Wow, it’s a big day ladies and gents. As I embark on this new and exciting journey in contributing for the DIII tennis blog, I’d like to thank my box and my family and friends at home for giving me the belief that I, indeed, could achieve my goals; without you all, none of this would be possible. I’d also like to thank the sponsors, ball kids, umpires, Chase Bank, and you, the fans, for making this possible.
On a more serious note, I have been a huge fan of the blog and really want to give back and contribute fresh ideas to readers nationwide. When we take a look at the current state of affairs throughout the West region teams, tons of excitement and success lies ahead for such teams. Though many top teams experienced large graduating classes, we are all optimistic that the current players, along with the incoming (highly ranked) freshmen, will be able to contribute to the already successful dynasties and make their mark on the DIII community.
Congratulations to CMS, once again, for sweeping their regional matches and claiming the top spot in the West. Though they struggled on the doubles court throughout the year, their singles dominance sure made up for it where they were able to sweep conference for their 25th SCIAC championship and make a deep run to the finals of Nationals in Chattanooga, finishing with a cumulative record of 32-4. Though they lose a large chunk of their lineup to graduating seniors, CMS still remains the team to beat in the West as they have a top tier recruiting class coming in accompanied by ‘‘Powerhouse Parodi” at the top of the lineup. This young and talented team will sure be fun to watch. With a fantastic coaching staff, dedicated players, and that Stag Swag we’ve all grown to love, there is no doubt in my mind that they remain the Best in the West once again. PS, watch out for them at Indoors, I think they proved this past Spring in Chattanooga that they can translate their winning ways under the roof.
Two teams out in the West made a noticeable leap last year in talent and overall results. Whitman started their 2017 campaign by hosting Pomona-Pitzer, Gustavus, and Pacific (Oregon). By beating both PP and Gustavus on their indoor courts, they were able to gather tons of momentum in the early part of their season by going 14-0 against DIII competition. Though the Blues struggled throughout the middle part of the season, the talent from both Hewlin and Jivkov at the top of the lineup, along with the depth in the middle of the lineup from the likes of Friedman and Carter (All Cali boys!), booked them a spot into regionals where they fell just short against a talented Trinity (TX) team. A good year for Whitman as they were able to finish at #4 in their region and #14 in the country, but disappointment for Hewlin as he wasn’t able defend his 2016 semi-final run at nationals with a loss to Levine from Carnegie Mellon in the 1st round. I look forward to another spectacular year from the Blues with Hewlin’s senior leadership, that middle of the lineup depth, and a seasoned coach in Northam.
Redlands was the second team that made leaps and bounds this past year. Coach Roche understands that he needs to schedule matches with as many Pool C teams hoping that a couple wins will secure them a coveted Pool C spot. This past year, unfortunately, they weren’t able to pull out wins against such teams, where big losses against Wesleyan, Williams, and Bowdoin hurt their chances of entry into Regionals. However, the highlight of the Bulldog’s 2017 season were there two wins over rival, Pomona-Pitzer; the big victory coming in the SCIAC semis. With a Jake Ly departure, the Bulldogs doubles will surely be affected, however, most of their singles lineup remain intact. Chase Martin Del Potro’s big forehand will still be making noise at the top of the lineup and the scrappiness of Dulle, Bryant, Davis, and Johnson should make up the rest of the top 6. I am a bit weary of their doubles this coming year, but be certain, Coach Roche will work with what he’s got to make sure there are no holes in their lineup, and look out for the Bulldogs as they head back East for Indoors in February! A #2 finish in the West gives Redlands a lot to work with and I expect them to have another fantastic season this coming year.
Though Trinity (TX) reached the round of 16 of nationals (eventually falling to CMS in California), I believe that the Tigers are still somewhat disappointed in their results from last year. They encountered a rough start to their season by finishing 7th at Indoors, where they fell to Case Western 5-4 in the first round of the consolation. They beat the teams they were expected to take down (i.e., Kenyon (twice), Gustavus, Texas Tyler, and Whitman (twice)), however, they weren’t able to win the marquee matches against the likes of Emory, CMS, Amherst, and Middlebury. If Trinity (TX) wants to make another top 5 run on a national scale, they’ll have to beat these top tier teams on a routine basis. Results against such teams last year proved they weren’t even close. The #1 duo out in the West of Tyer/Lambeth, along with solid singles play from Lambeth, Tyer, Pitts, and Crawley, will get them into top 15 territory, but, personally, I think their incoming class will add to the Tiger’s talent and bump them up in the national rankings.
After Pomona-Pitzer’s historic 2015/2016 season, we all expected the senior class of Yasgoor, Maassen, Josh Kim, Bello, and Simonides to take them to those heights once again. Though these seniors performed at a high level and won many matches for the Hens, we simply didn’t see the same magic out of the Hens as the last couple years. These guys will be sorely missed and we hope Bickham has a few tricks up his sleeves for this coming year to replace this type of talent. My sources tell me that Bickham was able to recruit a couple transfers; a player from University of Montana in Jacob Schoenherr and Octave Bellet from Irvine Valley College. I hope these two players, along with the 4 other recruits, are able to replace the departed senior class and keep PP a perennial top 10 team.
Incoming freshmen to keep your eye on:
Jack Katzman (CMS): Five star. CMS. Keep your eye out for this kid. Though he may not play at the top of the lineup (I think “Powerhouse Parodi” has secured that spot for the next few years), I do believe Katzman will be a fantastic addition to the lineup with the departure of Mork and Hull. Though college tennis is a different beast, Katzman is the only five star to be joining the West, so there is a bit of expectation tied to this kid as he enters his freshman season.
Cameron Krimbill (Redlands): Younger brother of Case Western standout and the Spartan’s winningest player, CJ, Cameron enters his freshman year with big shoes to fill in the Krimbill family. I’m very excited to see how Cameron performs and if he has the attitude, determination, and skill of his brother, Redlands is sure picking up a superstar. I expect Krimbill to play high in the lineup for the Bulldogs, which would be a clutch replacement with the graduated Parker Wilson. With Lipscomb, Krimbill, and Dulle, I see Redlands making a push for SCIACS and possibly cracking the top 10 on the national level by the end of the year.
Jed Kronenberg (Pomona-Pitzer): Kronenberg comes into PP as their highest ranked recruit. With a big graduating class, PP is fishing for players that can come in and compete at the top of the lineup in both singles and doubles. Expect the So. Cal native to step in and play either 1, 2, or 3 for the Hens on both the singles and doubles court. He’ll surely be tested in these matches, but the Fall ITA will be a great indication for Bickham at the potential Kronenberg brings to the Hens.
Varun Shanker (Caltech): I might be wrong, but I’m fairly certain Shanker is the highest rated recruit Caltech has ever brought in. Expect this kid to step in and play at the top of the lineup for the Beavers. Boy am I excited to see Caltech come up absolutely clutch in recruiting this year and really start to make noise in the West. With the Pathireddy brothers’ departure, Shanker, along with James Wei (another 4 star recruit), will play at the top of the lineup and really have nothing to lose as they face big time teams in CMS, Redlands, and Pomona-Pitzer. Expect one, or maybe both, to provide huge wins for the Beavers and hopefully at the end of year, the freshmen duo can finish in the top 8 in the region, securing themselves a spot into Nationals!
Wilson Hamilton (Trinity(TX)): Hamilton is going to be a fantastic addition to the Tiger’s squad. A deep team with the potential of making noise out in the West, I believe Hamilton will fill a major hole for the team and really take them to the next level. With the #1 doubles team in the West in Lambeth/Tyer, along with Pitts and Crawley, Hamilton will be able to jump head first into the lineup and boost Trinity’s chances against the top tier teams. I love the addition of this Texas native to the team and I believe Trinity can make their way into the top 10 by the end of the year with this new talent.
Team that will make the biggest jump this year:
With a 16th place finish in the West and an incoming freshmen class that comprises of two 4 stars and one 3 star, I’m predicting that Caltech will make the biggest leap this coming year. Though I don’t see Caltech beating CMS, Redlands, or PP, I envision the Beavers taking out the rest of the SCIAC competition and finishing 4th in the conference. Caltech has been improving each and every year and I firmly believe that this year will be one for the Beaver’s record books. Expect the freshmen class of Shanker, Wei, and Yu to contribute to the newfound success and really mark themselves as a team fighting to make inroads in the West region. As mentioned, I don’t see them coming out victorious against CMS, Redlands, or PP, but with such a freshmen class, the results will come and in a couple years, we could see Caltech disrupt those top three teams.
Predictions out West for the 2017/2018 season:
Team to finish #1 : CMS
West Region Senior of the year : Zach Hewlin (Whitman)
West Region Freshman of the year : Jack Katzman (CMS)
Most Doubles sweeps : Trinity (TX)
Most 0-3 comeback wins : CMS
Well there you have it. Should be a fun and exciting year out West. Lots of talent, incoming freshman to keep your eye out for, and seasoned players that are ready to make their move. Look out for articles this coming week from all your favorite bloggers, they’ll all be preaching some important stuff.