Overall, Saturday presented us with a pretty good set of matches and a lot more information on a few of the teams, particularly in my region. I’ll break down each match below and add my thoughts.
Case def. North Carolina Wesleyan, 6-3
A really solid win for Case in this match, which proved to be a lot more competitive than I had originally expected. Turns out that NCW has 4 new internationals that I’ve never seen in the singles lineup, which obviously isn’t a huge surprise. Unfortunately for them, these guys definitely do not seem as skilled as any of the previous teams, and it really showed in this match. Kjellberg had a great day, presumably being the deciding factor at 1 doubles, notching the Bishops only point there. Add that to a smackdown of a solid player in Drougas and he proved again today that he’s one of the best players in the nation. My takeaway from doubles is that Case really missed Gerber in this match (not sure why, if anyone could comment that’d be great!). Gerber would presumably play 1 doubles, and make every one of Case’s teams stronger. However, they were able to sneak out the 2 and 3 doubles wins by being the more well-rounded doubles team. In singles, it was really what I expected. Kjellberg and Prostak were able to take advantage of the top of the Spartans lineup, but they are good players in their own right. Case proved they have the depth by taking all of 3-6 singles, and this is what will make them a tough team to beat for anyone. Good doubles and a deep team are a recipe for success.
Case defeats Mary Washington, 7-2
Tough, tough match for Wash here. I saw they were up a break at 3 doubles 4-1, and if they hold that match, anything could have happened. The match was really over once Wash went down 2-1 after doubles, considering doubles seems to be the Eagles strength this year. Tough tiebreaker at 1 doubles as well and a really good showing from the 2 doubles team today of Carey/Nguyen. Moving into singles, Case really dominated throughout, only giving up one match to the Eagles in singles. One thing Case may have to worry about without Gerber is the middle of their lineup. Klawitter is a fighter and definitely a solid player, but I think 3 singles may be tough for him against the best teams, and he lost in straights to Evan Charles today. Their freshman Krimbill notched a nice win against Carey, but I really wanted to see him get a win over Prostak before I say he’s a top #2 or #3. We shall see about him moving forward but the good news is that he got the job done today. This match wasn’t that close after doubles in my opinion, and Wash really needs to work on their singles if they want to make any type of dent.
CMU defeats Haverford, 6-3
Wow, what a surprise I got when I saw CMU down 3-0 after doubles. Haverford does pride themselves on their doubles, and it’s really a nightmare to play on their indoor courts, but a projected top 10 team does not get 0 points in doubles against Haverford, whether they are playing at the National Tennis Center or some rundown courts in the middle of nowhere. This was a really disappointing start to CMU’s spring season. However, they did prove again that they can bring the heat in singles. A total sweep of any solid team in singles is something to be impressed about. The bottom of the lineup destroyed the Haverford bottom, not losing a set at 3-6, and I’m pretty sure none of these matches were sort of close. Also, a big win for CMU #1 Christian Heaney-Secord over Caulfield. Caulfield, as you will remember, took out Hwang and made the finals of the Atlantic South ITA Regional, and is known to be one of the best fighters out on the court. A really gritty 7-6, 7-6 win for CMU #1. Overall, giving up one set to a solid team in singles is a feat that is worth noting. We know that singles will be there for the Tartans, but the doubles will be the difference between a true national championship contender and a team that people are simply scared of.
Mary Wash and NCW take out Vassar
The real stories of these matches against Vassar are how your 1 singles and doubles players perform against Guzick. And wow, was it a great battle in both matches. Guzick came out on top against Mary Wash at both 1 doubles and 1 singles, shifting this match from a blowout to a tightly contested match that could have changed had Vassar won all 3 doubles. I got called out on Twitter for saying Blahkin needs to find his game today, and I stand by that. I know Blahkin to be a hard-worker and someone that will work to improve, but to me this isn’t a great start for him, especially after the afternoon loss to Drougas. He really holds the key to Mary Wash’s season, and if he can continue the rise that he saw at the end of last year I can see him as a top #1. But you gotta get there first before you get the creds. And winning gets you that. I don’t mean any disrespect at all, please understand.
Moving to the next match, Kjellberg pulled out another one against a good player in Guzick. I’ve heard it was a great match, and I wouldn’t have expected anything less. Both these guys will be at nationals at the end of the year. It’s too bad the rest of the Vassar team still needs improvement, because they have a legit threat at #1 considering Guzick went 3 with the #2 player in the country right now.
Overall, Case looks to be a top 15 team moving forward, and CMU is still up in the air on their season. Case looks to be more consistent, but CMU has that wow potential that could propel them higher. In terms of North Carolina Wesleyan, it’s great that they filled out their lineup, but they just are limited in talent. Look for that #20 prediction to come true. Mary Washington looks to be around that 23-26 range, with that conference championship in hand. Looking forward to the end of the weekend!