Coach: Nathan Simms, 8th season
Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
2009 Ranking: 21
2010 Ranking: NR
2011 Ranking: 30
2012 Ranking: 22
2013 Projection: 24
Skidmore has developed a reputation for underachieving over the last couple years, but I don’t think it’s necessarily deserved. Last year, they started off their season by dominating Vassar and New York before stunning Trinity (TX). They proceeded to lose badly to Wash U, for which they were judged overly harshly because of Wash U’s ranking at the time. They never got another big win (or even came close) after that, but they also never suffered a bad loss. The previous year was similar, except they didn’t actually pull off the upset over Bowdoin at the beginning of the year. Judging by their last three years and their lineup, the Thoroughbreds will be moving up either this or next year. They’re returning five out of six singles starters, have 0 seniors on their roster, and brought in a Canadian who could be good and an underrated 2-star. Overall, I would say their whole roster could use another year of experience, but, for parity’s sake, I’m hoping they prove me wrong.
The only player the Thoroughbreds graduated was #3 singles and doubles player Luke Granger. That means they return a solid #1 singles player (Loutsenko), a decent #2 player (Sherpa), and serviceable #1 (Sherpa/Hobitzell) and #2 doubles (Knight/Loutsenko) teams. If they want to make the leap into the top 15, however, they will need improvements from everyone. Loutsenko was very good last year, and is off to a great start this year, but he was far from being a reliable source of points at #1 singles. Sherpa was very up and down (mostly down), and perhaps won’t have the benefit of a semester of training if he’s abroad. He could end up playing behind Ransom, who has already notched a nice victory at #2 singles this year in a win over Trinity (CT). Hobitzell is probably their best doubles player, and it will be interesting to see if he reunites with Sherpa in the spring. Since their lineup will most likely include five of the same players, their relative success this year will depend entirely on their development this fall. If they have a weak spot, it’s #3 doubles, but I would say that they’re pretty strong all-around, despite not having any overwhelmingly strong positions. Their performance in the Fall ITA wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring, but they will be deep, and they will be dangerous.
Somehow,this slipped my notice. It seems like it was a great match, but I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad sign for the Thoroughbreds. On the one hand, they have a win over a top 25 team. On the other, Trinity (CT) was vastly overrated last year, and Skidmore needed two 7-5 third sets to win. At least the victory will give them some positive momentum in the off season (and Trinity could be better this year with two freshmen in the lineup). Other than that little ditty, they start their season with the usual matches against Vassar and NYU. After having a decent rivalry for a couple years, it appears the Thoroughbreds have seized control of that conference, but the match against Vassar will be one to keep an eye on. Then, they head to California. I’m of the opinion that Cal Lu will be vulnerable this year, but the Kingsmen match up well against Skidmore, and it will be their first match in warm weather.
Then, they have the Stag-Hen. (The field is Emory, Kenyon, CMS, Bowdoin, P-P, Case, Skidmore, Swarthmore). After getting destroyed by Kenyon in the first round, they will most likely play Case. After their California trip, they have almost no legitimate chance to move up in the rankings, so this is their most important match of the season. (They have matches against Amherst, Williams, and Middlebury, but we saw how that worked out for them last year). Skidmore is outside the top 20 and improving. Case is inside the top 20 and improving. This could be a swing match for both seasons. Not only is the match intrinsically important, but if they win, they have a golden opportunity against either Bowdoin or P-P. If they lose, they have a trap match against Swat. After that, they have to make sure they take care of business in their conference and hope for a good draw in the NCAAs.
I’m thinking they beat either Cal Lu or Case to maintain a ranking around 20, but, unless they get a good matchup at NCAAs, I don’t think their schedule gives them a lot of upward mobility, and, frankly, I don’t think they have a top 15 team this year.