Special from Division3Tennis.com
|Share: || || |
The NCAA Championships are getting underway, and the D-III brackets have been announced. Today, one of the principals of Division3Tennis.com stops by with a preview of the NCAA Division III Championships.
The Division III NCAA tournament kicks off this week at eight regional sites around the country. In the past, only the quarterfinals have been featured, but D-III tennis is deeper now than it has ever been. This year has been filled with stunning upsets, and it is no longer unthinkable for the 20th-ranked team in the country to beat the No. 3. There will be some great tennis at the regional sites this year, so let's take a closer look at each region.
Region #1: Amherst, Massachusetts Amherst College
is the defending national champion, No. 1 seed, and heavy favorite to repeat as national champions this year. Hailing from one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country, the Lord Jeffs returned five starters from their national championship team, and went undefeated against Divsion III opponents during the regular season. Speaking to the strength of DIII tennis is the fact that they have a 5-star sophomore recruit playing #4 singles. Needless to say, they are the heavy favorite to advance out of this region to the quarterfinals.
No other school in this region is nationally ranked, but Amherst's stiffest competition will come from Vassar College. Vassar is another prestigious school in Poughkeepsie, NY, and the roster is headlined by Ben and Andrew Guzick. The Guzick brothers are capable of beating anyone in the country, and their team's success will depend largely on their play. Unfortunately for Vassar, Amherst has too much depth and will probably come away from this region with a 5-0 victory.
Region #2: Atlanta, Georgia
If any team is going to beat Amherst for the national championship, it will be Emory. Emory University, located in Atlanta, GA, is a superb school that has no trouble attracting 4- and 5-star recruits. The Emory men's tennis team is the closest thing to a dynasty D-III tennis has. Last year's runners up, the Eagles are also undefeated against D-III opponents and ranked #2 in the country. They will be looking to improve on their streak of nine consecutive Final Four appearances - a streak which includes the 2003 and 2006 national championships. Leading the charge for them are perhaps the two best D-III tennis players in the country, Dillon Pottish and Chris Goodwin. The two met in the national championship match of the NCAA tournament last year, with Goodwin prevailing in two sets. The only singles loss against a D-III opponent for either of them this year was Goodwin's 6-3, 6-0 loss to Pottish in the South Regional final.
This year's NCAA tournament was marred by a number of perplexing and unpopular choice by the NCAA selection committee, perhaps the most egregious these errors is the makeup of this region. Unlike the Amherst regional, three top twenty teams are joining Emory in Atlanta. Whitman College, the No. 2 seed in the region, is the only other team in the tournament who is undefeated against D-III opponents. Whitman is the best academic institution in the Pacific Northwest, and the 11th-ranked Missionaries are enjoying their best season in several decades. Though Whitman doesn't usually attract the same calibre of recruits as most D-III schools, they win with fundamental doubles and gritty singles. Unfortunately, the Missionaries were given a date with the 19-ranked North Carolina-Wesleyan as a reward for their undefeated season. NCW is a school known for giving generous financial aid packages, which has allowed their tennis team to attract a bevy of international players. The Battling Bishops have to be equally displeased with their placement. They are capable of playing phenomenal tennis, as evidenced by their 5-4 victory over the 4th-ranked Kenyon College Lords earlier this season, and deserved a better shot at making it to the Elite Eight. The Whitman/NCW match could go either way, but Emory will be heavily favored over either of them. No matter who they play, the Eagles will win #3 doubles and #1 and #2 singles, and advance out of the region with 5-1 victory.