Panther Men Defeat Whitman in NCAA Quarterfinal

Nate Eazor clinched the match with his straight-set win at No. 5 singles.
Nate Eazor clinched the match with his straight-set win at No. 5 singles.

Middlebury advanced to the NCAA Men's Tennis Semifinals for the 12th time in program history with a 5-1 win over 20th-ranked Whitman in a quarterfinal match. After weather shifted the day's schedule around, the contest took place at Pomona-Pitzer's Pauley Tennis Complex in Claremont, California. The top-ranked Panthers (23-4) advance to the semifinals for the fifth-consecutive year and will play No. 2 Emory, a 5-0 victor over No. 4 Williams, on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. in the NCAA Semifinals. The Blues finish their season at 18-8.

Middlebury jumped out to a 2-1 advantage after doubles play on Monday. The top pair of Lubomir Cuba and Kyle Schlanger grabbed the first point, winning four of the last five games, for an 8-5 victory over Robert Carter and Zach Hewlin. Seconds later, the Panther duo of William de Quant and Noah Farrell claimed five of the last six games during an 8-3 triumph against Trevor Fennessy and Alex Hwang. The No. 3 Panther tandem of Timo van der Geest and Peter Martin trailed 6-3 against Whitman's Chase Friedman and Ben Kirsh, but the Panther duo won three of the next four games to pull to within one at 7-6. The Blues held serve and won the point 8-6, cutting the Middlebury advantage in half.

In singles action, the Panthers won the first three matches in straight sets. At No. 1, Cuba posted a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Hewlin. In the No. 4 slot, Schlanger put the Panthers up 4-1 with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Carter. Nate Eazor clinched the match a few minutes later with a 6-1, 6-3 triumph in the fifth flight against Daniel Foster.

In the other three matches that went unfinished, Farrell lost the first set by a 7-5 score against Kirsh in the second spot, while de Quant was up a set and playing for the match at No. 3 (6-1, 5-2) against Gary Ho. At No. 6, Andre Xiao won the opening set 6-4 and was ahead 5-2 against Friedman when the match was decided.

Monday's national quarterfinal match between Middlebury and Whitman marked the first meeting between the two programs. The Blues are making their first appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals since 1988.

Tuesday's NCAA Semifinal contest between the Panthers and Eagles is the 11th all-time meeting between the two schools and the sixth in the NCAA Tournament. Emory has won five of the six previous matches, with the Panthers lone win coming in 2004 during the NCAA Semifinals by a 4-1 score. The two teams met on April 21 in Connecticut, with Middlebury posting a 7-2 victory.