Competing in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships, the men’s and women’s tennis teams faced some of the best players in New England from Friday, Sept. 27 to Sunday, Sept. 29. While the weekend had no bearing on the team’s standing, many Panthers rose to the challenge in the individual competition.
The men’s tennis team hosted the New England Region ITA Tournament, and fielded multiple Panther entrants in both the singles and doubles tournaments. In singles play, Alex Johnston ’13, Brantner Jones ’13, Jackson Frons ’16 and Palmer Campbell ’16 all were able to win multiple match-ups.
Of particular mention was Campbell, who advanced to the tournament’s semi-final. Campbell and Williams’ Conrad Harron squared off in a battle that lasted over two hours. Campbell easily took the first set on the strength of strong play at the net, (6-1), preceding a grueling second set. The war of attrition continued, with neither Campbell nor Harron content to give up a point, until Harron finally took the set (7-5), before winning the3rd and final set (6-2).
Campbell, the last remaining Middlebury athlete in the singles tournament, rebounded in doubles play with partner Jones. The duo meshed well, playing in lockstep with one another. Easily beating their initial opposition, Jones and Campbell advanced to the final of the tournament where they met Ben Fife and Joey Fritz of Amherst College. In yet another marathon matchup for Campbell, the Middlebury pair split the first two sets with their opponents before falling 10-7 in the tiebreaker to end their day.
“Palmer played very well throughout the weekend and was the only player to be in the semi-finals of both singles and doubles,” head coach Bob Hansen said. “He and Brantner will represent our region at the ITA Small College Championships on Oct. 10-12 and have a chance to compete for the Div lll National Small College doubles title.”
The women’s team, also competing in the ITA tournament, traveled to Williams College.
Ria Gerger ’16, played a strong tournament, picking up multiple wins with ease. She breezed past her first three opponents (6-1, 6-1), (6-2, 6-1) and a dominant (6-3, 6-0) in the round of 16, before falling in the quarterfinals.
Gerger also advanced far in the doubles tournament with teammate Sadie Shackelford ’16. The sophomores rolled to two early wins in the tournament, besting their opposition (8-1) and (8-2) before losing to the entrants from Williams in the quarterfinals.
“This was our first tournament together as a doubles team, but we definitely worked well together and got to play several NESCAC teams that we’ll see in the regular season, which was a helpful preview for the future,” Shackelford said.
As the major tournament for the Panthers in the fall season, the ITA has set an impressive precedent after facing some of the best competition they will see this year. The men return to action in the Brown Hidden Dual tournament on Saturday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6, while the women will travel to Mount Holyoke to take part in the Newitt tournament on Friday, Oct. 18.