Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Advanced Scouting 2.0: Lesser Rivals

Last week, I began a season preview starting with opponents that we would play at our 2 tournaments during the season. You can find that preview here.

Today, we'll take a look into some of our lesser rivalries. What I mean by lesser rivals are teams that are either far away from us, or we haven't played them for too long, or the series with them has not included close matches. So, they aren't rivals that we think about throughout the season quite as much.

As far as looking toward next season, here's the same disclaimer from last week:
Things I do (usually) know:
- The players they have coming back.
- How those players faired last year.

Things I don't know:
- Any new freshman joining the team.
- Any transfers joining the team.
- The amount of work current team members put in.
- The improvement of current team members.
- Coaching changes, lineup philosophies, etc.

One more thing before we jump in. For each team, I'll have a chart. On the chart will be listed two stats that I have found to be key for projecting what a team will look like. The first is a stat I made up several years ago that I call WRS (Winners Returning Stat). For a detailed look at what puts this stat together, go to this article. But quickly, it is a measure of players returning who won their particular match the year before. The higher a positive score, the higher likelihood of a Bruin victory. The lower a negative score, the higher the likelihood that we will get beat. 

The other stat is a JV Score. WRS only takes into account the varsity. Combining that with the JV scoreline gives a good view of how a match could turn out.

Remember, this is an overview. Things change come the season. Teams get better. We (hopefully) get better. Players get stronger, faster, more mature. This is for fun. The matches are for real.

Over the past 4 years we've actually had several epic matches with the Eagles. The first 3 years were 3-2 for whoever won, each going right down to the wire. Last year, the Eagles didn't field a complete team. However, their returning #1 player is excellent, Niko Rongos. Abe played outstanding in that match and was still down in the 3rd when Abe fell to the ground with cramps.  It will be interesting to see who Columbia City has added when we play this year.

Another Eagle opponent on our schedule is Fremont. This is going to be a fun match next season. Last season we handled Fremont decently, but they return a lot of talent. Logan Miller played #1S for part of last year, defeating Byeong Min Lim in an excellent 3-setter while Byeong was filling in for an injured Abe Thorne. But the thing that makes this better is that I do know about a transfer for the Eagles. Blake Trusty, who played #2 and #3 singles for Angola last season, is moving to Fremont for his senior year. That means that the Eagles should have a strong singles lineup, and its doubles teams will probably remain intact for the next season. What a chance to improve. This should be a good matchup.

Against Prairie Heights we find one of our higher WRS's. However, last year they were debuting basically a brand new team. Almost every player last year was playing their first year of tennis (or so). Those type of players improve rapidly. With almost the entire varsity returning, we can expect a closer match this season.

From one of the highest WRS's to the highest possible. Against Laville last year, we played 7 freshman and won each match. So all of our winners are returning. This again is another team that returns a majority of their lineup, but it wasn't the strongest last year. 

The Marian match last year was the most disappointing of the season. We just didn't come out and play well. We had no history against the Knights, and weren't ready for them. They were a really good team. Senior Jack Julien had been one of the best players in the area for several years. With his graduation, they'll be a bit weaker this year. You can see that although we lost to the Knights last year, we actually have a +1 in the WRS. We were close to victory last year, hopefully we'll get this one at home this year.

Blackhawk is a really interesting case for next year. We won 4-1 last year. We've got a +2 in the WRS. However, look at who returns... it's basically the top of their lineup. And look at some of the scores. Jeremy Hoover lost a close match to Abe. What does that translate to this year as he stays in the same position and we have to move someone up? These are the type of questions that I love to see answered on the court.

Which is where the matches happen! I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of the teams we'll run into this coming season. But above all, I hope you are enjoying getting better at tennis this summer. Just a couple weeks left until we hit the ground. Let's hit it running and ready to go!

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