I’m really not sure how Skidmore managed to keep a ranking based on last year’s results. All they had was a pair of victories over Vassar. Don’t get me wrong, Vassar is a good team, and Skidmore certainly is one of the 30 best teams in the country, but they probably don’t deserve the ranking based solely on their results. The Thoroughbreds have put together consecutive solid recruiting classes now, but the results haven’t come yet. This year could be the year they make a leap, but a lot depends on how they recover from the loss of the heart of their lineup (their 3 and 4 singles players). Luckily for them, they’ve brought in capable replacements in Hoblitzell and Ransom, so look for them to be better than they were last year.
Where They’ll Win
Skidmore had good depth and a really strong #3 doubles team last year. I’m always suspicious of teams that consistently win at #3 doubles but not 1 and 2, but Skidmore probably just had three pretty even doubles teams. With regard to depth, they will probably be strong there again this year. Even though they lost the heart of their lineup, they had some pretty good players on their bench, and their new freshmen will definitely bolster the bottom of their lineup. I think Skidmore has the depth of a top 20 team, but they definitely had a hard time winning at the top of the singles ladder last year.
Where They’ll Lose
Speaking of which, the Thoroughbreds return their top two singles players from last year, but they will have to play better this year if Skidmore wants to move up in the rankings. Loutsenko had a good Fall, and he’s in the #1 spot now. A lot of Skidmore’s success will depend on his play. He still probably isn’t good enough to compete with the top players from the best teams, but Skidmore will be in good shape if he can beat a Guzick. Other than that, Skidmore had a little difficulty at #1 doubles last year, and they will need to shore that up, as well.
Skidmore plays Vassar in a couple of days, and that is probably the most important regular season match for them. If they can’t beat Vassar, they won’t go to NCAAs, so I’ll be paying particular attention to that box score. Other than that, Skidmore basically plays the entire top 10, and I have to wonder about that scheduling because they have very little chance of beating any of those teams. At best, they pick off a team who is unexpectedly weak this year, and they are well-prepared for their conference championship match against Vassar. At worst, they lose every match and become despirited.
I don’t think the Thoroughbreds will actually win any of those matches against top 10 teams, but they probably have a better team than Vassar. If the Guzicks can somehow will that team to victory this year, it will be a testament to their ability, but Vassar has half a team, and I think Skidmore will beat them with their depth.