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If you were to honestly rank this years team in terms of talent, forget all the Covid stuff, would you rank us in the top 10 nationally?  This team just doesn't feel that tough to be honest.
(04-27-2021, 01:15 PM)GK3 Wrote: [ -> ]If you were to honestly rank this years team in terms of talent, forget all the Covid stuff, would you rank us in the top 10 nationally?  This team just doesn't feel that tough to be honest.

Yes, absolutely. We have eight blue chips and two top international players. Just pure talent-wise, there aren't ten teams better than we are. Coming in, I had us as a top 5 team (and the ITA had us #4 in the preseason rankings), but looking purely at talent, I think we're a top 10 team.

But at some point, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Arbuthnott has regressed somewhat. Shin has regressed a lot. (She was a top 100 player coming into the season, and she played herself out of the lineup.) If you thought we were a top 5 team coming in, you were expecting steady improvement from everyone, not going the other way. 

I do wish we could have seen this roster with a full fall of matches and a longer spring season to see how they'd have improved over time. I think Geller, in particular, would have been a lot tougher with more matches under her belt. It seems like Houghton has worked her way up the pecking order, too. Blake missed the early chunk of the season, and Geller missed time, too. With more time, I think this team could have lived up to expectations. Historically, no team improves over the course of the season like Stanford does, and I put a lot of that on Coach Forood. 

It's not a lack of talent, but there is a bit of a grit deficiency. (Sara Choy seems to have grit in spades, though. And I really liked the fight we saw from Blake on Sunday--she was going to win that match.) With so much experience leaving the roster next year, I'm curious to see how the team culture develops for next season. Again, talent certainly won't be an issue, and with the first unanimous #1 recruiting class in years (per the poll at Tennis Recruiting Network), we won't have any excuses for getting right back after it. 

Departing: Emily Arbuthnott, Emma Higuchi
Maybe departing: Michaela Gordon, Janice Shin
Returning: Sara Choy, Niluka Madurawe, Angelica Blake, Nicole Mossmer (if she recovers), Ana Geller, India Houghton
Incoming: Connie Ma, Alexandra Yepifanova, Valencia Xu (only Ma and Yepifanova, the top two recruits in the country, have signed--we need an early departure for Xu to get a scholarship right away (a Mossmer medical retirement would do it), but perhaps we've convinced her to walk on for a year, which would be absurd, but we've pulled it off before with top-but-not-like-top-two recruits before)   

Part of this is that UCLA hasn't been this good in a little while, and neither has Cal. That's exciting for us, and exciting for the conference. We're all better off when we've got a few Pac-12 teams in the top 10, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happened next year.
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