VIRGINIA, Minn. – The Carleton College men’s tennis team opened the regular season with a pair of non-conference matches. The Knights swept Ripon College, 9-0, then went the distance with College of St. Scholastica before falling, 5-4. All fourteen players that saw court time for Carleton came away with at least one victory on the day.
“Some of the geographically astute players on the team were a little concerned that we drove north from Carleton to travel to Virginia but were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in this charming hamlet close to the Canadian border,” said Carleton head coach Stephan Zweifel.
The afternoon began with the regionally-ranked Knights (1-1) taking it to the Red Hawks of Ripon College. After prevailing in the three doubles matches, Carleton swept the singles contests in convincing fashion, dropping a total of just two games. Mauricio Gonzalez (Jr./La Paz, Bolivia/American Cooperative School), Ezra Frankel (Fy./Lincoln, Mass./Belmont Hill School), Nelson Wolf (Sr./Faibault, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary's School), and Philip Xiao (Jr./Chino Hills, CA/Troy) cruised to 6-0, 6-0 triumphs at the first, second, third, and fifth slots, respectively.
“Mauricio was flawless in his debut at No. 1 singles,” Zweifel said. “The only misstep was a slightly off-key performance of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ after the first set.”
Determined not to suffer a similar fate, St. Scholastica (3-1) used excellent doubles play to grab a 3-0 lead and put Carleton in a significant hole. The Knights battled back in singles, though, with Erik Johnson (So./Grand Forks, N.D./Red River), Christian Nagy (So./Fairway, Kans./Pembroke Hill School), McCoy Becker (Sr./Ojai, Calif./Thacher School), and Nikita Fomichev (Fy./Elkhorn, Neb./Elkhorn South) notching straight-set victories at first, second, fourth, and fifth doubles.
“Watching Erik’s daring style of singles play, I am reminded of the t-short slogan, ‘If you are bold enough, every zoo is a petting zoo,’” said Zweifel.
With the Saints registering a win at the third singles, the match hung on a third-set tiebreaker at sixth singles. The result eventually went into the St. Scholastica side of the ledger, giving the Saints their first team victory over the Knights in 11 years.
Carleton opens the MIAC schedule with a primetime match against Saint Mary’s University on Friday, Feb. 14. That contest begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Winona (Minn.) Tennis Center.