Men’s Tennis Advances to NCAA Title Match With Win Over Chicago

Jackson Frons grabbed the team's first singles point at #4 in Tuesday's victory.
Jackson Frons grabbed the team's first singles point at #4 in Tuesday's victory.

Middlebury advanced to the NCAA Men's Tennis National Championship match for the fifth time in program history and the first since 2010 with a 5-1 win over eighth-ranked Chicago in a semifinal match played at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio. The third-ranked Panthers (22-3) will play top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, a 5-2 winner over #5 Washington-St. Louis, on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. The Maroons finish their season at 19-4.

In the first matchup between the two programs, Middlebury jumped out to a 2-1 advantage after doubles. Chicago grabbed their lone point of the match as the top pair of Ankur Bhargava and Deepak Sabada edged Middlebury's Peter Heidrich and Palmer Campbell by an 8-5 score. The #3 Panther team of William de Quant and Chris Frost evened the match at 1-1 with an 8-5 victory over Chicago's Nicolas Chua and David Liu. In the crucial third match at #2, the Middlebury tandem of Ari Smolyar and Noah Farrell were victorious by a 9-7 score against Max Hakwins and Luke Tsai.

In singles play, the Panthers grabbed a 3-1 advantage when Jackson Frons posted a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Chicago's Peter Leung at #4. In the fifth slot, de Quant gave Middlebury a 4-1 lead with a 6-2, 7-5 triumph against Tsai. The decisive team point was recorded by Farrell at #2 with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Chicago's Sven Kranz.

In the other three matches that went unfinished, Smolyar dropped the first set against Chua and led 5-3 in the second. At #3, Campbell was victorious in the first set for Middlebury, while Sabada earned the second, 7-5. Middlebury's Kyle Schlanger was up a set (7-6 (1)) and 4-0 against Liu.