The Middlebury women's tennis team is primed to make a deep postseason run again in 2019 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 ranked fifth in the latest national poll.
Middlebury will be led by second-year head coach Rachel Kahan, who brings back a team laden with experience after not losing anyone to graduation. All five juniors will rejoin the team after studying abroad during the fall semester
Senior captain Christina Puccinelli returns for her final season after playing in the top-two spots a season ago. The 2016-17 First-Team All-NESCAC and All-American selection enters the spring with a 53-21 career singles record, including a 5-1 mark during the fall campaign. She goes into the spring ranked No. 8 nationally.
Juniors Katherine Hughes, Heather Boehm and Catherine Blazye were key contributors last season for the Panthers. Hughes was a First-Team All-NESCAC and All-American selection in 2017-18, tying for second on the team with 20 wins (20-13), including a 12-7 mark in dual matches at both No. 1 and No. 2. She finished the year ranked 15th nationally after advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinal round as an individual.
Boehm, a two-time Second-Team All-NESCAC selection and 2018 All-American, paced the team with 29 wins (29-3), including a perfect 18-0 mark in dual matches mainly in the third slot of the lineup. She posted an impressive 26-match winning streak that dated back to the fall season of 2017, seeing it come to an end in her NCAA Individual Singles Quarterfinal match. She finished the year ranked 24th nationally.
Blazye had a stellar campaign with a 20-2 record and played both third and fourth singles, sporting a perfect 9-0 mark in the fourth slot and was ranked No. 12 in the region. She comes into her junior year with a sparkling career record of 41-4.
Juniors Skylar Schossberger and Maddi Stow, along with sophomores Emily Bian and Ann Martin Skelly solidified the bottom of the Panther lineup in 2017-18. Schossberger produced a 20-9 record and a 13-4 dual mark, playing mainly at No. 4 (5-0) and No. 5 (6-4). She enters the season with a 30-14 career record. Stow saw time in the No. 6 spot throughout the spring, tallying an 18-4 overall mark and a 9-2 record in that position. Bian also played in the sixth spot last year, posting a 4-1 record in dual matches and a 9-3 overally tally. Skelly was victorious in a pair of matches in the No. 6 position.
In terms of doubles, Hughes and Schossberger competed in the NCAA Doubles Tournament last May for the second-straight year. The pair earned All-American accolades for the second time in as many seasons. They ended the season ranked fifth in the regional rankings and eighth nationally. The other two flights could feature any number of combinations looking to secure valuable team points.
The Panthers took part in three tournaments during the fall portion of their season, including the ITA Regional Championships at Williams and the annual Middlebury Invitational. This spring, Middlebury's schedule starts on March 9 with a home match against Hamilton. The slate is loaded with nationally-ranked opponents, including numerous foes during its spring trip to California. The Panthers will also serve as the host of the 2019 NESCAC Championships from May 3-5 on the Proctor Tennis Courts.