Continuing with the welcoming of new regional writers, please join me in a round of applause for our very own D3West. I hope he’s up for the challenge of covering the most geographically diverse region.
I think this will be a good post to ease me into the blogosphere, as there are really only two teams worth talking about in this specific regional, but boy is there a lot to talk about. I’m going to skip the emotional hello-I-can’t-believe-I-made-it-to-this-point-after-all-these-years and just go. (I might have just copied and pasted the rest of this from an e-mail and added an intro right here).
What we learned from singles:
1. Ryan fucking Yrabba is playing for UT-Tyler?!?!?!?! That was a huge shock as it was. This guy played two years for UNC-Wilmington and then played #6 singles for Tech last year. What the hell is he doing playing for UT-Tyler. Between this guy and Spencer, Tyler might be finding a recruiting niche that will allow them to stay competitive when the rest of the good DIII teams are from prestigious small liberal arts colleges. The problem with getting great transfers is that you only have them for a year or two. Could you imagine what would have happened with Tyler if they had Yrabba for the past four years? What’s more surprising is the fact that he lost. He looked a little out of shape this summer, so maybe the heat and the length of the tournament got to him. Or maybe Trinity is just that good. Tyler also still has Singer, they got freshman Daniel Budd into the quarters, and Kiersted gave DelaFuente a good match in the second round. I don’t think they’re ready to beat Trinity, but I would be very surprised if Tyler didn’t crack the top 25 this year.
2. Trinity will still be a force to be reckoned with. Conventional wisdom is that this will be a down year for them, but they develop their players better than almost anyone else. In the tournament, they were led by a talented group of sophomores who showed huge improvements after their first year of college tennis. Skinner played like someone who’s ready to fill Frey’s massive (both literally and metaphorically) shoes, Curtis played an outrageous match against Yrabba, and Mayer took down DelaFuente. You absolutely can’t sleep on the Tigers this year. You know they’re going to put together a great doubles lineup, they are incredibly deep, and they have great team energy.
3. UT-Dallas is a school that never gets any publicity. They really aren’t much of a threat to top 25 teams, but they’ve been regionally ranked the past couple years, and they are an improving program. Though they mostly got dominated by Tyler and Trinity in this tournament, they showed signs of life. Both Casey Clark and Daniel Budd lost matches in 10-point tiebreakers, against good Tyler and Trinity players. Spiesman and Cole looked pretty good too. Also, this should go later in doubles, but I can’t really separate in two points, Clark and Dustin Foster made an incredible run to the finals of the doubles tournament, beating DelaFuente and Moreno on the way. If UT-T weren’t so much better this year, I would say this is the year Dallas finally beat them.
What we learned from doubles:
1. Trinity, as always, destroyed everyone in doubles. The UT-Dallas team threw a wrench in their domination a little bit, but they still basically controlled the tournament. They had four teams in the quarters, two in the semis, and the winner. Curtis and freshman Connor Dunn “upset” two seeds on their way to the semifinals, and Haugen and Jayamanne gave Yrabba and Singer a tough match. Having Mayer and Skinner come together to make a solid #1 doubles team is probably the most pleasant surprise for the Tigers in this tournament. I was expecting Yrabba to be able to control their semifinal doubles match, but the two sophomores really played as a team and stepped up in the big moments. The final really wasn’t that close.
Looking forward, I would be stunned if Skinner doesn’t beat Malesovas in the play-in match of the singles tournament. Malesovas had a great tournament, but he really only had to beat one established player to win. Skinner had to beat a starter for a top-calibre DI team, his doubles partner, and Budd, who was great on the weekend. The doubles match should be more indicative of where the Tigers are at this season. Whitman has a good doubles team, but Trinity has won the doubles match the last two years. On a side note, I love the play-in matches in Mobile. They are so deliciously pressure-filled and awkward. Imagine playing the only match at a 60-court facility, while all the DII, NAIA, and JuCo players warm up on courts around you, knowing that if you lose, you have to hang out in Alabama for a week without playing tennis. Fun stuff.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my first post, and you’ll be hearing from me later this week, as I break down the true hardest regional in the country.