Welcome, one and all, to the NCAA DIII Finals Preview brought to you by The Blog. We’ve done our best this year and it’s sad to see another team year end today, but it is with great joy that we were able to cover this amazing sport another whole year. As you should all know, CMS and Emory will do battle today for the National Championship, hopefully outdoors. However, with the performances today, who really cares where it is. This is shaping up to be a good match, and here is to hoping that we don’t get another finals dud. By the way, the match is set to begin at 3PM Indoors.
Guru Note: This is the first time in blog history that Emory and CMS will meet in the NCAA Tournament.
Emory – It’s flat out dumb to not go through the semifinal matches because both matches may make the top 10 of best Elite 8 Matches of all time. While the Emory Bowdoin score ended up being 5-2 as Emory got four singles matches, we all know it was closer than that. Bowdoin raced out to a 2-1 lead with wins at 2 and 3 doubles and Rubinstein/Spaulding really saved the Eagles with a massive win at #1 to put Emory on the board. They are going to need to step up tomorrow against CMS’s best team because we all saw what CMS can do in singles.
In singles, it was a bloodbath. As we expected, every match was pretty much close with the exception of #1 singles where Manji is playing senior championship tennis right now. Manji quickly leveled the match at 2 while Emory rook first sets at 2 and 6 (Jemison and Rubinstein). Soon after, Bouchet and Goodman followed with surprising sets as Josepher lost the first. Emory was in control. However as Bowdoin always does they fought back. Urken and Wolfe both clawed their way back while Roddy led at #5. In what was another huge point, Rubinstein finished Patel in straights to give Emory the lead. With Josepher fighting back to win the second against Jiang, the Eagles relied on their two stalwarts – Jon Jemison and Adrien Bouchet. Both won their respective close sets and the Eagles became the first team into the championship.
CMS – Sigh, I had hoped that by my two teams losing, I’d get out of writing a preview at 1 am on Wednesday morning, but we live and we learn. NE here to help with a preview that I am less qualified for than some, but what can you do. In what can only be described as a match of the year candidate, CMS again did what has defined their 2017 season, came back from a doubles sweep and beat a very good team by taking five out of six singles matches. THAT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Not only did the Stags get swept in doubles, but the lost #1 and #3 routinely. After falling in a close match at #2 dubs, it seemed like hope was lost. The Stags were playing one of the very few teams who had already beaten them earlier this year, and they were playing on a foreign surface, indoor courts.
The Stags once again pulled the rabbit out of the hat (amongst other places), but this time they did so in even more spectacular fashion than their 5-4 win over Bowdoin at the Stag Hen. This was closer to the drama in their comeback win against Wash U, where the Stags won all four 3-set matches. Today, Midd won three 1st sets, ALL VIA TIEBREAKERS! However, CMS came back to split all three of those matches, while taking #2 and #6 in straight sets. Mind you, a straight set win over William de Quant is not something to just shrug off. At 3-2 down, it was Parodi who leveled the match by knocking off Cuba 7-5 in the 3rd set. Eye-witnesses are calling this singles match the best quality tennis of the year, and possibly the greatest singles match they have ever seen. At 3-3, the freshman Park came up LARGE with a 6-4 3rd set win over Timo Van der Geest to give CMS the 4-3 lead. Midd senior Hamid Derbani went out with a win, beating Mork 6-1 in the 3rd to give Midd some hope. However, after failing to convert while serving for the match at 5-4 in the 2nd set, senior Max Macey took down Kyle Schlanger 7-5 in the 2nd set, sending CMS back to the finals.
AS EDIT: I would also like to point out that an anonymous source overheard a Midd bench player claiming that “that one won’t finish” after the first game of the #4 singles match took 15 minutes. Guess he didn’t realize that he was playing CMS. And there’s a lesson to all you folks – don’t count your chickens before CMS has played singles.
D3West mitigating factor: that Midd bench player was right in one way because that two set match took longer to finish than three separate three-setters. Perhaps he was assuming CMS would win 5 singles matches before that one finished? The world will never know.
Factors for the Finals
AS: Something that comes up every year in the finals is how tough a road you had to get there. This is the first year I remember where I’m not really sure either team had an easy road to the finals. Both teams played tough semis against a top tier team with multiple splits. Both teams are known for their off the court dedication in the weight room and I don’t think either team can claim to be more fit than the other. One match that could be affected is Manji vs Parodi as Manji has has an easy go of it so far.
NE: This is absolutely a factor when you’re playing three tough matches in about 48 hours time. All of CMS’ guys played long singles matches yesterday, even Brenner and Macey who finished in straight sets. For the Stags, the only guy who might have an advantage could be Glenn Hull, who played relatively quickly yesterday. He’ll be up against a guy who played a long match yesterday in Jemison. That being said, Jemison beat Grodecki in no time the other day so I don’t really think you can give an edge to either team here.
West: I really think that we overestimate the fatigue factor sometimes. At this point in the season, players should be able to play three singles matches in three days. Many of the CMS guys didn’t even finish their singles matches against Wesleyan, and even the three setters yesterday only took about 2 hours. I’m going to say that fatigue won’t be a factor (with the possible exception of Parodi vs. Manji but that would simply be because freshmen just generally aren’t as good at seniors when it comes to anything, particularly fitness).
NE: Both teams won today playing indoors, and did so by beating teams with more indoor experience. Tomorrow the weather calls for showers throughout the day, but not necessarily the downpour we saw at times today. If the rain comes in the morning, we don’t know if they will delay the women’s final or merely send the match indoors. We could see delays for the 3rd straight day tomorrow, something the bloggers are in favor of as it allows us and DOZENS of fans around the country to get home to watch. If the match goes indoors again, the logic response would be that it favors Emory, but at this point I’m not sure it swings the needle.
AS: At this point, the weather doesn’t really matter. There are certain players that will play better outside, such as Jemison and maybe Manji, but at the end of the day this is the championship. Both teams dealt with weather delays and indoor tennis yesterday. They’ll deal with whatever comes their way today. That’s what the finals is!
NE: As it should be in the finals, there will be AT LEAST ONE SENIOR AT EVERY SINGLES SPOT. That is amazing, but yes, between the two teams there will be at least one senior at every spot. Manji and Goodman for Emory will matchup with freshmen, while Hull/Mork/Macey/Brenner will take on two sophomores and two juniors. I won’t get overly dramatic and say that all of the senior will be playing their final matches, as two senior Stags and a senior Eagle qualified for Individual NCAAs, but that’s just another added level of motivation for each team tomorrow. After speaking with all six seniors, I can assure they all REALLY want to win this one.
West: …. Right you are.
NE: This one may not have as much of an effect on the match, but then again the right tip from a guy like Skyler Butts or Rafe Mosetick might just be the difference between winning and losing. Butts looked like a dream warming up today, and I think we should be checking the video feed from yesterday to make sure he wasn’t posing as Alex Brenner in the singles.
AS: On this note, a source of mine actually claimed today that “Rafe might have a bigger impact as an assistant coach than a player.” While that might be an exaggeration, it certainly shows how much respect there is to having a recently graduated player on court with you. Also a current blogger.
West: But you both forget how helpful it is to have a head coach as a current blogger. I’ll be going with the gray visor tomorrow. We’re thinking of just not playing the doubles altogether and just starting down 0-3.
Match by match preview
#1 doubles: Rubenstein/Spaulding (EU) vs. Morkovine/Parodi (CMS)
AS: Doubles is of utmost importance in this match for Emory as there’s a bit of an aura around the CMS singles lineup. As I predicted, the Emory #1 duo came up big yesterday and Rubinstein is coming off a giant day. This match is unbelievably important and I believe Emory steps up once again to beat the talented but not necessarily fundamental CMS team. Emory 8-5
NE: Emory needs at least a 2-1 doubles lead in my opinion, and they could get it in any variety of ways. The EU team played very well against Bowdoin yesterday, while Mork and Parodi fell to Midd. If this match is indoors, I like EU even more. Emory, 8-6.
West: I don’t think Emory is even remotely scared of CMS’ singles lineup considering they took 5 singles matches from them earlier this season (without Hull). I really don’t think CMS will be able to come back from another doubles sweep, and, with the way Emory has been dominating singles (10-1 on the week), CMS probably needs a doubles lead to win this one. I think the court situation is more important in doubles than it is in singles, where good returns are more important and timing-dependent. Nevertheless, I think CMS turns it on today and takes this 9-8.
#2 doubles: Bouchet/Renke vs. Berber/Hull (CMS)
AS: Bouchet and Renke are having a tough time of things here at nationals, where they’ve lost both their matches to beatable teams. Is today finally the day? I don’t think so. Hull is probably the best player on the court in this one and I’m going to go with CMS here. CMS 8-4
NE: I agree with AS that this is the most likely spot for CMS to win a doubles match. Then again, they have swept Wesleyan and gotten swept by Midd, so any results is totally within reasion. CMS, 8-5.
West: CMS’ best doubles position vs. probably Emory’s worst. The Stags need this one. CMS 8-6.
#3 doubles: Jemison/Omsky (EU) vs. Gordy/Williams (CMS)
AS: Jemison and Omsky had a tough one yesterday where they were behind all match only to break back and have an 8-7 lead. I thought they would get the kill shot but kudos to Bowdoin for staying tough. While Gordy and Williams have been playing well as of late, the fact of the matter is this is what Emory has trained for all year and why this team is at #3. Jemison is the best player on the court here and he takes over late. Emory 8-6
NE: Another matchup where I think Emory has a bigger advantage if they play indoors, but either way the Eagles should still be favored in this matchup, Emory, 8-4.
West: I just don’t think that Jemison/Omsky are going to lose two matches in a row here, and I think the moment might be a little too big for Jake Williams. It’s a lot to ask from a freshman to come in late in the season like this. Emory 8-5.
#1 singles: Aman Manji (EU) vs. Niko Parodi (CMS)
AS: With a 2-1 lead going into singles, the importance of the first three matches is off the charts. This is Emory’s wheelhouse and let’s be honest, this is where they are going to have to win the match. Manji has brought his A game to TN and will look to continue his success against Parodi earlier in the year. While it won’t be as routine as the last time, I will never pick against a senior leader who has all the intangibles of a captain. Emory 7-5, 7-5
NE: Both of these guys have been absolutely crushing it these past few days, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one go deep into the evening. Tough to pick a freshman over a senior here, especially given the fatigue factor, and I want to do it for D3West (RIP), but I can’t. Emory, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
West: NE didn’t know that I was going to take advantage of the site being down to jump on this preview, but I’M STICKING WITH PARODI! He’s avenged a couple losses already, and yesterday he came back from down a set and 0-3, then came back again from down 2-4 in the third. CMS 0-6, 7-5, 6-4
#2 singles: Jonathan Jemison (EU) vs. Glenn Hull (CMS)
AS: Somehow, Jonathan Jemison keeps being set up against the best #2s in the game that end up being way better matches than Manjis. I think this is no different. Hull hasn’t lost this year I believe and has been a force for CMS. This is a spot Emory counts on and it will test both players in pressure play. I might as well coin flip this one because it’s so contested. Emory leads, 4-6, 7-5, 4-3
NE: Totally agree with AS, this is the toughest match to predict, even though #1 was also exceedingly difficult. I gave Emory the advantage in the previous match, so let’s go with the undefeated senior here too. CMS, 7-6, 6-4.
West: If you think for a second that I’m going away from Hull just because he’s playing Jemison (who I admit is an absolute beast, and perhaps I should be a little perturbed by the fact that the due has lost just one D3 match since February and is pretty much the definition of clutch) then you’ve got another think coming. Get at me with some Glenn Hull action, some Sunshine in the rain. CMS 7-6, 6-7, 7-6.
#3 singles: Adrien Bouchet (EU) vs. Daniel Morkovine (CMS)
AS: Another senior vs sophomore battle and CMS will need one of their team leaders to step up and take on one of the best #3s in the nation. Mork lost in 3 to Derbani yesterday and simply put, this really hasn’t been the best year for Morkovine. While I think v. Bouchet has stepped up in NCAAs when needed most and the streaky but actually just straight up baller will come out of this with a big three set win. Emory 6-1, 2-6, 6-3.
NE: Mork had some good fight yesterday against Derbani, but came up short. Here is yet another match that moves towards Emory if they are forced to play indoors. If they’re outside I like Mork in three sets, but if indoors I have to go with Bouchet. Emory, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
West: Bouchet, Bouchet, Bouchet. Emory 6-2, 7-5.
#4 singles: Alec Josepher (EU) vs. Max Macey (CMS)
AS: Max Macey, the lefty beast from CMS, has been on fire this year and he’s probably one of the more guaranteed spots in today’s match. Crazier things have happened and Josepher impressed yesterday by keeping it close with Jiang, but Macey is on a whole nother level right now. He’s going to grind with the best of them and take this one in straights. CMS 6-3, 6-2.
NE: Ah yes, the hero from yesterday’s match. Check out Macey grinding on match point.
The senior will have another tough matchup, but I think he gets it done again. CMS, 6-4, 6-4.
West: Josepher is going to have to stay on the court for about five hours to beat Macey, and HE DOESN’T WANT IT. Max Macey. Senior. Clinch City. CMS 7-6, 7-6
#5 singles: Josh Goodman (EU) vs. Daniel Park (CMS)
AS: This is the type of match that Josh Goodman brings his best tennis for. There might be some fireworks that probably won’t rattle Dan Park, but Goodman showed yesterday why he is to be feared when the spotlight comes on. When he’s focused, he’s one of the best, and the senior will be playing in his last match of his career. Those are the types of things that get Goodman going. Emory, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-5 CLINCH
NE: Park came up bigtime yet again yesterday against Timo Van der Geest, and the freshman has won a slew of clutch matches this year. It goes against every fiber of my being to pick a freshman over a senior on the biggest stage, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. CMS, 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-2.
West: Josh Goodman held his nerve on the effing X-Factor. The NCAA finals will be no problem. Daniel Park already did his part for CMS in their run to the finals. He can rest now, young prince. Emory 7-5, 6-4.
#6 singles: Scott Rubenstein (EU) vs. Alex Brenner (CMS)
AS: What a day for Rubinstein yesterday as he probably had the momentum changing win that brought Emory to victory. Not bad for a guy that has played less than 10 singles matches all year and has basically been thrown into the lineup. Good on Coach Browning for not being afraid to switch his lineup and get Rubinstein in there – it’s already paid off. Now, the equally as thrown in Alex Brenner will be his opponent and we shall see how the two guys fitness holds up today. I like the senior from the California school, even though Rubinstein should get a nice Indoors boost if they play inside. CMS 6-3, 7-6 (4).
NE: Brenner won two massive tiebreak sets yesterday against Allen Jackson, while Rubenstein was his best self against Luke Carstens. Quick NE side note, lost in yesterday’s chaos was the fact that Bowdoin started Carstens over Patel at #6. Brenner has been real good in his limited stay in the singles lineup, and I expect that to continue. CMS, 6-3, 6-4.
West: This has been working for me, so I’m gonna stick with it. 7-6 (19), 6-7 (24), Unf.
AS: Emory def. CMS 5-3
NE: CMS def. Emory 5-4 (5-3 if outdoors)
West: CMS def. Emory 5-3
Guru: Emory d. CMS 5-3
AVZ: CMS def. Emory 5-3
MW: CMS def. Emory 5-3
Regional: Emory def. CMS 5-4
RegAS: CMS def. Emory 5-3
RegNEC: CMS def Emory 5-2
As you can see from the above predictions, it looks like CMS is the favored team going into the finals match. They have that aura about them right now and they seem like a team of destiny. But, is that more because they’ve been stinking at doubles and mounting epic comebacks? Is that not just how their team is built? We shall see in the final edition of 2017 DIII (team) Tennis today, and we look forward to seeing all of you on twitter and wherever else for the finals today. And with that, we leave you. AS and NE, OUT.