Thursday, July 16, 2020

Summer COVID-19 Update for Panther Tennis and Outlook on the Fall

We hope this update finds our Middlebury Tennis Family navigating the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic as smoothly as possible. We our keeping our fingers crossed that everyone has been able to stay safe during these uncertain times.

One of the many ways in which this summer has been different is that we have expanded our team communication during the summer, as using videoconferencing tools such as Zoom has become a new normal. For us coaches, there is no better day than those we get to see the faces of our current group of young men as we stay connected and gradually learn more of what to expect in the coming months. In this blog update, we will share the latest announcement about fall sports at Middlebury, provide a link to a team highlight video created by our own team and was led by rising senior captain Throne Gregory ’21, and then discuss a social cause dear to the heart of one of our rising sophomores Andrew Mueller ’23.

Middlebury College Statement on Fall Athletics
First, we want to express our gratitude and enthusiasm for the prospect that we will have our team back together on campus this Fall. After having last spring abruptly cut short, we have been deprived of the magic that happens when we are able to be together in person and working towards our collective goals. That being said, life at Middlebury College academically, athletically, and socially will be far from business as usual. The college has taken tremendous efforts to detail a return to campus that will prioritize the safety of our students, faculty, and staff (click here to read more).

Recently, the NESCAC conference announced that we will not have formal NESCAC competition during the Fall. However, as each member school of the NESCAC still makes independent choices, Middlebury has continued to take the approach that we will remain open to the possibility of limited competition in the Fall if it is deemed to be safe. We expect that the majority of our Fall season will emphasize tennis practice as well as physical and mental skills training. We will look to be as creative and adaptable as possible to maximize the athletic experience of our players! You can read the most recent announcement about fall athletics at Middlebury by clicking here.

Team Hype Video (group effort led by rising captain Thorne Gregory ’21)
One really fun summer project we tasked each of our current players with is creating a highlight video of their own play that they can use both as motivation and as a tool for visualizing the style of tennis that sets their game up for success. It was a treat to see how our guys could use our PlaySight technology and their own creativity to result in a really cool outcome. Leading the charge and helping his teammates navigate the process, Adam Guo ’21 had a lot of fun blending practice and match highlights (click here to check it out).

For the larger team project, Thorne Gregory ’21 integrated the work of many of our team members and took the lead to create our version of a Middlebury Men's Tennis hype video! No doubt it gets us fired up every time! Click here to enjoy the result!

Such a fun project creating highlight videos led by our players!

Opportunity to Support Cause Inspired by Our Own Andrew Mueller '23
As coaches, we feel one of our most important aims is to empower the passion that our young men demonstrate both inside and outside the confines of a tennis court. Rising sophomore Andrew Mueller ’23, inspired by his circuitous travels back to his home country of Guatemala, is championing a great cause and created a GoFundMe page aimed at helping Guatemalans who have been particularly hard hit by the current pandemic. The nonprofit organization is called From Houses to Homes and is building houses for the less fortunate, creating a free community school, and opening a small medical clinic that serves the low-income, rural, and indigenous people of Guatemala. We invite you to directly support his efforts at the link below or to help us spread the word by sharing the link with others.

Here is a summary of Andrew’s story, that he has written:

“After an endless quarantine in the United States, I finally made the long 36-hour journey home to Antigua, Guatemala. With the airport shut down, I was forced to cross the border by foot from Mexico to Guatemala to make it in time for a 6pm curfew. As I made my way through the country, I was disheartened by families waving white flags as symbols of utter surrender. For the many Guatemalans who already struggle to buy food every day, unemployment due to the virus is making feeding one’s family much more difficult, if not impossible. The virus has halted the country and left families with no other choice than hoping that their white flag will get them their next meal.

I was presented with the opportunity support a local nonprofit Houses to Homes. Due to the pandemic, the organization is now launching a fundraiser for both a new COVID-19 relief grocery delivery program and direct support for their school, escuela Kemna-Oj. The school is continuing learning remotely through distributed worksheets and books.

Any donation is incredibly impactful to many families and I thank you in advance for your generosity. Feel free to share this GoFundMe to any other friends or family who may be passionate about this cause. Feel free to reach out to me personally if you have any question.”

Stay safe and take care! Go Midd!

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coaching Staff

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Panthers Staying Connected During the Pandemic and Appreciating Our Seniors

First and foremost, we hope this blog post finds everyone in our Middlebury Tennis Family safe, healthy, and well during this unprecedented pandemic. The vast influence of COVID-19 has forced all of us to adapt and make difficult adjustments in our daily lives. Despite the challenging circumstances, our Middlebury Tennis program has continued to demonstrate strength on many levels. Before highlighting our current group, want to thank everyone in our Middlebury Tennis Family who is braving the front lines of COVID-19, such as Drs. Eliot Jia ’10 and Andrew Lee ’10 who are currently helping to care for COVID-19 patients in Chicago and New York City respectively. We know there are certainly many more well deserved shout outs, and we want to express our gratitude for all those who are sacrificing right now for the benefit of others!

Team Unity
The current pandemic led to the cancellation of our competitive season right before our very first spring matches, and our players had to evacuate campus to return to their respective families. While COVID-19 caused the same outcome for so many student athletes this Spring, our team demonstrated unique and strong character in spite of the circumstances. At what turned out to be our final in-person team meeting before our players left campus, our team was able to discuss our extreme disappointment and also, we were able to help each other find perspective. Our players cited one of the key tenants of our team culture, our aspiration to operate at a championship level on a daily basis and found comfort in knowing that we positioned ourselves on that path. Our team had come together rapidly this season and demonstrated particularly close bonds, supportiveness, and a competitive fire for putting in work for the betterment of the team. Exemplifying our togetherness, our group continues to stay closely connected via group chats, Zoom, and more. In the classroom, we are also excelling at an incredible rate with an impressive cumulative team GPA of 3.68! Wow! 

Celebrating our Seniors
Most impressively, our senior team captains have continued to handle themselves with exceptional class in spite of their last season having been taken away from them. Their composure and leadership continue to benefit our team now, but also sets them up to be amazing contributors to whatever organizations and graduate programs they pursue next! We are still brainstorming the best possible ways in which we can properly honor our 2020 senior trio of Weston Brach, Aleks Samets, and Alex Vanezis in lieu of our annual senior night. More to come on that. For now, we will provide a couple of fun highlights about each of them.

Our three seniors holding the big trophy in 2018!
Weston Brach from Dover, MA has been an incredible contributor to our program on many levels. Weston has a bright spirit, philosophical disposition, and a passion for tennis that few can rival. Weston’s serve and volley style was incredibly fun to watch, and is a strength that few on our team could match. Not only as a senior captain, but throughout his career, Weston was always thinking about how he could improve and also what ideas and suggestions he had for his teammates. His selflessness and positivity endeared Weston to coaches and teammates alike. 

Weston mashing a serve on our home courts!
Aleks Samets from Ocean Township, NJ has been a wonderful ambassador for Middlebury Men’s Tennis. Aleks has a brilliant way of leading by example and his organization and efficiency were admired by both his coaches and teammates. He is both incredibly reliable and supportive. Aleks had special gifts on the doubles court, and few on our team could match his ability and athleticism to close on volleys in doubles. He also seems to have a knack for finding joy when we are working our hardest as a group, and he is never afraid to engage in good natured banter on and off the court.

Aleks ready to pounce on a volley!
Alex Vanezis from Frankfurt Germany was another uniquely gifted leader rounding out this year’s senior captains. Alex demonstrated an incredible degree of thoughtfulness about his own development and the team’s throughout his career. He was a player whose consistent improvements each season made him one of the most well-rounded players in our program on the court and resulted in his attainment of a Top 50 National Singles Ranking in the current ITA standings! He also set the tone for consistent hard work both on court and on the track throughout his career – so much so that we are thankful that our track coaches did not steal him from us!

Alex ready to rumble on his home courts!
Collectively, this group will go down as one of the most put together and well-rounded leadership teams in the history of Middlebury Men’s Tennis! Thank you for all you have done to support and improve our program. We look forward to each of you remaining a special part of our Middlebury Tennis Alumni family and are looking forward to watching where your respective paths take you in the future.

More Updates To Come
Along with everyone else, we are still in the midst of great uncertainty during this pandemic. We will continue to keep everyone updated relative to all things Middlebury Panther Tennis as the college navigates through this difficult time. Again, wishing everyone the very best during this time.

Stay safe and take care!

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coaching Staff

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Panther Tennis Season Opener Two Weeks Away!

The Middlebury Panthers are hungry for our dual match season to begin! The first two weeks of training with the coaching staff this Spring has been nothing short of impressive. Our group has been attacking morning workouts, sharpening their skills on the courts, and are bubbling with enthusiasm for some outside competition. Thankfully, our first matches are just around the corner, so we will be able to start applying force against outside competition soon.

Opening weekend for us will be March 14th and 15th, when we will play against four teams across two days all in Nelson Arena! On Saturday, we face off against Bates (1230pm) and then Hamilton (5pm). Then on Sunday we will compete against #8th nationally ranked Brandeis prior to taking on St. Michael’s. It will be an action packed and fun filled weekend that we have been preparing hard for!

Live Scoring and Live Streaming 
If you won’t be able to join us here in Middlebury, we will have live scoring and live streaming all weekend (with links on the Schedule/Results page of our website). From these links, which will be placed on our schedule page soon, you will be directed to a TennisTicker virtual scoreboard specific to each match that will provide live scoring for all matches being played. If it is a home match, then each court that is currently active will have a “Camera Icon” that you can click to access the video live stream for that specific court.

New Middlebury Online Store! (Deadline to Order is March 8th).
You can never have too much Middlebury Tennis apparel! Therefore, we are trying out another online team store. Check out the link to the store here ( You can find the latest Nike Gear with our official Middlebury Tennis logos, just like our team wears! Hope you enjoy and find something you like!
Username: Middlebury
Password: Tennis20

Community Service: Girl Scout Cookies
This past weekend, all of our boys helped our local Middlebury girl scouts by unloading and organizing a truck full of girl scout cookies! Many hands certainly made for light work. Check out the pic below to see our Panthers in action.

A little cold weather does not our boys from helping to unload and organize all the Girl Scout Cookies to be sold in Addison country this year! A fun and small way to lend a helping hand to support our local community.

Reminder: Senior Night and Alumni Weekend
Our Senior Night will take place the evening of April 18th to celebrate our wonderful group of senior captains!  We are excited to announce that we will be hosting an Alumni Weekend this Spring on April 17-19th.  More details to follow, but it will be an exciting weekend with matches including against perennial powerhouses Emory and Bowdoin that weekend. Please RSVP if you will be able to join us!

Let’s go Midd!

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coaching Staff

Monday, January 20, 2020

Middlebury Tennis Enters It’s 100th Season of Competition in 2020

Happy 2020 to our Middlebury Tennis family! We want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and also share with you our excitement for the upcoming Spring tennis season. As Middlebury College’s first men’s tennis program competed in 1920, this Spring will mark the 100th season of competition. Middlebury Tennis competed in only a single match in 1920 and posted a final record of 0 wins and 1 loss. Things sure have changed drastically through the decades, but it is fun to have a sense of being connected to where our program began. To see the team record during the past 99 season, click here.

Returners from Study Abroad
As a coaching staff, we consistently have to pinch ourselves for the privilege we have in being able to work with another wonderful group of young men this year. The Fall was incredibly fun and productive, but we are especially thrilled to have our full team in force on campus now with the return of Nate Eazor and Thorne Gregory from their experiences studying in Australia and Spain. We love the enthusiasm and passion they both will add to our already sizzling team culture!

Nate and Elaine (Mom) in Australia!

Thorne and friends traveling in Europe!

After making their respective journeys back to campus in the new year, there is always a sense of excitement that fills the air about J-Term. Being able to focus on only one class for a month, often taking a fun Physical Education class (e.g., Bob is teaching Pickleball this J-Term), and beginning to gear up for the Spring season ahead is a wonderful combination. Our senior captains, Weston Brach, Aleks Samets, and Alex Vanezis are an incredibly organized group (guaranteed three future leaders wherever their paths take them after college), have done an amazing job galvanizing our group and facilitating the on and off court preparation that needs to be completed for us to hit the ground running in February when official team practices begin again.

End of Fall and Pre-Season Rankings
The team pre-season rankings for the 2020 season were just recently released by the ITA and the Panthers have been recognized as the #3 team in the nation and #1 in the northeast. It is certainly fun to begin the season at these heights, but we know that every year it takes a new effort and that we will have the opportunity to challenge ourselves against many strong opponents throughout the season. As always, we do not put too much stock in the numbers, but rather aim toward building a championship program that sets its sights high. We strive to explore our mastery of the game of tennis and are not shy in setting our goal at trying to be the #1 team in the nation when it is all said and done. We look forward to the fun and challenging journey ahead this season!

Individually, we have three players who earned spots in the top 50 national ranking list with Stanley Morris at #2, Robby Ward at #43, and Alex Vanezis at #44. So fun to have multiple guys earn this amazing honor! These same players three players are currently ranked in the top 10 in the Northeast region at #2, #9, and #10 respectively. Great to see the depth of our program being recognized in this way.

Two thirds of our freshman class is all smiles
and making good use of our college's own ski hill!

2020 Schedule
We also wanted to share with you our finalized schedule for the spring. As a reminder, all times are listed in EST. We have a fun and challenging schedule planned, with many matches that will allow us to test ourselves against some of the toughest competition in DIII, as well as some challenging matches against non-DIII opponents as well.

As always, our match schedule picks up steam on our spring break trip when we will be returning to Claremont, CA. Taco Man here we come!

Spring-Break Fundraising
Among our highest priorities for creating a rich and meaningful Middlebury College Tennis experience for our players is ensuring a successful Spring Break trip each year. This critical time is an event where the travel strengthens our bonds and camaraderie, and acts as a catalyst for our journey to compete for a national championship by testing ourselves against high level competition throughout the week. We would not be able to make this trip happen for each and every one of our team members, without the generous help and support of our Middlebury Tennis friends and family. 

Please click the following link to donate and contribute to our spring break fundraising.

Thanks for reading along and stay tuned for more blog updates soon!

Go Midd!

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coaching Staff