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 http://athletics.middlebury.edu/sports/mten/index.

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,

Sincerely,


Coaching Staff of Panther Tennis

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring Break and Big Matches in Cali

Timo Van Der Geest
With the team match tied at 4-4 every individual in Nelson Arena huddled around the final singles match to witness its’ conclusion. Timo Van Der Geest was in a war with the very talented number six player of Wesleyan from Connecticut, both players fighting with everything they had to push their teams to victory. It had been an extremely intense match for these two top ten teams, swings of momentum constantly changing, but with Timo up a set and a break it was looking good for the Panthers. Serving for the match at 5-4 Timo was broken as his opponent played amazing tennis to keep Wesleyan alive, the Wesleyan bench screaming at the tops of their lungs now knowing that this match was far from over. Cool as a cucumber Timo hit back hard to give himself a break point opportunity to go up 6-5 serving, it was clearly the biggest point of the match. The rally was long and the silence palpable, but with a short ball in front of him Timo was fearless as he ripped a forehand winner up the line, pumping his fist to his nearby screaming teammates. Timo collected himself and walked out to serve for the match yet again. He played brilliant and composed tennis as he clinched the match for the Panthers, pushing his team through their first real challenge, and demonstrating true courage and character.

We now find ourselves in Los Angeles California about to play the biggest dual match of our season thus far against number eight Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. After a long day of flying and little sleep last Friday our boys started this spring break trip Saturday afternoon against division two opponent Concordia College. With a doubles sweep and an early 3-0 lead the panthers locked down winning five of the six singles matches and finishing with an 8-1 victory. Easter Sunday we faced a solid division three opponent Lewis and Clark College of Portland Oregon, coming out swinging hard yet again. We found ourselves up 3-0 after a tenacious doubles sweep, having saved match points at third doubles by Will De Quant/Timo Van Der Geest. The Panthers went on to win all six singles matches for a 9-0 finish, including a gritty super-tiebreaker victory by sophomore Noah Farrell who continues to stay composed under pressure. Yesterday was our best doubles effort thus far as we swept Biola University dropping a total of four games collectively. We played aggressive and imposing doubles at all three spots, demonstrating the type of doubles we know we are capable of. We went on to sweep all six singles matches and had great efforts by all players including Panthers not usually in our top six singles spots. Kyle Schlanger, Peter Martin, and Cole Sutton all had straight-set victories adding to the dominating 9-0 victory. For specific scores/recaps of our spring break matches thus far please visit: http://athletics.middlebury.edu/sports/mten/index.

We warmed up well this morning at the Pomona site and will take the courts soon for this scheduled 4pm match. The boys seem composed and at the same time eager, as we are all looking forward to todays big test.  Thursday we will play UC Riverside at the UCR campus before our most anticipated match this Saturday against Claremont Colleges. Saturday’s match against CMS will be a rematch of last years NCAA Team Championship, a match we have been anticipating for a very long time.

We want to quickly recognize all the family and fan support we have experienced over spring break. A quick thanks to Mrs. Welch for treating our team to dinner and being a huge supporter through our first two matches. Also a quick thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Campbell along with Mrs. Martin, for their continued support over this spring break in California. We couldn’t do what we do without the efforts from so many fans and family members and to be honest we wouldn’t want to. We will keep you posted on the match results and as always Go Panthers.


Sincerely,

Coaching Staff of Panther Tennis