Claremont, California - Trinity's eighth-ranked men's tennis team earned a narrow 5-4 win over third-ranked Middlebury (VT) College in the NCAA Third Place Match on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Justin Tafoya)
The Tigers clinched the match at No. 4 singles, as junior Aaron Skinner broke a 4-4 tie with his 7-5, 6-7 (1-7), 6-1 victory. Trinity took four of the six singles matches, rallying from a 2-1 deficit after doubles play.
Trinity actually fell behind 2-0 early as Middlebury came out on fire with 8-3 and 8-4 doubles wins. The top line of doubles went to a tiebreaker, with Tiger standouts Paxton Deuel and Nico Moreno winning 9-8 (7-2) to give Trinity its first point.
Middlebury struck first in singles, pushing the lead to 3-1, but then the Tigers rallied with wins from Jordan Mayer (at No. 5) and Deuel (No. 1) to the tie team match. Mayer won in straight sets, followed by Deuel's 1-6, 6-1, 6-0 come-from-behind victory.
Charlie Curtis quickly followed suit with his straight-set victory, taking a tiebreaker 7-1 to clinch in the second set, and putting the Tigers up 4-3.
Middlebury rallied after dropping the first set at line three, tying the match, and setting up Skinner's dramatic finish.
Trinity opened the week with a quarterfinals victory over second-ranked Washington (MO) University on Monday, as Head Coach Russell McMindes led the Tigers to their first appearance in the NCAA Semifinals since 2000. The Tigers fell to Amherst in a close contest yesterday, and Amherst went on to win the NCAA Division III title this afternoon.
The Tigers wrap up the season with a 26-7 record, losing just three matches all year to Division III opponents.
The NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships begin tomorrow at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges. Deuel will be Trinity's lone competitor in the tournaments, and is ranked sixth nationally among all singles players.