Men's Tennis Prepares For NCAA Quarters - Individuals To Also Compete

May 19, 2014

The Middlebury College men’s tennis team is making its 13th-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and 11th trip to the quarterfinal round. The Panthers will meet Case Western Reserve in a quarterfinal match on Monday, May 19th. Matches are taking place at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center on the campus of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps-College in Claremont, Calif.

Middlebury enters the weekend with a 20-3 overall record. The Panthers won the ’04 NCAA title over Williams 5-4, earning its second national crown in ’10 with a 5-1 win over Amherst in the title match. Middlebury has advanced to the final four in seven of the past 11 seasons, earning their first NCAA Tournament bid in ’01-’02. The Panthers boast a 34-12 record in NCAA Tournament play and are ranked third in the latest ITA Division III National poll.

Middlebury has faced 10 opponents in the top 20 this season. The Panthers started their season 8-1 before falling 5-4 at sixth-ranked Emory. Middlebury then ripped off 11-consecutive wins, including a key 5-4 win over then #4-ranked Amherst. The Lord Jeffs earned revenge in the NESCAC Championship, taking the match by a score of 5-1.

Last weekend, Middlebury hosted and won an NCAA Regional. The Panthers topped Babson 5-0 on Saturday, before a 5-2 Regional Final win over #11 Williams.

Two-time first-team All-NESCAC selection Alex Johnston (Leeds, England) has been Middlebury’s #1 singles player in ’13-‘14. An All-American a year ago, Johnston, ranked sixth in the region, owns a 17-13 record in the top spot during his senior season.

Senior Brantner Jones (Winnetka, Ill.) is 21-7 at #2 for Middlebury, winning his last 10 matches with a regional ranking of eighth. He is a three-time first-team All-NESCAC selection, earning All-American honors during his rookie and sophomore seasons.

Sophomore Palmer Campbell (Nashville, Tenn.) opened the season with eight-straight wins, owning an 18-11 mark at #3. Classmate Ari Smolyar (Short Hills, N.J.) was a second-team All-NESCAC selection at #4 singles, boasting a 24-4 mark this season.

Junior Courtney Mountifield (Bedford, N.H.) holds down the fifth spot with a 21-10 mark, while sophomore Jackson Frons (Encino, Calif.) is 22-9 at #6.

In doubles play, Johnston and senior Andrew Lebovitz (Weston, Mass.) are ranked third regionally with a record of 23-12. Jones/Campbell are ranked ninth with a 21-9 mark, while Smolyar and junior Peter Heidrich (Peoria, Ill.) own a 12-8 mark in the third spot.

Following the team championships, Johnston will compete in the NCAA singles championship from May 22-24. He and Lebovitz will also vie for the doubles crown, while Jones is currently an alternate in singles play.

Middlebury head coach Bob Hansen is now in his third season at the helm of the men’s tennis program. He came to Middlebury from the University of California Santa Cruz, where he had served as the head men’s coach for the previous 30 years. This season, Hansen has guided the Panthers to a 20-3 overall record and a #3 national ranking. Hansen guided Middlebury to 11-straight wins late in the season to earn the squad the top seed for the recent NESCAC Tournament. For his efforts, Hansen was named the NESCAC Coach of the Year.

The creator of the UCSC tennis program, Hansen is regarded as one of the top coaches in the country. Hansen led the team to seven NCAA Championships (1989, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2007, 2009), appearing in the finals 13 of the last 24 years. Hansen’s players have won 10 NCAA doubles titles and five NCAA singles titles. Under Coach Hansen’s direction, the UCSC tennis program produced 117 All-Americans.

2014 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship – Claremont, Calif.
Quarterfinals, Monday, May 19th (all times eastern)
Middlebury (20-3) vs. Case Western Reserve (17-7) – 12:00 p.m.
Claremont (29-1) vs. Johns Hopkins – (20-4) – 12:00 p.m.
Amherst (33-3) vs. Emory (19-6) – 3:00 p.m.
Trinity (Texas) (24-6) vs. Washington (Mo.) (21-2) – 3:00 p.m.

Semifinals, Tuesday, May 20th
Middlebury/Case winner vs. Claremont/Hopkins winner – 2:00 p.m.
Amherst/Emory winner vs. Trinity/Washington winner – 2:00 p.m.

NCAA Championship, Wednesday, May 21st
Third place match – 1:00 p.m.
NCAA Championship – 2:00 p.m.