Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Panthers Playing Like Beasts (17-3)

During another busy weekend with three highly competitive road matches, our group made another jump in level. We were able to win all three matches including triumphs over Trinity (CT), a 7-2 victory over Emory (ranked #1 nationally), and a hard fought 5-4 victory over Wesleyan (ranked #13 nationally). An overall takeaway from our weekend is that we are not afraid of anyone and that we can play just as well outside on the road as we can indoors at home when we focus on executing our respective individual game plans to the best of our ability. Similar to the preceding weekend, our strong doubles play set the tone going 8-1 across the three matches. 

Weekend Highlights

A definite highlight of the weekend was another indication of the depth of the Panther roster. Notching a 6-3 victory over Trinity (CT) was a solid win, and provided a great opportunity for many non-regular lineup players to compete for a point for Middlebury.  Earning huge victories in a gritty match in front of a loud home crowd, Alex Vanezis, Adam Guo, and Aleks Samets all posted straight set victories to clinch the match for the Panthers.   

Brach '20, lining up a backhand!
The next monster highlight for the Panthers were all three doubles teams playing some nearly flawless tennis in relatively cold and windy outdoor conditions against the #1 ranked team in the country. We won 8-1, 8-1, and 8-3 at #1-3 doubles respectively against Emory. Our strong starts across the board and ability to keep the pedal to the metal to get all three matches across the finish line was a truly impressive feat against such a talented team. Historically, strong doubles have always been a theme of the most successful Panthers tennis teams and we are hoping to keep up our strong effort in this regard!  MIDD!

de Quant '18 showing off his volley skills.
The Panthers are crushing it at the net these days!
Moving on to singles against Emory, who boasts one of the deepest singles lineups in the country from top to bottom, the Panthers again showed they are a force to be reckoned with. Lubomir Cuba, Noah Farrell, Will de Quant, and Kyle Schlanger (sometimes known as the big 4), locked into their matches from the get go and all went on to win in straight sets at #1-4 singles providing the Panthers with a 7-0 lead. Both Nate Eazor and Andre Xiao were forced to play match tiebreaks in lieu of a third set for their matches, and even though they did not come out on top, they demonstrated that they are capable of competing neck and neck with the best team in the county at their respective spots without a doubt!

Farell '19 icing down after his singles victory over Emory.
van der Geest '18 and Sutton '19 also looking sharp!
It is hard not to feel good after beating the #1 team in the country, but the Panthers did not have much time to celebrate or sit on their laurels. The very next day we traveled to Middletown, CT to compete against an underrated Wesleyan team who has recently been playing some very impressive tennis. We knew going into this match that it was not going to be easy.

Again, doubles set the table for our group. Cuba/Schlanger and Farrell/de Quant continued their winning ways both winning by scores of 8-6 against teams that brought an incredible amount of energy on their home courts and that had a tough crowd behind them, at times chirping the Panther players. It was a fun atmosphere to compete in, and we know that fighting through this type of competition is exactly what we need to help us feel prepared for postseason play. At #3 doubles, van der Geest and Martin were not able to capitalize on their hot start and lost their hard fought proset in a tiebreaker, leaving the Panthers with a 2-1 lead heading into singles.

From here, the Panther players again competed like bosses from the get go, as Will de Quant, Kyle Schlanger, and Nate Eazor all beasted their ways to straight set victories at #3-5 singles to give the Panthers a 5-1 lead and clinch the match. With a bit less on the line, the Panthers dropped two match tiebreakers in lieu of a third set at #1 and #2 singles and also a full three setter at #6 singles. With a final result of 5-4, the Panthers earned another victory, but also were reminded how important it is that we continue to improve, compete, and dig in at every spot in the lineup for us to continue our successful march toward postseason play.

See the full match recaps here:

Up next our last regular season match at home on Sunday! Our potential postseason schedule is also listed below.

Date                Time               Opponent                               Location
4/29                 1pm                 Amherst                                  Middlebury, VT

5/4-5/6             TBD                NESCAC Tournament            Amherst, MA

5/11-5/13         TBD                NCAA Rounds 1-3                 TBD

5/21-5/23         TBD                NCAA Final Rounds              Claremont, CA

5/24-5/26         TBD                NCAA Individuals                  Claremont, CA

Lastly, we want to be sure to again thank all of our Middlebury Tennis Family for all they do to support our group. We are so fortunate to have you all cheering us on.  As always, a very special thank you to all the current Midd tennis parents who not only cheered us on but as ensured we are one of the best fed teams anywhere!

Fun team dinner host by the Farrells (thank you!)
to celebrate our wins over Trinity (CT) and Emory.

Go Midd!

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coach Staff

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Big Time Tennis in Nelson Arena (14-3)

It was an exciting weekend for the Middlebury Panthers, and our play took another positive step. Over the weekend we secured three victories, including an 8-1 win versus Bowdoin (ranked #2 nationally), a 9-0 win versus Colby-Sawyer, and an 8-1 win over Skidmore (ranked #26 nationally). With many incredible highlights from the weekend, one overall point that the coaching staff was particularly excited about was going 9-0 in our doubles matches, getting back to our early-season mode where doubles is one of our strongest features.   

Getting fired up pre match versus Bowdoin.
Weekend Highlights

Holding down the top of the Panther doubles lineup, Lubomir Cuba and Kyle Schlanger beat the #1 and #2 ranked doubles teams in the Northeast. Behind great serving and gritty competitiveness, they demonstrated that they are as good as anybody when they are playing well. On the singles court, Cuba notched victories over the #2 and #10 ranked players in the Northeast. Similarly, Schlanger also posted two singles victories and secured the clinching point against Bowdoin!

Cuba '19 and Eazor '21 cheering on their teammates!
Perhaps the crowd favorite, our #2 doubles team of Noah Farrell and Will de Quant played some great ball and definitely exhibited some of the best on court celebrations a DIII tennis court has ever seen. When Noah turned toward the incredibly supportive crowd, the sheer volume of the fans gave our entire team a strong feeling of momentum on court. Going 3-0 in doubles over the weekend, these two are a scary proposition for any opposing #2 doubles squad they come up against. Both Farrell and de Quant posted strong victories in singles against Bowdoin, and de Quant also won his match versus Skidmore to complete a solid weekend of work.

Schlanger '18 and de Quant '18 supporting each other on court!
At #3 doubles, Timo van der Geest and Peter Martin showed off some impressive court positioning and doubles tactics in going 3-0 on the weekend. These two saved some of their best tennis toward the end of some high-level prosets and both were hawks at the net finishing a ton of points by knocking off strong volleys. These two have a great history together and seem to be really finding their stride as we march forward through our season. Against Colby-Sawyer, van der Geest remained undefeated as a #1 singles player for the Panthers. What a beast!

Martin '19 partnered incredibly well with van der Geest '18 (not pictured)
for some seriously strong doubles this weekend
Rounding out the bottom of our singles lineup, Andre Xiao and Nate Eazor again proved they have experience beyond their years. Both won matches against gritty Skidmore opponents, and Xiao demonstrated a rock-solid performance against Bowdoin winning in straight sets.

Demonstrating the immense depth of the Panther roster, Weston Brach and Aleks Samets won 8-0 versus Colby-Sawyer at #3 doubles. In singles, Alex Vanezis, Adam Guo, Weston Brach, Cole Sutton, and Thorne Gregory all won straight set matches at #2-#6 singles respectively. Their continued development and progress again points toward a bright Panther future for years to come.

Gregory '21 moving through a forehand ready to charge the net!

Brach '20 getting some love from the Midd coaching staff!
See the full match recaps at the links below...

Senior Celebration

This weekend also marked our senior celebration where both the men’s and women’s tennis teams, parents, siblings, friends, and of course coaches too all got together to celebrate the illustrious careers of senior captains Will de Quant, Kyle Schlanger, and Timo van der Geest. It was a successful event and was a pleasure to shower these three with some more than well-deserved love and praise!

Proud coaches alongside Schlanger '18,
de Quant '18, and van der Geest '18!
Most importantly, the coaching staff wants to extend and a huge expression of gratitude for all the parents who traveled from distant places to make this event truly special for our seniors.

Up next is another beastly weekend where we face off against three very tough opponents who have all been playing some great tennis leading into the weekend including nationally top-ranked Emory, Trinity (CT), and Wesleyan.

Date                Time               Opponent                               Location
4/21                 9am                 Trinity (CT)                             Hartford, CT

4/21                 330pm             Emory                                     Hartford, CT

4/22                 1pm                 Wesleyan                                 Middletown, CT

Go Midd!

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coach Staff