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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Middlebury tennis teams advance in NCAA tournament

The women’s tennis team huddles together before NCAA regionals.
The women’s tennis team huddles together before NCAA regionals.

The Middlebury men’s and women’s tennis teams have continued their years of dominance this past weekend, as they both won their respective NCAA regionals. The women’s team won their seventh consecutive regional championship, and the men’s team won their eighth straight regional championship.

Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams have been extremely strong in recent years, and the two teams look to continue their dominance as they advance through the NCAA tournament, which will be played in Orlando, Fla. this year.

The women’s team (16–3) dominated in their regional matchups, paving the way for them to play in the NCAA quarterfinals against Johns Hopkins (21–3). In their first game, the team shutout Lebanon Valley College (17–4) 5–0 thanks to contributions from the entire team. Across all of the matches, the women’s team only lost two sets. It was a similar story in the regional championship against Skidmore (13–8), as the team cruised to another 5–0 victory. Amy Delman ’24 and Gena Huang ’24 both recorded their 30th career collegiate victories in the match.

Despite falling short at the NESCAC Championships in a 5–2 loss to Wesleyan (17–1), the women’s team has had a season worthy of praise. The team was undefeated at home this year and went 9–1 in conference play. Rankings indicate that the team is capable of winning an NCAA championship — the NCAA ranked them as the second best team in the NESCAC behind Wesleyan, and fourth in the nation.

What is especially impressive is that this year’s squad is a particularly young team. The team will only be graduating two seniors this year and has gotten significant contributions from underclassmen like Nathalie van der Reis ’25 and Sahana Raman ’25. To put this in perspective, Wesleyan, the only team that has beaten Middlebury this year, has four seniors graduating after this season.

Like the women’s team, the men’s team (17–3) has also had a phenomenal season, and the NCAA also ranks them as the second best team in the country. After winning the NESCAC Championships in a 5–4 win over Bowdoin (15–3), the team won their NCAA regionals tournament with a 5–1 win over Christopher Newport (11–9) and a 5–2 win over Johns Hopkins (19–5).

The rest of the tennis community has also noticed the team’s success and overall dominance this season. This past week, Neel Epstein ’25, Aidan Harris ’24, Noah Laber ’24 and Zihao Yuan ’24 were all named to the College Sports Communications Academic All-District team.

Unfortunately for the men’s tennis team, however, they have a tough matchup in the NCAA quarterfinals this weekend against Bowdoin. Bowdoin is one of three teams that have beaten the Panthers this year, besting them 5–4 in April. Bowdoin also played tough against Middlebury in the NESCAC Championship matchup, but Middlebury came out on top, winning 5–4. Middlebury will have to play hard to win in the third matchup of the season against their rival Bowdoin to continue their quest to defend their NESCAC Championship from last season.