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

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