Noah Farrell Claims Middlebury’s First ITA/USTA DIII National Title

By Andrew Rigas

Noah Farrell ’18 won the Division III singles national title at the 2015 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships on Saturday, Oct. 17 in Sumter, South Carolina. With the win, Farrell became the first singles national champion in the history of the Middlebury men’s tennis program.

“It was very fun and exciting to have the opportunity to play against the other top players,” Farrell said. “Winning this tournament means so much to me. I’m humbled and honored to accomplish what I accomplished, and I’m so happy to do it for Middlebury College.”

He claimed the championship by defeating Rafe Mosetick of Emory in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) on Saturday morning to cap off an amazing and unexpected run by the sophomore.

“[This] couldn’t happen to a finer or more deserving young man,” Head Coach Bob Hansen said. “He is a brilliant combination of confidence and humility, appreciating challenges and playing with great composure and sportsmanship. He has been a complete pleasure to work with.”

As the Division III champion, Farrell competed in the “Super Bowl” semifinal featuring the NCAA Division II, NAIA and Junior College national champions, but fell to Division II champion Jan Meyer of Azusa Pacific 6-3, 6-2, ending his chance at qualifying for the 2015 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing Meadows, New York.

Last season, Farrell, a four-time state champion in high school, earned NESCAC Rookie of the Year with a 24-9 singles record as Middlebury’s number two player and reached the ITA Regional quarterfinals before bowing out to Steven Chen of Wesleyan in the quarterfinals. He was also a key cog on the team that advanced to the NCAA championship before falling to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, and finished the season ranked as the 20th best Division III player in the Northeast.  So, as a sophomore, he was expected to be a key player on a team that has serious championship aspirations, but no outsider could have predicted his meteoric rise to the best player in Division III men’s tennis.

“I think that my mental game has improved a ton as well as my tennis game,” Farrell said. “My coaches have helped me tremendously throughout the fall, making me a lot better and lot stronger so I give a lot of credit to them.”

His pursuit of the national title officially began the following weekend when he took first place at the New England ITA Regional Championships, defeating Steven Chen of Wesleyan 6-1, 6-3 to avenge last year’s loss and becoming the first Middlebury men’s player to be New England’s top player since Andy Peters did it in 2009.

Unseeded in the eight man field in South Carolina, Farrell drew the second-seeded and defending national champion Nicholas Chua of Chicago in the first round on Thursday, Oct. 15 and dismantled him in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

“With such high stakes, this was probably one of the biggest tournaments I’ve ever played in,” Farrell said. “I tried not to think about how big the tournament was. Rather, I tried to think about playing each point and each match like it was a regular match.”

In the semifinal on Friday, Farrell overcame Mohanad Al-Houni 6-4, 7-6 (4) to set up the match with Mosetick. Then, by beating Mosetick in straight sets Saturday morning, Farrell completed his remarkable run to the championship without losing a single set.

“He seemed to improve with each match, and was always at his best when it mattered most,” Hansen said.

Even after the loss to Meyer, Farrell finished the fall season with a 19-2 record, and was undefeated against Division III competition since his only other loss came at the hands of Division I opponent Peter Tarwid of Brown. In fact, he did not lose a set against Division III competition all fall, boding well for him and the Middlebury men’s tennis team this spring.

“I’m so excited to keep working on my game and striving to achieve our ultimate goal, which is to win a team national championship,” Farrell said.

Farrell hopes to avenge his team’s loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the NCAA championships, and if this fall is any indication, Farrell and the Panthers are primed to make a run at it. With the 5’7” sophomore out there competing, Coach Hansen has an enormous building block.