College hoops might be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget about all the D3 tennis going on right now as we really start to hit the meat of the spring season. This past week featured a bunch of teams out on spring break, some big upsets, and some inopportune rain delays. First, let’s recap some of the big stories of the past week. (note: After I wrote this, I realized D3Regional recapped a lot of these matches as well. So rather than getting rid of my finely crafted blurbs, you now get the thoughts of not one, but TWO, bloggers.)
- NYU def. Brandeis 6-3. With Brandeis still missing a few starters, this one isn’t quite as shocking, but it’s still a very tough result for the Judges against a team ranked far below them. I’m most surprised about NYU almost sweeping doubles, given their historical struggles. Michael Li came up huge and was rewarded as Blog and UAA POTW, but Umberto Setter also had an absolute shellacking over Michael Arguello as he moved up to #1 seamlessly.
- NYU def. Colby 5-4. Reid and Murad took their expected three points, but NYU won pretty comfortably everywhere else besides #6 to get the win. It didn’t end up mattering as they lost at both spots, but it’s pretty questionable that NYU moved Setter down to #2 and put Ben Teoh at #1 just two days after Setter won easily at #1 and Teoh lost easily at #2 vs Brandeis. Like I said, didn’t end up mattering, but still, this was…not a great optic.
- Colby def TCNJ 6-3. Lots of tight matches, with the swing match being #1 doubles, where Colby won 7-5 in a breaker. If they played ten times, I don’t think either team would win more six. That certainly doesn’t matter though, as Colby picks up a nice regional win.
- DePauw def Rose Hulman 7-2. The Fightin’ Engineers almost took a doubles lead here, though DePauw was clearly the stronger team in singles, especially lower in the lineup. Georges Adam had a nice win for RHIT at #2, and as I predicted (humble brag), Brandon Benedict made Dan Rodefeld work (at least for a set…) in a 6-0, 7-6(0) loss.
Spring Break Recaps
At this point, the Engineers have shown that they are not quite ready to compete at the level many, including us bloggers, expected. They just barely beat Franklin & Marshall in a deciding super tiebreaker in the last match, which isn’t that bad against a solid regionally ranked team, but their loss to Ithaca really shows this team has a ways to go. Junior Tristan Wise, the only non-freshman in their top-5, seems to still be struggling with an injury, retiring mid match vs F&M and not playing singles vs Ithaca or Trinity TX, which isn’t helping the Engineers, but I think this team’s struggles go beyond that. Despite the bad loss down in Florida, I will give a shoutout to freshman Zack Ebenfeld, who went 5-0 in singles, including wins over Trinity TX and Amherst. Unfortunately, his doubles loss with Sebastian Castillo-Sanchez against Ithaca just about eliminates their chance to qualify for NCAAs, as they currently sit at #2 in the Northeast.
The team no one has really talked about but might actually finish ahead of RPI in the Liberty League started their season down in Florida, with some impressive results, including a 5-4 over F&M after getting swept in doubles. On the one hand, they got swept in doubles, which is never good. On the other, they fought their way back to win five singles matches in straight sets. If they can get the doubles figured out, obviously they’ll be even tougher (sound familiar? cough**CMS**cough) The Statesmen also put together a very respectable showing (in singles, at least) against Amherst yesterday, falling 7-2 with several other close matches. Big ups to sophomore Jonathan Atwater for taking out 5-star freshman Jayson Fung 1-6, 7-6(1), 10-5.
Their only D3 match out in California was an 8-1 loss to CMU. But it looked like they had a good time at Universal, so not all is lost! Seriously, though, these trips have more importance than just the matches. They can be huge for team chemistry, bonding, and player-coach relationships. So even if the trip may not seem like it was all that productive by looking at the schedule, I would be willing to bet that Wabash’s trip out West is only going to help them as they head back to Ohio.
Easily beat Occidental 9-0, lost a tight non D3 match to Cerritos 5-4, then got smoked by the defending National Champs. Same spiel as what I wrote for Wabash goes for the Big Red.
Feels like the Brewers have been out in California for quite a while a this point, and they still have one more match tomorrow vs Caltech (preview below) after a doubleheader today against Wooster and Chapman. These guys have to be exhausted by now, but like I said last week, what a great schedule Coach Wong put together. By far the best result was their 5-4 win over Trinity CT. While they haven’t been updated in quite a while, that’s still a win for an unranked team over #10 in the Northeast. Combined with the Rochester win, Vassar should find themselves nicely embedded back in the rankings when they come out on March 30th. Fittingly, Alexander “it’s skill, not luck” Luckmann was once again the hero, breaking the 4-4 tie with a 6-4, 7-6(2) win at #6 to clinch for the Brewers.
Matches to watch
Rose Hulman vs Wabash, Saturday 10am
A nice Central matchup to start the weekend here, and one that I don’t expect to be a repeat of last year’s 9-0 win for RHIT. Last year the singles was tight, with four of the six matches splitting sets and RHIT winning some super breakers. Wabash will need to get out to a good start in doubles to set the tone in this one, and assuming they take a lead, I think this one is a 5-4 or 6-3 match regardless of the winner. Wabash has a 64 to 62 UTR Power 6 advantage, and while my gut tells me not to pick the team that lost 9-0 last year, my gut tells me that RHIT gets it done again, in a much closer match this time around. I’ll take the Fightin’ Engineers 5-4.
Vassar vs Caltech, Saturday 5pm
If Vassar rolls out their full lineup yet again for the sixth time this week and the day after a double header, I’ll be impressed just with that. As for the actual match, this is another tough one to predict as these teams have no common opponents this season. Both teams have 65 Power 6’s, so I’m going to lean towards the fresher team and say Caltech wins 5-4. Vassar seems to do pretty well with bulletin board material, so here’s some more for them. Let’s see if they can once again surprise me.
RPI vs Middlebury, Sunday 9am
Not much to say about this one. A match I once thought could be a fun battle, my only question now is how many starters Middlebury plays, especially since they face Skidmore the same day. RPI has to be reeling right now after a tough spring break, and the last thing they need is a matchup with a top-5 team. 9-0 Midd.
Denison vs Ohio Wesleyan, Tuesday 4:30pm
I probably should’ve given the Battling Bishops some love already this season after beating Grinnell and going 5-4 with Wheaton. Against Denison, OWU has the potential to win a few matches, though the Big Red will be strong enough to ward off any upsets. Last year Denison won 8-1, though OWU won a doubles match and had some close singles matches. This one could possibly be as close as 6-3, but I think Denison takes it 8-1 as they look to try and round into form with some big NCAC matchups approaching.
Snack of the Week:
Trail Mix! So diverse What other snack gives you a different flavor and texture profile with every bite? The stuff is addicting, travels well, and there’s a million variations out there. Just remember, the more M&Ms, the better.
The Yeoman are going down to Hilton Head, where they’ll face Union (NY), Virginia Wesleyan, St. Thomas, Earlham, and Southwestern (KS). They are pretty heavy favorites in all five matches, and to be honest the only thing I’ll really be paying much attention to is #1 doubles against St. Thomas. Elifson/Beck will need to have a pretty much perfect spring to hold their spot and make NCAAs, and Oberlin is one of the many threats they’ll face. Overall, should be a good week filled with wins for the Yeoman.
Matchups with Babson, Luther, SCAD-Savannah (non D3), Calvin, and Hamilton await Grinnell down in Orlando. Luther is not far away from cracking the top 20 in the rankings, and though Grinnell won 8-1 last year, this one could be closer. Babson has a 65 to 60 UTR Power 6 edge, and I would definitely lean towards the Beavers there. Hamilton is also at 60, so that could be a close one and a good chance for Grinnell to get a win over a NESCAC team. Overall, Grinnell has a good mix of teams to face down there, though no real opportunities to move up in the regional rankings.
Carthage will face Luther, Babson, and Calvin in Orlando next week, and will, as usual, need their top guys to shine in order to finish 3-0. That said, the level of their opponents wont be quite as high as some of the Redmen’s matches thus far, so it might be a chance for their lower lineup guys to get some wins as well. No huge matches for Carthage during the trip, but it should be a good trip nonetheless.
The Knights will be leaving Minnesota for the tropics as they head west to Hawaii to face Cal Lu and Hawaii-Hilo. Cal Lu could be a very good match, with Carleton at 66 and CLU at 65 in Power 6, though the California guys will have the advantage when it comes to playing outdoor tennis. Even though they only have two matches on the schedule, that’s a pretty sweet trip that I hope those guys all enjoy. I wish I could go to Hawaii right about now…
So did I forget anything? Probably. With all the matches taking place right now, it’s hard to avoid having some slip through the cracks. If there’s a team, story, or topic you want me to write about, I’d love to hear it. @d3regionalnec on twitter or d3regionalnec at gmail.com. (the spam bots crush me when I write the full email). Anyway, enjoy the tennis, enjoy the basketball, and have a great weekend!