The third-ranked Middlebury men’s tennis team posted a 5-1 record last week to end its spring trip through Southern California. On Monday, the Panthers started the day with a come-from-behind 5-4 win over UC Santa Cruz followed by a 9-0 victory over Division II Merrimack. A day later, Middlebury tallied an 8-1 win at No. 14 Pomona-Pitzer, followed by a 7-2 triumph over NAIA foe Hope International on Wednesday. The next day, Middlebury claimed five of the six points during singles action en route to a 6-3 victory at Division I foe UC San Diego. The Panthers concluded the trip with an 8-1 setback at No. 6 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
During Monday’s match against UC Santa Cruz, the doubles tandem of junior Lubomir Cuba (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) and senior Kyle Schlanger (Summerfield, N.C.) started things off notching the team’s first point with an 8-2 victory at No. 1 over Chad Stone and Ryan Dugan.
The Banana Slugs grabbed the next two points, both coming in tiebreakers. The No. 2 flight of A.J. Flora and Magnus Ibh edged the Panther duo of senior William de Quant (Monaco, France) and rookie Nate Eazor (Dallas, Texas) 9-8 (4), while the UC Santa Cruz team of Floyd Penners and Chad Le Duff squeaked by senior Timo van der Geest (Oegstgeest, Netherlands) and junior Peter Martin (Orinda, Calif.) in the third spot, 9-8 (4).
In singles action, rookie Andre Xiao (Fremont, Calif.) evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 6 over Penners. Stone gave the Banana Slugs a slight lead via a 6-3, 6-4 win against van der Geest in the third spot.
The Panthers rattled off the next three matches to earn the team win. Eazor defeated Flora at No. 4 (6-3, 6-4), while Cuba fought back from a set down for a victory in the top spot over Le Duff (1-6, 7-5, 6-4). Sophomore Alex Vanezis (Frankfurt, Germany) also battled back after dropping the opening set, posting a 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 triumph over Dugan at No. 5 for the team's fifth point. Ibh rounded out the scoring for UC Santa Cruz with a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 win against Schlanger at No. 2.
Later in the day against Merrimack, the Panthers swept the doubles matches as the team of Cuba and Schlanger won by an 8-6 score in the No. 1 flight against Mikhail Belov and Frank Vega. At No. 3, Eazor and Xiao recorded an 8-5 win over Tyler Clontz and Paul Weidinger, while van der Geest and Martin earned an 8-6 triumph at No. 2 against Denis Davydov and Alex Fedorov.
The Panthers shuffled their singles lineup around against the Warriors. Sophomore Weston Brach (Dover, Mass.) posted a 6-1, 6-0 triumph at No. 5 over Clontz, while Martin clinched the match for the Panthers at No. 6 by scores of 6-2, 6-2 over Weidinger. Xiao made the score 6-0 in favor of Middlebury via a 6-1, 6-1 victory in the No. 3 spot against Fedorov.
Vanezis stayed perfect for the day with a 6-0, 6-3 win against Davydov, while van der Geest edged Belov by identical 7-5, 7-5 set scores in the top spot. Rookie Adam Guo (Redmond, Wash.) completed the sweep with a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 10-4 win over Vega at No. 4.
The Panthers took all three doubles points against the Sagehens on Tuesday. The tandem of de Quant and Eazor picked up the first point with an 8-4 victory in the second spot over Marko Mandic and Avery Bicks. Cuba and Schlanger made it a 2-0 Panther lead with an 8-5 win at No. 1 against Kaylan Chadalavada and Octave Bellet, while the Panther duo of van der Geest and Martin completed the sweep with an 8-4 victory over Sam Gearou and Jack Bernstein in the third spot.
During singles action, Cuba picked up the Panthers' fourth point with a 6-2, 6-1 score at No. 1 against Jed Kronenberg. Schlanger clinched the match with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Bellet in the second spot.
In the No. 5 flight, Xiao earned a 6-3, 6-3 win over Sam Malech, while van der Geest made it a 7-0 advantage with a 6-1, 6-4 triumph against Mandic. Vanezis tallied the final Panther point, posting a 6-1, 0-6, 10-1 victory against Jacob Schoenherr.
The Sagehens scored their lone point of the match when Josh Gearou edged Eazor in the third spot by scores of 6-3, 7-6 (3).
The Panthers secured three doubles points against the Royals on Wednesday, who competed with just five players. After the hosts defaulted at No. 3, the Panther tandem of de Quant and Eazor picked up the second point with an 8-3 victory in the top spot over Kyle Rae and Sergio Romero. The tandem of van der Geest and Martin completed the sweep with an 8-4 win over Antoine Voisin and Jayke Ancheta in the second flight.
During singles action, the fourth point came when the Royals lost via a default at No. 6. Rookie Thorne Gregory (Darien, Conn.) clinched the match for the Panthers with a 7-5, 6-1 win in the fifth position over Ancheta.
Hope International got on the board with a straight-set win atop the lineup. Sophomore Aleksandr Samets (Ocean Township, N.J.) tallied his first victory of the season for the Panthers via 6-2, 6-0 triumph at No. 3 over Romero, while Guo made it 7-1 in favor of the Panthers with a 6-3, 6-2 win in the second position over Voisin.
The Royals scored their second point of the match with a victory at No. 3.
Thursday’s match against UC San Diego saw the hosts take two of the three doubles points. The Tritons grabbed a 1-0 lead with a win at No. 3 by an 8-5 score. The Panther tandem of Cuba and Schlanger leveled the match at 1-1, fighting back from a 5-0 deficit for an 8-6 win in the top spot over Sreeganesh Manoharan and Marc Isaia. UC San Diego regained the lead via an 8-5 triumph at No. 2.
During singles action, Middlebury evened the contest at 2-2 when Cuba posted a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 1 against Justin Zhang. The Tritons tallied their point with a straight-set victory in the fourth position.
The Panthers rattled off the final four points for the victory. Eazor defeated Eskil Jarlskog by 6-1, 6-4 scores at No. 3, while Schlanger put the Panthers up for good with a 6-3, 6-3 victory against Isaia in the second flight. Xiao clinched the match for the visitors via a 7-5, 6-3 win against Marius Ruh at No. 5, while Vanezis rounded out the scoring with a 4-6, 7-5, 10-6 victory over Richard Han at the bottom of the lineup.
In Saturday’s contest during doubles action, the Panthers tallied their lone point of the match when the No. 2 team of de Quant and Eazor edged Oscar Burney and Jack Katzman, 8-6. The Stags posted narrow 9-7 and 8-6 tallies at No. 1 and No. 3 for a 2-1 advantage.
In singles, Middlebury dropped all six matches with the first three ending in straight sets and the remaining trio going to a third.
• Men’s tennis record: 10-2
• Up Next: 4/7 at Williams – 10:00 a.m., 4/8 at Tufts – 1:00 p.m.