BOWDOIN MEN’S TENNIS players pose for a photo after winning the NESCAC title with a 5-4 win over Middlebury on Saturday in Williamstown, Mass.

BOWDOIN MEN’S TENNIS players pose for a photo after winning the NESCAC title with a 5-4 win over Middlebury on Saturday in Williamstown, Mass.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.

In an epic battle that took over five hours, the fourth-seeded Bowdoin College 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) won their second NESCAC Championship and first since the 2008 season. Bowdoin earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship and will begin its defense of its national crown when the tournament commences this upcoming weekend.

The match came down to a third and final set at No. 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 No. 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 No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, the matches were much tighter, with each one ending in a tiebreak. At No. 3, 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 No. 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 No. 6, 5, and 4 to build a 4-2 lead. Patel got things started at No. 6 with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Allen Jackson. Roddy dispatched van der Geest in two sets at No. 5, 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 No. 4 singles, taking the first set 6-1 before Schangler answered with a 6-2 win in set two. Jian prevailed in the third set, winning 6-2.

Middlebury’s comeback began at No. 3 singles in a battle between Derbani and Bowdoin’s Wolfe. Derbani won a lengthy first set 7-5 and then rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the second set to emerge with a 6-4 victory. Lubomir Cuba tied the match at 4-4 when he triumphed over Luke Tercek at No. 1. The two players each broke 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 de Quant and Urken, who took the first set 6-4, with du Quant 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. He won going away, 6-1.

Earlier

Bowdoin avenged a regular season loss to Bates in the opening round on Friday morning, 5-2.

Bowdoin got on the board in doubles play thanks to an 8-2 win from Roddy/Patel at No. 3. The Polar Bears carried a big 2-1 lead into singles action as the No. 2 pairing of Wolfe/Jiang pulled out a 8-6 victory.

In singles action, Bowdoin increased its lead thanks to a straight-set win from Jiang (6-0, 6-0). The Polar Bears inched closer with a comeback win from Patel (5- 7, 6-3, 6-4) at No. 6 and sealed the deal with a hard-fought win by Urken at No. 2 (6-3, 3- 6, 7-6).

On Saturday, Bowdoin rolled past top-ranked Wesleyan, 5-0.

Bowdoin swept doubles play to jump ahead and never looked back. Roddy and Patel gave the Polar Bears a 1-0 lead when they dispatched Steven Chen and Cameron Daniels at No. 1 doubles, 8-4. Tercek and Urken made it 2-0 with a hard-fought 9-7 win over Michael Liu and Jake Roberts at No. 1 doubles, and Wolfe and Jiang completed the sweep with an 8-6 victory at No. 2 doubles, giving the Polar Bears a 3-0 edge.

Bowdoin kept it going in singles, as Urken defeated Liu at No. 2, 6-0, 6-1 and Roddy clinched the match at No, 5, 6-1, 6-4.

The Polar Bears will find out where they will play their opening round match in the NCAA Tournament later today.


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