Monday, June 6, 2016

Wrapping up an Amazing 2016 Panther Season

In our last entry we were on our way to the NCAA tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Although I am sure many of you know the results by now, I would like to do a brief recap of the tournament. For detailed breakdowns of scores and results please go to our Middlebury Men’s Tennis page:

In our first round we played a great match against a very strong Washington University of St. Louis. Palmer/Hamid and Will/Kyle won decidedly at the one and three doubles spots, while Noah/Ari lost a very close tiebreaker making the score 2-1 going into singles. Will De Quant was the first player off absolutely dominating his opponent, followed by Noah Farrell at the top singles spot. With a victory by Palmer Campbell, who had been fighting off illness just days before, the Panthers were on to the NCAA team semi-finals.

Our semi-final match was a repeat of last years’ matchup against a very talented University of Chicago. With wins at two and three doubles, competing brilliantly, and a loss at the top spot, we were looking at a 2-1 lead going into singles. Our opponents that day were extremely gritty and loud, slow and steady we rode the momentum amazingly well as the match labored on. First off was Will De Quant at the four singles spot with a straight-set victory, demonstrating once again why he was one of the toughest players in the country at his spot. Kyle Schlanger, who was seconds from clinching the day before, lost a tough match at the six spot making the overall score 3-2 Panthers. It was an absolute war that day, but with Hamid Derbani’s straight-set victory at five singles, Middlebury was one match away from the NCAA finals. With Noah, Ari, and Palmer, all battling at their spots it was tough to tell who might push it across the finish line. With some amazing clutch and tough play, it came down to Senior Palmer Campbell, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, and the Panthers were in the Finals once again!

That Sunday we went out with both confidence and nerves, feeling very optimistic about our final matchup with Bowdoin College. We had played and won twice before during the season, our third and final matchup of the year planning to do the same. At the beginning the Panthers came out firing, getting up a break at two and three doubles, also having a break point at the top doubles spot. The crazy thing about sports is how quickly momentum can shift, and shift it did. Little by little Bowdoin put together better and better points, as our play went the other direction. As we started to feel all three doubles points starting to slip away we fought as hard as we could, unfortunately that didn’t change the result that Sunday afternoon. Bowdoin went up 3-0 going into singles, we were staring up a monstrous mountain, but we were ready for the fight in front of us. It is not easy to battle like we did after going down 3-0, especially against a team you feel confident playing, but our boys fought to the very end. With Palmer losing a tough match where his opponent played extremely well, the Polar Bears were up 4-0. Never giving up Will was in great position at four singles for a victory, while Kyle was in a three-set war at six. Noah was doing every thing he could in his third set battle, while Ari was hanging on fighting every point and not giving up. The finals match was with Hamid at the five spot. As Gil Roddy from Bowdoin clinched his spot 6-4, 6-4, our dream of a Championship was over. We would like to briefly congratulate Bowdoin on their success as they had an amazing tournament. They are a great group of young men who deserve their success; a sincere congratulations. Back to our Middlebury boys, we the coaches would like to say how proud we are of every member of this year’s team. It’s not easy to set the goal of winning the whole thing, feeling failure when coming so close and finishing two out of almost 400 teams, but as we gain perspective we want to acknowledge what an amazing season it really was. Winning the NESCSC Team Title, only facing two D3 losses all year, and making the finals of the NCAA’s, what a brilliant run.

All below photos of NCAA's are thanks to the amazing work of Dain McKee (Assistant Director of Athletic Communications)


After the Team Tournament was completed we went on to the Individual Tournament. Ari Smolyar lost a tough 3-set first round match against a very tough player from CMU, who ended up reaching the Semi-Finals. Congratulations to Ari who gave his last match every thing he had, and ended his career with All-American status. Noah Farrell won two rounds before falling to the finalist from Kalamazoo in the quarter finals. Noah had an absolutely brilliant season and rightfully finished as one of the best players in the country, he should be so proud. Palmer and Hamid had a fantastic run reaching the finals of the doubles draw, playing some of the best tennis we coaches have seen on their way there. These two were mere points away form losing in both of their first two rounds, but as Palmer repeatedly told us, “Hey, its fate baby!” Although they lost a tough match in the final to the winners of Kenyon College they should feel nothing short of pride on their tournament run. Their quarter and semi-final rounds were astounding, and both are ending the season with All-American status and a final #2 National Doubles Ranking.

Switching gears we would love to introduce our incoming new student-athletes as we look to the 2017 Panther season. We ill be brining in Alex Vanesis, Alex Samets, Lubomir Cuba, and Weston Brach. We are so excited to have all these players and their family’s join this Panther family. One huge addition to the team next year is the returning of one of our senior captain’s Allan Jackson. Allan faced an intense hip-surgery this past year, taking him away from Middlebury, and after many conversations we can say he is more than eager to return and ready to lead. 

That being said thanks again to everyone who has supported us all season long, we could not have done it without you. Graduates Palmer, Ari, Jack, and all their family’s, please stay in touch and best of luck going forward in your lives. You know where we will be when you want to see some good Midd tennis. Also a huge heart-felt thank you to our assistant Courtney Mountifield. You were absolutely brilliant and utterly essential in this year’s success. Best of luck moving forward but as we all know, you will not need it.

Till next season,

Middlebury Coaching Staff

Friday, May 20, 2016

NESCAC Champs on to the NCAA's at the Zoo


Dear Panther Family,

A lot has happened since our last entry so we would love to take a moment to highlight the recent
accomplishments of this 2016 Men's Panther Tennis Team:

-Finishing our regular season 16-1 against Division 3 opponents

-Undefeated in NESCAC dual matches

-2016 NESCAC Team Tournament Champions

-Noah Farrell NESCAC Player of the Year, Ari Smolyar, Palmer Campbell and Hamid Derbani All-
Conference award winners

-Two 5-0 victories to get to the Elite 8 in Kalamazoo Michigan

-Noah Farrell and Ari Smolyar qualify for NCAA Singles Individual Tournament

-Doubles Team Palmer Campbell and Hamid Derbani qualify for NCAA Doubles Individual Tournament

I was very proud of our accomplishment of going undefeated in NESCAC dual matches which was a testament to strong and consistent preparation. Since our last update we defeated a strong and talented Amherst team 7-2 and beat Connecticut College and Trinity College 9-0 heading into our conference tournament. As the top seed at NESCACs we received a bye and played Wesleyan University in the semifinals which turned out to be one of our most challenging matches. Reversing a doubles deficit the first time we played them, we went up 2-1 after doubles and won three singles to complete a 5-2 hard fought victory. In the finals, we defeated second seed and #4 nationally ranked Bowdoin College aided by a doubles sweep leading to a 5-1 final outcome. Winning the conference for the second straight year was a huge accomplishment and a positive reflection of the consistent effort from top to bottom from our student athletes. 

Our strong regular season granted us the opportunity to host the first three rounds of the NCAA Team Championships which was another deserved thrill for our team. Always nice to play at home, we did not disappoint as we came away with two strong 5-0 efforts against Wilkes College (23-3) and #20 ranked Skidmore College (14-5). Sweeping the doubles for our final three matches was a fitting conclusion to our focused effort to enhance our doubles skillset, and something we all feel very good about heading into the Elite 8 in Kalamazoo, Michigan next week. At Kalamazoo, a historically significant location and home of the most prestigious hardcourt tournament in the U.S., we enter as the three seed and play perennial power Washington University of Saint Louis. They are talent laden, well coached, and have been one of the most consistent final four teams over the last decade. It should be a wonderful match as we enter with a great head of steam. 

It has been, and continues to be, a wonderful journey on many, many levels. Hats off to our assistant coaches for their outstanding efforts who have served to create a wonderful foundation for our athletes to explore their full potential. Courtney’s contribution to recruiting and conditioning have been incredible impactful and Bryce has been involved each step of the way since joining us, providing insight, humor, experience, and talent on all levels. Moreover, our work with Morgan Shepherd in the Fall continues to bear fruit as our technical skills are ever expanding. Thanks again to our amazing Panther family for your amazing support. We are deeply appreciative of the many people that contribute to this fine program and we clearly would not be able to consistently approach our current level of excellence without your help! 

For more detail, individual scores, and highlights please visit our team site on the Middlebury Athletics webpage at For those of you who want to follow our progress at the NCAA's please visit:

Very best wishes,

Bob, Bryce and Courtney

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Three NESCAC Matches, Three Panther Victories

Senior Palmer Campbell

Since our last blog update the young men of Midd have come across three dangerous NESCAC opponents (two of the three being top ten teams). Before we talk about our noon match today with rival Amherst of Massachusetts I would like to take a minute to recap our incredible effort these past few weeks.

Williams (#9)
8-1 Middlebury Victory

Traveling over to Williamstown to play the very talented Ephs on their indoor courts can be a bit daunting, but from the very first point the Panthers set the tone and never looked back. Arguably our best combined doubles effort to date the Midd boys jumped out to early leads at all three spots, playing imposing and aggressive doubles as we gained early momentum. With extremely solid and focused play Ari/Noah and Will/Kyle secured victories putting the Panthers up 2-0. Coming down to a tiebreaker Palmer and Hamid played amazing in the clutch to secure the sweep and put Midd up 3-0 going into singles. In singles our seniors Ari and Palmer were first off with brilliant straight set victories to secure the win. They are becoming extremely tough at their respective spots and continually making that statement clear to all opponents they face. Other singles victories included Noah in straight sets, Will in three, and Timo in three, as he showed clearly that he was physically stronger going the distance. Hamid had some great play throughout his match but lost a close super tiebreaker in the end. With a fantastic showing we got on the bus and headed to Boston to face Tufts the next day.

Tufts (#17)
7-2 Middlebury Victory

To put it simply this dual match was gritty, nasty, and brilliant from start to finish. The Tufts courts are located in the center of campus and respective Tufts fans came out in numbers to cheer, heckle, and scream for their team. With a tough 9-7 loss at number two doubles Tufts struck first taking a 1-0 lead. Next was a huge 8-5 victory by Will and Kyle who brought the momentum back to our side as our number one team fought tooth and nail in one of the most brilliant college doubles prosets I have ever seen. Noah and Ari fought off numerous match points in the tiebreaker, all coaches very aware of how huge this point was going into singles. It was a 12-10 tiebreaker loss for Noah and Ari but inspirational all the same. What was most impressive was how quickly our boys rebounded in the group huddle as a look of toughness and willingness to fight to the bitter end was felt throughout the group. I would like to take a second to recognize how well seniors Palmer and Ari took the continual taunting by Tufts fans throughout the match and remained mentally tough throughout the evening. Losing three of the first six singles sets we knew we were in a dog fight. We coaches are so proud of how our boys handled the adversity that day. Minute by minute you could feel the momentum slowly turn our way as our fitness and mental toughness began to reveal itself more and more. Noah, Palmer, and Hamid, all won in straight sets to put the Panthers up 4-2. Will clinched the match in an incredibly clutch three set victory, a victory he earned through fight and determination. Ari showed his toughness winning 6-0 in the third and Timo brought his opponent to cramping to secure the 7-2 overall victory. It was a long drive home but we were all in great spirits.

Bowdoin (#2)
5-4 Middlebury Victory

Last Sunday our match with number two Bowdoin came down to the last match on with number one sophomore Noah Farrell. Before we get to its exciting conclusion I will cover results getting us to 4-4 before it was put on Noah’s racquet. Bowdoin was extremely tough in doubles and came out winning two of the three prosets at number one and number three doubles. Our solo point was earned by Palmer and Hamid who had a dominating victory to keep us in the match. Palmer served huge and Hamid picked off volleys to clinch the 8-2 win, serving out the match with confidence and aggressive play. It was a long road ahead but we had been down 2-1 before, we were ready for the challenge. First off was Hamid with a dominating 6-1, 6-2 victory. Next off was Ari with a one-sided 6-2, 6-0 victory. Palmer was next off with a very composed straight set victory and just like that Midd was up 4-2. With Will, Timo, and Noah, all in third sets things were looking good for the Middlebury upset. The score quickly slipped as both Timo and Will lost close matches putting it on Noah to decided the day’s results. Noah handled the pressure with perfection, something we coaches and teammates try not to take for granted as he continually does so. Point by point he lengthened his lead, playing tough, explosive, and extremely bold tennis. With a score of 6-2 Noah clinched the victory for the Panthers as teammates charged to congratulate his performance. It was a huge step for these boys, especially after all the hard work they have put in day after day this season.

A quick thank you to all the parents and family who not only showed up to senior night but made huge efforts to make this night so very special. Mr. and Mrs. Smolyar and Mr. and Mrs. Welch did an amazing job recognizing both teams and showing appreciation to all players, coaches, and families. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell were unable to attend (great to have Palmer’s grandmother there), but it goes without saying that they have been incredibly impactful with what we now call the Midd Family in so many ways. Seniors Palmer, Ari, and Jack and their families have been such amazing pieces to this Panther program, a heart felt thanks for all you have done.

Today we face a very tough opponent in Amherst at 12:00. The boys, once again, are ready for the challenge ahead. We will keep you posted,

Coaching Staff of Middlebury Men's Tennis

Saturday, April 9, 2016

On to NESCAC Matchups

Sophomore Noah Farrell

Our Panther spring break concluded with highs, lows, and a ton of learning lessons as we continue our push forward in our quest for a National Championship. The Panthers notched a solid 6-3 victory over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, had a tough 3-6 loss to UC Riverside of southern California, and played an incredibly close match with defending champions Claremont Colleges of southern California. Before we lead into our two upcoming NESCAC matchups we would like to do a quick summary of our previous division three matches with Pomona and Claremont Colleges. For detailed scores and information please visit

Pomona was a tough loss for us to handle last season and the boys were ready for this most recent rematch. We came out firing in doubles as Ari and Noah grabbed the momentum early and never looked back finishing with an 8-1 victory. They played inspiring and aggressive doubles that started the match on a fantastic note for the Panthers. Next off was the number three team of William and Timo who had a battle of a match but came up in the clutch winning with a final score of 8-6. Last off was Palmer and Hamid at the number two spot with a very close and tough 9-8 loss. Overall it was a great doubles effort against a very tough Pomona doubles lineup as our hard work and progress in this area continues to show. In singles the Panthers came out hard and didn’t let up. With wins by Hamid, Noah, Will, and Ari the team victory was secure. Both Timo and Palmer lost close matches in super tiebreakers to conclude the evening match, not taking away from an overall great effort as we switched our sights to the upcoming rematch with CMS.

Our match with CMS was a war from start to finish. Similar to our effort with Pomona the Panthers came out blazing in doubles with teammates cheering and yelling from top to bottom. Ari and Noah faced a tough loss at number one doubles but the score was quickly back even with a dominant victory by Hamid and Palmer at the number two spot. That afternoon we had the combination of Timo and Kyle Schlanger playing the third doubles spot and with amazing play they did not disappoint. With Kyle serving at 7-6 both he and Timo went back and forth with match points before an incredible first volley was struck by Kyle, leading to a stag error and a victory for this new Panther team. The Panthers came out strong in singles winning four of the first six singles sets. Unfortunately, the momentum swung the other way as the Stags proceeded to chip away at the deficit they faced. Palmer and Timo were first off with two tough straight set losses but Noah evened the score with a brilliant straight set victory at the top spot. At one point Will and Hamid were both down 4-1 in third sets while Ari was just starting his his third set, it was looking dim for Midd. With a brilliant effort by Will and continued fighting by Hamid and Ari all of a sudden the Panthers were back in the match. As the battle continued point after point the Stags took victory’s at both the number two and five singles spots to clinch the match for CMS. Will came all the way back to a third set tiebreaker with incredible fight, but came up short in the end after the match was decided. The biggest lesson learned that day was how the match was on our racquet, it was ours for the taking. Since returning to Middlebury the coaching staff has been extremely impressed with the resiliency of this team. Disappointment can lead to cutting corners in terms of work and commitment, we were happy to say that these young men have done the exact opposite.

Today we have a very tough away match with NESCAC opponent Williams College of Massachusetts. Tomorrow we face a very talented Tufts College, also on the road. Day by day this team continues to work and grow and mature into a team we the staff are very proud of. Thanks again to all the support over our spring break trip, the Shapiro family for hosting an amazing dinner, and all the family’s and friends who came out to support the Panthers. We will keep you updated,


Coaching Staff of Panther Tennis