|Art of Zen|
The Panther Pack flew into LAX, spent several hours dealing with a low budget van rental agency's blunders, and then was off to the Pomona practice courts to get our first taste of outdoor tennis since the fall.
We opened our spring break campaign against Chapman and, still finding our outdoor legs, fell behind 2-1 after doubles. The Panthers singles players came out with hard hats on and shook off any remaining jitters about playing outdoors in a great effort to turn the match around and win 6-3. Meanwhile, a 2nd panther group was up 3-0 after doubles across town against Biola University: fantastic wins from Will and Kyle sealed the match for Midd. As the sun set on our first day of matches in LA, senior Chris Frost put the finishing touches on his match. Under the lights, Jack Welch was locked in a match of trench warfare, trading groundstrokes with a Spanish dirtballer. After a tactical change to use his nuke forehand from inside the baseline, Jack closed the door on his opponent, winning 10-7 in the breaker, and sending us back to the hotel in high spirits.
|Team from outer space|
Monday was a battle against the Bannana Slugs from UC Santa Cruz, pitting Midd coaches against their former Slug dynasty. The Slugs surged out to a 2-1 lead, however, Midd got crucial wins from Allen Jackson and Jackson Frons, at the 6 and 4 spots to swing the match in favor of the big cats. The Panthers came away with 5 of 6 singles matches, sending the Slugs back to Santa Cruz with little doubt about who the bosses are.
Tuesday night set the table for an instant classic against the new kids on the block, Pomona, who is having the best season in program history. Again finding ourselves down 2-1 after doubles, we notched quick victories by Ari and Palmer at the 1 and 3 spots. Pomona, however, finished the match strongest, winning at the 4 and 6 spots to take the decision. Courtney struggled but found a way to win at 5 singles in our 4-5 loss. Nonetheless, we left with heads high, learning what areas we needed to improve upon.
Wednesday night served up another instant classic against a fiery Redlands team and their unruly fans. The match reached a climax with the score 4-3 in favor of Midd and with Noah and Palmer deep into their 3rd sets. Palmer came back from a 4-1 deficit to clinch the match for us in an amazing effort. In what was one of the more bizarre on court disputes I've ever seen, Noah got told by the umpire during a change over that he wasn't allowed to use the bathroom because he had used the toilet an "unreasonable amount" already. An argument ensued between coaches and umpires with the end result being Noah heading to the bathroom again after the point of him having a small bladder had been made. He returned to the court revitalized and finished off his Redlands opponent with several winners.
After a day off, we took the court against CMS in a rematch of last year's national semi-final. CMS came out on top 7-2, but not without several highlights for the panthers. Palmer and Pete took down one of the nations top teams in Dorn/Wood 8-6, going the whole match without being broken. In singles, Palmer took care of his opponent with syle and grace, winning in straight sets while Ari, Noah and Courtney all pushed their opponents to third sets.
The Panthers saddle up again this weekend in hitting the road for Skidmore and Hamilton College across the lake in New York, before returning to Midd to play host to Conn College .
Over and out sportsfans.
|Preparing the troops|