The Middlebury men’s tennis team is entering the 2019 fall season having lost a class of four seniors, including standouts Lubo Cuba ’19 and Noah Farrell ’19. Cuba and Farrell had career winning percentages of .802 and .725, respectively, and will be missed atop the lineup.
Filling the gaps in both the singles and doubles core will be three first-year recruits who make up the fourth-ranked recruiting class, as reported by tennisrecruiting.net. Leading the pack is Aidan Harris ’23, a 4-star recruit out of Indianapolis. Harris was the No. 1 player in Indiana and a top-60 recruit in his class.
A recruit of similar stature, Robby Ward ’23 out of Wilmington, Delaware also figures to play a role in the lineup. Ward was also the top player in his state, and was ranked No. 78 in his class. Middlebury also adds unranked recruit Andrew Mueller ’23 from Guatemala.
Though they lost valuable pieces, the Panthers retain considerable depth returning from last season. The combination of juniors Adam Guo ’21, Andre Xiao ’21, and Nate Eazor ’21 all return as upperclassmen, having made an impact in their first two years with the program which saw the Division III national title return to Middlebury.
The lone first-year representative in the starting lineup from last season, Stanley Morris ’22, will look to solidify a spot in the middle of the ladder, while former four-star and two-star recruits David Vilys and Zach Hilty will compete with the incoming first-years to round out the lineup.
Leading the squad will be seniors Weston Brach ’20, Aleksander Samets ’20 and Alex Vanezis ’20. Only Vanezis has seen significant time in the lineup during his three years on the team, and the trio will look to fill the void left by the graduates’ leadership as well as their play.
“After winning the championship in 2018, the atmosphere…coming back to campus felt a bit complacent, as if we were taking too many things for granted … Our success this year hinges upon how quickly we can establish the habits of a championship team, especially since we lost [Farrell] and [Cuba],” said Vanezis of the captains’ goals this year.
The Panthers finished last spring with a tight loss to Emory in the Division III National Championship semifinals, but before they can start their campaign to return to the championship stage, as they did in 2018, they embark on a fall slate of individual tournaments.
This campaign begins at home this weekend with the Middlebury Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 14. The men will also compete in the ITA Regional Championships hosted by Colby College on Sept. 27.