Obviously, Indoors is the biggest show in town this weekend, but there are some other important matches going on, which deserve some attention. After today’s match against UCSC, Bates continues its early Spring Break against the California elite. Case looks to consolidate its strong UMW weekend against Depauw and Whitewater. Wash U starts its promising season with a big UAA test, while Depauw sets out to prove it belongs back in the top 20. Let’s get to it:
#20 Washington and Lee @ #1 Emory
Let’s be real, the Generals have absolutely no shot in this one. At least this match offers an opportunity to look at the defending national champs’ lineup before Indoors, while simultaneous seeing which Washington and Lee squad we’ll see this year. Emory 9-0.
#15 Bates @ #10 Pomona-Pitzer
This could be a very interesting matchup. We don’t really know where Pomona-Pitzer will be strong or weak this year, but we know exactly where Bates is strong. I’m guessing Bates take #1 doubles and two of the top 3 singles. Weichert is going to be hard to beat on his home courts where he can slow down Bates’ big hitters. If Planche is improved this year, this match could get very interesting, and the Sage Hens have shown that they are sometimes ripe for early-season upsets (see: Cal Lu, 2010 and 2012). Either way, I’m guessing P-P dominates the bottom of the singles lineup and that propels them to a 5-4 victory.
#17 Case Western vs. #28 Depauw
Case Western is coming off a very successful weekend in Fredericksburg, but they didn’t exactly do anything they weren’t expected to be able to do. They have to avoid a letdown this weekend, especially with the Sunday matchup with Wash U lurking. Last year, the Spartans followed up a big win over Mary Washington with a loss to Washington & Lee, so we know they sometimes let down. I really have no idea where Depauw is going to be good this year, but I think they’ll be better than last year. Depauw needs this win to put themselves in the Pool C pictures, as their only other opportunities are against Redlands and UC Santa Cruz. Nonetheless, I’m predicting a 7-2 victory for Case before a potentially bigger upset bid by Whitewater.
#4 Wash U vs. #28 Depauw
Wash U is loaded with seniors. Depauw is loaded with question marks. The Case match will be a better indicator of where Depauw is this season, but at least we’ll get a look at Wash U’s lineup. 8-1 Bears.
#15 Bates vs. #5 CMS
On paper, this appears to be a serious mismatch. Bates’ top 3 can hang with the Stags, but even if they take all three and #1 doubles (like winning four consecutive coin flips in my book), they still only come away with a 5-4 loss. More importantly, we get to find out where Wood and Dorn sit in relation to each other, whether or not Kotrappa and Lane are actually in the lineup this year. Are the other sophomores Bernhardt and Marino healthy and playing well? One match can’t answer all of those questions, but it will provide a good starting point. I’m going to predict the most likely scenario, a repeat of CMS’ 7-2 win last year.
#17 Case Western vs. #29 Wisconsin-Whitewater
The Spartans hold the higher ranking and have a few good wins under their belt, but they shouldn’t underestimate the Warhawks in this match. The Wisconsin crew has already shown that they are for real this year. In their 7-2 loss to Kenyon, they lost #2 doubles in a tiebreaker, lost another match in a 10-pointer, and one more 7-5 in the 3rd. They also beat one of the deepest teams in the country at 5 and 6 singles in straight sets. This match should be a barnburner, and doubles will be absolutely essential. If Case is up 2-1 after doubles, I think they “comfortably” win 5-4 or 6-3. They almost definitely have the edge at 1, 2, and 3 singles. If Whitewater can take a 2-1 lead, this match will go down to the wire. I still think Case will come away with a 5-4 victory because they can basically kiss their Pool C hopes goodbye with a loss, but it should be a very good match.
#29 Wisconsin-Whitewater vs. #28 Depauw
Depauw beat Whitewater last year, but I think this year will be a different story. Depauw is improved, but perhaps not more than just the natural inflation-like improvement of Division III tennis as a whole. Whitewater took a leap forward this year. They might take a similar leap back next year, but they are stacked this year, and I think they beat the Tigers 6-3 in this one.
(Editor’s Note: It turns out this match is being played on the same day as the Whitewater:Case match. If Whitewater is tired and Depauw is better than I think they are, the Tigers had a chance, but I’m not gonna change my prediction.)
#4 Wash U vs. #17 Case Western
This is probably the most intriguing non-Indoors match of the weekend. Whoever wins this match will have the inside track for a Pool C spot. Obviously, Wash U is the heavy favorite. They return the singles lineup that swept through Case without dropping a set last year. If you look at the singles box score, it hardly even looks like a match between ranked teams. If you look at the doubles box score, however, it’s another story. Case actually swept the Bears last year and brought Wash U’s season to the brink of annihilation. Wash U struggled with doubles all of last year, but they got off to a better start against Drury this year. Neither Haywood or Parhizer were in the lineup for Wash U’s 5-4 loss to Drury, but the Bears should be way deeper than Case with or without them. Case is good, but I’ll take Wash U to the tune of a 7-2 win with one victory in both singles and doubles for the Spartans.