WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – In an epic battle that took over five hours, the fourth-seeded Bowdoin men's tennis team claimed the 2017 New England Small College Athletic Conference Tournament championship with a 5-4 win over second-seeded Middlebury Sunday at the Lansing Chapman Rink on the campus of Williams College.
The Polar Bears (18-4) win their second NESCAC Championship and first since the 2008 season. Bowdoin earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship and will begin their defense of their national crown when the tournament commences next weekend. The Panthers (18-3) are virtually assured of an at-large bid when selections are announced Monday morning.
- The match came down to a third and final set at #2 singles, with Bowdoin's Grant Urken emerging a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victor.
- Middlebury took a 2-1 lead early by winning two of the three doubles matches. At #1 doubles, Middlebury's Lubomir Cuba and William de Quant controlled their match from the outset, rolling to an 8-4 victory and a 1-0 lead. At #2 and #3 doubles, the matches were much tighter, with each one ending in a tiebreak.
- At #3 doubles, the Panther duo of Timo van der Geest and Peter Martin trailed 7-4 to Gil Roddy and Justin Patel, but won three straight games to tie the match. Roddy and Patel won the next game to go up 8-7, but Middlebury's duo staved off defeat once again, winning the 16th game to send the match into a tiebreak and then emerging victorious 9-8 by taking the break, 7-2.
- At #2 doubles, the Middlebury duo of Hamid Derbani and Kyle Schlanger had a 7-4 lead before Kyle Wolfe and Jerry Jiang of Bowdoin rallied for three straight must-win games. Bowdoin went up 8-7 before Derbani and Schangler sent the match to a tiebreak with a Game 16 win. Middlebury had a 3-2 lead in the tiebreak with Wolfe on his second serve when he pulled out an ace that tied the break. Bowdoin took the next point to go up 4-3 and did not trail again, as Wolfe and Jiang finally put Derbani and Schangler away, 7-5, to make it a 2-1 match heading into singles.
- Bowdoin took control of the match early on in singles play, winning at #6, 5, and 4 to build a 4-2 lead. Patel got things started at #6 singles with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Allen Jackson. Roddy dispatched van der Geest in two sets at #5 singles, winning 6-0 and then triumphing in a tiebreaker in the second set, 7-3, to win 7-6.
- Jiang gave Bowdoin a two-point lead when he won a three-setter from Schangler at #4 singles, taking the first set 6-1 before Schangler answered with a 6-2 win in set two. Jian would prevail however, winning the decisive set, 6-2.
- Middlebury's comeback began at #3 singles in an epic battle between Midd's Derbani and Bowdoin's Wolfe. Derbani won a lengthy first set 7-5 and then rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the set set to emerge with a 6-4 victory.
- Lubomir Cuba tied the match at 4-4 when he triumphed over Luke Tercek at #1 singles. The two players each broke each others serves late in the first set to set up a tiebreaker that Cuba took 7-4 to win the first set 7-6. Cuba breezed to a victory in the second set to take the match, 6-1.
- That left the match up to William de Quant and Grant Urken. Urken took the first set 6-4, but du Quant was unfazed, coming back to win the second set 6-3 to force a winner-take-all third set. Up 2-1, Urken broke de Quant for a 3-1 lead and held serve to go up 4-1 and won going away, 6-1.
- The defending national champions are likely to host a regional next weekend. Complete tournament selections will be announced on Monday morning on NCAA.com.