Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Advanced Scouting 3.0: Local Rivals

Today, we're going to take a look at some closer rivals. Due to distance, these are teams that we get pretty excited to compete with year after year. Some we have had good success against, others we've only beaten once or twice.

If you've missed any of the previews in this series so far, here's the first two segments.
Advanced Scouting 1.0: Tournament Rivals
Advanced Scouting 2.0: Lesser Rivals
Advanced Scouting 3.0: Local Rivals

And here's the disclaimer! I don't know everything, so don't forget that these previews are just for fun!

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.

The first non-Sectional local rival we'll face, in the first week of the season, are the Raiders. They are losing the most dominant piece of their team from last year, All-District player Josh Garfein. They are often a tricky team to predict. They get a lot better from year to year as most of their players only play tennis and they focus on lessons during the offseason. Last year they were a young team, and they shifted their lineup right after they lost to us. So how they lineup will be interesting again this coming season. Will Ted Field move to #1? Has someone else gotten a lot better? Right now, statistics would favor the Bruins here, but will that hold come season?

After Northridge on Tuesday, we'll play Concord on Saturday. We've only ever beaten the Minutemen once. And we've got an even 0 with them on Winners Returning. Landon and Hans were able to capture doubles victories last season, while Sol fell in singles. The varsity matches were all close affairs, settled by breaks one way or the other and 2 that went into 3 sets. However, the JV matches were not as close. This is another match that will be decided on whose worked harder in the offseason. We should have an advantage at the new to varsity positions, but it's going to be tight.

Triton is always an interesting match. Played on a Saturday, it seems they are always missing some piece of their team - and then we often end up winning 3-2. Last year, they had to switch around some of their doubles players and we captured a 4-1 win. However, we lost a critical match to them in #1D at the Merrillville Tournament, and they went on to celebrate a tournament championship there while we finished a few points behind. Coming into this season, they lose their All-District performers at both #1S and #1D. The positions they return were all positions that we were able to take victories at. Again, we won JV matches easily.

A few years ago, Westview didn't have a very good team. They were a bunch of young freshman and sophomores and we went to Emma and came home with a 5-0 win. Then last year they came to Goshen and played excellent tennis, extremely improved and left our courts with a 3-2 win. And that freshman class from a couple of years ago, well they are now upperclassmen with strong skills. Andrew Yoder, a very consistent player, returns and will probably man #1S. Meanwhile, Stephen Gierek pushed Sol to the brink and the probable #1D combo of Taylor Eash and Zack Schrock took down Parth and Landon. That means we enter this match with a -0.5 WRS. It's one of only 2 negative scores for us in the upcoming season. The saving grace for this match might be that our JV handled theirs, which should give us an advantage in whichever spots are matchups between varsity newcomers. All that said, statistically this comes up as our second toughest match of the upcoming season (more on the toughest match next week).

Our last local rival is the Bremen Lions. They return 5 players to their varsity from last season, as they were also a young team. That experience should serve them well as they might be able to leave their singles lineup completely untouched. And with that lineup last year they were able to get one point off of us, defeating Sol at #3S. Hopefully Sol will be ready to play for this one with that in mind! Again our JV outperformed the Lions, so that bodes well for the new positions, but they will only have two new players. This match was a fairly simple one last year, but it looks much more complicated coming into this season.

The bottom line, especially when I start fleshing out statistics like this, is that we always have to be ready to play. There are no easy victories, especially as we start getting to closer and closer rivals. Next week, we'll take a look at our toughest matches of the season, which will undoubtedly come against our Sectional Rivals. But Northern Indiana may be filled with great teams in this upcoming season, let's go be one of them!

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