Despite the season being over, we here at the Blog do not plan on resting any time soon. We still need to recap the year a bit, and we have a few articles coming out for you in the next few days for those of you that are still following! If you have already checked out by now, we totally understand. Either way, if you have not done so already, please give us some feedback in the Blog Feedback article, as we are gearing up for another year of Blogging greatness next year. Some of the ideas we’ve implemented have come directly from that feedback article, and we would love if there were more to come! Anyways, you are all here for End of Season Awards, and we were able to get the gang back together before we went our separate ways to vote on some of the most prestigious awards in DIII Tennis. Welcome, one and all, to the BLOG’s Season Awards!
Let’s start with our MVP voting, where Lubo “Lube” Cuba took the prize by unanimous decision. Cuba played top singles and doubles on the team that was basically #1 in the nation for most of the year, and Cuba has a lot to do with that. Easy pick here. In regards to the other guys, it’s good to see at least a couple of non #1 players on here such as Jemison and Hull. Also good to see Metzler make the list with his incredible season as well as Al-Houni, who really is the rock for GAC. Rounding out the top 8 is Leung of Skidmore and Rosen of Bates, two guys you probably wouldn’t have guessed would be in the running. Take a look at their stats from this year and now you’ll know. Just so you know, some others receiving votes were Yasgoor (PP), Levine (CMU), Grodecki (WIL), and Urken (BOW). Congrats to all that received votes!
And now we move onto Most Improved Player, which has a weird stigma, but actually looking at the list will cure you of your bias. I was surprised here as the winner was Grant Urken of Bowdoin, who moved from #6 singles to #2 singles in the Bowdoin lineup. That’s a huge jump for a team that ended up at #4 in the nation, and kudos to Urken for being the guy to fill a big void in the Polar Bear lineup. Manji was my front-runner in this one, but he’ll take 2nd. Some other nice names are Jeremy Dubin of Hopkins, who capped his career off with a quarterfinals trip to NCAAs and Daniel Levine of CMU, who took #1 singles and was actually a seed at NCAAs before falling to eventual semifinalist Chua. Shoutout to the two CMS guys, Wildman and Hull, who had stellar years as well. Some others who just missed the cut were Derbani (MIDD), Lambeth (TU), Whaling (GAC), Schlanger (MIDD), Murad (Colby), Murphy (WILKES), Mayer (TTX), and Paik (Oberlin).
Ah, one of my favorite awards as it lists all of our freshmen who made big impacts this year. I think the pick here was pretty obvious, as Niko Parodi of CMS finished in the top of our MVP voting, so it only makes sense he picks up some hardware with Freshman of the Year. Erik Kerrigan follows him with his nice run at NCAAs. The other guys on here are guys that some of you may not have really paid attention to this year as none of them sans Park were on championship contending teams. I really love the fact that Wynne of Skidmore got on here as well as Hurricane Princeton Carter, who both made their marks at the bottom of the lineup. Others receiving votes are Rozenvasser (CMU), Zalenski (Kenyon), Kaplan (Amherst), De Mendiola (Babson), and Raghavan (Williams). Congrats to all the young guns!
Ah, Coach of the Year goes to…. Mike Fried of Wesleyan! Not only the first member of our VZV Podcasts, Fried led his Wesleyan Cards to their first ever NCAAs as well as their first ever Elite 8. This has been a long time coming as Fried has developed and recruited his way to the big time teams. Now, the trek continues. Our champion coach Browning of Emory comes in at #2, while some other big names make the list such as Settles, Hansen, and Greenberg. Some other coaches in here have been coaching their teams for a while, and it was nice to see Valentini get in there with a GAC Elite 8 appearance as well as Billy Porter of Southwestern. Notice that four of these coaches have been on a VZV Podcast! Ha. Others receiving votes were Lamanna (Brandeis), Roche (Redlands), Riley (KZOO), Jackson (Pacific), Christiansen (CNU), and Barnes (UWW). A lot of great coaching this year!
Even more favorite than our freshman award has to be our senior award. This was a tough race with a few of the finalists receiving first place votes, but Aman Manji ended up winning this award. What I will say is that Branden Metzler of KZOO came up literally one point short of tying it with Manji, but honestly, every senior on this list deserves the award. I would like to point out the inclusion of Michael Buxbaum as well. It’s sad to see every one of these players go, including those that also received votes. They are Goodman (Emory), Murad (Colby), Jivkov (Whitman), Granoff (Brandeis), Ancona (Wheaton), and Arguello (Brandeis).
D3Northeast: Too many incredible matches to count in 2017, but we’ve narrowed down the list to the best eight. Working our way up to the top, in 8th place we have the Stag Hen semifinal between Wash U and CMS. The home team Stags faced their first (of many) 3-0 deficit of the year. The Stags won all six singles matches, including all four 3-setters to complete the comeback and stun the Bears. The only things stopping this match from being higher on the list were that the match didn’t finish 5-4, and an even more unlikely comeback happened the very next day. The 7th place match was lower profile and featured a budding California rivalry. Cal Tech def. Cal Lu 5-4 at Cal Lu. Cal Lu then led 4-2, but Cal Tech dug deep, winning all three 3-setters and getting the clinch from sophomore Andre Liu at #3 singles for the win. Also, D3Regional would like me to mention that Cal Tech was actually down 6-0, 5-1 at a spot and CAME BACK TO WIN. That’s crazy talk. Next up, we go even farther off the beaten path with Grinnell vs Luther in a match that D3Tree will speak about until his dying day. Luther held on to beat Grinnell 5-4, but this box score is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen, and the amount of super tiebreakers that decided this match is beyond infuriating. All three doubles matches went to tiebreaks, with Luther taking two of three. Five of the six singles matches split sets and played super breakers, with Grinnell taking the top three spots but Luther winning three supers at #’s 4-6 to earn the win. At #5 we have Kalamazoo’s big 5-4 upset win over Kenyon. We knew Metzler was a stud, despite what Coach Riley says about the bloggers on Twitter, but this was a massive team win that propelled KZoo back to ranking heights they haven’t seen in years. The Hornets won both three setters, including a 7-6 in the 3rd set at #5 singles.
Into the top 4, we start with the Stag Hen finals, CMS vs Bowdoin in a match we all thought could end up being a precursor to some epic NCAA match down the road (we were close to right!) For the second time in fewer than 24 hours, the Stags faced a 3-0 deficit against a really good team. For the second time in fewer than 24 hours, CMS pulled the rabbit out of the hat and then some, taking five of six singles matches against the defending champs, including ALL FOUR 3-SETTERS (sound familiar) and clinching the win. At #3, the bronze medal we give you Emory vs CMS, the NCAA Finals. In what the Guru would agree was the best finals we’ve seen in almost a decade, things started off with an Eagle bang, as EU took the 3-0 lead. However, CMS had been down 3-0 at least five times through the season, and had come back to win all five times. As we all know, this time was not to be, as Emory stomped out the comeback with a 5-2 win and clinched its first national title since 2012. The runner up for best match of the year goes to another NCAA tournament match, Gustavus Adolphus’ stunning upset of the No. 7 overall seed Chicago Maroons. GAC led 2-1 after doubles, just like they always do, but unlike they always do, the Gusties came away with singles wins at the top three spots including tough three setters from Mohanad Alhouni and a 7-5 in the 3rd last match on clinch from Zach Ekstein over NCAA semifinalist Erik Kerrigan. Gac def. Chicago 5-4 and advanced to the NCAA QF for the 1st time since 2009. Finally, the countdown ends at the top, with the best match of the 2017 season. While there were many to choose from, it should come as no surprise that the NCAA semifinals between Middlebury and CMS should top the charts. In fact, it was a unanimous choice by the bloggers, something that cannot be said for most of these awards. Hansen vs Settles, CMS vs Midd with the winner getting another shot at the title, while the loser ended the year with a result below the hopes (and probably the expectations) of the team. These two teams played on a neutral court earlier in the season, with Midd getting the win. As is the theme with these matches, CMS was swept in doubles as the Panthers raced out to the 3-0 lead. However, there was no easy comeback here as Midd took three 1st sets and appeared to be in control. That’s when things got all kinds of crazy. CMS won the 2nd set at all three spots where Midd had won a tiebreaker 1st set, and got straight set wins from Hull at #2 and Brenner at #6 to bring the score to 3-2. Park took care of business in the 3rd set, but so did Derbani, and Midd led 4-3. Parodi broke Cuba late to win the 3rd set 7-5 and shift all eyes to court #4 where Max Macey took down Kyle Schlanger 7-5 in the second to complete one of the best comebacks in NCAA history. CMS def. Middlebury 5-4, and the Stags moved onto face Emory in the finals.
And now we get to our all team selections! This is formatted a bit differently than previous years, as we will just be going by position and listing out our team selections for each one. 1st Doubles goes to the NCAA Champions, Cuba and De Quant, as they had a lights out year in both the regular season and playoffs and are a unanimous pick to win this one. Abban and Jaworski make the cut with a great run at NCAAs at the end of the year, picking up an Honorable Mention. Congrats to the best teams in the nation!
Moving onto second doubles, we have some really interesting picks here that honestly surprised me! Eusebio and Smith take home the first team hardware and will now be receiving their performance bonuses from Coach Fried in the mail for making the 1st team All Blog Team. Sorry, Coach Fried. The all doubles specialist team of Raclin/Hawkins of Chicago show exactly why it was important for Tee to get them in the lineup with a 2nd Team win, while GAC rounds out the top 3. Congrats to all!
Closing out the doubles portion of the selections, this one was a tough one as we had a ton of good #3 teams from the best teams in the nation. In the end, the front runner Jemison/Omsky take home the #3 doubles crown despite the somewhat head scratching season they had once in a while. The rest of the teams come from national powers who did their damn thing. Kudos to the duo of Kaplan and Arnaboldi for being totally new to each other and still being one of the best.
This one is going to look like the MVP voting as 1st singles usually dominates that, and it is no surprise here that our top 3 are Cuba, Parodi, and Manji. They were some of the best singles players all year and unfortunately that means they knock Metzler and Leung into the Honorable Mentions section. Not bad for smaller school names to get in there and shake up the voting a little bit!
2nd Singles was a bit of an easy pick, but you would be surprised that the top pick Jemison was not a unanimous choice. Cue Donald Jemison in the comments. Glenn Hull had an epic year at #2 for the Stags and had one of the highest UTRs in the nation this year. However, Jemison won out and well-deserved with a big win over Hull in the Finals. Fun fact about all these players – they all made NCAAs at the end of the year, which is great for a #2 singles player. Kudos to you all.
A unanimous pick here as Adrien Bouchet was the top guy all year, and this earns him the first team selection for #3 singles players. He truly outdid any of the players on this list, and he actually beat pretty much everyone on this list as well. Just goes to show how excellent his season was. Morkovine picks up some more honors in his illustrious career to end it. Also, very nice to see Neves on here as a freshman – the man has a bright future.
Most interesting thing here is that CMS has TWO players that made it to the All Team Selections! Both Macey and Wildman shared the singles spot for the Stags prior to Wildman’s injury, and both had a ton of success. This is not to take anything away from Schlanger, Tsai, and Fung, who all barely had any losses on the year. Schlanger was an absolute force and that earns him some wow points from the bloggers, but at the end of the day, Macey was the man.
This was another unanimous decision as Gil Roddy was dominant all year long. Thankfully, he’s on my fantasy team, but that’s not for this article to talk about. Roddy was virtually undefeated and deserves this award. Following him are two freshmen, Park and Kroot, who both really made an impact especially late in the season. Rounding out the top 5 are blog favorite Josh Goodman and TImo Van der Geest, who’s name is one of my favorites. All good 5th singles comparisons, and we simply didn’t have enough spots to get everyone in there.
Last but not least #6 singles. Kaplan did not lose a match all year so yea, he should be put in the front spot. The rest of the names may not stand out to you, as Carter and Patel were new additions to their team families as well as Kumar. Gary Ho had an excellent year down there as told to us by D3West, and it’s nice to see him get recognized. Anyways, that’s all we got folks and we hope to see you giving feedback and joining us for the recruiting hub all year round. And with that, the celebrity disppears. ASouth, OUT.