Panther men’s tennis 2nd at NCAA national championship

MASON, OHIO — The No. 3 Middlebury College men’s tennis team fell to top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the NCAA Division III final, played this past Wednesday in Mason, Ohio. Rounding out one of their best seasons, the Panthers failed to win a match in the finals as the powerhouse team from California won, 5-0, to secure the national championship.
The final was a rematch of an earlier contest between the two teams on Claremont’s home courts, won by the host team, 5-2, with many individual matches being closely fought. Middlebury was making its fifth appearance in an NCAA championship final.
The Panthers finish their season at 22-4, tied for the second-most wins in program history, while CMS claims its second national title and finishes with a 32-2 record. The Panthers won NCAA titles in both 2004 and 2010.
In the two programs’ 12th matchup overall and the fourth in the NCAA Tournament, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on May 20 jumped out to a 3-0 advantage after doubles. At No. 2, the Stags grabbed the first point when Skyler Butts and Daniel Morkovine lost the first game but reeled off eight straight for the 8-1 win over Ari Smolyar and Noah Farrell.
In the top spot, Middlebury’s Peter Heidrich and Palmer Campbell opened up a 3-1 edge on Joe Dorn and Warren Wood. The Stags’ tandem responded with seven straight game victories and doubled CMS’ lead with an 8-3 win.
At No. 3, Middlebury’s William de Quant and Chris Frost were ahead 7-4 and serving for the match, but the Stag team of Glenn Hull and Nik Marino ripped off five straight games for a 9-7 victory, giving CMS the doubles sweep.
In singles play, the Stags didn’t let off the accelerator when they went ahead via a 6-1, 6-4 victory in the top slot by Wood over Smolyar. Shortly after, Hull clinched the match with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Kyle Schlanger in the No. 6 spot.
In the other four matches that went unfinished, Campbell grabbed the first set at No. 3 for the Panthers by a 6-4 tally and was up a break at 3-2 over Marino in the second. Farrell dropped the first set against Butts (6-3) at No. 2 and was down 4-1 in the second. At No. 4, Frons fell in the first set against Dorn, but rebounded in the next set and was up two breaks at 4-2. In the fifth slot, de Quant was down a set (6-2) and at 2-2 on serve in the second in his match against Morkovine.
Smolyar was scheduled to compete this past weekend as one of 32 Division III individuals vying for a national title, while Heidrich and Campbell were due to participate as a duo looking for a title in a bracket comprising 16 teams. Those games took place after the early holiday deadline for this edition of the Independent.

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