Welcome back tennis fans! It’s time for another year of me shamelessly boasting about my region before seeing all but one of our teams lose before the Elite Eight because…. NCAA.
This year, the coaches of the west region conspired to have all three of their regions on the same weekend, so I can’t provide you all with the individualized articles that I know you were yearning for. Instead, you’ll have to settle for this Costcoesque, one-size-fits-all preview. It’s always more fun to reflect on the carnage after this weekend anyways, so I won’t dwell long on what, at this point, is raw speculation. I’ll save the meaty stuff for later.
We’ll start things off with the most diverse regional, the West regional. Aside from New England, this is the most competitive regional in the nation with CMS, P-P, Cal Lu, Santa Cruz, and Whittier all competing for the trip to Florida. (Florida? Yes, Florida). It’s also one of the most difficult regions to predict. You never know when something crazy will happen– like, oh, I don’t know, if, for example, completely hypothetically– a non-starter from CMS will tear through the entire draw and earn himself a position on the all-American team. That being said, there are some established names that we can call favorites, and some interesting newcomers we should keep an eye on.
Warren Wood (CMS), Joe Dorn (CMS), and Chris Weichert (P-P)
This isn’t rocket science. Look at the top three seeds. All three of these guys have been around long enough for us to know that they’re consistent performers. All three came very close last year, and I really do think one of them is going to win.
You can’t really overlook anyone in this region, but I’m really looking forward to a Weichert/Butts quarter anyways, as Butts will be looking to take the next step after a stellar freshman campaign. This is Wood’s first time back in the CMS uniform since the tragic and end to his season, and I’m hoping he makes a resounding return to the court. Both he and Dorn seem to have pretty favorable draws into the quarterfinals, but things will get sticky there for both of them, and they will likely have to run a gauntlet of hungry teammates to win.
Intriguing First Round Matches
There’s no real point in trying to predict this tournament after what happened last year, but this will be our first opportunity to see some of the promising newcomers in action.
CMS freshman Max Macey will probably be eager to prove he belongs in CMS’ top 6, but he shouldn’t have an easy time with Whittier’s Farmer.
Cal Lu’s Connor Treacy didn’t get a favorable draw with another CMS freshman Daniel Morkovine in the first round, while Whittier’s Konstantinov, who made a splash in this tournament last year, drew another of CMS’ vaunted freshman Glenn Hull in his first round.
You’ve got Chapman #1 Justin Thompson going up against Teddy Jones of Redlands in an intriguing first-round battle. Personally, I’m hoping for a run from one of Redlands’ players in this tournament to make up for the lack of Banana Slug, but I have no idea who it could be.
Jake Yasgoor, the only P-P freshman to garner a seed in a very talented class, will start his collegiate career against Whittier’s Shogo Shimizu
Moises Cardenas (Cal Lu)
It’s hard to call the #4 seed a “Dark Horse,” but I’m putting him on this list because he’s new to DIII. He’s got a very difficult first round match in CMS’ Bryan Mehall, and things won’t get easier for him from there on out, but this should be an informative debut, regardless
Cameron Bernhardt (CMS)
After a strong freshman year, Bernhardt was completely out of the picture last year, I’m pretty sure due to injury. The embattled junior nearly took out Lane in three tiebreak sets in 2011, and is obviously capable of playing the kind of tennis to win this tournament. He didn’t garner a seed from his coach in this tournament, however, so he’s probably still getting back in the swing of things. It will be nice to see him back on the court, though.
Looks like the Mamba will not be defending his title. Also, no Marino in this draw.
Santa Cruz…. oh no…. quick question: did Hansen leave because he knew his program was folding, or did the program fold because he left? This legitimately makes me very sad, so I’m gonna stop writing about it.
Keep an eye on Redlands’ newcomers Wilson, Suchudolski, and Ly to make up for the notable absence of Patrick Lipscomb
Doubles? Doubles! I’m not even going to try to talk about this one with a bunch of new teams in their supposed honeymoons. Some will crash and burn, while others with thrive. It will be fun to watch either way. Wood and Dorn will be trying to defend their title. Cardenas and Fergus Scott are my pick to be opposite them in the finals (why not?).
I think Whitman has one every singles and doubles regional title since the split from Texas seven or eight years ago except one slip in doubles, so there’s really not a lot of intrigue as far as who will be represented in Florida. Since it’s not so much “who will win” as “which Whittie will win,” I’ll keep this short.
Again, the top seeds are the favorites (Imagine that). Malesovas is the reigning champion, while La Cava on the opposite side of the draw won in 2010 and 2011. Senior transfer Andy Riggs is the #3 seed and a returning semifinalist, but don’t be surprised if one of Whitman’s young’ns takes a page out of Malesovas’ playbook and takes this whole thing. The Squirrels have two freshmen seeded in the draw
In the past, I’ve been pretty dismissive about the other Northwest teams’ attempts to thwart the Whitman supremacy. So far, I’ve been right. The players who pose the biggest threat to Squirrel supremacy this year are returning semifinalist Giancarlo Battaglia of Pacific, George Fox’s Chris Lilley, and LC freshman Michael Brewer. Lilley picked up a W at #3 against Whitman last year, while Brewer, a 3-star, is hoping to provide some legitimacy to his unknown program.
La Cava and James Rivers are the one seeds here. The duo will be playing together for the first time since the ITA championship match in Alabama after their promising partnership was severed by injury.
To be continued… No draw so far, and the California regional starts tomorrow, so dealwithit, Almighty