Thursday, April 5, 2018

Panthers Move To 10-2 After Spring Break

What a week in Southern California! The Panthers had an absolute blast and want to first send a shout out to everyone who helped contribute to support our fundraising efforts to make this trip possible! Thank you!

Assistant Coach Thomson putting in some bonus work
at the airport to make sure our bags flew safely to LAX!
We started the break with a very steep challenge in facing a top DII program in Azusa Pacific. Middlebury has had a fun history competing against this program and we have not played them in many years; Middlebury has not beaten them since 2009. Being our first outdoor match, Azusa definitely took it to us and beat us 7-2. With that said, we saw a couple of outstanding performances. Lubomir Cuba played a war of a second set versus one of the best DII players in the country (he had wins over four USC players winning a DI tournament), having set points, although was not quite able to turn the match around in the end. Additionally, two freshmen sensations made their mark. Andre Xiao and Nate Eazor got the Panthers on the board in doubles with an impressive victory in their first match together. Continuing a great day, Nate Eazor also won a courageous 7-6(6), 7-6(5) victory hitting some huge forehands when the match came down to the wire. It is also noteworthy that Azusa beat Middlebury 7-2 in 2010, the year that we won our last NCAA title! Hopefully this is a sign of good fortune to come. 

Player/Coach Cole Sutton '19 helping Lubomir Cuba '19
to dial in his technique.
Next up for Midd, was Coach Hansen’s former program UC Santa Cruz. Perhaps a bit overconfident heading into the match, we found ourselves in a fierce battle from the get go. Kyle Schlanger and Lubomir Cuba continued their impressive winning ways with an 8-2 victory, but we dropped both #2 and #3 doubles 9-8 despite. One good note though was that Will de Quant did make his debut back in the Panther doubles lineup!

Kyle Schalnger '18 enjoying mentoring the younger members of
Middlebury Men's tennis in Brach '20, Vanezis '20 (top left, top right)
and Xiao '21 and Guo '21 (bottom left and bottom right).
Being down 2-1 after doubles, we knew we needed to compete hard to get back in this match. Andre Xiao and Nate Eazor held down the bottom half of our lineup both winning in straight sets. With both seniors Kyle Schlanger and Timo Van der Geest dropping tightly contested matches, we needed two three set victories from Lubomir Cuba and Alex Vanezis to clinch our 5-4 victory. Alex Vanezis grinded his opponent down with a 6-0 third set win. Lubomir Cuba showed some incredible resilience being down a set and 4-1 coming back to win 6-4 in the third against a very strong UCSC player who beat CMS’s #1 singles player later that week. This strong test revealed our tight-knit composure through a war of a match. Especially given their strong connection with Coach Hansen, we want to commend UCSC on a great match and wish them well on their future matches this season.

Later the same day, we took on a DII from Massachusetts, Merrimack at the Pomona College tennis courts. The Panthers notched a 9-0 victory with a doubles sweep followed by singles wins from Timo Van der Geest, Alex Vanezis, Andre Xiao, Adam Guo, Weston Brach, and Peter Martin respectively. It was great to see our depth in action during a tough doubleheader.

Panthers crushing some fun at the beach with Coach Hansen!
Our next big DIII matchup was against Pomona-Pitzer colleges. Playing some of our best tennis of the year, the Panthers beat the Sagehens 8-1.  The Panthers stormed the courts in doubles with a sweep to start the match up 3-0. Our lineup consisted of Lubomir Cuba/Kyle Schlanger, Nate Eazor/Will de Quant, and Peter Martin/Timo Van der Geest respectively. It was great to see the level of play that our group can reach when playing well against a good team. Following up on our strong doubles performance, the Panthers won 5 of 6 singles matches, with Cuba, Schlanger, Geest, Xiao, and Vanezis all posting a point for Middlebury. 

The next two victories for the Panthers came against Hope International (NAIA) and UC San Diego (DII). There were many highlights from these matches including victories by Adam Guo, Aleks Samets, and Throne Gregory at #2 singles #3 singles, and #5 against Hope, demonstrating that our younger Panther players have a bright future ahead!  Against UCSD, after dropping #2 and #3 doubles, Lubomir Cuba/Kyle Schlanger teamed up for an impressive victory at #1 doubles against a very solid team, and then the Panthers built on their momentum by winning 5 of 6 singles matches. Wins from Cuba, Schlanger, Eazor, Xiao, and Vanezis over a tough DII opponent allowed us to again see that we are capable of playing some great tennis against opponents outside of DIII as well.

Another beautiful image of
our favorite mustache!
The final match on our trip did not pan out as we had hoped, as we lost 8-1 to a very tough and battled tested team in CMS. A lot of credit goes to them for outplaying us, and we will certainly use everything we can learn from these matches going forward.

Outside of the tennis, some of the favorite moments of our trip included eating some great SoCal Mexican at Taco Man, visiting the San Diego beaches, as well as a very special BBQ day at Bryan Shapiro’s (a former UC Santa Cruz player for Coach Hansen) who cooked up an incredible feast for the hungry Panther men. What a treat to have a home away from home!

Dominating performance eating minimum five tacos
each of some of the best Al Pastor in SoCal!
We are definitely hungry to continue to improve and hopefully get back on a great track soon as we will have two tough road matches this coming weekend (Saturday at Williams and Sunday at Tufts).  Would love to see any Middlebury Tennis Family there if you can make it!

As always, thanks so much for your support and for following along!

Go Midd!

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coach Staff

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