanee really wanted that first round win to put on their resume and kudos to them for a season we haven’t seen recently.
Worst Loss: The Tigers suffered a couple of defeats at the hands of some ranked opponents, but by far the worst one was the 5-4 loss to W&L. This was the one match they could have won over a top 30 team (other than maybe a Tufts team that was in shambles) and they came oh so close. It was not in the cards for the Tigers this year, but a really great effort. If only it could have been…
Verdict: Great season for the Tigers. Bringing in a good amount of recruits helped this team become a potential top 30 team, which is really all they could have asked for. Avery Schober got his All-American nod and is a player to watch moving forward in his career. A lot of their contributors are currently freshmen or sophomores, so there is definitely a bright future ahead for these Tigers.
Preseason Ranking: Best of the Rest
ITA Regional Ranking (as of May): Something like #7
Blog Finish: #37
Graduating Seniors: Christian Carcione, Anthony Collard, Max Kaye, Dan Park, Preston Poon
Best Win: The Garnet notched their only okay win against Stevens in the very beginning of the year, taking advantage of the Ducks depth problems and winning this one in a close battle. As with every 5-4 score, this match was able to provide us with some nice moments to tweet about, but really not all that much else. This was Swat’s only ranked win this season and it was short lived as Stevens went on to lose to everyone else in DIII.
Worst Loss: Before Loutsenko went down, Swarthmore played Skidmore and got dropped by the score of 8-1. This wasn’t even close.
Verdict: With five seniors that contributed graduating, this team looks to be on a serious downtrend. They have a decent recruiting class coming in but I doubt many of them will be true impact players, which is kind of what you need around these parts.
The All ASouth Region Team
Everyone keeps saying “I won’t be as nice as D3West” and saying they won’t put one player from each team on the All-Region teams. That’s not being “not nice,” that’s just being logical. You get on my All-Region team if you deserve it, and nothing more. I’m not here to play with fairies and ride on unicorn’s backs. I’m here to provide detailed analysis and ruffle some feathers of DIII players who I might have competed with or still compete with. That’s what I’m talking about.
#1 Doubles: Michael Buxbaum and Emerson Walsh, Hopkins – This was a really tough choice, considering everyone basically beat everyone, but Buxbaum/Walsh won the Fall ITA and had a few good wins for the rest of the season over Emory #1, UMW #1, and W&L #1. Seems like an All-Region team to me.
#2 Doubles: Conor Winkler and Avery Schober, University of the South – Say what?! Yeah, well #2 doubles was really bad for the ASouth this year. With Tanner Brown out for random periods of time, Hopkins switching lineups because of it, and Emory, CMU, and everyone else having major trouble in doubles, the team of Winkler and Schober get the All-Region nod for a solid year. They were able to take down both W&L and Emory’s #2 teams as well as bring Middlebury to a closer match.
#3 Doubles: Noah Joachim and Nicholas Garcia, Hopkins – I can just hear the guy that kept saying “What do you think about their loss to Swarthmore’s #3 team” in my nightmares right now. Well, I think it is a bunch of bologna. This is a team that beat CMS #3, UMW #3, Emory #3, Case #3, Wash U #3, W&L #2, CMU #3, Emory #3 again, and yea. That’s enough for that.
#1 Singles: Alex Ruderman, Emory – Yeah. My failed pick for the National Title gets the All Region nod because he’s a damn good player. I had my doubts about him coming into the year, but he goes off and posts an outstanding record with wins over basically every opponent imaginable.
#2 Singles: Eric Halpern, Emory – Damnit! Didn’t want to pick two Emory players in a row, but it works out here for the Eagles. Halpern actually had a great year and it was fairly quiet. He won a ton of clutch matches while also being down first sets in a lot of em. Oh and not to mention, he made the Quarterfinals of NCAA Individuals before losing to the eventual Champ. Not bad for a #2 player.
#3 Singles: Tanner Brown, Hopkins – Hopkins is really cleaning up right now and that’s because everyone seems to beat everyone in the ASouth. Stratton Gilmore of UMW also gets an honorary mention here because he probably would have gotten this if he didn’t play half the positions in the singles lineup all year. Brown turned it on for a stellar end to the year, beating Marino of CMS and showing us his former #1 talents.
#4 Singles: Kiril Kirkov, Carnegie – Kirkov’s freshman campaign was absolutely outstanding, and he just beats out Dubin of Hopkins for this award. Kirkov showed us his prowess by taking down a ton of great opponents, including Noack, Wagner, Burchett, Wolstencroft, Krasner, Charles, Jeremy Bush, and Reinbold. He lost twice all year at this spot and one was in a tiebreaker to Dubin in the 3rd set.
#5 Singles: Kenny Zheng, Carnegie – Despite Zheng’s flame-out at the end of the year, he had a massive year and a very surprising one. He was undefeated in DIII play up until the UAA Tournament, which is at the end of the year by the way. Despite losing the last match of the year in a heartbreaker, this kid deserves the credit and he had a great freshman campaign.
#6 Singles: Brandon Griffin, Mary Washington – Griffin had a nice year for the other Eagles at #6 for most of the year, only losing to Leahy of Redlands at that spot before losing a couple of matches at #5. He was able to take down the all-region #6 of Pomona Pitzer’s revolving door, Scott of CLU, and was up on Weissler of Hopkins after losing to him previously. Nice season for the young gun.
Man, I hope I don’t anger some people with that list! I think it was pretty fair based on what happened this year, but hey, y’all could have some better suggestions. Really good distribution of players and I could have argued for every single one of my picks if I had to. Nice to see a Sewanee team in there as well. As you all know, we are nearing the end of the blogging season for the year, but we might have a couple of fun articles coming up to really send us off until 2014-2015. Keep reading, and of course… ASouth, OUT.