Men’s Tennis Takes Weekend vs. Tufts and Williams

By JACK KAGAN

HATTIE LEFAVOUR
Nate Eazor ’21 hits a backhand during the match against No. 18 Tufts, bringing the team to a 6-3 victory.

After tough losses to No. 3 Emory and No. 5 Wesleyan, Panther men’s tennis stormed back in a big way last weekend with a nailbiter win over No. 10 Williams, in addition to a 6-3 victory over No. 18 Tufts. Middlebury tumbled down the rankings last week after an upset from then No.7 Wesleyan, while Williams dropped from No. 5 to No. 10 following a loss to newly crowned No. 1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. 

Currently, half of the top 10 in the country are NESCAC teams, and this strong level of play was on display at the Proctor Tennis Courts for the second weekend in a row. On Saturday, Middlebury hosted the Tufts Jumbos, who began the match by sweeping the doubles competition with relative ease, a feat that has only been matched twice in the past two seasons. 

However, a 0-3 deficit didn’t seem to show in singles, as the squad stepped up and won six straight matches for the 6-3 victory, highlighted by sophomore Adam Guo’s team-leading tenth win and a breakout victory for first-year Stanley Morris in a tight three sets. 

On Sunday, the Panthers geared up for a classic rivalry matchup against the Williams Ephs, who lead the all-time series against Middlebury 40-22 since 1920, despite going 1-8 in the past five seasons. 

The Ephs’ best win came against No. 5 Wesleyan the day before their meeting with the Panthers, despite air-tight losses to No. 2 University of Chicago as well as Claremont and Emory. Middlebury would end the Ephs’ good fortune, however, starting with the lone doubles win from co-captains Peter Martin ’19 and Noah Farrell ’19 to stave off another 0-3 initial deficit. This marks a team-leading ninth win for the duo. 

Farrell continued his excellence in both doubles and singles, with a 6-0, 6-0 shutdown of Ephs junior Ananth Raghavan. Other highlights include a solid straight set victory from Nate Eazor ’21, who has been splitting time as the #6 singles spot, but emerged with a spotless record on the weekend. 

After the 1-2 start in doubles, the Panthers found themselves knotted at 4-4 with sophomore Andre Xiao battling against Williams senior captain Deepak Indrakanti. Xiao has matured nicely in his second season, posting a 9-4 record out of the middle of the ladder after competing mainly out of the #5 and #6 spots last season. He didn’t let the pressure get to him either, as he clinched the match with a 6-3 win in the third set. 

The Panthers have only preserved their ranking with the two wins, but have the opportunity to move back up this weekend on the road against No. 4 Bowdoin. One of the most heated rivalries in the program, the Panthers defeated the Bears 5-3 in last year’s NCAA Division III Championship. The Polar Bears have suffered only two blows to their record this season; Middlebury getting a win under their belt would help the Panthers on their journey back into the top five nationally.

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