AS: Welcome to the main event, peeps. This match is actually huge. Why? Because if Amherst wins, we can probably officially say that the NESCAC is going to get more Pool C spots than the UAA this year. Now, that might happen anyways because Middlebury plays Emory later on this year, but I feel like this is really the NESCAC’s best shot at surprising Emory. Maybe Emory comes into this a little unprepared here or has a little bit of rust since not playing a tough dual match since indoors. Maybe Amherst is more talented than we’re giving them credit for (and oh, we’re already giving them a lot of credit). Either way, this is a big one. One win by Herst here and the UAA might be stripped down to 2 Pool C spots instead of like the 4 they received last year. That’s what’s at stake. But, this is Emory. So maybe not that much is at stake.
NE: Following up the Stag Hen will be almost impossible, but today we have #8 Wesleyan vs #11 Redlands in one of the bigger Pool-C matches of the year, and tomorrow we are treated to a matchup between DIII titans, #7 Amherst vs #1 Emory. Combined, they have taken home three of the last five national championships, and during that span both have managed undefeated regular seasons only to see themselves get upset at NCAAs. In fact, I’m gonna go Guru on you and give a little historical perspective. Amherst has won the last three times these two teams played each other, and all three times were at NCAAs. Amherst beat Emory back-to-back years in the quarters (2013 & 2014 en route to its most recent national championship.) They also beat the Eagles comfortably in the 2011 national championship. Most of the guys from those teams have obviously graduated, but if you think Coach Browning doesn’t want revenge, think better. [GURU NOTE: THEY ALSO BEAT THEM IN 2010 NCAA QUARTERS IN A MASSIVE UPSET – http://emoryathletics.com/sports/mten/2009-10/files/eum-amh.htm.] This is not a be-all end-all match for either team. If Amherst were to somehow pull off the upset, i don’t think Emory would drop all that much, Herst would simply vault up the rankings. If Emory wins comfortably it would solidify them as the #1 team in the country. That and 99 cents will get you a bag of Ruffles Sour Cream and Onions (if you live in Indiana like AVZ.)
Emory Power 6: 76.99. Aman Manji (13.60), Jonathan Jemison (13.17), Adrien Bouchet (12.87), James Spaulding (12.89), Alec Josepher (11.98), Josh Goodman (12.48).
Amherst Power 6: 74.70. Zach Bessette (11.91), Anton Zykov (12.56), Josh Marchalik (12.71), Jayson Fung (12.14), Gabe Owens (12.66), Oscar Burney (12.72).
#1 Doubles: Bessette/Fung (Amherst) vs Rubinstein/Spaulding (Emory)
AS: I gave this #1 team a lot of flak at Indoors because of the big names down at the other two spots, but they are still a #1 quality team with a big win against Chicago in the finals of Indoors. Amherst’s strongest team is probably their #1 team, and I think this is their best chance of winning. I don’t really want to pick an Emory sweep so let’s go with Amherst 9-7
NE: Fung and Bessette are 4-0 against ranked teams so far this year, but those ranked teams do not come close to equaling the firepower that the Eagles will bring. Rubenstein and Spaulding are a proven commodity and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt in the clutch. Emory 8-6
#2 Doubles: Burney/Zykov (Amherst) vs Bouchet/Renke (Emory)
AS: Bouchet/Renke lost no matches at Indoors, but we’re going outdoors now. Don’t think that matters. This team is making a run at being the best in the business and I’m not betting against Bouchet until he proves me wrong. Emory 8-4
NE: Burney has been in and out of the lineup so far this week, but my guess is that he will be available for this one. This Amherst team should be really good, but they just got rocked by the #2 team from UT-Tyler (albeit a strong #2 team). Advantage, Emory, 8-5
#3 Doubles: Kaplan/Marchalik (Amherst) vs Jemison/Omsky (Emory)
AS: The “wtf” team of Jemison/Omsky at #3 doubles actually suffered a loss in the first round of Indoors, but came back from that with two nice wins against CMU and Chicago later on. This is a fundamentally solid team has Omsky patrols the net and Jemison is a rock from the baseline. There’s some good talent on the Amherst side, but I think this team just does each thing a little bit better than Amherst’s dudes. That makes a big difference. Emory 8-5
NE: This has actually been Amherst’s strongest team so far this spring, but they are going up against the #1 doubles team in the country..somehow. It could stay close, but i like Emory here again. I think Amherst has a good a chance of taking a lead as Emory does of the sweep. I hate picking the sweep, but picking the individual matchups leaves me no choice. Emory 8-6
#1 Singles: Bessette (Amherst) vs Manji (Emory)
AS: Bessette has had success this spring against some other ranked teams, but this isn’t just any ranked team. Aman Manji returns to the outdoor courts in the hope of shaking off a “tough 2-1” Indoors. Manji definitely worked over the break between the two matches and I believe the best is yet to come for the senior. He should only get better from here. Manji time. Emory 6-4, 6-2
NE: Bessette has been on fire so far this week, where he hasn’t dropped more than 4 games in a match against a ranked team. However, and you can tell that this has become a theme, Emory should simply provide a tougher challenge. Closer than expected though. Emory, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
#2 Singles: Zykov (Amherst) vs Jemison (Emory)
AS: Zykov was relieved of his #1 duties recently, as he was struggling a bit at the top spot. He gets no rest here as he basically plays another #1 player in Jonathan Jemison, who I believe is probably craving outdoor tennis as well. Jemison loves the outdoor courts and will be able to grind Zykov into the dust here. Emory, 6-3. 6-3
NE: Tough sledding for Amherst’s lone starting senior, but he recovered nicely against Lambeth (if you think a 1&0 win is recovering). Another match that ends closer than you’d think, but Jemison is Mr. 10K for a reason. Emory, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 10-4
#3 Singles: Marchalik (Amherst) vs Bouchet (Emory)
AS: I’ve touted Bouchet as potentially the best #3 player and he proved that at Indoors. He lost once outdoors last year but basically was flawless. Again, like I said in the doubles, there is no reason to doubt him unless he loses. He hasn’t done anything to doubt him so far. This is quickly becoming a learning experience for the Amherst Squirrels. Emory 6-2, 7-5
NE: This has been the toughest spot for Herst so far this spring, and could be Emory’s strongest. Easiest pick for me. Emory 6-3, 6-3
#4 Singles: Fung (Amherst) vs Spaulding (Emory)
AS: Here’s where Amherst can potentially make a run.Spaulding certainly is one of the best #4s out there and was in a battle against Luke Tsai, but he has not been given the opportunity just yet to prove his consistency across a whole year. That’s the only reason why I think this match could go Amherst’s way, even though Emory really has the advantage here. I’ll take Emory, but I’ll take em close. Emory 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
NE: Believe it or not I agree with AS (again). I think Amherst’s #3-6 would all be great #4’s, so this is where it starts turning. If Herst is going to pull off the stunner they will likely need to take 4/5/6. Spaulding was awesome at Indoors, but that should suit his game a little better. Outdoors might favor the young Californian. Amherst 6-4, 6-3
#5 Singles: Owens (Amherst) vs Josepher (Emory)
AS: Herst has a weird set where most of their players have similar UTRs, probably because of their similar junior careers. However, it looks like the bottom of the lineup actually has a higher UTR than some of the top guys. Gabe Owens has been a guy that NE has touted as one of the best of Amherst, so I think the potential is here for a singles win. Let’s give it to them. Amherst 7-6, 7-5
NE: AS is right, I have been high on Owens through the fall and winter, but Josepher was another Eagle who had a very good Indoors. This should be a good match between two of the best #5’s in the country. I’ve given Emory basically everything else so far, so this super goes to the Hamsters. Amherst 6-4, 3-6, 10-7
#6 Singles: Burney (Amherst) vs Goodman (Emory)
AS: I’m not totally sold that Goodman is going to play here, he may be able to get a bit of a reprieve since Emory has three or four guys that can step in here. If it is Goodman, Emory has the advantage in experience and I am a big fan of that. If it isn’t, then this one becomes a tossup. Let’s say Goodman doesn’t play for kicks and give this one to Herst as well. Amherst 4-6, 6-3, 10-5
NE: I slotted Goodman in as Emory’s #6 just because that has been most common so far this year, but this could be a variety of guys from either team taking the court. Burney definitely gives Herst the best chance to win, and I’ll take the freshman here. Amherst, 6-2, 6-3
AS: Going into this, I was thinking this would be a very close match due to the power rankings of both teams. However, I think after doing the analysis, the top 4 teams look to be in an upper tier compared to the 5-10 teams. Amherst right now, slots at a 5-10 projection. That could change as Amherst has a lot of talent they can develop. Right now, however, I don’t see how you could choose against Emory here. You almost never catch Emory on a bad day – you have to go out and beat them. A team of freshmen can’t do that at this stage in the game, in my opinion. If Amherst keeps this close, that’s a win for them.