Sports fans poured in to Middlebury last weekend, booking up all hotels from Burlington to Rutland for what was being called a NESCAC tournament for the ages. Bookies in town placed pre-tournament odds heavy in Amherst’s corner after their domination of the regular season, and their 9-0 drubbing of us the weekend before. Pre-tournament drama escalated as our conference was so deep this season that the tournament committee was forced to split hairs in deciding to take 19th ranked Trinity or 21st ranked Bates. After 3 days of debate, official protests, and conference calls, the nod was given to Trinity and the field was finally set.
Before we go any further, it must be noted what an important role the Middlebury parents had in making the weekend feel incredibly special. For each match, they filled two tables with fruit, finger foods, and drinks. And following both match victories, they fed the team with catered pasta from Castello’s and Noonies sandwiches. Absolutely amazing! Thank you, Middlebury parents, for all you do for us, this journey wouldn’t be the same without you.
Saturday had us first match on against Bowdoin, a team who we beat several weeks prior, but who didn’t show us their best stuff. This time, however, they were locked in and had things looking close after we went up 2-1 in doubles but were beaten in 4 first sets in the singles. Hats off to Ari, Noah, and Palmer for fighting hard to keep our NESCAC title hopes alive.
Later that day, Williams played an unbelievable match to take down Amherst and set up an unpredicted Midd-Williams final for Sunday. This match really shows how it’s not about who is better on paper, but rather who shows up to play.
Sunday’s final against Williams was a good old fashioned cowboy vs indian western battle. We ran out to a 3-0 lead, and Jackson won at 4 to put us up to 4-0. But Williams brought in the welcoming committee and took matches at 5 and 2 and each of the remaining matches were closer than a gun slinging dual during the gold rush. Kyle, who was making his debut at 6 singles, competed and adjusted his game to meet the demands of the situation. He found himself up a set and serving 6-5 when Palmer sealed the deal for us. In front of a crowd that was on the edge of their seats, Palmer served for the match, and on the final point the crowd of mostly Midd girls, watched so closely and intensely you could hear a plate drop at Ross dining hall. Palmer snapped a passing shot and threw his arms up in joy as the crowd went wild and his teammates flooded the court.
Next up is the first and second rounds of NCAA’s hosted here at Middlebury.
We are where we are because of everyone’s efforts on this team, not only because of the play of our starters. Every player brings great meaning to this program and serves as the fabric for the wonderful Middlebury tennis culture. Very important kudos go out to Charlie, Courtney, Hamid, and Jack. Without their enthusiasm we would no doubt be a different team.
Please follow us through the NCAA tournament.