Depauw sort of flew under the radar last year. They played a strong schedule, and had some good wins (CMU and Rhodes), but they somehow didn’t garner much attention. Hopefully, the Tigers can make some waves this year, as they return 5 out of 6 players, and bring in a solid recruiting class. The story for Depauw this year is their switch from the SCAC to the NCAC. That probably saves their athletic department a lot of money in travel expenses, but in tennis terms, it just means that Depauw has gone from being Trinity’s little brother to being Kenyon’s little brother. Still, the Tigers have the ability to win both to win the conference or to make the tournament through Pool C.
Where They’ll Win
Outside of their match against Denison, Depauw played really solid doubles last year. They swept Chicago, and took two out of three against Rhodes, CMU, Luther, and Gustavus. They also played Emory, Trinity, and Wash U extremely close in doubles, and it was probably their inability to take #1 doubles against Trinity that cost them the conference tournament. Look for doubles to be strong for them again, as they have the option to keep two of their doubles team, and their #1 singles player from last year, Rardon, could make a good doubles team with anyone. Unfortunately, their three doubles teams were the only positions that produced consistently for them, and they had trouble finding wins across their singles lineup.
Where They’ll Lose
Though the Tigers’ singles lineup was somewhat inconsistent overall last year, their depth was particularly problematic. They lost 5 and 6 in almost all of their matches against ranked teams last year (neither the 5 or 6 finished in their match against CMU). They graduated Schouweiler, who was rock solid for them last year, and might have brought in one start-ready freshman. Their ability to win deep in the lineup will probably depend on how the returning bench players have developed. I’m sure some of their players have improved a lot, but I don’t think Depauw is as deep as any of the teams in the top 15, which is what could hold them back from winning conference or Pool C.
The Tigers start their D3 season in two weekend when they play Case, followed by CMU and Luther the following weekend. The other big matches on their schedule are Wisconsin-Whitewater, Emory, Wash U, and a potential conference championship match with Kenyon. I have to say that this schedule doesn’t give them much of a chance to make Pool C. The only teams they play that are ranked ahead of them are Emory, Wash U, and maybe Kenyon. They have basically no chance to beat either Emory or Wash U, and if they beat Kenyon, they will make Pool A anyways. And that’s all that I have to say about that.
Like last year, Depauw’s whole season is basically going to be decided by one match against Kenyon that will decide whether or not the will make the tournament. I predict that they’ll get a couple wins against ranked teams like Case and Denison, but I think they will get upset by either CMU or W-W. I think they will come really close against Kenyon, but in the end, I think they’ll lose either 5-4 or 6-3 and finish the year in the 18-22 range.