Columbus Day Weekend in the Northeast
Before the fall season has gone and we are left grasping for a bit more tennis in the cold winter months, I’m pleased to recap the three most important things that happened to the Northeast this past weekend! The first most important thing happened all the way down in sunny Florida as the Middlebury doubles team won the DIII national ITA. Not to brag or anything, but I correctly predicted that the doubles team of Palmer Campbell & Brantner Jones would finish 2nd in the New England ITA. After Garner took out Fife/Fritz (taking out his regional champion(s) for the 2nd year in a row) the Midd boys went down to Florida to represent New England. Not only did they impress, but they won the whole damn thing, showed our region’s supremacy, and made me 100% right (ask D3 West). In winning the DIII National ITA, they gained entry into the Super Bowl, where they impressed again, making it all the way to the finals. A great weekend for PC/BJ.
The second most important thing to happen to the northeast tennis world this weekend, took place in D3 Atlantic South’s backyard. Amherst (with Fritz) went down and stole a couple of wins from the top teams not named Emory in the A-South. Herst took out a Tanner-less Hopkins team 5-4, and followed it up with a 5-4 escape of the CMU Tartans. You can make all the excuses you want: Hopkins didn’t have their #1, Alla was exhausted from winning ITA’s, both teams had players abroad, fall matches don’t matter as much, blah blah blah. All I know is that Garner did not make the same mistake twice two years in a row; he played his guys in the fall and they rewarded him for it. Now, I’m not proclaiming that Amherst has just laid claim to the best team in the country not named CMS, but I am saying that they won’t have to climb up from #19 in the country at the start of this spring.
This brings us to the 3rd most important thing that went down this weekend, and the only one that actually took place in the Northeast. Bates hosted its annual fall tournament over the past weekend, and it went pretty much as expected. Middlebury won most of the flights, Amherst’s B-team still managed to do surprisingly well, Skidmore doubles had a couple of good results, and for the most part Bates, Bowdoin, Brandies, Colby, Trinity, and Tufts were left wanting. As has become my thing, I’ll break the tournament down into flights and talk a little bit about each one. You can find the full results from the tournament here:
A FLIGHT SINGLES
Winner: Alex Johnston (Midd)
Bad news for the rest of the Northeast as Alex Johnston seems to be finding his stride. I’ve heard reports that he was hurt, I’ve heard reports that he was out of shape, I’ve heard reports that he’s actually 33 years old, but all I know is that if he’s winning matches (and fit enough to play 8 matches in two days) then Amherst and Williams better take note. If Jono can keep this up, I believe Midd is the team to beat in the NESCAC.
Runner up: Teddy Fitzgibbons (Midd)
Nice bounceback tournament for Fitzgibbons. After he was upset in the 1st round at ITAs, taking out the Brandeis #1, Colby #1, and Midd #5 is a nice way to show the fans that his Middlebury Invitational A flight win was no fluke. The Bone Saw is another key to the Middlebury quest for the NESCAC crown.
Things to note: Ryan Granoff (Brandeis), Bates/Bowdoin Singles
Great tournament for Granoff, beating Tang (Amherst) and playing Johnston close in the semis. Brandeis has a lot of young talent, and could be next year’s Wesleyan with another good recruiting class. On a different note, what happened to Bates and Bowdoin’s singles guys? Bates was without Berg (their only real shot to make it far in the A draw), Planche, and Ellis. Planche hasn’t played at all this fall, but Berg/Ellis weren’t in the doubles either. As for Bowdoin, King lost in the 1st round, but notably absent were Savage, Wolstencraft, Bragg, and Lord. Hopefully most of them are abroad, but Savage played earlier this fall. Let’s just hope he’s not seriously hurt.
Song that sums up the flight: theme from Two and a Half Men (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZJQlddwuvY). Change every “Men” to “Midd” and you sum up the A flight singles. Two men in the finals and a ½ man in the semifinalist Mountifield. Kinda catchy.
B FLIGHT SINGLES
Winner: Chris Dale (Amherst)
Dale rolled his way to the B flight title, never dropping a set and taking the final 0&1. Honestly, this was no surprise. Dale played 5 for Amherst last year, and 6 the year before. The real surprise was the fact that Dale was even playing in this tournament and not with Garner eeking out wins at Hopkins and CMU. I don’t believe that Reindell or Revzin will stay ahead of Dale in the lineup, but I have been wrong before.
Runner up: Rutendo Matingo (Trinity)
Nice way to end the fall for the Trinity freshman, making a run to the finals. But it was how he did it that was more impressive. Mr. Matingo won all of his matches on the way to the finals in supers, and two of them were 11-9. Perhaps we have a new Captain Clutch growing in Hartford.
Things to note: Parity (7 supers)
Wow, 7 supers means there were a lot of close matches, which hopefully means we’ll be seeing some battles between #’s 4-6 come spring season!
Song that sums up the flight: Clarity, Zedd (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9Q7GISatW0)
You know clarity, picture the exact opposite of that (The Harold and Kumar reference is far too vulgar for some of our readers, but check it out on your own time). We learned absolutely nothing from this flight. Midd was missing 2 of their top 3, Amherst was missing (arguably) their entire top 8 guys. Bates was without their top 3, Tufts #1 wasn’t playing, Trinity has two of their top 4 abroad, Skidmore was without two of their top 3, and Bowdoin didn’t have 4 of their top 6 players (side note, rumor has it that Lord is not on the team anymore. Can this be confirmed or denied? We don’t need to get into reasoning, just a simple answer from a credible source would be nice). I’m not devaluing this tournament because there were still a number of guys who will be playing in their team’s lineups this year as well as some very stiff competition. However, the fact each team is missing so many top guys doesn’t hurt the A flight too much (most teams still have some top players playing) but it takes the value of the B flight (and each subsequent flight) down a notch.
C FLIGHT SINGLES
Winner: Allen Jackson (Midd)
Very impressive weekend for Mr. Jackson, not dropping a set along the way to two separate flight wins. Just throw Allen into the mix for Midd’s 6. We’ll get to this in the team preview…
Runner up: Vlad Murad (Colby)
I won’t lie, I had never heard of Vlad until this weekend. He’s a Romanian recruit, and it looks like he’s going to make a difference for the Mules. That makes two different Romanian recruits to two different Maine schools in the past two years. Weird, huh? Let’s see if Vlad contributes more to the Mules than his countryman has to Bates.
Things to note: Play-In match?
Sometimes I wonder how Coaches make the draws for these tournaments. There was one play-in match, and it was between two of (in my opinion) the three or four most talented players in the draw. The same could be said for different flights (King vs Tang in the A). Not harping on the Coaches, merely curious.
Song that sums up the flight: Good Time, Alan Jackson (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpW8kjDFZPE)
A “good time” was had by a different Allen Jackson, as the younger Mr. Jackson had a perfect 8-0 weekend.
D FLIGHT SINGLES
Winner: Carlos DeBracamonte (Amherst)
I believe this is two years in a row for DeBracamonte taking home the D flight singles trophy. He CRUISED through the D draw, never dropping more than 3 games in a set. Last year I believed that the Floridian was far too good to be playing D flight for Amherst’s B team, and I still do. He has the potential to move up in the lineup, and let’s hope he works hard enough to earn it.
Runner up: Phillip Qu (Amherst)
Good wins for Qu over Reifler (Trinity) and Welch (Midd), and no shame losing to the defending champion. Overall just a good D draw for the Jeffs.
Things to note: The bottom of Amherst’s B-team is better than the bottom of you’re A-Team.
This just goes to show you that even though Amherst keeps 79 guys on their team, it’s because they all can play tennis. The bottom of Amherst’s B team cruised through this tournament. And for all those nay-sayers who don’t understand why a player would rather play 14 for Amherst than have a shot for 6 somewhere else, let me just say that the education ain’t half bad.
Song that sums up the flight: theme from the A-Team (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrK0rZj6pes) Can’t you just imagine Amherst’s numbers 9-16 jumping out of a white van dressed like Mr. T, and then still beating most teams around the country?
A FLIGHT DOUBLES
Winner: Sherpa/Tong (Skidmore)
Great comeback win for the team from Skidmore. This is a somewhat new team for Skidmore, as Tong played with Green-Sanderson and Sherpa usually plays with Hoblitzell. Not sure why Alec and Kit weren’t playing, but this just shows what a good doubles program Skidmore is turning into.
Runner up: Lebovitz/Johnston (Midd)
Johnston’s results just keep getting better. This pair got revenge on the Bates team that beat them at Middlebury early in the fall, and they got revenge in a big way in their 8-3 semifinal win. If this team keeps improving then it turns Midd’s dubs into the best in the NESCAC.
Things to note: 2 Bates semifinalists
Finally something positive for the Bobcats. They were without their top dubs team, but they still managed to send two teams into the semis. Two losses (and none too close) exposed them for what they really were, but Bates has a history of great top doubles teams, so Coach Gastonguay must be doing something right.
Song that sums up the flight: Redemption Song, Bob Marley (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNkr86zZaP4) According to the Midd tennis twitter, Jono/Lebo were up a break for most of the match and had at least 1 match point. Apparently Sherpa was on the other side of this type of finals a couple of years back. He lost to a Bates team after blowing a lead and having match points in a breaker. Redemption for Sherpa, and a trophy for the Thoroughbreds.
B FLIGHT DOUBLES
Winner: Jackson/Fitzgibbons (Midd)
Is this the 4th Midd doubles team? If so, dayum! I know it was only the B Flight at Bates, and I know that most teams had top players missing, but a tournament win from a team that might not even be in the lineup speaks volumes about the rest of Midd’s team. This team might challenge Mountifield/Smolyar for the Midd’s 3rd dubs spot.
Runner up: Arnaboldi/Arnaboldi (Amherst)
Usually brothers doubles teams are reserved for Vasser (Guzicks, Jasos, etc,), but as a sports sap I’m excited anytime I get to see a family team. How cool must it be to play and succeed with a family member! These bros beat a fellow Amherst team and two Middlebury teams on their way to the finals. Not too shabby!
Things to note: Brothers doubles team!
No explanation necessary
Song that sums up the flight: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, orig. The Hollies, covered by Neil Diamond (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usZtSl8mX08).
As a New England guy I (of course) have a special place for anything Neil Diamond (Sweet Caroline at Fenway=pure gold). This one goes out to the Arnaboldis. On a somewhat related but totally important side note, how awesome was the Sox game on Sunday night?!?!
Keep checking the site over the coming weeks. All 5 of us will be putting out team previews as often as we can!