Van der Geest and Men’s Tennis Learn Where They Stand

Middlebury Men's Tennis

Middlebury AthLetic Communications

Middlebury Men's Tennis


The men’s tennis team demonstrated its dominance at the top of the lineup as well as its impressive depth by taking three of the six flights at its own invitational on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23 and 24. In its first tournament of the fall season, Middlebury hosted Bates, Hamilton, Tufts, Brandeis, RPI and Skidmore in a tune-up for the ITA Regional Championships coming up this weekend.

“Because the Midd Invite is always our first tournament, we know it will be hard to play our best right off the bat,” said team captain Timo van der Geest ’18. “We know we always have a good shot at winning a couple of flights but it is mainly about getting in some good competition and learn more about where your game is at the moment.”

In the A-singles flight, Lubo Cuba ’19 was able to get his feet under himself rather quickly and continue his dominance from last season, defeating Ben Rosen of Bates 6–3, 4–6, 10–8 in the championship match after winning three matches to get there. Cuba extended his winning streak to nine matches, dating back to the beginning of the NCAA singles tournament last spring when he won five straight matches en route to the championship.

Along with Cuba, Will de Quant ’18 and Noah Farrell ’18 advanced to the semifinals, where de Quant fell to his teammate Cuba 6–2, 6–7 (5–7), 10–5, and Farrell fell to Rosen 6–1, 6–4.

These three, along with Kyle Schlanger ’18 who also won his first match in the A flight before falling in the next round, proved that the top of Middlebury’s singles lineup has the potential to be devastating this year.

The B-singles flight featured an all-Middlebury final between Timo van der Geest ’18 and Alex Vanezis ’20. Vanezis took it to van der Geest in the first set 6–0, but van der Geest showed some grit in the 80-degree weather by coming from behind to take the second set and the superbreaker to win the championship 0–6, 6–2, 11–9. The Panthers also had three semifinalists in this flight because Andre Xiao ’21 won the first two matches of career, before falling to van der Geest on Sunday morning 6–4, 6–2.

“Singles was fun seeing three out of the four semifinalists in my flight being Midd guys, resulting in me playing a teammate both in the semis and the final,” van der Geest said.

The Panthers’ success in the B-flight pointed to the depth they have throughout their team, considering the three Panther semifinalists were their fifth, sixth and seventh players in the lineup.

In other singles action, Weston Brach ’20 won his first match in the C-singles flight before falling in the quarterfinals, while Peter Martin ’19 won his first match in the D flight before doing the same in the quarterfinals.

Defending NCAA doubles national champions Cuba and de Quant were denied in the A-doubles flight by their fellow Panther pair of van der Geest and Kyle Schlanger ’18. Van der Geest and Schlanger knocked off their national championship teammates in the semifinals 8–6, and then captured the championship by defeating David Aizenberg and Anupreeth Coramutla 8–6 in the final. Van der Geest completed a perfect 8–0 weekend for the second straight year at the Middlebury Invitational, although this year he won the A-doubles flight and defeated the defending national champions with Schlanger.

“It was really exciting for me to win both my singles and doubles flight,” van der Geest said. “Kyle and I competed very well this weekend. In both our matches on Sunday there was a point where we weren’t playing very well but we managed to find ways to swing the matches.”

In the B-flight, the first-year pair of Xiao and Adam Guo ’21 reached the semifinals along with the Vanezis and Nate Eazor ’21 pairing, where they fell.

With one tournament under their belt in the fall season, the Panthers now turn to the ITA Regional Championships which they will host from Friday through Sunday, Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. Middlebury boasts the past two champions, Farrell who won two years ago and Cuba last year.

“I think everyone learned a lot on a personal level about where they are regarding their game at the moment,” van der Geest said, as he looks forward to this weekend. “We are hosting the biggest tournament of the fall this weekend, so we will use the information from the matches we played last weekend to try to prepare as best we can for the ITA.”

As van der Geest acknowledges, the fall season is an opportunity for the Panthers to face some good competition, grow as players and come together as a team. The team’s bigger goals lie ahead in the spring, when they will compete for the Nescac and NCAA team championships.