The men’s tennis team sent five players to the singles semifinals and stole a flight from heavily favored Middlebury College at the Middlebury Invitational Tournament on Saturday and Sunday.

In his first collegiate matches, freshman Mike Lee won the singles Flight D after defeating the Panthers’ Mike Gillim 6-1, 6-3 in the finals. Of his four wins in the bracket, three came against Middlebury players. The other victory came against freshman teammate Anand Popuri in the semis.

“Mike had a solid tournament. He’s still undefeated in his young career so it’s a good start for him,” head coach Anna Khvalina said.

In Flight C, sophomore Josh Bruce-Black reached the finals before bowing out to Middlebury junior Alex Meditz 6-1, 6-3.

“Josh played very well. It was close. He had some pretty good shots and I thought it was a really good start for him,” Khvalina said.

Senior Dan Williford also advanced to the semifinal round, but lost in a Flight B super tie-breaker.

Wins were hard to come by for the Yellowjackets at the tournament, which was dominated by the host Panthers. Last season Middlebury was ranked in the nation’s top three and nearly defeated Emory University in the National semifinal match. This year the Panthers look just as tough, and are expected to contend for the title once again.

“We still need to get in better shape to be able to pull through a tournament like that, but the way we played against a team as good as Middlebury is respectable,” Khvalina said.

Of the seven teams competing in the tournament, UR was the only one besides Middlebury represented in the final and semifinal rounds.

In doubles play sophomore Brian Shenker and freshman Eric Prince were dispatched in the Flight B semifinals by Middlebury’s George Mayer and Andrew Jacobi, 8-1.

“This is a great tournament to start the season with. I think the team can tell where they are and I can definitely tell where they are. We should be very strong in the region this year,” Khvalina said.

The Yellowjackets are scheduled to host the four-team UR Invitational Tournament next weekend .

UR will welcome Mercyhurst College, Hobart College and Ithaca College to their annual flighted tournament.

“We should come out strong at our tournament,” Khvalina said. “We are very capable of winning it.”

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