Men’s Tennis Falls to No. 4 Amherst

By JACK KAGAN

BENJY RENTON
Peter Martin ’19 has posted an overall 21-9 record for the 2018-2019 season and has gone 5-3 in NESCACs.

Middlebury narrowly fell short on Saturday to No. 4 Amherst, who have been on a tear this season and have locked up the No. 1 seed for the NESCAC tournament which starts tomorrow. The Panthers can take away the fact that the match was incredibly close and they missed taking down the upstart Mammoths by just a few points. 

In the doubles competition, Andre Xiao ’21 and Nate Eazor ’21 eased to the lone victory for the Panthers, as two upperclassmen pairings fell to give the Mammoths a 2-1 start to the match. 

Amherst’s sophomore standout Sean Wei, a former 5-star recruit out of John McEnroe Tennis Academy, handed Midd’s Noah Farrell ’19 a straight-set loss at #1 singles. Wei is an impressive 9-5 on the season out of the top spot. After Xiao lost at #3, the Panthers found themselves with their backs against the wall, down 4-1. 

“We were fighting from behind, but our guys definitely dug in and fought back,” said Assistant Coach Andrew Thomson. Panthers vet Lubo Cuba ’19, having recently ceded the No. 1 spot to Farrell, pulled out an impressive straight set win. 

More ladder changes for the Panthers have seen first-year Stanley Morris drop into the #6 spot. Morris also charged to an impressive straight-set victory against 4-star recruit William Turchetta out of New York. 

Middlebury had two of its most contentious matches of the season while down 4-3 with the match on the line. Sophomores Nate Eazor and Adam Guo have been reliable for the Panthers this season in the bottom half of the ladder, and they were just a tiebreak away from getting the job done for a would-be upset against Amherst.

After winning the first set, Eazor just barely lost an 8-6 tiebreaker in the second set, before going on to lose the third set. Guo finished just after, losing a 7-3 tiebreaker in the decisive third set of his own match. 

“It was definitely an extremely close match with Amherst…[they have] a great team and it was a hard fought match. That said, if we continue to put in work, stay healthy, and come ready to rumble for the NESCAC tournament, we will have a great chance to win no matter who we play,” Thomson said. 

The Panthers are definitely looking forward to the tournament on their home courts starting Friday, May 3rd. Middlebury earned the No. 3 seed and the right to play No. 6 seed Tufts, who they handed a 6-3 loss a couple weeks ago. A win on Friday would set up a rematch in the semifinals against No. 2 seed Wesleyan, who beat the Panthers 6-3 in early April. 

Middlebury has reached the finals of the NESCAC tournament 10 times in the last 13 years. There are big expectations for the Panthers, but they have experience and home-court advantage on their side going into a pivotal weekend. 

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