Women Fail to Match Men’s Seventh Straight Win

By Emma McDonald

The Middlebury women’s tennis team faced Bowdoin on Saturday, April 19 in a matchup of national top-ten teams and potential national-championship contenders, with the Panthers falling to the Polar Bears in a close contest 4-5.

In doubles, the team was excited to see sophomore Ria Gerger ’16 return to play after an injury.

“It was great to have [Gerger] back,” said coach Mike Morgan. “She’s obviously a talent. We certainly loved having her in the lineup.”

Gerger and doubles partner Kaysee Orozco ’17 gained the team’s lone point in doubles. In singles, Alexandra Fields ’17 beat Bowdoin’s Tiffany Cheng 6-1, 6-2 to tie the match. Orozco grabbed another win in number-two singles with a 6-3, 6-4 score.

The Panthers could not hold on to their lead however, as Polar Bear Samantha Stalder defeated Margot Marchese ’16 in the number-four spot, and Lily Bondy ’16 lost in number-three singles. In the final two matches, Middlebury gained one last point with a victory by senior Dorrie Paradies ’14.

Morgan emphasized the team’s focus throughout the game, saying that the team had “overall focus, especially during singles: they were mentally tough, especially in managing their own court. They focused on the one goal of winning the match.”

After falling to 8-5 on the season with the loss, the Panthers fall to a disappointing seventh place in the NESCAC standings. The team will have to regroup for a pair of key conference contests this weekend. After hosting Tufts on Friday, April 25, the team will travel to Amherst for a date with the first-place Lord Jeffs on Saturday, April 26.

Despite the disappointing loss, says Morgan, the Panthers will head into two games next week against Amherst and Tufts ready to win.

“The team is getting into a great mindset heading into next week,” said Morgan. “We’re fired up.”

The eighth-ranked Middlebury men’s tennis teams gained two wins on Saturday, April 19 in matchups against Bowdoin and RPI to run their winning streak to seven games.

In the first match of the day, the Panthers picked up two of three doubles contests and five of six singles matches to beat conference foe Bowdoin 6-3. Top-ranked pair Brantner Jones ’14 and Palmer Campbell ’16 secured an 8-3 victory, with a second victory coming from Ari Smolyar ’16 and Peter Heidrich ’15, who beath their competitors from Bowdoin in the number-three doubles spot. In singles, Alex Johnston ’14 secured a win in three sets against Polar Bear Noah Bragg.

Middlebury’s sole loss against Bowdoin came in the number-two singles spot where sixth-ranked Luke Trinka of Bowdoin defeated 18th-ranked Campbell 6-3, 6-2. Jones, Smolyar, Courtney Mountifield ’15 and Jackson Frons ’16 picked up wins in singles as well to help Middlebury defeat Bowdoin.

The Panthers continued the day with a second match against RPI, finishing victorious with a 6-3 win, their seventh straight win of the season.

The Panthers were again 2-1 in doubles, with wins by Johnston and Andrew Lebovitz ’14 as well as Chris Frost ’15 and James Burke ’14. In singles, Middlebury’s Zach Bruchmiller ’14 and Johnston both fell to their opponents, while Teddy Fitzgibbons ’14, Lebovitz and Jones all picked up wins over their Engineer opponents to bring the score to 6-3.

The Panther men return to the court on Saturday, April 26, when they face perennial conference favorite Amherst in a potential dress rehearsal for the NESCAC tournament final. With both teams bringing their unblemished conference records into the weekend, only one will sit alone atop the NESCAC after Saturday’s matchup.

The Panthers then wrap up their regular season with a road contest against Tufts on Sunday, April 27. With a 3-5 conference record, the Jumbos should not represent a significant challenge for Middlebury.

After this weekend, the Panthers will play in the NESCAC tournament at Bowdoin. Even if they come up short in the conference tournament, Middlebury is virtually assured of a berth in the NCAA tournament, held May 22-24 in Claremont, CA, where they will look to improve upon last year’s quarterfinal loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.