Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Midd Invite Wrapup

Junior Alex Johnston serving and
Freshman Palmer Campbell at the
2012 Middlebury Invitational.
The Middlebury Invitational Tournament came to an end Sunday afternoon after a successful weekend consisting of four flights of singles and two flights of doubles. Several area schools competed in the tournament including Bates, Tufts, Trinity, Skidmore, Brandeis, Vassar along with Middlebury. For the freshmen on the Midd squad, this was their first taste of competitive college tennis. After a little more than a week of training with and against their own teammates, the Midd Invite offered an excellent opportunity to compete against some interconference and regional opponents.

Competing in the A Flight Singles draw were some of the newest Panthers. Freshman Jackson Frons and Junior transfer Alex Johnston both impressed in their Middlebury debuts. Frons knocked out Skidmore number one Oliver Loutsenko in straight sets before falling to eventual finalist Matt Bettles of Bates. Alex Johnston reached the semifinals in impressive fashion, winning his quarterfinal match 6-0, 6-0. Johnston then lost a well fought match against returning All American Rob Crampton of Bates in a third set matchbreaker.

The B Flight singles draw also featured one of the newest Panthers. Freshman Palmer Campbell lost a heartbreaking match 21-19 in the third set matchbreaker, falling short after having ten match points. Despite the loss, Palmer showed tremendous toughness and competed wonderfully throughout the match. Also featured in the B Flight were some returning members of the Middlebury team. Sophomore Peter Heidrich showed some newfound firepower in his game, using his forehand as a weapon time and again before coming up just short in his quarterfinal match. Fellow sophomore Courtney Mountifield showed tremendous heart and a rock steady game in a quarterfinal win over Pierre Planche, a fine player from Bates. Mountifield came up just short in his semfinal match against an up and coming player from Trinity.

Middlebury’s roster depth was on full display in the C Flight Singles draw. Two new members of the team and one senior leader advanced all the way to the semifinals, making up three fourths of the semifinalists in the draw. Freshmen Ari Smolyar and Allen Jackson cruised through their early round matches en route to the semifinals. Once there, Jackson sneaked past Middlebury senior captain Will Oberrender setting up an All-Midd finals between Smolyar and Jackson. Both freshmen competed fiercely and in the end, Smolyer won a third set matchbreaker to clinch the C Flight title. Also noteworthy was the play of Oberrender leading up to the semifinals. A returning doubles specialist from last year, Oberrender found a new level of play in singles game this tournament, utilizing the serve and volley along with his attacking style of play.

The doubles draws consisted of an A and a B flight. Several Panther teams competed and earned some wins. One of the more memorable highlights of the weekend was the play of doubles teammates Alec Parower and freshman Jack Welch. Called into action days before the tournament, Welch was originally scheduled to only compete in singles draw. The unlikely pair teamed up for a couple of wins together, showing the power of removing expectations from competition. Parower and Welch both leaned on some monster forehands to advance to the semifinals before falling to eventual champs Rob Crampton and Matt Bettles of Bates.

Moving forwards, the Panthers look to grow and move their doubles in a positive direction in the weeks to come. A big thank you to all the parents that came out and supported the Panthers this weekend. It is no doubt a great joy to watch this Panther Tennis Family continue to grow together.