Amherst def. Vassar 5-0
You gotta hate an NCAA system that yields Sweet Sixteen matchups that aren’t even worth writing about. Amherst absolutely dominated this match. It didn’t look like two top teams playing each other; it looked like a fly vs. a windshield. One thing that could be said is that Amherst seems to be playing very strong doubles. They only lost one game in the three doubles matches, which is hard to do no matter who you’re playing. That 8-0 win for Rattenhuber and Chafetz against the Guzicks is very impressive.
Emory def. NCW 5-1
This match was actually quite close in singles, but everybody knew it was over as soon as Emory swept the doubles. Realistically, NCW needed at least two doubles matches to have a chance to win. Instead, the Eagles jumped on the Bishops in the first couple games of all three doubles matches and coasted to victory. This win shows that Emory is ready to win the national championship, but it also illustrates once again that the Bishops are about as good as anyone in the nation in singles. They were on their way to losing three of the top 4, but #3 singles went to three sets (I’m guessing the box score isn’t completely accurate), and #4 singles was close. I’m sure the matches at #5 and 6 would have been close as well. It’s unfortunate for NCW that they had to run into a buzzsaw in the Sweet Sixteen, but that’s just what happens.
Like I said, Emory is looking great. If they have anything to be concerned about, it’s the play of Chris Goodwin. Not only did he lose on Sunday, but he was way down in the second set of the Round-of-32 match against Washington & Lee. Knowing Goodwin, he’ll almost definitely step it up in the Elite Eight, but the fact of the matter is, Emory can’t win a national championship without his singles point.
Williams def. MIT 5-0
There’s not much to say about this match either. It was another one that was close in singles, but everyone knew was over by the time the doubles matches were over. Williams came out strong in doubles, and got two doubles points quickly. #1 doubles was a battle, but it wouldn’t have mattered if MIT had won that match because Williams was in control of 5 of 6 of the singles matches. Once again, I’ll say that MIT is obviously extremely talented; they just need to do a better job in scheduling and work harder on their doubles in practice. (Or, you know, they could focus on curing cancer or something, wherever their priorities lie).
Williams looked good, but they’re going to have to bring more in singles if they want to avenge their loss against Bowdoin in the Elite Eight.
Kenyon def. Mary Washington 5-0
This match was not nearly as close as I expected it to be. I though Mary Washington could come out, take advantage of Kenyon’s weak doubles, and make them sweat in singles. The way it actually happened, I don’t know whether to be more impressed with Kenyon or disappointed in Mary Washington. The Eagles have laid some stinkers this year, so I don’t know whether I should be impressed with Kenyon’s sweep. That being said, if Kenyon played well enough to sweep Mary Washington when they were playing well, they will be extremely dangerous in the Elite Eight.
I don’t really know what else to say about this match. Kenyon got another relatively easy path to the Elite Eight (a well-deserved award for their regular season), but we’ll see if they can make the jump into the Final Four. They will need to get past a tough CMS team to do it, and I think they’ll need at least two doubles matches for that to happen. Their freshman seem to be thriving in the big moments, which, if nothing else, is a great sign for the program in the next couple years.
Bowdoin def. Trinity (TX) 5-1
I have to admit, I was stunned by this result. I knew that Bowdoin could win, but I guess I’m just not used to them being an elite program. Even after they took two of three doubles, I expected Trinity to come back and win like they did last year against Chicago. Bowdoin didn’t just hang on for the victory, they pulled away and made it so the match wasn’t really that close. They were only a couple minutes away from being up 7-2 if the match had been played to completion. I’ll be the first to admit that I massively underrated the Polar Bears, especially in singles. (Even after admitting that I underrated them, I’ve continued to pick against the, so I think I’m just going to stop doing that). Their doubles are solid; their depth is great; and I’m extremely excited to see what happens when they meet up with Williams again. It should be the match of the Elite Eight.
Johns Hopkins def Middlebury 5-2
I think it’s extremely sad that this was the closest of the Sweet Sixteen matches. After such a crazy year, I would have thought there would be at least one incredibly dramatic match in a regional final, but that just didn’t happen. I thought this was headed in that direction after Middlebury took two doubles matches, but Hopkins elevated their game in singles once again and won four singles matches relatively comfortably. Lim got a little tight as he was trying to put the match out of reach, but you expect some growing pains from the freshmen. In the end, the Blue Jays got the Elite Eight monkey off their back, and I think that will make them very dangerous in the next couple years. Unfortunately, they meet Emory in the next round, and, given their result from earlier in the season, I wouldn’t expect an upset their.
This had to be a disappointing season for Middlebury, but speaking of growing pains, you had to figure there would be a few with a very “Santa Cruz” guy trying to coach on the East coast. They will be one of the more interesting story lines to follow in the next couple years.
Wash U def. Gustavus Adolphus 5-0
If any team has ever “backed in” to the Elite Eight, it’s this year’s Wash U team. They were completely undeserving of the region they got, but they took advantage of it in a big way. Everyone knows that they are a good team without good wins. They have 5-4 losses to Cruz, Kenyon, and Hopkins, and a close 3-6 loss to Bowdoin, who have all proven themselves to be top 8 programs this year, but they still don’t have any big wins, and chances are they won’t get any. That being said, the fact that they swept GAC in doubles is extremely impressive. Gustavus has been great in doubles all year (like they’ve always been), and Wash U has been horrible. Now that they seem to have their doubles in order, I would be extremely interested to see what would happen in a match between them and Williams, Kenyon, or Bowdoin, but the fact of the matter is that their season is about to come to an end.
For Gustavus, this had to be a disappointing end. I know they thought they could win this match, but they just weren’t good enough to beat a team like Wash U this year. Still, this season was a big step forward for them from last year, and they’re only losing one senior from their doubles lineup. Hopefully for all of DIII tennis, they will be back in the top 15 soon.