MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - The Ephs made the trip north on Route 7 into Vermont on Friday afternoon to serve up the first of three days on the campus of Middlebury College at the annual Middlebury invitational, where each of the four teams (the hosts, Williams, Amherst, and Brandeis) will play each other in singles and doubles over the course of the three days.
The Ephs started the weekend extravaganza off on a mixed note, as they split the four doubles courts that they played against the hosts in a lone doubles session on Friday evening.
The Panthers jumped out to the early advantage over the Ephs, as they captured the first point of the evening event.
The pairing of Catherine Blazye and Molly Paradies raced out to an early 5-0 advantage over Mia Gancayco and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio on Court #3, which proved to be plenty to overcome the Eph junior tandem, ultimately finishing the match with a flourish to win 8-1.
Although the early goings remained close, the Eph duo eventually gave themselves some breathing room with a 6-3 advantage over Lily Bondy and Alexandra Fields, to then go on and win the next two games as well, locking in an 8-3 win for the purple and gold.
With two tight matches left on the court, neither side could claim the overall spoils for their respective teams, as Christina Puccinelli and Maddi Stow defeated Leah Bush and Emily Zheng at four-doubles, 8-6, only to then see their teammates, Katherine Hughes and Skylar Schossberger, fall to the hands of Juli Raventos and Linda Shin moments later at two-doubles by the exact same margin.
"It was really fun to start the tournament tonight with one round of doubles," commented Eph head coach Alison Swain after her team's relatively slow start compared to their usual prolific standards. "We came out with a lot of energy and played aggressive from the start. The fast pace of the game was an adjustment, and playing tonight will benefit us the rest of the weekend."
The Ephs look forward to a Saturday full of singles on Day 2 of the Middlebury Invitational, as they start things off against Amherst at 8:30 AM EDT tomorrow morning, before facing off against Brandeis and then the hosts at 12:30 PM EDT and 3 PM EDT respectively.