Monday, March 22, 2021

Panther Tennis: Spring Semester Update

With our spring semester underway and the weather starting to thaw out some of the snow, it is time for another update of Middlebury Men’s Tennis! Even though we are far from a typical semester, we are thrilled to report that our group has already making the most of another unique semester!

Remote Spring Tennis

When deciding a few months ago where they would spend their spring semester, our group was faced with substantial uncertainty about the future of what would be possible this semester relative to campus, classes, and tennis. Some of our group chose to study remotely, others took a gap semester, and we have one player back on campus as well. Despite continued unique and challenging circumstances, we remain closely connected with each and every player on the team. Even better, each Panther is attacking their spring semester and making the most of it both academically and on the tennis courts. 

Recently, we have had the pleasure of following two doubles teams make a run to the finals and then win a tournament in Southern California. In fact, each of our the panthers who have competed in a tournament over the past few weeks have all earned at least one win. Most importantly, it has been wonderful to see our group use their creativity and passion to find competitive environments to continue to push their tennis games. We look forward to watching our group continue to grow their competitive sharpness as they find more ways to compete.

Panthers on Campus

Here in Middlebury, Zihao Yuan ’24 is back into our rhythm of six day a week training with a blend of individual work with the coaches, fitness, and even some yoga too. His consistent hard work and dedication serves him well and the coaching staff is excited to be able to keep up with our in person coaching skills as well. We are optimistic that if the spring continues to go well from a Covid perspective, we might be able to find Zihao scrimmage opportunities against conference competition!

Zihao Yuan '24 dialing in his volley technique
in Nelson Arena!

NESCAC Play This Spring

Recently, the NESCAC college presidents made an announcement about spring sports (read the announcement here). There will likely be some limited dual match play during the end of the spring semester. Click here to read more.

While we do not have enough players to compete in dual matches this spring, we remain committed to staying focused on the overall missions of our program which includes helping our group to develop their tennis level while simultaneously getting them closer to their career goals as well. Of course, we always strive to ensure our group enjoys every aspect of their collegiate experience as well! As a coaching staff, we could not be prouder of the way our group has navigated difficult obstacles and decisions through the pandemic. They remain committed, optimistic, and as passionate as ever about what we are all about.

Sending our very best wishes to everyone in our Middlebury Tennis Family,

The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coaching Staff


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

J-Term 2021 Update and Freshmen Spotlights

Panther tennis fans! Looking forward to sharing another update about our program as we continue to navigate an uncertain and unprecedented path for this academic year. Middlebury is fully remote for J-term this year and classes begin this week! The coaching staff will be teaching our PE classes over zoom, so instead of focusing on tennis or pickleball, we have elected to provide a class that shares some of the mental skills work we do with our team to promote performance (and hopefully supports well-being beyond the court too) with all students. In this post, we will highlight our freshmen class so you can get to know our youngest group better and will wrap up by providing an update on the upcoming spring semester.

Freshmen Spotlights: Get to Know the Class of 2024
We have loved getting to know our freshmen class and they are already well integrated into the team and making a big impact on all levels of what we do. That being said, there is always more to learn about our group and who would have thought that 3 out of 4 of them would pick sushi as their favorite food! We cannot wait to watch this group continue to grow and thrive!

Max Kim


Hometown: Hillsborough, NJ
Siblings: Nicole Kim (older sister)
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite hobby outside of tennis: Trying new foods
Pets: Beanie (toy goldendoodle)
Favorite pro tennis player: Daniil Medvedev
Best part about being in Vermont: Being surrounded by nature
Favorite thing about Middlebury College so far: Making new friends


Noah Laber


Hometown: Ventura, California
Siblings: 5 (Benjamin, Caroline, Kaikoura, Jackson, Micah)
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Hobby Outside of Tennis: Ping Pong
Pets: Dogs (Oliver, Nala) Cats (Violet, Coco)
Favorite Pro Tennis Player: Rafael Nadal
Best Part About Being in Vermont: Different weather (Snow)
Favorite Thing About Middlebury College So Far: Friends on the Tennis Team


Joe Mairs


Hometown: Edina, Minnesota
Siblings: Younger brother (sophomore in high school)
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Hobby Outside of Tennis: Guitar
Pets: 2 dogs (bernese mountain dogs) and 2 cats (norwegian forest cats)
Favorite Pro Tennis Player: Roger Federer
Best Part About Being in Vermont: All the different seasons
Favorite Thing About Middlebury College So Far: The people at Middlebury are very welcoming and supportive.


Zihao Yuan


Hometown: Guangzhou, China
Siblings: Older brother Jeff in Australia
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite Hobby Outside of Tennis: Reading
Pets: Dudu (Chow Chow)
Favorite Pro Tennis Player: Roger Federer
Best Part About Being in Vermont: The weather is cool during the summer.
Favorite Thing About Middlebury College So Far: I can explore many possibilities.


Spring Semester Outlook
Middlebury has yet to announce a formal decision about spring athletics, but we are anticipating that there is a high likelihood that we will not be back to competition as usual just yet. No part of missing competitive seasons is easy, but we remain thankful for the opportunities we still do have to work together as a team. We are sure cheering for the vaccine distribution process to speed up though! Given the current outlook, our group has been busy working on backup plans and adapting to the circumstances as well as possible. One option that the majority of our team may choose is to study remotely (or take a gap semester) and live together somewhere warm where they will be able to train as a team and play tournaments if conditions allow. While it would be strange not to have our whole team back on campus as we had in the fall, we are pleased that our players want to find opportunities to compete again to continue their development and test the skills we have been building. More importantly, as a coaching staff we loved seeing how our group worked together and prioritized options that allowed them to be with their teammates. As always, we know our team will stay committed to doing what it takes to keeping their tennis on an upward trajectory!


Very best wishes, 
The Middlebury Men’s Tennis Coaching Staff