State of the Region Address: Central

Alright gentleman, the first set of regional rankings come out this week on Thursday I believe so we are all giving it our best shot at predicting where each team will end up as well as picking individuals. There are still a lot of matches to be played, but for now this will be an early look at what players might have a shot at getting in to the national tournament. Within the next couple of weeks there are a lot of big in region matches that will determine some positioning here. The top 7 teams were very easy to pick as they all have direct wins over one another. UPDATE! Everything now is a mess. Whitewater just lost to Depauw minutes ago and that screws most of everything after the top four up. This state of the region is going to look a lot differently than the ITA rankings that will come out in the next 48 hours, but that is because they don’t have the most recent results of Whitewater. Humphreys also will take a big hit.

Teams:

1. Wash U: Wash U obviously is the top team in the region with the Indoor Nationals win. They got trounced by CMS in California, but that has no bearing on regional rankings.

2. Case Western: Case Western’s direct win over Kenyon gets them at the 2 spot. I wouldn’t be shocked to see these teams run up against one another again at Nationals, but right now Case has to prepare for a match up with Wash U as well as the crazy tough UAA tournament.

3. Kenyon: I am not terribly surprised this team has fallen a bit. You look at who they lost and how they weren’t replaced with stud freshman and a small pull back was eminent. They are still a top caliber team, but are showing a bit of weakness in the middle of the lineup.

4. Gustavus Adolphus: Gustavus has proven that they still are a dangerous team with the close results they had at Stag-Hen. They have an interesting trip coming up out East where they will take on MIT, Tufts, Middlebury, and Amherst in match-ups you rarely see happen in April.

5. Yes Chicago lost to Whitewater 5-4, but that seems like ages ago (It was only a month ago). Chicago has wins over Denison (5-4) and Depauw (7-2) that put them ahead of Whitewater now with their comfortable loss to Depauw. They’ve got a ton of in region matches left to play with Kzoo, Case, Coe, Wash U, and Wheaton still on the schedule.

6. Dension: Dension has shown that they might be a bit under the radar this year. I didn’t give them much credit for the close loss to Chicago, but recent matches with Kzoo (win 7-2), Tufts (loss 6-3), Trinity Ct (win 5-4), and Bowdoin (loss 5-4). The usual Denison formula of great doubles and depth is back.

7. I originally had Depauw at 9 because there wasn’t much to go on except for their loss to Chicago which was a bit closer in singles than the (7-2) score may indicate. Their win today against Whitewater was huge. Another blue collar team that has no business beating a nationally ranked squad surprises the Warhawks.

8. Whitewater: Well they were an easy choice for the 5 spot and that is where they will be with the rankings that will be released. But with the newest results just in, Whitewater is in trouble. They usually are strong in doubles and Humphreys has had a drop in form so I have to put them down further than they probably deserve. They better pick up their play soon or else they will be a forgotten team on the national spotlight. I am probably being a little harsh dropping them this far, but right now, this is what they deserve. This ranking reflects a “what have you done for me lately” mentality and the answer is, not a whole lot.

9. Coe: Just recently lost 7-2 to GAC in a match that wasn’t close at all. Sprinkel basically is carrying this team, but I still think they are a good enough team to be in the top 10 of the region. Coe/Earlham/Kzoo are all pretty evenly matched and unfortunately I don’t think any of them play each other this season.

10. Earlham: Earlham hasn’t played anyone close to them to verify what level they are at. They lost 7-2 to both Whitewater and UT-Tyler so clearly they can play with some of the big boys. Doubles and depth are issues and they have Denison on Saturday which is where they are strong. I think Denison easily avenges last season’s loss to the Quakers.

11. Kalamazoo: Easy loss to Whitewater and easy win over Luther lands them right in the middle. Just lost to out-of-region opponent Haverford yesterday which is not a good result.

12. Grinnell: This team is going to get rewarded since they have already won 23 matches this season. They have a big enough roster to play a lot of split squad matches and it is hard to look past 23 wins. I think they may fall before the year is over, but for now, kudos to them for a solid record.

13. Wheaton: Wheaton took out a usually strong region opponent in Luther 5-4 so the big jump in the rankings puts them here. They have an All-American 1 dubs team and 1 singles player so an almost guaranteed 2 points every match helps any day of the week.

14. Luther: Had a close loss to Wheaton bumps them back a bit, but they just beat Elmhurst this morning (how’s that for updates) so it keeps them in the middle of the pack.

15. Allegheny/Elmhurst/Carthage/Carleton/Etc: Pick any that you like. 15-25 in the Central is a dead even race.

And now I will attempt to discuss the individual rankings. I have to decide between what the rankings will probably look like or what I believe they should be. Historically, the committee has put a big emphasis on playing #1 singles and I think that is going to hurt some of the guys chances at making nationals (Raz and Carswell). However, hopefully it will all be made right in the end, but at this time I don’t feel like Raz has the in region resume to make the top 8. In fact, I am not even going to include him on this list. He currently has ZERO in region wins as he sat out against Chicago and Whitewater. Yes he has some big out of region wins, but those mean virtually nothing when it comes to this list. Is he a player that should be going to nationals? Yes! Will he? No!  Carswell should definitely be in, but Follmer doesn’t like having a freshman at the top of the lineup. To think that right now Wash U probably won’t have a player in nationals is crazy, but with the current in region results, that is how it shakes out. So I will go with how the rankings will likely look and not my own “power” rankings. I left the Humphreys result off of these rankings as it really does change a lot.

1. Chris Krimball Case Western: Krimball is the clear top choice. He has played 1 all year long and has some solid wins although most are out of region. He will have a big match when they play Wash U later on this spring if he wants to keep the top spot, but Krimball is a lock for nationals.

2. Wade Heerboth Kenyon: Played mostly at 1, but moonlights at 2 when the Lords decide to play Raz. The shuffling of who played 1 at Whitewater and Chicago doesn’t give direct wins over Humphreys or Kranz (Heerboth won at 1 against Sabada and Shklar), but no one would argue that Heerboth is #2 on this list. He is a lock for nationals.

3. Jake Humphreys Whitewater: The biggest thing he has going against him is Shklyar started at 1 early in the season. The biggest thing he has going for him is he is (WAS!) undefeated against D-3 in region opponents and also won his fall ITA. Unless he were to fall apart, he will be a lock as well. UPDATE: Humphreys just lost to out-of region Reid from Colby, but that shouldn’t have much of an impact on this. I am leaving him at 3 even though he will fall a long way. He only has wins over Bush, Geier, Metzler, and Kranz and now a loss to Miles from Depauw (who lost to Bhargava from Chicago at 2 singles).

4. Sven Kranz Chicago: Now playing 1 for Chicago, has a direct loss to Humphreys and a direct win over Smith-Dennis. I don’t necessarily think he is the 4th best player in the region, but his win over Smith-Dennis gets him here. Probably will fall with Humphreys’ loss hurting his stock as well.

5. Ryan Kreis Wheaton: Kreis is riding his last year’s results to get him up this high. His only win is over Shklyar from Whitewater who was playing 1 at the time. But because it was a win over the number 1 at the time, there isn’t much you can do. He doesn’t have a terribly difficult schedule left other than a match-up against Kranz which I believe he will win.

6. Noah Sprinkel Coe: Just registered a win over Smith-Dennis this past weekend which legitimizes his spot. He has a tough schedule coming up, but the good news is he will be the underdog in all of them (Case, Whitewater, Chicago, Wash U) so losses won’t move him down much.

7. Jack Michael Carroll. This kid hasn’t played enough this spring to really have an idea of where he should be. He is riding a strong fall ITA and his only loss this spring is to Kreis who is above him. The lack of opponents on his schedule are probably going to knock him out of the running unless he is able to take out Humphreys which I don’t see happening. He did beat Smith-Dennis in the fall and that is why he is ahead of him here.

8. Mya Smith Dennis Gustavus: Has losses to Humphreys. Kranz, and Sprinkel this spring, but he slides in at the 8 spot because he beat Putterman from Wash U. That win alone could propel him into nationals as long as he doesn’t drop any upcoming matches to Metzler (Kzoo) or Miles (Depauw).

9. Ross Putterman Wash U: His loss to Smith-Dennis is killing him as it gives him indirect losses to the other three (Humphreys, Kranz, Sprinkle). I think he is a top 8 player, but he is going to need to win at least 1 of the upcoming matches with Sprinkle, Kranz, or Krimball. The only issue is he will play those 3 in two days. If Carswell is bumped to 1 singles, Putterman will be out no question.

10. Brandon Metzler Kalamazoo: Has a loss to Humphreys, but other than that has been solid. Humphrey’s loss to Miles will hurt his stock like Kranz

11. John Carswell: Wash U: Definitely the best #2 in the country at the moment. Would be playing 1 if he wasn’t a freshman. Has a direct win over Krimball in the fall, but I am not sure they are using the fall as much of a barometer. It will be interesting because I would put him much higher based on power rankings, but that’s not how these rankings work.

12. Will Drougas Case Western: Another #2 singles player on the list. I think you have to put him this high because he has a win in the fall over Cole. Not sure how much weight that will have as seen in Carswell’s case.

13. Patrick Cole Allegheny: Drougas beat him in the fall. Cole is a good player that is handcuffed by a weak schedule. He has beaten Guerra from Denison and lost to Krimball in 3. The only chance he has at getting in the top 8 is beating Heerboth when they play Kenyon. If they decide to play Raz instead, that win won’t get him in sadly. I don’t think he beats either.

14. Juan Guerra, Denison: Has lost a lot of three set matches this season, but clearly has stepped up his play. Has a direct win over Sabada at 1 singles which puts him at this spot.

15. Sabada. Raz, Geier, Miles, Karki, Shklyar,

I have zero interest in trying to determine the top 4 doubles teams, but I will at least mention some teams that have a shot at it. Geier/Rosensteel from Kenyon, Scklyar/Balkin from WW, Krimball/Klawitter from Case, Kreis/Ward from Wheaton, Putterman/Bush from Wash U, Smith-Dennis/Al-Houni from Gustavus, Guerra/Veltman from Denison, Kopecky/Miles from Depauw, Sprinkle/Galbraith from Coe among many others I am sure. Ranking the doubles is next to impossible.

Just for fun, I will add in my own “power” rankings here. These are rankings solely based off of who I think the best players are and not based off of where they play in the lineup. Out of region results will also play a bigger role in this Top 10 player list. This list is updated after the Humphreys loss.

1. Chris Krimball

2. Wade Heerboth

3. John Carswell

4. Michael Razmouvsky

5. Ryan Kreis

6. Noah Sprinkel

7. Jake Humphreys

8. Sven Kranz

9. Mya Smith-Dennis

10. Ross Putterman

I could argue both sides of the story for the team and individual rankings. I could easily argue that a #1 singles player should get priority over a #2 from another team as well as easily argue that the #2 is actually better. Rankings are never easy and you have to strictly look at results and not speculation. Should be interesting to see how this all plays out especially with Carswell and Raz.

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