I am the third regional writer for this site now, primarily for the Atlantic South region. I’ve done a team by team analysis for the Atlantic South ITA Recap, hope you all enjoy.
Hopkins came into this tournament as the favorite to dominate the tournament, returning last year’s singles champion Andy Hersh, as well as strong players in Tanner Brown, Ben Hwang, amongst others. Hopkins certainly proved again this year that they are the team to beat, not only with singles strength, but with surprising success in doubles as well. We all know last year that Hop struggled with doubles at times, but this year there was an all JHU final, with Brown/Lim, last years 3 dubs team, beating Hersh/Camei, last years 2 dubs team. Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see who steps up as a 3 doubles team for them, as the rest of the team didn’t have a strong showing in doubles. Moving onto singles, it was really an amazing tournament for JHU. Hersh repeated his singles title, losing a set only to Caulfield of Haverford and taking out White in the final. With six players in the round of 16, and Reiter missing from the tournament, Hopkins has their singles lineup pretty much finalized and a good argument for another top 10 if not top 5 finish.
Something that was missed from this tournament’s preview was the potential of the CMU recruiting class, and in my eyes it was neither an overwhelming or underwhelming performance for the team as a whole. CMU was two points (Yu vs. Charles) away from getting 6 people into the round of 16 as well, which included their top 3 freshmen as well as returning players Miller and Heaney-Secord. That’s where things went bad. 4 of those 5 players lost to Hopkins players, and before these matches went on I thought CMU would have an advantage in a couple (Miller and Heaney-Secord). However, good first showing from Alla, Kumar, and Hasegawa making the round of 16, and if these three guys can turn into good middle of the lineup players, this team will be dangerous. Not to mention the absence of Duncan in singles would strengthen their would-be starting lineup. Doubles was a similar story. Miller and Duncan disappointed with a loss to JHU, but CMU did get three teams into the quarters and look to be a solid top 10-15 team at the moment.
Washington and Lee
It’s really the Hayden White story for this team, as White fought his way draw to make the finals once again, before falling to Hersh once again. They were given a few tough draws in singles, as Holt played Hersh first round and Thomas Johnson took a surprising set off Hwang, but overall the singles performance wasn’t great from this team. Freshman Nick Garcia got slammed by a bottom of the lineup CMU player first round, and Shamshiri again disappointed with a weak performance, losing in the first round. Things perked up a little in doubles, as the eventual #1 team (Shamshiri/Holt) made the quarters before losing. Right now, White is really going to have to carry this team if they want to move up in the rankings this year.
I’ve always been a fan of Mary Wash, as they are a very closely-knit team and definitely put a lot into their tennis, but it looks like this year they will really need people to step up with their talent base. First off I’d like to say great job to the duo of Charles/Rizzolo last year in NCAAs – really a great run. I would have said disappointing loss this year, but I guess they did lose to the eventual champion. Other than that, the doubles wasn’t there for the Eagles. Over in singles, a player I was looking out for was Alex Blahkin, who has really improved his play over the past three years and was becoming a very good top of the lineup singles player at the end of last year. Maybe I’ll blame it on the summer, but a disappointing loss to Schwartz in the round of 32 definitely surprised me. Other than Evan Charles fighting his way to the round of 16 once again, it was just a couple wins here and there for this Eagles team. Let’s see if they step up later on in the year.
I think the story for the other teams in the region was Kevin Caulfield of Haverford. A commenter pointed him out, and boy was that commenter right. Great fight to get to the semis as well as being the only player in the tournament to take a set off of Hersh. Caulfield also reached the quarters of doubles with his partner, and will be a pesky player to face when Haverford matches up against top teams. Another name to call out is Ross Silverberg of Franklin and Marshall, notching some nice wins over Joachim from Hop and Hasegawa of CMU. These two guys are the stories of “the other guys,” as Swarthmore and Newport had very weak tournaments. Newport really looks destroyed by the loss of Shulman, Heyer, and King, and I don’t expect much from them this year. For Swarthmore, I don’t see an upset of a top 5 team in the country once again.