Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Road Trip!

On April 10th the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) released new national rankings (click here for full rankings). Since the previous rankings release the men of Middlebury have risen two spots and find themselves ranked #8 in the country. While this is a respectable ranking, the ever ambitious Panthers are far from satisfied and the following day, April 11th, set out on a challenging 3 day road trip to face off against #5 Williams, #29 Wesleyan, and #27 Trinity in three NESCAC matchups.
Middlebury Men's Tennis 2013-2014. Professional photo. Professional caption. 
After a quick two-hour drive down to Williamstown, Massachusetts the Panthers took the courts and prepared for battle. Despite the forecast only calling for a 20% chance of rain and Coach Hansen not getting the ‘achy joints’ that typically precede a storm, it started to pour 10 minutes before match time. Though we held out hope that the clouds would pass the Williams coaching staff made the quick decision to move the match indoors. While it was in no way an act of gamesmanship (it continued to rain for quite some time so indoors was our only option) the decision to move the match indoors certainly favored the Ephs.
Bobby ready to doll out some sage advice literally moments before the it started to pour.
Though we’ve spent a great deal of time practicing indoors this year, the William’s indoor court are not true tennis courts and are instead a plastic surface that is rolled out in the hockey arena. However, when you’re hot you’re hot and the Midd doubles teams were hot. 
The indoor complex right before doubles play.
At #1 doubles the standout duo of Alex Johnston and Andrew Lebovitz continued there winning ways with an 8-5 win over a tough Eph team. At #2 doubles the undefeated (in Division III play) team of Brantner Jones and Palmer Campbell got broken early and found themselves down 0-3. However, the ever-optimistic Coach McConnell was unconcerned. During a changeover he calmly sauntered over to the third court where Coach Sabel was monitoring #3 doubles and whispered with a toothy grin, “Worst three games ever. Don’t worry though, we’ll win.” 
Coach Charles 'The Prophet' McConnell
And win they did, taking 8 of the next 11 games for an 8-6 win. At #3 doubles the Panther’s were grasping to life with their infamous retractable claws. They faced at least 10 break points throughout the match and were having a great deal of difficulty getting into the Ephs service games. Unable to break and unwilling to be broken the match went to a tiebreak where Williams went up a mini-break 5-4 with the huge serving Rohan Shastri holding the match on his racquet. Somehow Ari Smolyar caught up to a rocket Shastri first serve for an unbelievable, and match saving, inside out forehand return winner. After trading points on serve Smolyar came through again putting a return down at 7-6 that partner Peter Heidrich closed brilliantly on and knocked off a returner’s partner poach for a 9-8(6) victory and a 3-0 doubles sweep.
The Bone-saw continues to improve after some early season health issues.
The match felt very similar to the Emory match (granted we were up 3-0 as opposed to 2-1) in that all the doubles matches were very close and you got the feeling singles was going to be a war. However, unlike Emory where Midd dropped first sets at all 4 singles positions, Midd dominated the beginning of singles and won first sets at all 4. At #1 singles Alex Johnston took the first 6-4, at #2 Palmer Campbell went up 6-2, Brantner Jones grabbed it 6-1 at #3, and Courtney Mountifield won 6-3 at #4. Palmer was first to close the deal winning the second set 6-0 for a dominating 6-2, 6-0 win that put Midd up 4-0. Yet despite early match domination the ever-elusive fifth point was proving hard to come by. As Ari Smolyar closed out the first set at #5, Williams pushed back at #1, #3, and #4. At #3 Brantner dropped the second 1-6, but as he’s done so often this year he stayed composed and looked ready to battle for the third. 
A demonstration of the various shots in the game of tennis. 
The battle however, was quite one sided as Brantner played six brilliant games to win the third 6-0 for a 6-1, 1-6, 6-0 victory that gave the Midd the insurmountable 5-0 lead. Not long after the clinch Johno and Courtney were unable to overcome their respective opponents as they both fell in 3 sets. At #5 Smolyar saved a few set points in the second set tiebreak to sneak away with a 6-4, 7-6(6) win. At #6 singles Jackson Frons, who will tell anyone who’ll listen that he’s tired of having to play matches that have little bearing on the final score as has so often happened this year with so many of our indoor matches being decided before he even goes on court, lost 6-4, 6-2 which made the final score 6-3 in favor of Midd. 
Chris Frost looking about as photogenic as humanly possible.
Overall it was a great day for the team as it’s always fun to beat the defending national champions, especially when it’s Williams. However, we had little time to rest on our laurels as we hopped in the vans right after the match to head south towards Wesleyan and Trinity.
Hi Allen!
After a rainy Friday we woke up Saturday morning to the nicest day of the year. The sun was shining strong on the Wesleyan courts and the boys were happy to soak in some much needed vitamin D. Panthers typically do not enjoy the heat, but as we’ve been preaching to this group of panthers all year, we’re a special breed. We came out strong in doubles winning #1 doubles 8-5 and #2 doubles 8-4. At the #3 spot Midd once again struggled to break and though the boys did a phenomenal job holding they got broken in the first game at 0-0 and could never get it back. In singles the Panthers dominated the bottom of the singles lineup winning 3 through 6 with relative ease. Zach Bruchmiller even got in on the fun rolling at the #7 position. 
Team meeting after doubles. 
As often happens in matches where it seems like it’s not a matter of if but more a matter of when you’re going to clinch, the question becomes who will clinch. Sir Mountifield had the honors on Saturday as rebounded from a tough loss at Williams for a 6-2, 6-1 win at the #5 position. #3, #4, and #6 took care of business as well with the close matches occurring at the #1 and #2 spots where Johno and Palmer each battled with a pair of talented Wesleyan freshman. Johno was able to pull away with a solid 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 win while Palmer couldn’t quite come back from a 9-2 third set super tiebreak deficit and lost 7-6(4), 1-6, 10-8. Nonetheless another solid win from the Panthers as they beat an emerging NESCAC foe 7-2. After the victory we were lucky enough to eat a wonderful Hibachi Japanese dinner courteous of Chris’s father Mark and Courtney’s parents Anita and Sean.
Frons doing what he does.
That is being slightly awkward but extremely effective.
After two days of challenging tennis it’s always interesting to see how the boys will fare when they’re a little tired and a little banged up. We also knew we were going to have to bring our ‘A’ game because the Trinity team we were set to face off against is very talented. However, as any knowledgeable zookeeper will tell you, the only thing scarier than a panther is a hungry, tired, and beat up panther. At #4 doubles James Burke and Chris Frost got the ball rolling with a nice 8-5 win.
Coach Charles soothes nerves with a special touch.
Next off was #1 doubles where Johno and Lebo won 8-5. #3 doubles managed to break at just the right time to even the match at 6-6 but was unable to keep it on the tracks as they fell 8-6 to make the match score 1-1. At #2 doubles Palmer and Brantner found themselves in an unfamiliar position down a break 6-7. Coach McConnell, who optimism could be mistaken for naivety, once again was confident a victory was coming. Even down match point 7-6, 40-30 Coach McConnell went as far as to guarantee a victory. And in some sort of prophetic way, a victory came. After some unbelievable tennis by Brantner, Midd broke back before both teams held for a tiebreak. In the breaker ‘B-Jones’ and ‘P-Dog’ came alive dominating for a 9-8(2) win. In singles we turned in our most complete singles performance to date only dropping a single set and winning all 6 matches for an 8-1 victory.
Courtney dialed it in as the week went on and posted a dominating 6-4, 6-1 on Saturday and 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday.
All in all the coaches where thrilled with our performance this weekend. More than just winning all three of our matches, we’re even more happy with the continued growth of individual player’s games and the growth of our team’s collective belief. If we continue to put together quality practices and matches as we’ve been doing in the past few months there’s no limit to how far this team can go. And once again we could not be more thankful for all the support from the parents. This week we saw the Lebovitzs, the Smolyars, the Burkes, the Mountifields, and the Frosts. It seems like no matter where we go we have a fan club of at least 10 parents, which is just awesome.
Brantner went 6-0 on the weekend and also earned divsion3tennis.com Northeast player of the week honors.
This Saturday we look forward to playing two challenging matches. In the morning we’ll face off against Bowdoin and in the afternoon we play RPI. In addition to the tennis we will also honor our seniors this Saturday with a wonderful reception after the matches. If you’re interested in attending and haven’t spoken to Bob please shoot him an e-mail as soon as you can.

-Coaches Hansen, Sabel, and McConnell  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Break 2014

Spring break 2014 has officially commenced after a grinding 8 matches in 8 days. Our trip began two Saturdays ago, March 22nd, with an early morning flight down to Atlanta, Georgia. We arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International without a hitch and coaches Bob and Max went to pick up the rental cars. Seeing as this year's team has no freshman, Coach Hansen opted to step up and make the trip's first 'mental error' when he accidentally forget his carry on bag on the plane. After some hard work by Midd's finest utility man Teddy Fitzgibbons the bag was retrieved and the Panthers were on their way. This brief anecdote confirms the age old idiom that even a zen master makes a mistake every once in a while. After a quick drive to Emory University our boys got to hit on outdoor courts for the first time in months and it was clear that while we looked sharp, it would take a few days before we really felt comfortable outdoors.
Ready to rumble in Atlanta.
However, comfortable or not day two of the trip provided our first competitive matches as we squared off against Ogelthrope University in the morning and University of the South in the afternoon. Against the Storming Petrels (Oglethrope's mascot) Midd swept doubles and shut the door quickly in singles play dropping only 8 total games in the 6 singles matches.
Frost using his acrobatic ability to roll versus Oglethrope.
Though it seems impossible that he won this particular point. 
Bruchmiller's still got it!
In the afternoon match the Panther's took a 2-1 lead in doubles before dominating the bottom half of the singles for a 7-2 victory. The highlight of day two was undoubtedly the great depth we once again showed. We were able to play two completely different singles lineups and only dropped one match. Versus University of the South Zach Bruchmiller won 6-1, 6-1 at the #4 spot, Allen Jackson (who also grabbed a win in the morning match) won 6-2, 6-4 and the #5 position, and doubles specialist Andrew Lebovitz showcased his versatility clipping his opponent 6-2, 6-2. Knowing we have such depth gives us the confidence to play a variety of players in matches and also ensures every player pushes one another in practice. 
Coach Chuck McConnell met us down in Atlanta and will be with the Panthers the rest of the season.
Johno loading the Howitzer.
One day three the Panthers hopped in the vans and drove an hour and half northwest to Rome, Georgia where we took the courts against a talented Division II opponent in Shorter College. Andrew Lebovitz and Alex Johnston produced what was the first of several brilliant doubles performances taking down a strong French duo at the #1 position. #2 doubles started slow and were unable to claw back into the match while the new team of Ari Smolyar and Peter Heidrich won 8-0 at the #3 position. In singles Middlebury was once again dominant at the bottom of the singles lineup (note this ongoing trend) highlighted by a dominating 6-2, 6-0 win by Jack Welch at the #6 position. Midd also picked 
up wins at the 2, 3, 4, and 5 spots for a 7-2 win.
Welch working the chip n' charge. A new play in his ever expanding arsenal.
Brantner was not thrilled with his play early in the doubles versus Shorter
Allen Jackson holding his finish.
Doesn't that bear have one too many claws?
Day four provided the season's first true test when the Panther's faced emerging NAIA powerhouse Gerogia Gwinett College. To give you an idea of the level of Georgia Gwinett, their #2 singles player has a career high ATP ranking of 650. Once again our #1 doubles team played incredible tennis and battled back from a 0-4 deficit to win 8-6. In singles we won first sets at #4, #5, and #6 and also served for the first at #3. However, we were only to come away with #5 singles as Smolyar defeated the older (and slightly tubbier) brother of Gwinett's #1 player. Given the level of competition and the howling winds the coaches were happy with how hard our guys competed at every spot. 
Pete doing Pete things.
Bob and Max carefully observe.
On Wednesday, the fifth day of the spring break campaign, we faced Georgia Perimeter College, one of the better junior colleges in the country, in what was Middlebury's last tune up match before Division III play began on Friday. We took a 3-0 lead in doubles and were also victorious at the #4 doubles position. A spot Chris Frost and James Burke went an impressive 4-0 throughout the trip. Their strong play was highlighted by an 8-0 win versus Kenyon and 8-5 win versus Emory. In singles play we were yet again dominant at the bottom of the lineup and solid at the top where we won 5 of 6 singles for a 7-2 win.
James Burke deep in thought, likely pondering which opponent he will dismantle next.
Ted enjoying the off day.
Thursday was an off day where the team sharpened some skills on the court, rested up, and off course hit up the Nike outlets. The boys also engaged in several heated games of Uno throughout the trip and the off day was no exception. While no official tally was kept, it's thought Courtney Mountifield was the overall Uno champion. The highlight of the day was an incredible dinner at a local country club thanks to the generosity of Allen Jackson, Sr. We ate like kings and fantasized about the next three days where we were set to face off against #9 Kenyon, #7 Emory, and a tough North Carolina Wesleyan team.

Thank you Allen Jackson, Sr (back left talking to Bob) for the incredible dinner!
Also notice Brantner piling up everyone's phones in the middle of the table. It's quickly becoming a tradition for all team members to put their phones on airplane mode and stack them in the middle of the table during meals.
Bruchmiller visualizing pre-match.
Friday afternoon the rain came down so we were sent to the indoor facility at Emory University, while the courts are a bit slower than the courts in our beautiful Nelson Arena, the team still felt very comfortable indoors and it showed. We swept doubles, a real challenge against a team as strong as Kenyon, and while we weren't quite as strong in singles we still managed to take 4 of 6 for a 7-2 win. Alex Johnston played a beautiful singles and made a very strong Kenyon player look lost on court. Brantner Jones also got in on the fun and after dropping a set did what he does best and came back to win the next two against a player currently ranked #4 in the country in singles.
Ari was undefeated in singles play during he week. He didn't even drop a set while going 8-0.
Introductions versus Emory.
Per usual, Lebo brought the energy.
Our match on Saturday versus Emory University was the match we'd been looking forward to for quite some time and it was an absolute war. Billed by division3tennis.com as the match of the week it undoubtedly lived up to expectations. The match started outdoors but early on in the doubles sets the rain came down and we were pushed inside. As soon as the matches resumed indoors the momentum swing in the favor of Middlebury as we quickly picked up breaks on all 3 courts. However, as often happens in doubles, the momentum soon swung back in the direction of Emory and they broke back on 3 to make it 7-7, picked up a double break on 2 to serve for it 8-7, and broke back on 1 to tie it at 7-7. After holds by both teams at #1 the Panther duo of Johnston and Lebovitz caught fire and ran off 7 straight points in the tiebreak for a 9-8(0) win at #1 to put Midd up 1-0. Emory tied it 1-1 at #3 doubles where Midd was broken in a grueling game at 7-8 to lose 7-9. At #2 Palmer Campbell and Brantner Jones broke back down 7-8 and were able to pull out the tiebreak 7-4 to give Midd a 2-1 lead heading into singles.
Palmer and B-Jones came up big in doubles where they still haven't lost a match to a Division III opponent this spring.
Court battled all week against some talented players.
Because Emory only has 4 indoor courts 1-4 singles where the first on and despite battling Middlebury dropped all 4 first sets, 6-7(0), 5-7, 6-7(4), and 4-6, respectively. #1 and #2 singles were the first off and not more than an hour and half after being up 2-1 Midd was down 2-3 and in a hole at #3 and #4 singles. Smolyar and Frons quickly hopped on court and raced to identical 7-6(7) first set leads at 5 and 6 singles. At 3 and 4 singles Brantner and Courtney each played brilliant second sets to push each match to the decisive third. Despite unbelievably strong tennis by Brantner his opponent was able to come away with the victory winning match point on a let cord winner. Call me biased, but without that let cord I think still think Brantner pulls that one out. At 4 singles Courtney lost a tough 3rd set 4-6 which gave Emory the 5-2 clinch. Not long after Emory won the match Smolyar and Frons each picked up wins to the make the final 5-4. And while we hate to lose we learned a lot of valuable things throughout this match and we feel confident that if we get back to the practice courts and tighten up a few loose ends this match goes the other way next time.
Panthers hanging tough after a brutal loss. 
The Panthers wrapped up their trip Sunday morning with a 7-2 victory over North Carolina Wesleyan. Our #2 doubles team of Campbell and Jones didn't start well but did a good enough job of scrapping together a 8-6 victory to remain undefeated in Division III play this year. Zach Bruchmiller stepped in at #6 singles and after finding himself down 1-4 in the first set, won 12 of the next 15 games for a 7-5, 6-2 win. After the match we ran to the hotel for a quick shower, grabbed some Steak-N-Shake (Bob's favorite place for some peculiar reason) and went to the airport for a easy direct flight back to Burlington.
The LaZe man.
All in all this was a wonderful trip for the team. We were able to get all of our players a lot of competitive matches and get a really clear idea of where we are as a team and what we need to work on. Most of all we want to thank the parents for their incredible support throughout the trip. Every single match we had a glut of of snacks and great vocal support. Special thanks to the Frons', Brian for his great match photos (many of which were used in this blog post), and Jeanine for keeping Jackson in line.
Jeanine, Jackson, and Brian Frons. 
Suzanne Smolyar for some great photos later in the week (which we also used a few of). The Jackson's for the wonderful dinner on Thursday night. John and Lisa Campbell for making sure Palmer was as fresh as could be. Jackie Welch who saw Jack grab a dual match point versus Shorter.
Jack with his mom and little sister.
The Lebovitz's for contributing to stellar snack selection. Kenneth Jones who was watching Brantner play for the first time in a while and surely contributed to his excellent showing versus Emory. The Frost's who saw Chris kill it in doubles. And last but not least Anita Mountifield for helping the superstitious Courtney maintain his ever changing arsenal of rituals. 
Teddy, Bruch, James, and Brantner catching some rays.
Bonus stache' pic. 
-Coaches Bob, Max, and Charles

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Return of the Champions!

Schwarz getting a Gatorade bath.
A weekend for the ages is in the books after a wonderful celebration of the accomplishments of the 2004 and 2010 NCAA National Championship teams. On Saturday and Sunday nearly 20 former Panther all-stars dusted off their racquets and took the courts in some light hearted, but highly competitive tennis. The weekend began with a round table discussion at which the current Panthers were fortunate enough to hear the former players share some stories about their respective runs to the national championship. Former coach Dave Schwarz (2000-2010) gave a wonderful recap of his time at Middlebury and discussed how the program grew from a team that was ranked low in the region during his first year, to a team that is consistently among the top 10 in the nation. (for more Midd Tennis history check out a web site recently made by Alex Johnston 14.5' http://sites.middlebury.edu/middtennishistory/) Also adding a mix of humorous and enlightening championship run stories were the older, and thus wiser alums, Brian Waldron '06, Stuart Brown '04, and Nate Edmunds '06 to name a few. After the pleasantries were over, the boys got down to business and laced up their shoes for some match play.
Former champions and current Panthers.

Highlights included a doubles battle where the nation's number one ranked team of Brantner Jones 14' and Palmer Campbell 16' took on a team that went 18-1 their senior year at #2 doubles: Conrad Olson ~'10 and Eliot Jia '10. The current Panther duo of Jones and Campbell escaped with an 8-6 victory, but Olson and Jia impressed onlookers with their sharp play...in a set filled with some high
Googs unloads on a forehand during the 04' title run.
quality shot making Justin 'Googs' Ingoglia '05 unleashed what may have been the shot of the day with a beautiful down the line running forehand that eluded Ari Smolyar 16'. Smolyar however, had the last laugh as he walked away with the 6-4 W...better known for his doubles prowess Andrew Thomson '10 impressed on the singles court as he raced out to a 2-0 lead before succumbing to the big-serving Alex Johnston 14.5' 4-6...Pat Knise '12 teamed with Jack Welch 16' to defeat the tandem of Mike Gillim '04 and Googs '05. Welch was later quoted as saying, “I wish I could serve like Googs.” Following the match Welch and Knise slapped forehands back and forth for about 20 minutes much to the crowds delight.
Schwarz said he would've have traded a can of tennis balls for Andrew Lee after his freshman year.
By Lee's senior year he was a singles and doubles All-American.
The duo of James Burke '14 and Zach Bruchmiller 14' managed to clip their former teammates Derrick “Dangle” Angle 12' and Eric “Eazy” Vehovec 12' 8-5. Vehovec (who currently holds a 1672 ATP singles ranking) was reportedly aced on four straight wide serves by Burke, however we are still awaiting video confirmation. In a post match interview Bruchmiller had high praise for the former Panthers, “Dangle was moving like an animal at net. Pulling a lot of signature drop volleys. Slapping a lot of backhands.”.
Andrew Thomson celebrates after a big Conrad Olson victory. Dangle (background) enjoys this immensely.
Nate Edmunds with the full extension on the backhand followthrough.
That's straight out of the textbook. 
Alex Scott 07' and Fil Marinkovic ~08' serve's frequently approached 120 MPH on the radar gun but they struggled in longer exchanges against the young, agile Panther team of Peter Heidrich 16' and Ari Smolyar 16'...in a matchup of a former #1 Panther team versus a current Panther #1 team Alex Johnston 14.5” and Andrew Lebovitz 14.5” took down Andrew Lee 10' and Andrew Thomson 10'. The point of the match occurred when Thomson hit a beautiful drop volley that Lebo somehow tracked down, only to have his meek reply smashed into his back. So while Lee and Thomson couldn't get the victory, at least they got some bacon...Lebo finished his first match and went straight to his second where he paired with assistant coach Max Sabel to defeat Will “Rudy” Oberrender 13' and Mile Malhame 11' 7-6(5) in what was the closest the alumni got to a victory all weekend...Jackson Frons 16' and Courtney Mountifield 15' played a close match against Nate Edmunds 06' and Kevin Bergesen 07'
Victory! Dog pile after Alex Scott clinches the 04' title.
The current Panther tandem emerged 8-5 but where impressed with the alumni. Post match Frons was heard saying, “I thought we'd walk all over them, but those guys can play.”...Former captain Stu Brown 04' and Googs 05' (how many matches did this guy play?) couldn't handle the strong play of Allen Jackson 16' and Chris Frost 15'Jackson was seen whiffing on a huge serve off of the Googs racquet. However he was quick to note that Googs doubled the next three points for the break.
Alex Scott unloads on a backhand (assuming he closes that racquet face soon)
Conrad's lovin' it.
All in the all the event was a great success with players and alumni bonding over the stories of past success and the dreams of whats to come. One current Panther remarked, “As a senior, things were put pretty solidly in perspective this weekend. While I have many memories from this team thus far, it would not feel complete without having it all come together with a national title. I want a spot at the table at the championship reunions, telling future players about the good times, the matches, and the sacrifice. I will do whatever it takes from here on out to get there, and I hope you all will join me.” Another noted, “The strength of the bond the 2004 guys have today and the passion behind the stories they told really had a strong impression on me. I was able to see first hand the individual and group effects of winning a national championship; the guys think about the experience to this day and it formed a connection between them forever. I want that.” 
Brian Waldron cutting a dirty slice. 
Eliot Jia just wants one more point!
A final Panther said the highlight of the weekend for him was, “...what Dave said to us on Sunday. He asked us, 'Could you win the National title if it was today? If not, then you need to figure out what to do to get there.' I loved that question because it turns that National Championship match into an entire season grind. What we do today is what wins the gold trophy two months from now.”

The players and coaches would like to extend one final thank you to all the alumni that took the time to return to campus this past weekend and we look forward to future alumni events.

-Coaches Hansen, Sabel, and McConnell

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

And We're Underway!

          Over the course of several Saturdays throughout the month of February the Panther's have laced up their shoes and faced one another in our weekly 'Blue and White' intra-squad matches. And as hard as we try to simulate the atmosphere of a match versus an opposing school, there is something about playing your own teammates that makes the experience feel slightly disingenuous. However, this past Saturday we finally got to face off against some real life competition. At 9 A.M. we opened our dual match season versus NESCAC conference foe Colby College and later in the afternoon we faced Brandeis. While both of these teams have been trending upward in the past few years we felt confident that given our depth we could play two completely different singles lineups, as well as several combinations of different doubles teams, in order to allow all 14 of our Panther stars an opportunity to shine. An opportunity they all capitalized on as every player was able to notch a win on opening day.
Preparing for battle!
            In the morning match, following what could quickly become a 2014 Panther tennis tradition, the playing of the national anthem before lineup introductions, our doubles teams took the court versus the Colby College Mules. Midd notched it's first point of the season not 30 minutes later when our #2 doubles teams of Brantner Jones and Palmer Campbell finished off their opponents 8-1. You know you have some doubles depth when the team currently ranked #1 in the country (Jones and Campbell) is playing at your #2 position. Courtney Mountifield and Jackson Frons were next on the board with an 8-2 victory at #3 doubles followed by a 8-3 win for Ari Smolyar and James Burke at #4 doubles. At the #1 doubles position the senior duo of Alex Johnston and Andrew Lebovitz faced a determined barren of freshman Mules and were unable to overcome some late serving struggles, making the score 2-1 in favor of Middlebury after doubles.
Brantner Jones and Palmer Campbell, currently ranked #1 in the country
            Much like his doubles performance Palmer Campbell needed only about 30 minutes to get the win at the #1 singles position when his opponent, down 0-3 to the hard hitting Campbell, rolled his ankle and retired from the match. Next off the court was the Bonesaw. Facing a talented Colby player senior Teddy Fitzgibbons was his usual self, tracking down balls and rarely missing en route to a 6-1, 6-2 victory at the #3 position. Minutes later Andrew Lebovitz clinched the match for the Panthers with a routine 6-1, 6-2 win at the #5 singles spot. Coach Hansen was particularly impressed with Lebovitz's work as he was able to rebound from a tough doubles loss to put together a virtuoso singles performance. And while it was never mentioned, we also suspect Coach Hansen was enamored with Lebovitz's play because of his tendency to chip and charge and serve and volley, something Coach Hansen remembers fondly from his glory days.
Bob's glory days?
 Chris Frost was next off with a dominating 6-0, 6-1 win at the #6 singles line. Frost, who is still kicking red clay off of his shoes after a fall abroad in Spain, as well as fellow junior Peter Heidrich have impressed everyone with how seamlessly they've integrated themselves into this years team, something that is not easy to do after spending several months in a foreign country. At the #2 singles position Courtney Mountifield was able to fend off a second set barrage as well as a match point in the deciding match tiebreak for a 7-6(0), 0-6, 11-9 victory. Last off the court was Zach Bruchmiller who overcame a tough first set tiebreak loss to pull out a 6-7(3), 6-4, 10-4 victory and the #4 position. The singles sweep gave the Panthers an 8-1 victory and moved our record to 1-0. After the match the boys grabbed a quick lunch, took a hour or two to rest up, and then were back at the courts for our 4 P.M. contest versus the Brandeis Judges.
Lebo channeling his inner panther. Ready to pounce!
            Johnston and Lebovitz, eager to overcome their morning loss, were first off the court against the Judges en route to an 8-2 victory at the #1 position. Brandeis quickly evened the score at 1-1 after Mountifield and Frons struggled to find their rhythm in an 8-2 loss at the #3 position. Jones and Campbell swung the momentum back in the direction of the Panthers with a routine 8-4 win at the #2 position. And Chris Frost and Jack Welch added a Panther bonus point with an 8-4 win at the #4 spot. Once again ahead 2-1 going into singles the Panthers rolled out an entirely new singles lineup who, like their morning counterparts, were looking for the singles sweep. At the #1 position Johnston found himself down 0-3 before reeling off 12 of the next 15 games for a 7-5, 6-1 victory. Next off was Ari Smolyar who fended off a second set counterattack from his opponent for the 6-0, 6-3 win at the #3 singles line. Jackson Frons clinched the match just a few minutes later with a 6-0, 6-4 win at the #4 singles spot. Allen Jackson one upped Alex Johnston's turnaround by dropping the first three games and then winning 12 of the next 13 for a solid 6-3, 6-1 win at the #5 spot and Peter Heidrich wrapped up the singles sweep with a 6-1, 6-2 win at #6 singles. The solid singles play gave the Panther's their second 8-1 victory of the day and moved our record to 2-0.
The Bonesaw was his usual rock solid self in singles.
            Overall the coaches were very satisfied with the quality of play. In particular we were impressed with our depth and how it manifested itself with dominating performances at the bottom of the singles lineup. Easy wins by Frons, Jackson, Heidrich, Lebovitz, and Frost demonstrated this exemplary play. And while there are certainly things we need to continue to get better at on the singles court, we were pleased with the way things have started. While we weren't quite as successful on the doubles court we learned a lot of things that will make us better going forward. In addition our #2 team looked very sharp and our #1 team did a great job of staying level headed and rebounding from a tough morning loss.
2004 NCAA National Championship Team
            The Panther men won't play their next NCAA dual match until we head south to Atlanta for spring break, however we'll still lace them up this Saturday in a match against former Middlebury all-stars. This upcoming weekend is the 'Return of the Champions' weekend with members of the 2004 as well as the 2010 NCAA National Championship teams returning to campus for a celebration of their accomplishments. They will also try to show they still have something in the tank as the former champions will put together a team to battle the current Panthers. They've even enlisted the aide of former Middlebury Men's coach Dave Schwarz to try and help guide them to victory. And while we won't know how sharp the old Panthers look until they step on the court the word on the street is that former co-captain Andrew Thomson is taking a month long break from competitive bass fishing (where he has become highly ranked in Southern California) to ensure ample on court preparation. We look forward to seeing some former champions and having a blast this weekend!

2010 NCAA National Championship Team
-Coaches Hansen, Sabel, and McConnell