Saturday, June 1, 2019

End of Season Wrap-Up: Panthers Fought With Heart To Finish Year as NESCAC Champions and NCAA Final Four Team

In our program at Middlebury, we are proud of the fact that we set ambitious goals including our ultimate aim of competing for an NCAA team title. As our team gradually played better and better all season long, we really became a force during the postseason. After winning the NESCAC title and then winning our first three NCAA tournament matches including a second win over Wesleyan in the elite eight, we had confidence that we were a dangerous team for anyone in the country to face. Unfortunately, we came out on the short end of a hard fought 5-3 loss to Emory in the final four. We put ourselves in position to win the match after winning 4 of 6 first sets in singles play, but came up just short. While never easy to digest, the coaching staff felt that we earned the right to feel disappointed because we had worked our way toward becoming a team that was playing well enough to make a run at winning another NCAA title. We want to thank our players for their incredible efforts and passion, as we felt incredibly fortunate to be able to coach this wonderful group of young men. It was a season that our seniors should be proud of, and we look forward to taking our momentum at the end of the season into next year!

Our 2019 senior captains! We will miss this incredible group, but look
forward to watching how they pursue their passions post college!

Wesleyan Elite Eight Match Highlights
In our first match at Kalamazoo, the Panthers came out hungry. We knew we would have to play well to come out on top in this rubber match against Wesleyan. Even though our doubles play did not go as well as hoped at the top two doubles positions, our super sophomores Eazor and Xiao posted an 8-4 win at #3 doubles securing one doubles point for the Panthers. It was a cold and windy Midwest day with difficult playing conditions, and we were down 1-2 on the overall team score heading into singles play. With little margin the error, our team showed their grit and love for playing in the postseason. Cuba, Farrell, and Eazor all posted impressive straight set victories against tough opponents, putting the Panthers just one point away from securing the match. Both Guo and Morris with battling in close matches, when Xiao clinched our final four berth with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over an opponent he had lost to just a couple of weeks prior. Another impressive team victory for the Panthers. Read the match recap here

Team photo before our Elite Eight match with our honorary captain Izy!

Emory Final Four Match Highlights
Even though doubles play again appeared to be our Achilles heel, Farrell/Vanezis put on an incredibly impressive display of tennis beating one of the best #2 doubles teams in the country 8-3 to keep the Panthers in it. Despite being down 1-2, the Panthers knew that we were in striking distance given our current level of singles play. True to form, the Panthers won four out of six first sets and set a path to victory. Leading the way for the Panthers as they have done so many times during their careers, our top two singles players and senior captains, Lubomir Cuba and Noah Farrell, both secured victories for the Panthers in what turned out to be their final college matches. However, it was not quite enough on this day. Credit to Emory for playing a great match, and their level of play showed the very next day when they went on to win the tournament. Their win showed how close we had come to being a championship team, something our boys should be incredibly proud of. Full match recap is here

The coaching staff helping our seniors celebrate their graduation day!

End of Year Appreciation!
As this will be our final blog post of the year, the coaching staff wants to extend our gratitude toward so many key individuals that help our program to operate optimally! We want to begin by thanking our incredible Middlebury College Athletic support staff, in particular Erin Quinn (Athletic Director), Rachel Eldredge (Team Athletic Trainer), Dain McKee (Assistant Director of Athletic Communication), Rachel Kahan (Women’s Tennis Head Coach), and Rob Barr (Women’s Tennis Assistant Coach). Each of you helps to make our team better and our job as coaches much more fun! We also want to express our thanks to all of the Middlebury Tennis Nation. It is a true pleasure for us to receive so many messages and support from our alumni, family, and friends.

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not thank our VIP team parents! It is amazing to see how much love and support you bring to our program, and we take pride in sharing all of our team’s accomplishments with you. Thanks again for all you do to support our group!

Thanks again for your support and for sharing in our journey this season!

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coaching Staff

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Panthers win NCAA Regional, Heading to Kalamazoo for NCAA Final Rounds (18-6)

Two down, three to go! The NCAA tournament is well underway and the Panthers moved smoothly through our first two matches in the Round of 32 and 16. This was no easy task as we played against tough competition, but the Panthers again demonstrated that we love postseason play! The coaching staff is particularly pleased with our progress on the doubles side of the ball, and we have sustained our sharpness in singles as well!

Great photo of Cole Sutton '19 and
Throne Gregory '21... two Panther studs!
Goucher Match Highlights
In our first match, we hit the ground running against Goucher. We got off to a quick start in doubles, sweeping all three matches and did not lose more than three games in any proset. Our singles play then kept the fun rolling, where the Panthers stayed engaged and determined. Cuba (#1 singles) and Guo (#4 singles) were the first to complete their matches both winning 6-0, 6-0 to send the Panthers to the next round. See the full match recap here

MIT Match Highlights
In our round of 16 matchup, we were up against an incredibly talented MIT squad. Knowing it could be a battle, the Panthers came out guns blazing in doubles. The Panthers secured sound victories by Farrell/Vanezis (#2 doubles, 8-3) and Xiao/Eazor (#3 doubles, 8-2). In a tight match at the #1 doubles position, Cuba/Martin played some of their best tennis toward the end of the proset to complete another doubles sweep via an 8-6 win over a tough MIT team. Building on our doubles momentum, Cuba (#1 singles) and Guo (#4 singles) were again the first two players to complete their match and get a win for the Panthers, punching our ticket to the elite eight in Kalamazoo, MI! Full match recap can be seen here

Team photo after our win against MIT!
We blocked out the NCAA banner behind us.
NCAA Final Rounds
The final site for this year’s NCAA tournament is Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI. We now have a total of three matches in which we need to be victorious to achieve our aim of winning the national title. It will be a fun challenge and one our guys are really looking forward to tackling.

Three Fun Facts about Middlebury’s History at Kalamazoo College
·      The first ever DIII NCAA National Championships took place in 1976. Coach Thomson’s father and two of his uncle’s played for Kalamazoo College in 1976, and won this inaugural DIII national title.
·      The first of Coach Hansen’s record setting 8 national titles also took place at Kalamazoo College in 1989.
·      This year will be the 8th time that Kalamazoo will host the DIII NCAA National Championships, tied for the most of any school.

Live Scoring and Live Video Links
The most up to date information about live scoring and live video can be found by clicking at the appropriate link on our Schedule/Results page (our sports information team will update these links to the best web addresses as the live scoring and streaming webpages are created by Kalamazoo).  

They are planning have some live video during the tournament, and our current understanding is that it will only be for some of the courts when played at Kalamazoo College. Our first math will be played at Western Michigan and will probably not have any live video.

These guys, David Vilys '22 and Zach Hilty '22 
are almost sophomores already! 

Date                Time               Opponent                               Location

5/20                 430pm             Wesleyan, NCAA ¼ final       Kalamazoo, MI

5/21                 430pm             NCAA Semifinal                    Kalamazoo, MI

5/22                 3pm                 NCAA Final                           Kalamazoo, MI

5/23-5/25        TBD                NCAA Individuals                  Kalamazoo, MI

It’s time! Go Midd!

The Middlebury Men's Tennis Coaching Staff

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Panthers (16-6) Win NESCAC Championship, NCAA Bracket Released

What a weekend! The Panthers won three matches against top ranked opponents on back-to-back-to-back days to take the NESCAC crown. It was the 9th NESCAC title earned by Middlebury Men’s Tennis, and it was a sweet victory where we were able to take down two opponents that had beaten us during the regular season earlier in the month. Even better, we captured the title while competing in front of our supportive home fans at the Proctor Tennis Courts. The coaching staff was proud of our group as we continue to get better and gain confidence throughout our entire lineup, but of course will keep our sights set on continuing to learn and improve heading into NCAA tournament play.

A huge part of our culture is JOY! 

Quarterfinal Tufts Match Highlights
We knew that Tufts was a very dangerous team after having played them earlier in the season, and we were right! The match took place indoors at Nelson Arena. Tufts played some very solid doubles at #2 and #3 doubles, but the Panthers were buoyed by a rock solid 8-5 win by Cuba/Martin at the #1 doubles position to keep us in striking distance. Our singles play then carried the day with straight set wins by Cuba (#1 singles), Farrell (#2 singles), Guo (#4 singles), and Eazor (#5 singles). Stan Morris (#6 singles) was also not far behind with his match getting stopped when he was up a set and a break. Full match recap can be read here. With our first NESCAC match under our belt, the Panthers were fired up to try to avenge our regular season loss to Wesleyan in the next round.

Semifinal Wesleyan Match Highlights
Having lost to Wesleyan 6-3 earlier in the season, we were thrilled at an opportunity to play them again. Having been down 2-1 after doubles last time, we planned to use this match as an opportunity to get our doubles back on track. Although we lost a very tight tiebreak decision at #1 doubles, the Panthers played some very high level tennis to secure two tough doubles victories. Vanezis/Farrell (#2 doubles) won by a score of 8-5 and Xiao/Eazor (#3 doubles) took their match 8-7(7) in an absolute war. After grabbing momentum heading into singles play, we knew we had to stay focused against a tough Wesleyan opponent. The Panthers did exactly that, as we found three straight set victories from Cuba (#1 singles), Guo (#4 singles), and Eazor (#5 singles). Again, Morris (#6 singles) was up a set and about to enter a second set tiebreaker when play was stopped. The full match recap is here. It was a great match against a tough opponent, and provided our team with increased confidence heading into the final round where would face another opponent that had clipped us during the regular season.  

Finals Amherst Match Highlights
The coaching staff has always felt that this group was capable of playing a special level of tennis at each spot in the lineup, and the Panthers proved us right as we put together our most complete performance of the year against a very strong Amherst team. The Panthers again got off to a 2-1 lead after doubles behind an 8-2 win from Eazor/Xiao (#3 doubles) and an amazing come from behind tiebreak win 8-7(7) by Vanezis/Farrell (#2 doubles) who were down four match points in a row during the tiebreaker before storming back to victory! That match swung the momentum clearly in our favor, and our singles group went to work! Winning all six first sets at #1-6 singles, we took firm control of the match. Taking out another top-ranked opponent, Cuba (#1 singles) won another straight set match versus a very good opponent for the third day in a row. Lubo simply loves the postseason! Next off the court was Eazor at #5 singles, winning his match 6-4, 6-0. And then clinching the team victory for the Panthers, Farrell earned a 6-2, 6-1 decision to complete our journey to the 2019 NESCAC title! Read the full match recap here. 

A sweet victory! Nothing like celebrating a win on our home courts!
NCAA Tournament
After taking the NESCAC title, the Panthers remain hungry and excited for our final postseason tournament. We are the overall #3 seed in the NCAA draw, and we now have a total of 5 possible matches in front of us on our path toward competing for an NCAA title. You can see the bracket by clicking here. We will take each match, one at a time, and plan to cherish each opportunity that we have left to compete together! Our full potential postseason schedule is listed below.

Live scoring/streaming for the regional rounds of the tournament can be found on our team schedule page.

Date                Time               Opponent                               Location
5/10                 11am               NCAA Round of 32                Middlebury, VT
5/11                 10am               NCAA Round of 16                Middlebury, VT
5/20-5/22        TBD                NCAA Final Rounds              Kalamazoo, MI
5/23-5/25        TBD                NCAA Individuals                  Kalamazoo, MI

It’s time! Go Midd!

The Middlebury Men's Tennis Coaching Staff

p.s. The snacks shout out for NESCACs goes to the Eazor's and the Gregory's! Thank you!