Hello all! D3AS here to give you a quick update on the site. Below we have our first article from the new D3Northeast. He’ll be covering the Northeast, where we have been notably lacking in analysis the past year. I’m thankful to bring him aboard. Remember, he is new – so please…. show no prisoners. Our best writing comes with the feedback and critiques of you guys. Thanks again, and enjoy!
Hello readers, and welcome to the start of another fall season of Division III tennis. Some of you out there might believe that the season doesn’t really start until the spring; sadly you could not be more mistaken. The fall is a crucial time for development, match experience, and it sets the tone for the rest of the year. Of course the biggest tournament in the fall is each regional ITA, but before either of the grueling (yes I believe 12-14 hour days of long van rides, bad pizza, and sharing beds counts as grueling) ITA’s kickoff, there have been a few things worth reviewing.. I’m not going to get into predictions now, (though I will be previewing the New England ITA as it makes for some of the most exciting three days of fall tennis in the country) but rather give a little recap of what has already come to pass. The main tournament already in the books is one of the first in the country, as the schools involved barely had 1-2 weeks of practice before it began in Middlebury, Vermont. This year the field was comprised of Bates, Brandeis, Middlebury (duh), Skidmore, Trinity, Tufts, and Wesleyan. I’ve been excited to start talking tennis again so here is a somewhat in-depth look at the results.
A SINGLES FLIGHT
Champion: Teddy Fitzgibbons (Midd)
What a tournament for Fitzgibbons. We always knew he was gonna be a good player (a good work ethic, smooth strokes, and a calm demeanor are a good recipe for success, kids) but an A Flight singles win must’ve been the way he’d dreamed to start the season. Getting a retirement in the first round could’ve helped him physically, but then he beat Mbithi (Moose), put a hurt on his teammate and Middlebury’s leader, Branter Jones, in the semis, and took out a young and upcoming Tufts star in Glickman in the finals. The idea that Fitzgibbons can handle Jones in straight sets should scare some people. Jones has shown himself to be a stronger player in the spring when the team matches are on the line, but if Fitzgibbons is playing at a level even comparable to Jones then Middlebury is in for a fun spring.
Runner up: Jay Glickman (Tufts)
Glickman should feel good about his tournament too. Taking out the ever-dangerous Floridian Danny Knight (though Knight is easily frustrated and a perfect matchup for Glickman) in the 1st round, surviving a tough test from Bates’ newly anointed #1 Timmy Berg in the quarters, and ousting Trinity’s #1, Dan Carpenter, in another super breaker win in the semis. His “super” luck had to come to an end at some time, and he lost 10-7 to Fitzgibbons in the finals. Taking the 1st from Fitzbgibbons 6-1 and then losing should be the proper motivator to get Glickman to the place Tufts needs him to be if they are going to do anything more hover between 6th and 8th in the NESCAC.
Biggest Surprise: Alex Johnston (Midd)
What in the world happened here? Johnston ran through this tournament last year en route to a 10-8 super loss to Bates’ then #1 Rob Crampton in a match in which he led the super 8-5. He then had a formidable ITA’s and was a part of perhaps the biggest serving doubles team in the country (paired with the graduated Lunghino.) Not only did he lose in the 1st round of singles (not to take anything away from Dan Carpenter who has seemingly made the transition from #6 his freshman year, to #1 his sophomore year, to a contending #1 his junior year) but he lost in straight sets and then he and Lebovitz lost in the 1st round of doubles to what looked like the 3rd best Bates team in the draw (but more on that later.) Luckily for Johnston he has 2 weeks before ITA’s to get his act together. Midd needs him to anchor the top spot if they’re gonna contend for more than an elite 8 birth this year.
MIDDLEBURY FLIGHT B SINGLES FLIGHT:
Champion: Palmer Campbell (Midd)
WOW! This was an impressive display of dominance by Campbell. Not only did he cruise through the field without dropping a set, he only lost 17 games through the whole tournament (an average of barely 2 games a set.) I was honestly a bit surprised to see Campbell in the B draw while Fitzgibbons was moved up to the A draw, but Hanson must have some method to his madness (he’s only one of the best dIII coaches of all time) as Fitzgibbons did win the A draw. I understand that Middlebury was likely far and away the best team at this tournament, but the idea of Campbell as a #4 should legitimately scare any team in the country (even the insanely deep teams like CMS and Amherst.)
Runner up: Courtney Mountifield (Midd)
Ho hum, just another run of the mill draw where a Middlebury player makes it to the finals. Mountifield had a pretty easy road, and this bracket played out basically as I would have expected, but props must be given when props are due. Courtney will have to prove to me that he’s a legit #5 by beating the better NESCAC 5’s like Dale or Wolstencraft (NB: not sure they’ll be 5’s this year, but they were last year.)
Biggest Surprise: Skidmore
What happened to the Thoroughbreds in Vermont? This was an abysmal showing from a team that has a history of performing fairly well in the fall. Miles Ransom was the #2 seed, lost handily, (though Rudovsky was a strong 3 for Wesleyan last year) and was the ultimate loser in the draw (his opponent lost next round, who’s opponent lost in the next round etc.) In addition to Ransom, their freshman from Hong Kong, Leung, lost to Jacobson (the 5 from Tufts) 3&1. I’m not saying these loses were totally unexpected, but they have to be disappointed with all of their top players (Knight and Sherpa included.) Thus concludes the bashing on Skidmore section of the article, let’s move onto the C Flight.
C SINGLES FLIGHT:
Champion: Liu (Wesleyan)
What a tournament for the freshman from New Jersey. I can’t say I was totally surprised, but anytime a freshman wins his 1st college tournament he deserves a lot of credit (which makes Yaraghi’s ITA win last fall all the more impressive.) Liu’s only set loss was to the big serving Yanofsky from Bates. If Liu’s going to be a key piece of the Wesleyan puzzle (which I think he will be) he’s gonna have to take this win as a sign of what he can do, and work his butt off the rest of the way. As the D Flight recap will show, I am predicting big things from both Liu, and the Cards this season.
Runner up: Ari Smolyar (Midd)
No real surprises here. It is wrong to say that not winning this bracket is a bit of a disappointment for Smolyar? He has a lot of talent (a 4-star recruit) and figures to be in the running (if not a front runner) for a bottom lineup spot, but he’s gonna have to put up more of a fight against a middle to bottom of the lineup Wesleyan freshman than a straight set loss if he’s gonna be a viable option at 5 or 6 for the Panthers this spring.
Biggest Surprise: None
Except for one first round match, and a swap in the finals, I predicted this bracket through and through. Once we get into the lower flights it becomes obvious that Middlebury and Wesleyan are the deepest teams in the field. No reader should be surprised by this. Trinity’s 5 from last year is playing in the A Flight. The Bantams are the next deepest team in the field, but their slew of Juniors are likely abroad and we’ll see what that will do to their tennis games. Bates has a history of history of weak 5’s and 6’s, not to mention that they just graduated their two best players in Bettles and Crampton. While Tufts has become stronger at the top (Glickman, Telkedzhiev), they too lack the depth to make them a true contender, and neither Skidmore nor Brandeis has the recruiting power of the majority of the NESCAC schools (well look at that, my first mention of Brandeis! You go Brandeis!
Wesleyan Flight D FLIGHT SINGLES
Champion: Greg Lyon (Wes)
D Flight singles doesn’t usually get much love, and while it’s unfair it is for a good reason, these players are not usually in a team’s starting lineup. That being said, the D draw was good for one team and one team only, the Wesleyan Cardinals. A four star recruit from California, Mr. Lyon joins Mr. Liu in comprising one of the best recruiting classes the middle of the NESCAC has ever seen. Lyon didn’t have to play the stiffest of competition through his draw, but a flight win is a flight win, and is still impressive for his first tournament, even if he was one of the favorites.
Runner up: Charlie Seifer (Wes)
Hey! It’s not all about stars! In the past the best dIII players have not been the 5 star-recruits. They have been those with a willingness to work their asses off and usually have a good coach to help them along the way. Another addition to the talented Cardinals freshman class is Charlie Seifer. Though he was just a “lowly” one star, winning tournament matches shows that he is ready to help his team. Coach Fried and his boys should be excited about the coming year.
Biggest surprise: Can I say Wesleyan?
Though it was not the biggest of surprises, I think I’ve made it clear that the Wesleyan freshman will be something to be reckoned with. The only question remains will they be able to help a team poised to make a NESCAC leap this year or in the future? Ok, enough swooning over Wesleyan, let’s move onto doubles.
QUICK DOUBLES RECAP
I’m not gonna really dive into dubs for now, because the first tournament of the year usually means very little in terms of doubles. Teams will change, young players will learn how to become better doubles players, and I’m sure we’ll get new teams for ITAs. That being said, the quick dubs recap is that the likely Midd 3 team beat the likely Midd 2 team in the finals, and the likely Midd 1 team inexplicably lost in the first round to a Bates team that had trouble winning matches at 3rd dubs last spring. With so many players abroad and it still so early in the season, we’ll save a bigger doubles recap for ITAs. All in all, it was a good start to what is sure to be another fantastic season of Northeast tennis. I’ll be back soon with a recap of the Northeast ITA and a preview of the New England ITA.
Hugs and kisses,