As we’ve written and talked about extensively, there is a lot of conversation about who should receive the final Pool B spot and final Pool C spot. Right now, UW-Whitewater and UC-Santa Cruz are fighting for the Pool B bid, and some believe that if UW-Whitewater defeats Coe on Sunday, the spot is theirs. This is a monster match.
The Warhawks were hit hard with graduation and injuries this season, so at this point, they are not ranked nationally. Their biggest loss thus far has been to #38 Whittier, but they’ve been every unranked opponent. Meanwhile, despite being ranked 35th nationally, Coe has shown signs of being a top 30 team. They’ve beaten DePauw and came extremely close to upsetting Kalamazoo. Going in, the Kohawks are favored, but this is by no means a done deal.
#1 Doubles: Luke Ford/Josh Pudlo (Coe) vs. Zane Navratil/Jimmy Engelhart (UWW): Neither of these teams was assembled until midway through the season, and they’ve each had some ups and downs. I was extremely impressed with UWW’s win over the Wash U top tandem, and if Navratil/Engelhart play the same way on Sunday, they should win. UWW 8-6.
#2 Doubles: Brady Anderson/Nate Greiner (Coe) vs. Rory Calabria/Zach Wood (UWW): Anderson started off the season at #1 dubs, but he and Pudlo had several losses. Since moving to two, Anderson, along with Greiner, have been on a tear, currently on an 8 match winning streak! Meanwhile, the underclassmen tandem of Calabria and Wood has a big win against Bowdoin’s Kyle Wolfe and Jerry Jiang, but otherwise, they’ve lost to ranked teams and Hanover. I’m going with the hot hand. Coe 8-5.
#3 Doubles: Nate Ackert/James McManus (Coe) vs. Brandon Dechter/Matt Zurowski (UWW): Tough one to analyze here. Both teams have some pretty solid results, but it is tough to go against the guys with a 9-1 record, including a win against very good Gustavus 3 team. Coe 9-8 (4).
#1 Singles: Brady Anderson (Coe, 12.64 UTR) vs. Grant Thompson (UWW, 11.49 UTR): UWW Head Coach Frank Barnes revealed on the podcast that Grant Thompson has been dealing with an injury, forcing him to serve underhand the last few matches. While his serve may be back on Sunday, I can’t see Thompson being at 100 percent. Given that, and Anderson’s success this season, I’ll give the advantage to the Coe star. Coe 6-3, 6-3.
#2 Singles: Nate Ackert (Coe, 10.92 UTR) vs. Zane Navratil (UWW, 11.08 UTR): When Thompson was out of the lineup due to injury, and Zane had to step up at 1, Navratil had a bit of a rough going. However, as evidenced by the pharmacist’s recent results, the experience was extremely helpful. In the past couple weeks, Zane has taken out Wash U’s John Carswell in straight sets and barely fell to Chicago’s Charlie Pei 7-6 (6), 6-4. Ackert is very good, but Zane is playing some solid tennis at the moment. UWW 7-5, 6-4.
#3 Singles: James McManus (Coe, 11.29 UTR) vs. Jimmy Engelhart (UWW, 11.13): Both guys have some tight results with players from top teams. It’s always a treat watching a James McManus match, and Jimmy Engelhart will need to be very mentally strong. Could go either way here, so let’s say a close three-set victory for the Warhawk. UWW 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
#4 Singles: Josh Pudlo (Coe, 11.26 UTR) vs. Brandon Dechter (UWW, 10.71 UTR): Let me preface this matchup by saying that I have no idea who Coach Barnes is going to put at 4, 5, and 6. He’s rotated about 4 guys throughout the three spots in recent matches. Anyway, Pudlo is a veteran starter at this point, and he has the UTR advantage, so he’s the safer pick. Coe 7-5, 7-6 (4).
#5 Singles: Alex Bernt (Coe, 10.99 UTR) vs. Zach Wood (UWW, 10.57 UTR): If this is indeed the #5 matchup, I think it could be very close. Wood has fallen in four of his last five matches (though 3 were against nationally ranked teams), while Bernt is 8-2 in his last 10 matches (the two losses came to opponents from nationally ranked teams.). Given that UWW will be facing a lot of pressure to win this match, and Wood is a freshman, but Bernt is a senior, I’m going with the Kohawk. Coe 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
#6 Singles: Luke Ford (10.96 UTR)/Evgeny Pakhomenko (11.00 UTR) (Coe) vs. Matt Zurowski (UWW, 10.50): Luke Ford has been playing 6 for Coe recently but just lost to Luther’s 6. Pakhomenko made a name for himself at fall ITAs, besting Navratil. Either of these guys could play 6. Zurowski has played anywhere from 4-6 this season, so if he were to be at the bottom of the lineup, he could find success. Plus, the way my predictions are going, Coe would win 6-3, and I think this match goes 5-4 either way. UWW 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2.
Well, there you have it. Add up the scores, and you have a 5-4 win for Coe. As I just said, this match could go either way, but Coe is probably favored on paper, especially given the unknowns of UWW’s 4-6 singles. Also, keep in mind that this match is being played in Wisconsin, and UWW has some of the best school spirit in D3, so I could see the stands being packed, and the fans being loud (though playing indoors could hinder that). It should be great one!