NE Tuesday Recap

#29 (ITA-34) Brandeis def. #17 (ITA-22) MIT 7-2

How it happened: 

Somehow this was oddly prophetic and bulletin board material at the same time. Good on D3AS for his method, but after a Brandeis doubles sweep the Judges did more than take a couple of random positions. A sweep only barely scratches the surface, as Deis ROLLED through doubles, 8-4, 8-5, and 8-4. Playing on four courts, MIT took three 1st sets and it looked for a while like we were in for a barnburner, but even after Barr and Ko took 1&4 in straight sets, Deis pulled ahead in both 3rd sets at #’s 2&3. Senior Brian Granoff rolled to a 6-0 3rd set win over Cauneac to put the Judges on the brink of the upset, but Cheng fought back at #3 and forced a 3rd set breaker. Senior Mikey Arguello brought the goods in the breaker and Deis clinched. After the clinch, some nice work from the bottom of the Judges’ lineup made the final score 7-2, even though the overall match was closer than that score.

What it means: Here’s where things get a little tricky. This was a big win, undoubtedly Brandeis’ best win of the year, but in terms of what exactly it means, the best I can give you is a huge confidence boost. I don’t mean to undersell that, it can make worlds of difference for Deis moving forward, but Deis is not going to get a Pool-C spot and MIT is beyond a favorite to win the NEWMAC and earn a Pool-A spot. No part of yesterday’s results changes any of that. This loss could affect MIT’s seeding at NCAAs, but given the perennial lack of credible #3 seeds in the NE regions of NCAAs my guess is they won’t be hurt too badly. However, today or tomorrow the Judges will travel to Sanlando for UAAs (look for some ridiculously dope previews to come later today/this week), and they will have tough matchups the entire way. Their most likely path is Wash U, NYU, Case/Rochester. Most of the Blog expects Deis to take care of NYU this time around if they get that matchup, but now there might be higher expectations from those located outside of Waltham, Mass. I don’t want to infringe on preview territory, but a hot Deis team would make a very intriguing matchup for Case in a hypothetical 5th place match.

Special Kudos to: The Brandeis seniors. Bunis/Arguello teamed up at #1 doubles to take down the formidable duo of Cauneac/Lilley, and Granoff got in on the fun with an 8-4 win of his own (technically he was paired with Kogan) at #3 dubs. In singles, Granoff and Arguello earned the often hard to find 4th and 5th points with 3-set wins over younger and probably more “talented” players. Their development and grittiness is a testament both to their work ethic and Coach Lamanna. They have had their issues, but Deis will live and die by this senior group for the rest of their careers.

What’s next: As I mentioned, Deis is headed to UAAs this weekend where they will be the #7 seed and take on Wash U on Friday. MIT plays RPI this Friday, then heads up to Maine to play at Bowdoin on Sunday. The NEWMAC conference tournament is scheduled for the following weekend.

#6 (ITA-13) Amherst def. #22 (ITA-28) Bates 6-3

How it happened: The score itself isn’t totally surprising here, but the way the match played out was. Herst took a 2-1 lead in three relatively close doubles matches, including a big win at #1 doubles for the #5 ranked team in the region against the #8 ranked team in the region. That part wasn’t all that surprising, but the beginning of singles was. Bates took three 1st sets, including quick sets at #2 and #4. Granted, Marchalik and Zykov were out of the singles lineup, but even knowing the lineups I would’ve told you that Amherst was still favored at #2-6 singles, perhaps with the exception of #5 being a push. At one point in the match, it was 2-2 (Schwartz beating Burney at #4 was the first match to finish), there was a split at #1 and #2, Bates was up a set at #5, and up in the 2nd set at #3 (although down the 1st). For a brief moment, it looked like we could be in for a possible upset of the year. Kaplan earned Amherst’s 3rd point with a win at #6, then Fung made quick work of his 2nd and 3rd sets, dropping two games total, and put Amherst within reach. Shortly after that, Owens took a 2nd set breaker from Quijano and Amherst clinched. Rosen came back to beat Bessette (also important for the individual rankings as they were #6 and #8 respectively), and Levitin beat Ordway in a super for a 6-3 final that was, at least for a minute, way closer than the score.

What it means: Given that Amherst came out on top, you could easily take the position that this means nothing looking ahead. Amherst is still in the same position they were before, in control of their Pool-C destiny, but still lacking the big win. Bates is still looking for their season-defining win, and hoping to make NESCACs (which will likely come down to a battle with Tufts on Thursday). However, if you were trying to make news, you could certainly put a different spin on this. For Amherst, they may not be a SURE thing to make Pool-C. They have played well against the best teams, but have also played down a little bit to some mid-ranked teams. If they are not fully healthy for their MAMMOTH-SIZED battle with Wesleyan on Saturday, they will be in trouble, and then would HAVE to beat Williams in order to feel ok about their postseason fate. For Bates, even though they have had a somewhat rough season, they appear to be peaking at the right time. While they will probably be underdogs at Tufts on Thursday, don’t underestimate this team for that match, or when they host rival Bowdoin and Wesleyan to close the regular season next week.

Special Kudos to: Jayson Fung and Nathan Kaplan. In the never-ending game of which Amherst freshman will step up in this match, yesterday we saw two answers. Fung has been great all year, but he got a good win at #1 dubs (with Bessette) and a crucial come-from-behind win at #2 singles against Ellis. Kaplan has not been a starter for most of this year, but he’s been playing #3 dubs recently, and yesterday also stepped in at #6 and earned two BIG points for the Mammoths. Adam Schwartz also deserves credit in a losing effort, putting two of Bates’ three points on the board with wins at #2 dubs (with Ordway) and a straight-set win over Burney at #4.

What’s next: Both teams have major action in the coming days (as all NESCAC teams do this time of year). Amherst is likely doing something close to split squadding this weekend, with home matches against Wheaton and Wesleyan on Saturday, and Hamilton and Skidmore on Sunday. The biggest match of the weekend by far is the Wesleyan match, as a win for the Mammoths would put them where we think they belong, on the right side of the Pool-C bubble and back in the ITA Top-10. For Bates, the biggest match of their season is Thursday (I’ll try to get a preview up for this match), when the Bobcats travel to Tufts. The winner is sitting pretty in the race for the #6 spot at NESCACs, and the loser is, barring some crazy upset, more than likely out of the postseason.

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