Well, it appears the other regional writers have had things covered for the past week or so, but since this weekend’s matches are almost entirely in my territory, it’s my turn to step off the bench. Let’s go in temporal order:
# 17 Redlands at #11 UC Santa Cruz
When these two teams played at Redlands a year ago, the Slugs came away with a fairly routine 6-3 win. That is, it was routine in that once Cruz was up 2-1 after dubs, it was pretty much over because they got easy wins at 1, 2, and 6. Cruz no longer has the services of Nurenberg or Larsen, but they have a few things going for them: namely match experience and home court advantage. Meanwhile, Redlands has recovered from a slow start and actually looks pretty good. Lipscomb is back in the lineup, and they’ve got Hyde back in the lineup at #2, which knocks Cummins down to #3. Hunt, Nanda, and senior John Brewer round out the top 6, and the Bulldogs are coming off a shelacking of Brandeis (the Judges aren’t strong, but that’s certainly not a bad sign). Personally, I see this match turning into a war very quickly.
I think the Bulldogs have the edge at 2 dubs, while Cruz has the edge at 3. It’s only a matter of time before Goetz and Halabi drop one, however. #1 is looking like a tossup to me. Koenig and Scandalis are 0-4 against ranked teams, but they’ve played only all-American doubles teams so far. That could be a major swing match. In singles, I see Koenig winning at #1 with Lipscomb still a little rusty. You never know what’s going to happen with Halabi. He beat Nanda in 2 last year, but Hyde is a totally different animal. I think Hyde will probably take that one. Bettwy vs. Cummins is intriguing, but Cummins has the huge edge in experience, so I think the Bulldogs take that one. Gotta go with Rogers at #4, especially after Hunt got beat by Brandeis. Scandalis went 0-6 at Indoors, but he’s much better outside. That will be a close one against Nanda. I looks like Cruz may have replaced Littlejohn with Rosner, in which case, I’ll take Rizzo at 6. In summation, Cruz 2-1 lead after doubles, wins at 1, 4, and 6 for a 5-4 victory. If Redlands gets #1 doubles, they could easily take this one, but it’s hard to go against the seniors on their home court.
#10 Wash U at #4 CMS
Wow did everyone jump on the anti-Wash U bandwagon quickly after that one loss. Let’s do a quick flashback to last year. Everyone hates on Wash U when they lose to Cruz, Kenyon, Bowdoin, and Hopkins early in the season. By the end of the season, it turned out they just lost to four top 8 teams. The loss to Case is certainly damaging, but they may have just lost to a top 10 team with a lot more match experience early in the season. These Bears are still going to be very good, in my opinion, but they definitely did not get off on the right foot. That being said, they are in some serious trouble when it comes to Pool C, and I don’t think they’re about to win this match.
Going down 1-2 to Case in doubles is expected; losing 4 out of 6 singles (three in straight sets) is incredibly uncharacteristic. There’s no reason to expect Wash U to make a match out of this one, and I can’t figure out why they’re in La Jolla two weeks before their Hawaii trip. Anyways, CMS has been cruising right along, but this is probably their first DIII test. You never know what’s going to happen in doubles, but CMS is just too strong at #1. CMS had 1 point after doubles at the very least. I expect them to have 2 or 3. In singles, I see the Stags as virtual locks at 2 and 3 (I’m guessing Lane moves up to 3 with another week of practice under his belt, but I could be wrong). Marino is another strong favorite at 4, and you gotta lean towards Cahill at 6. Wash U could pick up points at #1, where I expect a slugfest between Wood and Putterman, and #5, if Parizher finds his game in the sun. Either way, this match looks like a relatively stress-free 6-3 victory for the Stags, though we don’t know how they will respond if they’re pushed in a DIII match for the first time this season (away from home! no less!).
#23 Mary Washington at #6 Cal Lu
I’m just gonna skip over UMW vs. Oxy and go straight to this one. On paper, this looks like an absolute mismatch for Cal Lu, mainly because that’s exactly what it is. But let’s not forget that Mary Washington has beaten the Kingsmen the last two times they’ve played (last year’s upset and the previous year at Indoors). Last year, however, the Eagles got a doubles sweep and still needed a 3rd-set tiebreaker victory to get the upset. That’s not about to happen this year. The big difference is that the Kingsmen have some pretty serious match experience this year.
Blahkin didn’t play last weekend, but I’m going to write this up assuming he’s in the lineup. The thing about Cal Lu is that they still aren’t deep at all, so basically any match could end up having a close scoreline. Regardless, they’ve shored up their #2 doubles and can basically look forward to a 2-1 lead this year; whereas, last year it was iffier. Here we go. I’ll take the Eagles at #3 doubles, Wichlin at #4 or #5 (wherever he plays), and that’s about it. The Eagles got absolutely rolled in singles against NWC, and I don’t think this will be close. Ballou over Blahkin in straights. Worley over Carey in straights. I could see Charles winning at #3, but Nichols looks great. I could see Rizzolo winning at 6 if he’s there, but even if everything goes right for the Eagles, it’s still a 5-4 loss. In the end, I’ll take Cal Lu to the tune of a 6-3 win.