MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Senior Josh Leiner and sophomore Jacob Kauppila both won in singles play as the No. 19 nationally ranked Bates men's tennis team fell in impressively close fashion, 7-2 at No. 3 Middlebury on Sunday.
It was the second NESCAC contest in two days for the Bobcats (3-3, 1-1 NESCAC), who defeated Hamilton 9-0 at home on Saturday.
The Panthers (1-0, 1-0 NESCAC) won their first head-to-head match of the season since reaching the NCAA Division III semifinals in 2017.
Bates senior Ben Rosen (Port Washington, N.Y.) and Kauppila (Chesterfield, Mo.) were edged 9-7 in No. 1 doubles by Middlebury's Lubomir Cuba and Kyle Schlanger, as the Panthers took a 3-0 lead after three close doubles contests. Leiner (Baltimore, Md.) and junior Josh Quijano (Los Angeles, Calif.) fell 8-5 at No. 2 doubles to Timo van der Geest and Peter Martin, and sophomore Vidyut Yadav (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and junior Duane Davis (Dix Hills, N.Y.) went down by a 8-6 score to Weston Brach and Nate Eazor at third doubles.
Three of six singles matches went to three sets, including Leiner's 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over van der Geest at No. 3. Kauppila defeated Alex Vanezis 6-4, 7-5 at fourth singles for Bates' first point of the afternoon.
Rosen took Cuba, the 2017 NCAA singles champion, to three sets before falling 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 at No. 1 singles. Sophomore Jacob Eisenberg (Armonk, N.Y.) also went three sets at No. 6 singles, falling in a pro-set tiebreaker 6-7 (1), 6-1, 10-3 to Middlebury's Andre Xiao.
Bates next travels to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., to play Johns Hopkins on March 23 at 4pm, then Mary Washington on March 24 at noon.