Monday, June 6, 2016

Wrapping up an Amazing 2016 Panther Season

In our last entry we were on our way to the NCAA tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Although I am sure many of you know the results by now, I would like to do a brief recap of the tournament. For detailed breakdowns of scores and results please go to our Middlebury Men’s Tennis page:

In our first round we played a great match against a very strong Washington University of St. Louis. Palmer/Hamid and Will/Kyle won decidedly at the one and three doubles spots, while Noah/Ari lost a very close tiebreaker making the score 2-1 going into singles. Will De Quant was the first player off absolutely dominating his opponent, followed by Noah Farrell at the top singles spot. With a victory by Palmer Campbell, who had been fighting off illness just days before, the Panthers were on to the NCAA team semi-finals.

Our semi-final match was a repeat of last years’ matchup against a very talented University of Chicago. With wins at two and three doubles, competing brilliantly, and a loss at the top spot, we were looking at a 2-1 lead going into singles. Our opponents that day were extremely gritty and loud, slow and steady we rode the momentum amazingly well as the match labored on. First off was Will De Quant at the four singles spot with a straight-set victory, demonstrating once again why he was one of the toughest players in the country at his spot. Kyle Schlanger, who was seconds from clinching the day before, lost a tough match at the six spot making the overall score 3-2 Panthers. It was an absolute war that day, but with Hamid Derbani’s straight-set victory at five singles, Middlebury was one match away from the NCAA finals. With Noah, Ari, and Palmer, all battling at their spots it was tough to tell who might push it across the finish line. With some amazing clutch and tough play, it came down to Senior Palmer Campbell, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, and the Panthers were in the Finals once again!

That Sunday we went out with both confidence and nerves, feeling very optimistic about our final matchup with Bowdoin College. We had played and won twice before during the season, our third and final matchup of the year planning to do the same. At the beginning the Panthers came out firing, getting up a break at two and three doubles, also having a break point at the top doubles spot. The crazy thing about sports is how quickly momentum can shift, and shift it did. Little by little Bowdoin put together better and better points, as our play went the other direction. As we started to feel all three doubles points starting to slip away we fought as hard as we could, unfortunately that didn’t change the result that Sunday afternoon. Bowdoin went up 3-0 going into singles, we were staring up a monstrous mountain, but we were ready for the fight in front of us. It is not easy to battle like we did after going down 3-0, especially against a team you feel confident playing, but our boys fought to the very end. With Palmer losing a tough match where his opponent played extremely well, the Polar Bears were up 4-0. Never giving up Will was in great position at four singles for a victory, while Kyle was in a three-set war at six. Noah was doing every thing he could in his third set battle, while Ari was hanging on fighting every point and not giving up. The finals match was with Hamid at the five spot. As Gil Roddy from Bowdoin clinched his spot 6-4, 6-4, our dream of a Championship was over. We would like to briefly congratulate Bowdoin on their success as they had an amazing tournament. They are a great group of young men who deserve their success; a sincere congratulations. Back to our Middlebury boys, we the coaches would like to say how proud we are of every member of this year’s team. It’s not easy to set the goal of winning the whole thing, feeling failure when coming so close and finishing two out of almost 400 teams, but as we gain perspective we want to acknowledge what an amazing season it really was. Winning the NESCSC Team Title, only facing two D3 losses all year, and making the finals of the NCAA’s, what a brilliant run.

All below photos of NCAA's are thanks to the amazing work of Dain McKee (Assistant Director of Athletic Communications)


After the Team Tournament was completed we went on to the Individual Tournament. Ari Smolyar lost a tough 3-set first round match against a very tough player from CMU, who ended up reaching the Semi-Finals. Congratulations to Ari who gave his last match every thing he had, and ended his career with All-American status. Noah Farrell won two rounds before falling to the finalist from Kalamazoo in the quarter finals. Noah had an absolutely brilliant season and rightfully finished as one of the best players in the country, he should be so proud. Palmer and Hamid had a fantastic run reaching the finals of the doubles draw, playing some of the best tennis we coaches have seen on their way there. These two were mere points away form losing in both of their first two rounds, but as Palmer repeatedly told us, “Hey, its fate baby!” Although they lost a tough match in the final to the winners of Kenyon College they should feel nothing short of pride on their tournament run. Their quarter and semi-final rounds were astounding, and both are ending the season with All-American status and a final #2 National Doubles Ranking.

Switching gears we would love to introduce our incoming new student-athletes as we look to the 2017 Panther season. We ill be brining in Alex Vanesis, Alex Samets, Lubomir Cuba, and Weston Brach. We are so excited to have all these players and their family’s join this Panther family. One huge addition to the team next year is the returning of one of our senior captain’s Allan Jackson. Allan faced an intense hip-surgery this past year, taking him away from Middlebury, and after many conversations we can say he is more than eager to return and ready to lead. 

That being said thanks again to everyone who has supported us all season long, we could not have done it without you. Graduates Palmer, Ari, Jack, and all their family’s, please stay in touch and best of luck going forward in your lives. You know where we will be when you want to see some good Midd tennis. Also a huge heart-felt thank you to our assistant Courtney Mountifield. You were absolutely brilliant and utterly essential in this year’s success. Best of luck moving forward but as we all know, you will not need it.

Till next season,

Middlebury Coaching Staff