2017-18 Men's Tennis Season Preview

Timo van der Geest and his teammates begin their 2017-18 this weekend when they host the Middlebury Invitational.
Timo van der Geest and his teammates begin their 2017-18 this weekend when they host the Middlebury Invitational.

Just two victories from its third NCAA title a season ago, the Middlebury men's tennis team welcomes back a championship-tested lineup this season. The 2017-18 team is ready to get back to the pinnacle following fifth-straight 20-plus win season a year ago. Winners of the 2004 and 2010 national championship, the team has its sights set on holding a trophy in California at the end of May.

The Panthers are guided by seventh-year head coach Bob Hansen, a two-time NESCAC Coach of the Year (2013-14, 2014-15). The veteran mentor brings back a talented squad in 2017-18 loaded with postseason experience.

Headed into the fall season, the singles lineup must fill the spots left by the graduation of two players. Leading the group will be junior Lubomir Cuba and senior captain William de Quant.

Cuba had a stellar first year as a Panther in 2016-17. He claimed the program's first NCAA Singles crown and was selected as the NESCAC Player of the Year. Cuba concluded his season with a 29-3 record, going 14-1 in dual matches. He capped off the fall portion of the schedule by advancing to the ITA Oracle Cup Division III title match before falling in three sets.

A mainstay near the top of the lineup last year, de Quant recorded a 27-9 mark a season ago mainly against the No. 2 player for the opposition. He also moved into the top position during the Panthers' spring trip through Texas with a 5-1 mark. During his first three seasons as a Panthers, he a record of 73-20 as an individual and ended the year ranked 17th nationally and sixth in the regional rankings.

Junior Noah Farrell returns to the program following a year off. Farrell, the 2015-16 NESCAC Player of the Year and 2015 Rookie of the Year, had a stellar year in 2015-16 with a 33-5 record, going 15-2 in dual matches. He concluded the year as the nation's fourth-ranked player and was an NCAA quarterfinalist, earning All-American status. Farrell also won the 2015 USTA/ITA Small College Singles Championship, becoming the first singles player in the program's history to accomplish the feat.

Senior captain Kyle Schlanger looks to anchor the middle of the Panther lineup. Schlanger tallied a 21-7 record with a 17-4 mark in dual matches, including winning 15 of his first 16 matches to start the spring portion of the schedule. He moved up the No. 3 spot in Texas and didn't lose a match (6-0).

The other two places in the lineup will be up for grabs with many experienced players batting for matches. Senior captain Timo van der Geest (18-15) as well as sophomores Alex Vanezis (13-6), Aleksandr Samets and Weston Brach will look move up the lineup for Hansen.  

In terms of doubles, the tandem of Cuba and de Quant return to the top spot after winning the NCAA Doubles title last May. The duo was the first pair in the history of the program to win the doubles title. The other two spots will be determined as the season progresses.

The Panthers will participate in four tournaments in the fall, including playing host to the ITA Regional Championships on the Proctor Tennis Courts from September 29 through October 1. When the calendar turns to 2018, the Panthers' schedule is highlighted by a spring trip to California for matches against nationally-ranked foes. Once back east, the Panthers' slate is filled with nationally- and regionally-ranked opponents both in the NESCAC as well as out of conference.