Location: Hartford, CT
2009 Ranking: 19
2010 Ranking: 14
2011 Ranking: 18
2012 Ranking: 24
2013 Projected Ranking: 30
At long last, the final season preview of the year is here. Apologies to the Bantams for taking so long to get this out, but Asaiante is screaming at your SID for being literally the only team in the top 30 without a published schedule.
Anyways, Trinity has to be the most overrated team in the top 30. I’m not saying they aren’t good, but what about their season last year justifies the #24 ranking? They won one match against Kalamazoo and almost lost to Brandeis. Until last year, the Bantams were a very good team that usually competed for the 4 spot in the NESCAC. They were worse than Bowdoin for the most part, but on the right day, they could beat the Polar Bears. Last year, they weren’t even close. They got absolutely wrecked by Bowdoin, Williams, and Amherst, and their 6-3 scoreline against Bates belies how one-sided that match really was.
Though last season was sub-par for the Bants, things could go from bad to worse. Their losing by far their best playing in Anson McCook. When Trinity won matches against the NESCAC elite, it was McCook in singles and McCook and Mandel in doubles. They won’t have that this year. The ray of hope for them is another solid recruiting class. Their 2011 recruiting class of Mandel, Carpenter, Mbithi, and Levin are maturing, while they will get production from freshmen like Traff and Segel. A close fall loss to Skidmore is a promising sign for the Bantams, but there’s no telling what Trinity will do this year.
Because they played a match in the Fall, there’s really not a whole lot of guesswork to do with their lineup. Against Skidmore, Mandel played #1 where he took Loutsenko to 3 sets. Freshman Ford Traff also lost in 3-sets at #2, and sophomore Ilya Levin picked up the win at #3. Musyoka Mbithi, another sophomore, fell in a close one at #4, while senior Jugal Marfatia won at #5. Freshman Aaron Segel fell 7-5 in the 3rd to round out their lineup. All told, 5/6 of their singles players were either freshmen or sophomores, so the future certainly looks bright for the Bants (just not this season).
A couple wrinkles in their lineup that we didn’t see in the fall. Marfatia is not currently on the Trinity roster, so they might have to go without him. On the bright side, last year’s #2 singles player Kayong Lee appears to be back from a semester abroad. Lee was a capable player last year, though he tended to get shellacked against better competition. I would expect him to fit in somewhere around #3 or 4 (especially if he was abroad) to bump some of the less experienced players lower in the lineup. The grinder Marfatia is pretty much a lock near the bottom of the lineup, so that would be a tough loss for Trinity to swallow. Hopefully he’s still around.
The Bantams had some doubles success against Skimore. Mandel/Levin won at #2 and Segel/Marfatia won at #3. That being said, I would be pretty stunned if they didn’t mix up their doubles combos with Lee back. We’ll just have to wait to see in their first match of the season. Unfortunately, we’ll be waiting a while.
The Trinity (CT) schedule hasn’t been published, so you’ll just have to read this one closely, and take my word for it.
As usual, Trinity starts their season on Spring Break in California. Their first match is against Hardin Simmons on March 18th. That will be a perfect warm up match for them. The next day, however, they play Bowdoin, who should handle them pretty easily. On the 20th, the Bantams take on Cal Lu who issued one of the biggest ass-kickings between ranked teams I’ve ever seen last time. Trinity will definitely be closer this year, but the only way they win is if Ballou is out, and even that’s a stretch. They finish with Babson and Occidental. I certainly hope they can win those matches.
Their first two weeks back they play TCNJ and Connecticut College. On April 7th, they go on the road to play Middlebury. The Panthers will dominate that one. On the 10th, however, they play Wesleyan, which is an intriguing matchup. The Cardinals are much improved, but I don’t think they’re ready to beat Trinity. They have a rematch with Brandeis on the 14th, and we shouldn’t be talking about them if they can’t win that match. Perhaps their biggest regular season match of the year is on the 16th against Tufts. The Jumbos will be looking to get into the national rankings this year, and that will probably be their best chance. I still think Trinity will be too tough for them, but not for the NESCAC elite.
They finish their season with road matches against Amherst (April 20th), Williams (April 24th), and Bates (April 27th) before hopefully heading to the NESCAC championships. All in all, Trinity has already shown that it can beat a top 20 team in their loss to Skidmore. Unfortunately, they haven’t given themselves enough chances to do so. Their best chance would be against a Ballou-less Cal Lu, but, other than that, every team they play is either top-10 calibre or outside the top 30. As a team fighting to get back into the top 20, it’s not the best schedule for them. With a better schedule, I think they could finish this season around 22 in the country, but they’ll probably end up between 26-30 with the schedule they have.
This might not be their year, but with 5 starters being underclassmen, look for them to improve in the coming years.