Tennis Opens with Strong Start to Fall Play

By Stephen Etna

The Middlebury men’s tennis team hosted the Middlebury Invitational on Saturday Sept. 14 and Sunday Sept. 15, drawing competitors such as NESCAC foes Trinity, Bates, Wesleyan and Tufts, while the women’s team traveled to Williams for the Lindsay Morehouse Invitational.

The men posted a strong showing in early season individual contests. Despite the surprising early round exit of 1st singles Alex Johnston ’14 in the A Singles Division, Middlebury’s other entrants in the A flight performed exceptionally well.

In a dominant display, Teddy Fitzgibbons ’14 dominated his first round opponent, Nikola Telkedzhiev of Tufts, in straight sets. Fitzgibbons in particular impressed with his clinical play up close from the service line and the net, constantly creating different shot angles and stymieing any attempts from his counterpart to hit a shot with any weight.

“Overall, it was great to be back on our home courts competing with the rest of the guys on the team,” Fitzgibbons said. “I certainly fed off of their energy and played well all weekend.”

Brantner Jones ’14 also handily beat his first two opponents, before falling to his teammate Fitzgibbons in the semifinals. In the finals of the A flight, Fitzgibbons overcame a 1st set holdup to eventually defeat Jay Glickman of Tufts 1-6, 6-3, (10-7) for the singles championship.
In other flights, Palmer Campbell ’16 of was fantastic in the B singles flight, cruising through the entire field in straight sets, before finally besting teammate Courtney Mountfield ’15 in the finals. The sophomore appears to be in great form early in the season, a good sign for the already formidable men’s tennis team.
Before the day was over, Mountfield would get a bit of friendly “revenge” over Campbell, as he and his doubles partner, Ari Smolyar, would win the A doubles field over Jones and Campbell in a closely contested matchup, (9-8).

In the women’s tournament, players hailed from Williams, Middlebury, Vassar, Bowdoin and Skidmore, with the weekend matches played in a round robin format, crowning no champion.

The women Panthers, nonetheless, had a strong weekend, with a few individual performances standing out. In the top women’s singles flight, Ria Gerger ’16 earned a win in the finals over Kara Shoemaker of Williams. Also of note was Katie Paradies’ ’15 advancement to the final in the second flight, as well as the undefeated doubles pairing

Margot Marchese ’16 and Jennifer Sundstrom ’17 in round robin play.
Gerger believes that the tournament is a good starting point for the women Panthers.

“The tournament was a good way to see what we still need to work on, but also to see how well we are doing,” Gerger said. “This was just a glimpse of what we have to offer this fall and spring.”

The men will host the Intercollegiate Tennis Association New England Regional Championships Sept. 27-29. Last year at Williams College Campbell advanced to the semifinals and Johnston reached the quarters. The women will head to Williams that same weekend to compete in the ITAs as well, where last year Gerger placed second.