WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — The Williams College men's tennis team returned to action on Friday afternoon against NESCAC rival, Middlebury, in a match that saw Middlebury jump out to a quick lead, before Williams' attempt at a comeback fell short. The Panthers took a well-earned 6-3 victory over the Ephs, thanks to a very strong doubles performance, paired with a solid singles portion. The Panthers' record on the season is lifted to 10-2 (NESCAC 2-0), as the Ephs drop to 8-3 (NESCAC 2-1).
The Panthers swept the doubles portion of the match to put the Ephs in a deep hole to climb out of during the singles portion. All of the matches were close, but Middlebury emerged victorious on every court. The senior Panther combination of Alex Johnston and Andrew Lebovitz took a one-break lead mid-way through the match at one-doubles and was able to hold on to it to close the match out 8-5 over senior Matt Micheli and sophomore Alexander Schidlovsky. The one-break margin was the same in the match at the number two position as Panther freshman Palmer Campbell and senior Brantner Jones were able to edge the Eph pairing of freshman Conrad Harron and sophomore Brian Astrachan 8-6. On court three, the Eph duo of sophomore Jose Raventos and freshman Rohan Shastri were able to push the match to an 8-all tiebreaker against junior Peter Heidrich and sophomore Ari Smolyar, but they were unable to convert the match point they had at 6-5 and regretted it moments later when they fell 8-6.
The strong doubles performance allowed plenty of breathing room for the Panthers, along with feeding their confidence. They picked up right where they left off in singles, as Campbell fired Eph sophomore Howard Weiss off the court at two-singles in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0. Needing just one more point to clinch the match, the Panthers found their fifth point through Jones. Jones raced out to a 6-1 first-set victory over Harron at the number three position, before Harron returned the same scoreline to Jones in the second set. Unfortunately, Harron did not have enough to ride his momentum from the second set into the third set, as Jones took the third set 6-0, clinching the match for the Panthers.
In spite of the match being virtually over, the Ephs did not give up, as they fought back on multiple courts to get themselves on the board. At one-singles, Micheli showed real grit to battle back after losing the first set 6-4, to end up defeating Johnston 6-4, 6-2 in the closing sets. Schidlovsky at the number four position did more or less the same, losing the first set 6-2, before fighting back in the second set to take it 6-3 and force a deciding set against Panther junior Courtney Mountfield, which Mountfield was able to grind out 8-6 in the tiebreaker.
The Ephs and the Panthers split the spoils of the last two matches, as Smolyar downed Raventos in a close, straight-set match at the five position 6-4, 7-6(6), before Astrachan managed a comfortable win over Panther sophomore Jackson Frons at six-singles 6-4, 6-2.
After the match, Eph head coach Dan Greenberg noted the disappointment of going down 3-0 by the end of the doubles portion: "We gave up way too many opportunities to take the lead in doubles, which gave them a lot of momentum. Then we made a little run in singles, but really overall, it was too little too late. We just need to bounce back for tomorrow.
The Ephs have a quick turn-around, as they travel to Vassar tomorrow to take on the Brewers. The match is set to start at 1 PM EDT.
Middlebury 6, Williams 3
- Micheli, Matt (WILLIAMS) def. Johnston, Alex (MIDDLEBURY) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
- Campbell, Palmer (MIDDLEBURY) def. Weiss, Howard (WILLIAMS) 6-2, 6-0
- Jones, Brantner (MIDDLEBURY) def. Harron, Conrad (WILLIAMS) 6-1, 1-6, 6-0
- Schidlovsky, Alexander (WILLIAMS) def. Mountfield, Courtney (MIDDLEBURY) 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(6)
- Smolyar, Ari (MIDDLEBURY) def. Raventos, Jose (WILLIAMS) 6-4, 7-6(6)
- Astrachan, Brian (WILLIAMS) def. Frons, Jackson (MIDDLEBURY) 6-4, 6-2
- Johnston, Alex/Lebovitz, Andrew (MIDDLEBURY) def. Micheli, Matt/Schidlovsky, Alexander (WILLIAMS) 8-5
- Campbell, Palmer/Jones, Brantner (MIDDLEBURY) def. Harron, Conrad/Astrachan, Brian (WILLIAMS) 8-6
- Smolyar, Ari/Heidrich, Peter (MIDDLEBURY) def. Raventos, Jose/Shastri, Rohan (WILLIAMS) 9-8(6)
Williams 8-3, nationally ranked #5
Middlebury 10-2, nationally ranked #8