I watched a lot of tennis this weekend at the UVa Ranked+1
fall tournament. One difference could be that this tournament will affect the updated ITA rankings when they come out in January, as there are no juniors present. This tournament might not be comparable to Napa Valley in that respect, but I believe that some of the observations below would apply to both tournaments.
I noticed a few things:
1. Top players were not always totally enthusiastic about playing, because it is just a fall tournament and not a dual match.
2. However, the top players still got it together to win against the players they should beat, because they did not want to lose. Really good players just do not want to lose matches they can win.
3. New players on good teams, where it is competitive to get a spot in the top six, are playing like this is the U.S. Open final. They want to impress the coach. UVa has five highly recruited freshmen this year, and probably no more than two of them can make the top six, so it is out of the question for one of them to not take a match seriously because "it is only a fall tournament." Teammates who are competing for starting slots are on adjacent courts winning their matches and impressing the coach.
My conclusion is that no one should draw any conclusions from how close a score is in a loss ("A guy from my school played a close match with that highly-ranked player!"), because quite often the better player blew off a game or two, even lost serve with a really bad game, but then got it together to win. His spot in the lineup does not depend on winning 6-2, 6-2 instead of 6-4, 6-4, so he does not care about that. But I also conclude that when that freshman from your school that you are trying to evaluate does not merely have a close loss against a good player, but actually beats him, then it means something.