Sunday, November 3, 2019

Panthers Demonstrate Impressive Jumps To Complete Our Fall Season

What a phenomenal October it was for our young and tenacious group of Panther men! All of the Panthers got to complete across three events and demonstrated our hunger for exploring our potential. As the coaching staff must take a step back during the winter season, we remain impressed by the tenacity with which our group has been attacking their on-court work seeking to push their games to the next level. We have an incredible amount of confidence in our senior captains Weston Brach, Aleks Samets, and Alex Vanezis who represent themselves as some of the most organized, academically high achieving trios, and team-first leaders. It is an honor to have watched these three grow and truly shine in their captains role thus far this season and we expect they will help guide our group so that we come back even stronger than we are now in February!

Brach '20 and Hilty '21 teaming up for some Midd doubles on a beautiful Fall day!
Before we go any further, let’s recap some of the highlights from last month followed by our final freshman spotlight for Aidan Harris…

Wesleyan Invitational
Our third Fall event included every player on our team, with the exception of Stan Morris ’22 (and our two Panthers who are studying abroad) who was representing the Panthers at the ITA Oracle Cup in Rome, GA the same weekend. It was a great tournament where all ten of our Panthers competed against players from the strongest DIII teams in the northeast, and helped us to continue our growth and upward trajectory.

The biggest highlight of the event was a run to the finals of the A flight draw by senior captain Alex Vanezis ’20 who fought through some incredibly competitive early round battles where he had to come from behind twice. Next, he won an incredibly hard fought match against our own Robby Ward ’22 who had beaten the #2 seed in the A flight from Amherst the day before. Unfortunately, Robby pushed Alex to the brink so much so that he did not quite have enough gas to push the finals match across the finish line dropping a hard fought three set battle. We know however, that continuing to push ourselves is what will serve us best come spring time!

Vanezis '20 (left) and Guo '21 (right) hanging out shoulder to shoulder between matches. 

Other highlights from the tournament included a run to the B flight semifinals by Andre Xiao ’21, and wins from Andrew Mueller ’23, David Vilys’ 22, and the doubles tream of Zach Hilty ’22 and David Vilys ’22. Although we did not come away with overall as strong of results as we would have liked, we identified some key areas that we more clearly emphasized over the next week of training leading up to our final fall event.

A complete description of tournament results can be found by clicking here.

ITA Oracle Cup

Morris '22 lining up a ball to SMASH at the ITA Oracle Cup!
Demonstrating his massive potential as a dominant force in DIII tennis, Stan Morris ’22 competed in a draw consisting of 16 of the top DIII players in the nation who won or made it to the finals of their respective regional ITA tournaments. Needless to say, there are no easy matches at such an event. Despite the challenging opponents, Stan brought his game to Rome in full force! He won his first round match in straight sets over an opponent from RPI, securing his future status as an All-American! Not satisfied, Stan competed with impressive grit and passion clinching a birth into the semifinal round with a running forehand pass to break for a 6-4 in the third set victory over a Case Western opponent who had not lost a match all year to that point. Next coming up against a highly touted player from CMS, Stan was not done and mashed the ball from every part of the court to secure a straight set victory and a place in the finals. Amazingly, his opponent was the same opponent he lost to in the ITA regional final (and the player who won the same national event last year). Though not coming out with a win, Stan pushed his opponent to the brink losing the first set in a tiebreaker, winning the second set, but unable to grasp the third and final set. We could not be more proud of Stan! The result is amazing, but we are most impressed by his hard work and the resulting improvement that led to his high-level play.

A full recap of Stan’s run can be seen by clicking here.

Bryant Invitational
Another key event for the Panthers, we brought our entire team to compete in a mini-dual invitational format against Division I’s Bryant University. As Andrew Mueller ’23 was out with a minor injury we had ten Panther beasts competing through the weekend. In doubles and singles play combined, there were many incredible matches. The Panthers ended up winning 2 more matches than we lost over the course of the two-day event across 34 total matches.  

Traveling in style on a giant bus! Living large!

One of the biggest highlights for the Panthers was our improved doubles play! We even mixed up our doubles teams to test some new pairings on Sunday, and our men still performed. Leading the charge on this front, Alex Vanezis ’20, Adam Guo ‘21, Andre Xiao ‘21, and Aidan Harris ‘23 all went 3-0 over the weekend. In singles play, Aleks Samets ’20, Zach Hilty ’22, and David Vilys ’22 each won both of their singles matches against DI competition!

Morris '22 (left) and Ward '23 (right) talking doubles strategy with AT!

There were many more great performances, and a full recap of the results from the Bryant Invitations can be found here.

Freshman Spotlight: Get To Know Aidan Harris

Harris '23 (center) with Mueller '23 (left) and Xiao '21 (right).
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Siblings: Younger brother Ian and younger sister Emelyn
Favorite Food: Roasted Red Pepper Pasta (best version made by Mom!)
Favorite Hobby Outside of Tennis: Watching Football
Something My Teammates Do Not Know About Yet: Played the saxophone freshmen year of high school
Pets: Lab named Tizzy and Shorkie Quinney
Favorite Pro Tennis Player: Roger Federer
Best Part About Being in Vermont: Excited for the skiing
Favorite Thing About Middlebury College So Far: Being on the team and hanging with our group!
Shout Out To A Teammate(s): Shout out to Alex Vanezis for being a great encouraging doubles partner, bringing a lot of energy, support, and chemistry!

As always, thanks for all the love and support from you and the rest of our Middlebury Tennis Family. Looking forward to seeing and hearing from many of you soon!

Go Midd!

Coach Thomson and Coach Hansen

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Successful ITA Regional, Two More Fall Tournaments to Go!

As the Fall season marches forward, the coaching staff has been impressed with the enthusiasm and work ethic of our team this season. More importantly, our guys have really demonstrated one of our core values, which is ENJOYING the process!

Morris '22 led the way for the Panthers at the ITA regional making a run to the finals
and earning a spot at the Oracle Cup in Rome, GA.

Highlights from the 2018 Fall ITA Regional
The Panthers highlighted our depth and tenacity at the ITA regional event hosted by Colby College. After completing the journey to Maine on Thursday evening, our group came out determined and hungry from the get go.  We won two out of our three first round doubles matches, and then proceeded to go 9-2 in singles on Day 1. There were many incredible performances across the board, but two particularly noteworthy matches were: 1) Aidan Harris ‘23 having a come from behind win in three sets over a Tufts player who won the B flight at the Middlebury Invitational and 2) Alex Vanezis ’20 taking down the top seed in the tournament from Amherst (who was ranked #8 in the nation last season). Stan Morris ‘22 and Robby Ward ‘23 also won both of their matches on the first day, leaving Middlebury with 4 players in the round of 16, the most of any school. This is no easy feat given the strength and depth of our regional play.

The fun in the tournament continued on Day 2 as Robby Ward ‘23 fought his way to a quarterfinal finish behind his bold and courageous brand of tennis that is a pleasure to watch (stay tuned for his Freshmen Spotlight below). Stan Morris ‘22 also continued his run winning his first three matches of the tournament in three sets, before earning two straight victories on his trip to the finals. Stan demonstrated that he can compete with the best in the country, and by making a run to the finals before falling to last year’s winner from Tufts, he booked himself a trip to Rome, GA for the ITA Oracle Cup. This year, they now invite a total of 16 players to this national event, and we are thrilled that Stan will be representing us at this prestigious event!

A full recap of the event can be found by clicking here. 

Robby Ward '23 (far left) is our Freshman Spotlight this week, riding in the car with  Aidan Harris '23 (middle)
and Adam Guo '21 (right), along with Teddy Thomson (Coach Thomson's Australian Shepherd).  

Freshman Spotlight: Get To Know Robby Ward (pictured above on the left)
Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware
Siblings: Two older sisters (Julia who plays Squash at Williams and Carolyn who works as a tutor for underprivileged middle school students)
Favorite Food: Raspberries
Favorite Hobby Outside of Tennis: Skiing
Something My Teammates Do Not Know About Yet: Played the cello
Pets: Two Dogs; Nala (Mutt) and Cooper (Black Lab)
Favorite Pro Tennis Player: Stan Wawrinka
Best Part About Being in Vermont: Snow – love snow!
Favorite Thing About Middlebury College So Far: Tennis team environment
Shout Out To A Teammate(s): Zach Hilty, helping me to grind out learning computer science. Not bad for a pre-med guy.

Upcoming Schedule
·      Stan Morris competes at the ITA Cup, October 17-20 in Rome, GA.
·      Wesleyan Invitational, October 19-20 in Middletown, CT.
·      Bryant Mini Dual, October 26-27 in Smithfield, RI.

As always, the Panthers keep working on exploring their
potential on the courts as seen by David Vilys '22.

Very best wishes and until next time,

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coaching Staff