Jones, Campbell Claim ITA Doubles Title

By Stephen Etna

Opportunities to compete against national level competition are few and far between for NESCAC schools, but the Middlebury Tennis program has historically made the most of its chances. The duo of Brantner Jones ’14 and Palmer Campbell ’16 continued this winning tradition at the ITA Small College Championships in Fort Myers, Florida from Thursday, Oct. 10 to Sunday, Oct. 13.

Representing the New England ITA delegation following the inability of Ben Fife and Joey Fritz of Amherst College to compete, Jones and Campbell stunned the field and took the Small College National Championship in doubles play.

The duo started the long weekend of tournament play with a (6-3) (6-3) victory over the 4th seeded doubles pairing from Wisconsin-Whitewater.

This easy win was followed with another one, with Jones and Campbell demolishing the top-seeded team from North Carolina Wesleyan. Knocking off the top team in the field cleared Jones’ and Campbell’s path to the finals, where they faced Andrew La Cava and James Rivers of Whitman College. This year marked the athletes from Whitman College’s second straight appearance in the finals. Playing in top form, the Panther duo cruised past their opposition, earning a decisive (6-3) (6-2) victory to earn the championship.

The Middlebury players not competing in ITA play also played exceedingly well this weekend, participating in the Wallach Invitational at Bates College on Saturday, Oct. 12 and Sunday, Oct. 13.

In a promising showing, Alex Johnston ’14 appeared to be coming into form, coasting through the “A” singles bracket in straight sets before meeting his teammate Teddy Fitzgibbons ’14 in the finals. Johnston would defeat Fitzgibbons in a bit of friendly competition, (6-1) (6-4), winning the bracket.

The younger members of the Middlebury team also played well, with strong showings by Jackson Frons ’16 and Ari Smolyar ’16 in the “B” bracket, who both advanced to the semifinals. While it is still early in the season, it appears that the Panthers have put the NESCAC on notice with their play- they clearly seem to be one of the teams to bet.