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Men’s Tennis Faces DI Teams

By ANDREW RIGAS

The men’s tennis team faced a big challenge last weekend, Friday to Sunday, Oct. 6 to 8, as it competed against exclusively Division I teams in the Farnsworth Invitational at Princeton. The doubles pair of Andre Xiao ’21 and Will de Quant ’18 led the way by reaching the semifinals of the A-doubles flight, while Peter Martin ’19 reached the semifinals of the C-singles flight.

Despite the fact that Middlebury was the only Division III team competing at Princeton, the Panthers were confident in their ability to match-up with most other teams there.

“In reality, there were only a handful of teams (UVA, Columbia, Princeton) at the tournament that would clearly beat us in a team match,” said team captain de Quant. “The majority of teams there had strong players, but I would feel confident about our chances when pitting our lineup against theirs.”

De Quant, Noah Farrell ’19 and Kyle Schlanger ’18 all competed in the A-singles flight.

In the first round, de Quant defeated Drexel’s Hamza Laalej 6–2, 7–5, but lost to eventual champion, Virginia’s Aswin Lizen, in the next round 6–2, 6–2. Lizen is part of the team that has won the past NCAA Division I titles.

“The ‘better’ teams at the tournament were UVA, Princeton and Columbia,” said de Quant. “UVA has won two consecutive NCAA Division I titles, so seeing the talent they bring in and how they compete in matches is great for us moving forward. As a team, we know that our level of commitment and our level of training is on par with most DI programs, and seeing these DI teams this weekend only solidified my confidence in our program and the quality that our team has on and off court.”

Farrell lost his first round matchup to Luka Sucevic from St. John’s 7–5, 7–6 (7–2). After a bye in the first round, Schlanger lost a hard-fought match to Monmouth’s Alberto Giuffrida 7–6 (11–9), 1–6, 10–4.

Schlanger and de Quant showed their mettle in the consolation bracket, where Schlanger won twice and de Quant won three matches to finish 4–1 on the weekend in singles.

In the A-doubles flight, de Quant and Xiao advanced to the semifinals by winning their first match over Marist’s Chris Gladden and Carlos Moreno 8–3. There, the Panther pair lost to Drexel’s Bernard Tefel and Sinan Orhon 8–6.

“The top end of Division III Tennis is now very strong and deep, which I think showed when our players competed against some of the top players from the DI schools at this tournament,” said de Quant.

Schlanger and Timo van der Geest ’18, the other Middlebury pair in the A-doubles flight, won their first match as well, defeating Lehigh’s George Cooper and Bryant Born 8–3, but fell to eventual champions Rian Pandole and Michal Rolski from Columbia 8–5. Unlike Cuba and de Quant, Schlanger and van der Geest did not get a bye, so they only made it to the quarterfinals.

Van der Geest and Alex Vanezis ’20 and Andre Xiao ’21 represented Middlebury in the B-singles flight. All three Panthers lost their first matches, but both van der Geest and Xiao were able to win twice in the consolation bracket.

In B-doubles, the pairs of Farrell and Martin and Vanezis and Nate Eazor ’21 lost in the first round. Vanezis and Eazor rebounded in the consolation bracket by winning twice.

Martin made his run into the semifinals of C-singles by beating Lehigh’s Chris Auteri 2–6, 6–2, 10–3, Drexel’s Xandy Hammitt 5–7, 7–6 (7 – 3), 10–8, and Columbia’s Taiya Hamanaka 7–6 (7–4), 6–2. He lost to Princeton’s Kabir Sarita 6–2, 6–1 in the final four of the 32-man field.

“Peter Martin stood out this weekend, as he performed very well in his singles bracket,” de Quant said. “He has historically focused on doubles, but he showed everyone his quality in singles as well this weekend, which is great for him and great for the team moving forward.”

Adam Guo ’21 also had a successful weekend, winning twice in the D-singles flight and once in the C-doubles flight paired with Thorne Gregory ’21. They beat a UVA pair 87.

“The mentality for the weekend was focused on getting matches under our belt, which was a success considering all 13 guys was able to play multiple matches each day,” de Quant said. “This is what the fall season is all about.

“We had confidence going in that we have the level to play and beat players from these DI programs, which showed throughout the weekend,” de Quant said. “Our goal was to learn more about where we stand as individuals and as a team, and we did just that.”

After the challenges the Panthers faced these last several weeks, the team should be ready to go for this weekend’s trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the MIT Invitational Friday to Sunday, Oct. 13 to 15.

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