NORTHFIELD, Minn. – In the final home match of their collegiate careers, seniors Peter Dunn (Winnetka, Ill./North Shore Country Day) and Jon Aranda (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) led the Carleton College men’s tennis team to an 8-1 victory over the University of St. Thomas.
The Knights (19-4, 7-1 MIAC) are ranked No. 10 in the central region and improved to 9-2 against regionally-ranked competition with the win over the No. 18 Tommies (10-5, 6-3 MIAC). Carleton raced to the early lead by sweeping doubles, then things got a little more interesting as four of the six singles matches required the implementation of the super tiebreaker.
Andrew Hwang (Fy./Brookfield, Wis./University School) and Austin Jiang (Jr./Green Bay, Wis./Bay Port) raced to a big lead early and earned Carleton’s first point of the day with an 8-1 decision at third doubles. Dunn and Paul Cooper (Jr./Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale Central) posted an 8-5 victory at first doubles, improving to 9-3 since mid-February. Aranda paired with Avery Rux (Fy./Austin, Texas/Home School) at the second slot, disposing of their foes by an 8-4 margin.
"We started off the match very strong in doubles,” said Carleton head coach Stephan Zweifel. “The only weakness I saw in any of the three matches was Andrew's love of clogging."
Dunn, Rux, Hwang and McCoy Becker (So./Ojai, Calif./Thacher School) each dropped the opening set but rallied to force the super tiebreaker.
Dunn defeated Brian McCarthy, ranked No. 18 in the region, by a score of 4-6, 6-3 and 10-5. Rux rebounded to win 2-6, 6-3 and 10-8 at the second spot. After dropping the opener, Becker bounced back with a vengeance and prevailed 6-7, 6-1 and 10-8 at sixth singles.
Brendan O’Connell held off Hwang at third singles 7-5, 2-6 and 10-8 for the lone St. Thomas point of the match.
"St. Thomas came back with an aggressive start to the singles matches,” Zweifel noted. “They pressed us into making more poor choices than the audience wardrobe at a Jimmy Buffet concert."
While those four singles matches were going to the limit, Jiang and Cooper took care of business at fourth and fifth singles to clinch the team victory for Carleton. Jiang won for the sixth time in seven post-spring break matches, 6-3 and 6-1. Cooper has now won 8-of his last-9 with the 7-6 and 6-0 triumph.
Today’s victory means Carleton can do no worse than the No. 3 seed in next weekend’s six-team MIAC Playoffs. If Gustavus Adolphus College, which has won the last 23 regular-season conference crowns, beats St. Olaf College on Saturday, the Knights will lock down the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the tournament. First, however, Carleton must turn its attention to Sunday’s regular-season finale at Macalester College (8-9, 3-4 MIAC).