2017-18 Women's Tennis Season Preview

(L-R): Juniors Christina Puccinelli and Molly Paradies lead a young but experienced team into the 2017-18 season.
(L-R): Juniors Christina Puccinelli and Molly Paradies lead a young but experienced team into the 2017-18 season.

The Middlebury women's tennis team is primed to make a deep postseason run again in 2017-18 with its mix of returners and a strong incoming class. The Panthers produced a program-record 17 wins last year (17-5), advancing to the NCAA semifinal round for the second-straight season and the third time in the program's history. With momentum behind them, this year's squad has its sights set high.

Middlebury will be led by interim head coach Rachel Kahan, who served as an assistant coach during the 2016-17 season.

Kahan brings back a team laden with experience under pressure. At the top of the lineup, junior Christina Puccinelli will battle for the top spot after playing No. 2 last season. She will join the team in the spring after studying abroad this fall. A Second-Team All-NESCAC selection, Puccinelli tied for the team lead with 22 victories (22-6) after a 21-4 mark in her first campaign. Puccinelli also garnered All-American accolades, participating in the NCAA Singles Tournament for the first time in her career. She enters this season ranked No. 14 nationally and sixth in the northeast region.

Battling for the second spot will be sophomores Heather Boehm and Catherine Blazye. Boehm, a Second-Team All-NESCAC selection, tied Puccinelli for the team lead in 2016-17 with 22 wins (22-5), including a 12-1 mark at No. 3. She finished the year ranked 18th regionally. Blazye had a stellar campaign with a 21-2 record, sporting a perfect 10-0 mark in the fourth slot and is ranked No. 15 in the region.

Junior Molly Paradies along with sophomores Maddi Stow, Skylar Schossberger and Katherine Hughes will battle playing time in the Panther lineup. Paradies produced a 20-7 record and a 15-4 dual mark, playing mainly at No. 5 (9-4). Schossberger (10-5) saw time in the No. 6 spot throughout the spring, Stow (8-3) competed in the NCAA Tournament, while Hughes (11-8) also saw time in the No. 6 position.

In terms of doubles, Hughes and Schossberger competed in the NCAA Doubles Tournament in May. The pair ended the season ranked third in the regional rankings and sixth nationally. The other two flights could feature any number of combinations looking to secure valuable team points.

The Panthers will take part in four tournaments during the fall portion of their season, including the ITA Regional Championships from September 29 through October 1 at Williams and the annual Middlebury Invitational from October 21-22. In the spring, Middlebury's schedule is loaded with nationally-ranked opponents, including numerous foes on its spring trip to California.