General Team Discussion
OK, where to start with these guys. Well, they’re good. Really good. They won the national championship, and they returned everyone. Not only that, but they have a HUGE roster, which means the younger guys will be fighting the returning starters for the starting spots. Also, Garner is too good of a coach to let this team get complacent. Who knows where everybody will stack up this year, but former #1 Austin Chafetz lead the team to the championship match two years in a row, and he played #3 last year. Last year’s #4, Joey Fritz, won the Northeast ITA Regional tournament (in large part because the top 3 were missing). That’s absurd, and it says a lot about how good the team is. To the rest of the nation: good luck.
Where They’ll Win
This team has the deadly combination of stars at the top and depth at the bottom. This is in no way a knock on Rattenhuber and Kahan, but I think they’re best spots are 3-6. A couple D3 teams have some studs at the top of the lineup, so it is at least within the realm of possibility that a team like Emory could take #1 and #2, but I think numbers 3 through 6 are basically untouchable. Of course, every player has a bad day every now and then, but if you want to pull of an upset in college tennis, you have to pull of upsets in five individual matches on the same day. Once again: good luck.
Where They’ll Lose
The short answer to this question is “nowhere,” but we need something to talk about. I think it’s general knowledge that if an upset is going to happen in division 3, it’s going to be because of doubles. Amherst is in no way vulnerable in doubles, but Cal Lutheran showed us a couple years ago what can happen when a whole team gets hot in doubles. Just about the only way I can see this team losing is if some team comes out fired up in dubs, and manages to sweep them before they have a time to recover. If that team is Emory, then they can hope to get the top two spots for the win. If that team is Claremont, they will have to hope to pick off some wins throughout the lineup, because I think CMS is just about the only team that can dance with these guys from top to bottom.
Just about the only interesting thing about Amherst’s schedules is the fact that they start late. I’m excited to see their regular season match with CMS because I think it will be a preview of the national championship. I’m also interested to see how their match(es) with Middlebury will play out, but that’s more because I’m interested to see what Hansen does with those East Coasters (if that’s a word). Of course, the match(es) with Williams are also very important. Together, these three opponents will be the measuring stick for just how much Amherst is going to dominate the rest of the country this year. If they come out of the gates hot and throttle CMS, look out. Oh yeah, they’ve also got two 5-star commits for next year. Good for you, Amherst.