Men’s Tennis Returns to the NCAA Quarterfinals

Men’s Tennis Returns to the NCAA Quarterfinals


The Middlebury College men's tennis team will make its 14th NCAA Quarterfinal appearance in the last 15 years when it meets Gustavus Adolphus on Monday, May 22. Matches will take place at Champions Club Tennis Complex at Rivermont Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The event is hosted by both the University of the South and the Chattanooga Sports Commission. The Panthers are making their 16th-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Top-ranked Middlebury enters the weekend with a 20-3 overall record. The Panthers has squared off with 13 opponents who were ranked in the top 25 this season. Middlebury started their campaign 8-0, including a 7-2 win over the Golden Gusties, before falling to Division II foe St. Edwards (Texas) during its spring trip through Texas. The Panthers responded to the loss and reeled off eight-straight victories, including 6-3 wins over then top-ranked Emory and No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to close the swing through the Lone Star State. Middlebury posted a 7-1 mark during NESCAC action, with its lone loss coming to eighth-ranked Wesleyan by a 5-4 tally in the regular-season finale.

During the NESCAC Championship Tournament hosted by Williams, second-seeded Middlebury posted a 5-3 win over the sixth-seeded Ephs in the semifinals before falling to fourth-seeded and seventh-ranked Bowdoin in a back-and-forth championship match, 5-4.

The Panthers won the 2004 NCAA title over Williams 5-4, earning its second national crown in 2010 with a 5-1 win over Amherst in the title match. Middlebury has advanced to the final four in 10 of the past 14 seasons, finishing as the runner-up each of the last two springs, earning its first NCAA Tournament bid in the 2001-02 campaign. The Panthers boast a 45-16 record in NCAA Tournament play and are ranked atop the latest ITA Division III National poll.

In last weekend's NCAA regional, the top-seeded Panthers received a bye into the second round where they cruised past Baruch by a 5-0 score. Playing Skidmore for the second time this season, Middlebury recorded a 5-1 victory in the regional final over the Thoroughbreds.

Led by two-time NESCAC Coach of the Year Bob Hansen, the singles lineup features both experienced players along with new faces from teams that played for the national title each of the last two seasons. Atop that lineup will be sophomore Lubomir Cuba (Massapequa Park, N.Y.). Cuba ended his fall season by winning the ITA Regional Championship and advancing to the ITA Oracle Cup Division III singles final before falling in three sets. The northeast region's top-ranked individual, Cuba has a record of 24-2 and 14-0 in dual matches playing against the opponent's top player. Cuba is currently riding a 14-match winning streak with his two losses coming in the Panthers' season-opening tournament and the ITA Oracle Cup final.

The second slot in the lineup for the Panthers has been held down by junior William de Quant (Monaco, France). The third-year Panther leads Middlebury with 26 wins this year (26-7) and an 18-4 mark in dual matches. The ITA Northeast region's sixth-ranked individual has won six of his last seven matches going into the NCAA Quarterfinals, including victories during each of last weekend's matches in the regional. He moved to the No. 1 slot for the matches on the spring trip to Texas, defeating Gustavus Adolphus' Mohanad Al-Houni by scores of 6-3, 6-3.

Playing No. 3 for Hansen will be the region's 17th-ranked player, senior Hamid Derbani (Casablanca, Morocco). The fourth-year Panther goes into quarterfinal play with a 20-8 overall record and a 12-4 mark in dual matches, including a pair of impressive wins during last weekend's regional.

Junior Kyle Schlanger (Monaco, France) will play in the fourth flight, sporting a 20-6 record and a 16-3 mark this spring, including winning streaks of seven and 10. He also sported a 7-1 record during NESCAC matches this spring.

The duo of junior Timo van der Geest (Oegstgeest, Netherlands) and senior Allen Jackson (Charlotte, N.C.) have logged significant playing time in the No. 5 slot of the lineup for the Panthers this season. Moving into the slot later in the spring, van der Geest is 4-7, while Jackson was 6-1 before moving to No. 6 with a 4-5 mark. Also seeing time at the bottom of the lineup has been rookie Alex Vanezis (Frankfurt, Germany) with a 6-1 record.

In the doubles lineup, Cuba and de Quant have combined this season to post a mark of 18-6 overall and 14-4 in dual matches. The Northeast region's third-ranked duo has won seven of its last eight matches against the opponent's top tandem.

Derbani and Schlanger have played No. 2 doubles for the last 16 matches with an 11-5 record. The pair won two key points during last weekend's regional and is ranked 15th in the region. Derbani also garnered Second-Team All-NESCAC accolades a season ago.

The third flight has seen the duos of van der Geest and Jackson (8-6) to start the year as well as van der Geest and Martin (6-2) this spring. The latter earned two wins last weekend, including an 8-0 victory on Saturday.

Gustavus Adolphus enters Monday's match with a 28-6 record, ranked 21st nationally and winners of seven of its last eight matches.

Monday's national quarterfinal match between Middlebury and Gustavus Adolphus marks the eighth meeting in the all-time series that started in 2003 between the programs with the Panthers holding a 6-1 advantage. The teams have met four times in the NCAA Tournament. In 2003, the Golden Gusties recorded a 4-1 win during the third-place match. A year later, the Panthers defeated Gustavus Adolphus by a 4-2 score in the NCAA Semifinals, while tallying a 4-0 victory in 2006 in the same round. The following year, the Panthers bested the Golden Gusties 5-1 in the NCAA Third-Place Match.

The programs have also met three times during the regular season. In 2011, Middlebury won by an 8-1 score during its spring trip, while posting a narrow 5-4 triumph in 2014. Earlier this spring, the Panthers recorded a 7-2 victory including a sweep of the six singles matches.

The Panther men will also have two players compete in the NCAA Division III Singles and Doubles Tournament that will take place Thursday through Saturday at the same complex. Cuba and de Quant will be two of 32 individuals vying for the singles crown, while Cuba and de Quant will battle 15 other duos from across the country for the doubles title.

2017 NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Champions Club Tennis Complex at Rivermont Park
Quarterfinals – Monday, May 22
No. 1 Middlebury (20-3) vs. No. 19 Gustavus Adolphus (26-8)
No. 2 Emory (19-4) vs. No. 10 Williams (15-7)
No. 3 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (30-3) vs. No. 5 Wesleyan (15-3)
No. 4 Washington-St. Louis (Mo.) (18-4) vs. No. 7 Bowdoin (21-4)

Semifinals – Tuesday, May 23
Champions Club Tennis Complex at Rivermont Park
Middlebury/Gustavus Adolphus winner vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps/Wesleyan winner
Emory/Williams winner vs. Bowdoin/Washington-St. Louis (Mo.) winner

Wednesday, May 24
Champions Club Tennis Complex at Rivermont Park
Championship Match – 10:00 a.m. 

**Rankings by the ITA**