Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Advance Scouting 1.0: Tournaments

Last season, we competed in 3 different tournaments, and came away with 3 trophies. This season, we've added a new tournament challenge to the mix as well as saying goodbye to 5 of our varsity players. So what do our chances look like in the tournaments we play? Let's explore that today in the first segment of Advance Scouting.

Let's dive into the tournaments...

Tournament #1: Western Invitational
This is a new tourney for us. Our opponents will be Western, Northwestern, and Lafayette Central Catholic. I cannot apply the WRS for these matches because we did not play these teams last season. But here is what I do know. 

Central Catholic had a relatively successful season last year. The only match results I could find were wins, but I did notice they were in a tournament with Western last year and finished 7th of 8th. So I'm guessing there were some losses sprinkled in there too. They return 6 of the 8 players who played varsity. The Knights #1S player last year was a freshman who had good success. They should be a solid opponent in the tournament.

The Northwestern Tigers finished last season with an 8-8 record. The only common opponent we had was Eastern, and the Tigers beat them 5-0 just like us. I don't know who they return or where their strengths are. But I do know that they got beat 4-1 by the hosts of this tournament, Western. 

So Western, the hosts, are the top challenge in this tournament. They are coached by my brother, so I know more about them. Their #1S player, Pranav Haran, was an All-District selection last season. They also return 6 of 7 varsity players from last year. They had a successful season last year, winning their conference and losing the Sectional to Kokomo, 3-2 In a match that came down to a 3rd set in #1D. They had some bad losses last year as well as some good wins, which is normal for a younger team. This will be a great early test in the season, as Western will most likely be a district ranked team when we play them.

The newness of this tourney makes it exciting to me. I can't wait to see how we match up.

Tournament #2: Merrillville Invitational
This was one of the tournaments that we won last year. The field was a bit down last year, and it came down to us and Centerville. We won 3 of the 5 matchups we had against the Bulldogs, and so won the tournament. 

This tournament can usually be split up into two tiers. Teams that contend for the title and teams that are usually in the middle.

In previous years, I've seen this tournament won by Triton, Centerville, it is always closely contended by Portage. These teams tend to be the top threats. Centerville was a young team last year, so they may be the team to beat this year after coming in 2nd last season.

In the middle tier are teams like Highland, Wawasee, and Merrillville. Each of these teams have up and down years. Last year, we didn't get drawn very often with these three schools, so I'm not sure what they will have returning this year.

This tournament is always a fun one because we don't know the opponents as well. They are most from the western part of the state, and we don't play many of them during the regular season (besides Triton). It is a great opportunity to just go play our game, have fun, and see how it turns out!

Tournament #3: Wabash Invitational
This is a tourney that we do know really well. We've played the same teams in this tournament since it started and all of these teams have had years where they have contended with us closely and beaten us. 

We always begin this tourney with Taylor, and like the last couple of years, this should be our biggest challenge. They return their entire varsity team from last year. And while we defeated them 4-1, all of the singles matches were close. Camden Kimbler, who will be a senior at #1S, defeated Jesse in a very close match last year and is the picture of consistency. Which is a hallmark of Taylor's teams: consistency. A year of experience and a season of practice will make this a very close match.

Our second opponent is Wabash. It feels like the same old story, we defeated them last year but they bring back 5 of their 7 players. They will be a bit more polished and experienced this coming season. They will all have to move up a position however, as they lose their #1S and #1D players. Last year, their #3S player, Luke Mattern, gave a great challenge to Sol and played a great match as a freshman. It will be interesting to see his strides this year.

Eastern didn't have a very successful season last year. I don't really know what they will be like this coming season, because I think many of their players were seniors. So this will be a bit of a wild card match. Luckily, we play them last, so we'll have some time to see what they'll look like during the day of the tournament.

Tournament #4: Sectional
This is going to be a great competition this year. No doubt, Goshen should be one of the best teams we face this season. But, I'm going to dedicate a whole post to previewing the Sectional. So we'll save that!

So, 4 tourneys and 4 fun chances to compete with our brothers. Writing this makes me ready to get underway. Too bad it is raining today!

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