The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Team recently returned from California, where they enjoyed a very successful spring break trip. The Panthers finished the trip with a 4-2 record, including a win over the nationally ranked Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens. The trip also included many practice/exhibition matches for the entire team and many of our second team members had outstanding records for the week. Courtney Mountifield went undefeated for the week and Eric Vehovic, Will Oberrender, Chris Frost, Peter Heidrich, and Niko Riefkohl all had only one loss.
The division three tennis world took notice of the solid Panther play over the spring break trip, with sophomore Brantner Jones being named Northeast regional player of the week due in large part to his three set win at number three singles that clinched a 5-4 victory over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges.
After dropping their first match of the trip to NAIA opponent Vanguard, Middlebury reeled off four straight wins against some tough NAIA opponents and the aforementioned Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens. The last match of the break was against the CMS Stags, who started the season ranked in the top five in all of division three. The Panthers found themselves trailing 2-1 after doubles play, with the lone victory coming at number three doubles. Senior David Farah and junior Spencer Lunghino got an early break against the Stags and never looked back, securing the win for the Panthers at three doubles.
In singles play, Brantner Jones continued his torrid run at three singles, knocking off Alex Johnson of CMS in dominating fashion. Following Jones’s big win, senior Derrick Angle would go on to lose a tough three set match against Robbie Erani. The two players have battled against each other since early on in the junior ranks, and this match was yet another close one for the pair. Unfortunately, Angle’s loss would be a sign of things to come for the Panthers. Following a great win at number four singles by Spencer Lunghino, the Panthers trailed 4-3 and needed wins at both five and six singles to earn a team victory. Sophomores Teddy Fitzgibbons and Zach Bruchmiller came up on the short end of two closely contested three set matches, giving CMS a 6-3 win over Midd. These losses were Zach and Teddy’s only losses of the week.
Despite falling short against CMS, the Panthers can take away several positives from the match. Leading 4-1 early on at number one doubles, sophomore duo Brantner Jones and Andrew Lebovitz looked poised to put another point on the board for Midd before seeing things slip away. Losing three matches in third sets also shows how close the Panthers are to one of the most talented teams in division three. All in all it was an outstanding week where we enjoyed our training and matches, learned a great deal about our work going forward, and enjoyed our time together.
Looking forward, the Middlebury Men travel to Connecticut this weekend to battle against Conn College Friday at 3:00 and then head off to Hoboken, New Jersey where they will take on Steven Instiute of Technology Saturday at 10:30am.
Thanks again to all our fans and supporters for making this trip possible. A special thank you to Laura Fitzgibbons for taking some wonderful pictures during the trip, some of which will be featured on the blog and possibly the Middlbury website as well. The coaching staff could not be happier with this team and we appreciate all your help in helping us reach our goal of being one of the top teams in the country!