8-1 Triumph Over No. 3 Middlebury Launches CMS Back into the Top 5

Jack Katzman (CMC) won at No. 2 singles on Saturday (photo Matthew Fenton)
Jack Katzman (CMC) won at No. 2 singles on Saturday (photo Matthew Fenton)

CLAREMONT, Calif. – No. 6 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's tennis earned a hard fought 8-1 win over No. 3 Middlebury in a rematch of the 2017 NCAA team semifinal. CMS needed to come back from a 6-2 deficit and two service breaks at No. 3 doubles in order to take a 2-1 lead into singles. The Stags showed their toughness in singles by winning two three-setters, three of four tie-breaks, and saving two match points en route to a sweep of all six positions.

Saturday's dual match at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center had the feel of the post-season, and CMS has faced Middlebury in four of the past five NCAA team tournaments. All three doubles matches hung in the balance, but it was Middlebury who struck first with an 8-6 win at No. 2 after trailing 5-3. CMS then answered with comeback of their own at No. 3, where Daniel Park (CMC) and Robert Liu (CMC) overcame a 6-2, two service break deficit to win 9-7. At No. 1, Julian Gordy (CMC) and Nikolai Parodi (CMC) broke serve at love at 6-7, which gave the Stags a lead which they never relinquished.

The singles featured several compelling match-ups, including the continuation of a great rivalry between both programs' top player. Parodi and Middlebury's Lubo Cuba squared off for the fourth time in the last twelve months, with Parodi winning in dominant fashion on Saturday to give CMS a 3-1. Each player has beaten the other twice, with Cuba winning in straight sets in a dual match last March and then again in the NCAA Singles Championship Match, while Parodi got the better of Cuba in last year's NCAA Team Semifinal and again today. 

CMS' fourth match win came at No. 5 singles, when Park rallied from 0-3 down in the second set to win the final six games of the match for a straight set decision. The clinching match came at No. 6 with junior Avinash Vemuri (CMC), who's 6-2, 5-2 lead looked insurmountable, until Middlebury's Andre Xiao came roaring back to seize a 6-5 lead and serve for the second set. After a Vemuri break of serve forced a second set tie-break, CMS' No. 6 raced out to 5-2 lead but then surrendered the next four points and had to save a set point. Vemuri then clinched the victory for CMS two points later when a Xiao backhand sailed wide.

The last three matches on court all featured some drama of their own, despite the dual match having been clinched. At No. 4 singles, Gordy came back from a set down to win the second, and then closed out a 10-6 match tie-break for his sixth straight win. Saturday's win was accomplished with Gordy holding serve only three times during the entire match. At No. 3 singles, Burney split two lopsided sets and then took a commanding 3-0 lead in the third with the dual match still live. However, his lead soon evaporated as Middlebury's Kyle Schlanger won the next five games to take a 5-3 lead. Burney held serve for 4-5 and then broke Schlanger, before two service holds forced a tie-break. With Schlanger holding two match points at 6-4 in the tie-break, a baseline call that had seemingly won Schlanger the match was overruled by the roving umpire. Burney went on to take five of the next six points and win on his second match point. The last match on court, No. 2 singles, featured Stags freshman Katzman and senior Will de Quant of Middlebury, who was making his 2018 singles dual match debut. Up a set and 4-2, Katzman uncharacteristically squandered the second set, and then found himself down a break at 3-2 in the third before rattling off the final four games of the match.

With Saturday's win, CMS moves to 18-3 overall. Up next for the Stags are SCIAC duals at No. 13 Redlands on Friday at 3:00 PM, and then back home against Whittier on Saturday. CMS will also face No. 8 Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday at 10:00 AM in their last non-conference match against a ranked D3 opponent.

#6 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (8) vs. #3 Middlebury (1)
March 31, 2018 at Claremont, CA (Biszantz Family Tennis Center)

1. Julian Gordy / Nikolai Parodi (CMS) def. Lubo Cuba / Kyle Schlanger (MIDD) 8-6
2. Will de Quant / Nate Eazor (MIDD) def. Oscar Burney Jack Katzman (CMS) 8-6
3. Robert Liu / Daniel Park (CMS) def. Timo van der Geest / Peter Martin (MIDD) 9-7

1. Nikolai Parodi (CMS) def. Lubo Cuba (MIDD) 6-3, 6-2
2. Jack Katzman (CMS) def. Will de Quant (MIDD) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
3. Oscar Burney (CMS) def. Kyle Schlanger (MIDD) 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(7)
4. Julian Gordy (CMS) def. Nate Eazor (MIDD) 6-7(6), 6-4, (10-6)
5. Daniel Park (CMS) def. Timo van der Geest (MIDD) 7-5, 6-3
6. Avinash Vemuri (CMS) def. Andre Xiao (MIDD) 6-2, 7-6(6)

Order of completion
Doubles: 2, 3, 1
Singles: 1, 5, 6, 3, 4, 2