#3 Adam “Thank God Pottish is Gone” Putterman (Wash U) vs. Northwest/Southwest winner
It doesn’t really matter who wins the play-in match. Putterman is going to win this match in straights. He lost just five times in last year’s regular season; twice to Pottish, once to Loustenko in a 10-pointer, once to DII Drury, and once to Trey Meyer in the 3rd place match. He’s not about to lose to Trinity’s #5 singles player.
#4 Andy Hersh (Hopkins) vs. Mya Smith-Dennis (Gustavus)
Hersh wasn’t nearly as good at Putterman last year, and Smith-Dennis is probably better than the play-in winner, but this match is also a no-brainer. Smith-Dennis excels indoors, and the gritty courts at Copeland-Cox will take a little bit off his shots. Hersh also beat Donkena in the same round of the same tournament handily last year. Different player for GAC, same result. Hersh in straights.
#3 Oliver Loutsenko (Skidmore) vs. Robert “Doesn’t he play NAIA?” Kjellberg (NCW)
I really hope they just seed the top 4 and put the rest of the players in randomly, because there’s no way Smith-Dennis should be seeded ahead of Kjellberg. If I’m Loutsenko, I’m furious with this draw. Kjellberg just beat the entire Emory lineup, and this match is being played in his backyard (comparatively). Loutsenko is someone who obviously has a shot to win this tournament judging by his victory over Putterman, but I think Kjellberg has the upper hand in this match. He had a much more impressive regional tournament, and he didn’t have to travel as far to play this one. Kjellberg in two close sets.
#2 Paul “What Am I Doing Here?” Burgin (Kenyon) vs. Neel “Anyone But Swarthmore” Kotrappa (CMS)
I hope Burgin writes a huge thank you note to Yaraghi and Garner. He’s in Mobile because of them, and he has one of the easier draws. No disrespect to Kotrappa, but I think he might have rented a hammock in Home Tree a couple weekends ago. We’ll have to see. The only way I see Burgin losing this match is if he feels guilty for not actually having won his regional tournament. Not really. If the match gets long, Kotrappa might have a fitness advantage, and he has the capability to make the match long. In the end, I think Burgin’s superior experience will pull him through a tight one. Burgin in three.
#1 Balkin/Osborne (UWW) vs. Brown/Lim (Hopkins)
Upset alert. Balkin and Osborne got the #1 seed here by virtue of being the only doubles team with a national ranking to make it to Mobile. That’s because most of the other ranked doubles teams either graduated a player or shuffled themselves around (Chow/Meyer). Balkin and Osborne are a great doubles team, but they thrive indoors where they can crack returns and have their volleys stay low. They will also have a hard time playing the “no respect card” with the #1 seed, but I’m doing my best to give them something to work with. I don’t know much about Brown and Lim as a doubles team, but I imagine they are a little craftier. They also have had a more impressive fall season so far, winning a tougher region and beating Amherst’s #1 team. I’ll take Hopkins in a 10-pointer.
#4 Northwest/Southwest Winner vs. Isaacs/Szczurek (Emory)
I’m going to hold off on predicting this one until tomorrow. If either team wins convicingly, I’ll be a believer in them. Both Trinity and Whitman play great doubles, so if either of them found a team that can trounce the others’ best, they’re probably pretty good. If it’s close, Emory’s superior championship experience and lack of travel will probably carry them through.
#3 Wood/Dorn (CMS) vs. Heerboth/Turlington (Kenyon)
Not sure what to make of this one. If Turlington had to serve out the regional final underhanded, is his back feeling any better? Wood is sometimes phenomenal doubles player, but he sometimes just slaps his returns into the net. If they play well, I think they’ll win injury or no, so I’ll take CMS in straights.
#2 Micheli/Meyer (Williams) vs. Lathrop/Smego (Drew)
Let’s be honest, we all know who I’m picking in this one… Drew. Just kidding. Williams got through a harder region, has a better doubles pedigree, more championship experience, and their team won this tournament last year. I’m not about to pick a couple guys I’ve never heard of from Drew over them, but I will be looking at Drew’s scores from this weekend to see if their team might be headed for the top 30. They did a great job getting through their region, and they deserve the all-American honors, but that had to be the weakest regional doubles draw I’ve ever seen. Williams in straights.