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Tennis Has Tough Weekend, Looks Forward to Competing at NCAAs

Claire Messersmith, Senior Writer

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All good things must come to an end. Though both advanced to their respective NESCAC Championships on Saturday, May 6, the men’s and women’s tennis teams fell to their respective opponents on Sunday, May 7.

This marked the men’s team’s third consecutive visit to the NESCAC Championship. Though they took home hardware last year, the team’s repeat bid came up short as they fell 5-4 to Bowdoin in what was a back and forth affair.

The Middlebury-Bowdoin match-up was rematch of the 2016 NESCAC Tournament final.

“Everyone on the team was confident and excited for the final on Sunday,” said Lubo Cuba ’19. “We beat Bowdoin in the regular season, so we felt like we had the upper hand.

“Even though we lost, I feel like we were the better team so hopefully we get another chance to play them in the NCAAs.”

Middlebury took a 2-1 lead after doubles play, as the no. 1 pair of Cuba and Will de Quant ’18 topped their opponents at No. 1. Bowdoin reacted and quickly tied the match at 2-2 during singles, as the Polar Bears took away wins at No. 2 , No. 4, and No. 5.

“Everyone played hard and competed until the last point,” Cuba said. “Unfortunately, the final didn’t go our way, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t play well. Like I said, we’ll rebound and do our best in NCAAs.”

On the women’s side, the top-ranked Panthers returned to the championship round for the second year in a row.

After defeating Bowdoin 5-2 in the semis, the Panthers matched up with No. 2 Williams on Sunday for the championship match, at their home court. Williams was coming off of a 5-0 victory over No. 3 Tufts in the semis on Saturday.

“Going into the championship round we were feeling quite confident,” said Kaysee Orozco ’17. “We were definitely feeling some nerves, which was normal, especially as a team with 5/9 players being freshmen, but we recognized them early and knew we were going to overcome them.”

“This was our second time making the NESCAC finals in program history, but this year we weren’t content with just being finalists — we were eager and ready to take the title,” Orozco continued.

The loss off the Championship marked the snap of a 10-match win streak, as the women finished 14-4. Though the Panthers came up short, the team is expected to received an at-large bid, announced on Monday.

Williams took away two of the three doubles matches against Middlebury, and made it 3-1 after a singles win at the No. 3 spot. Catherine Blayze ’20 brought the Panthers to within a point with a win at No. 4 singles, but the Panthers suffered two more singles losses at Nos. 5 and 6.

Though both teams suffered a disappointing past Sunday, both the men’s and women’s teams came away with high chances in a shot at the NCAAs, given a consistent, successful season.

“As a whole, and as a senior on the team, I couldn’t have asked for a better final season looking at our results on paper and I couldn’t have dreamed of a stronger group of underclassmen alongside myself and fellow senior Alexandra Fields, willing to give in to our team culture and contribute to our achievements on court right from day one,” said Orozco.

“In my three years here, we have never gone undefeated in the conference during the regular season, and despite our loss this past weekend, we all firmly believe this is still our year,” she said.

“We have put in so much work on and off the court all year, and it’s crazy to think it still wasn’t enough, but we are ready for the work to come that will get us that NCAA title.”

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Tennis Has Tough Weekend, Looks Forward to Competing at NCAAs