GREEN BAY, Wis. – Alex Chin (Sr./Hingham, Mass./Hingham) returned to the lineup and won three singles matches and a pair of doubles contests as the Carleton College men’s tennis team went 2-1 during the opening weekend of play for the indoor season.
The Knights traveled to America’s Dairyland and played three matches in 24 hours, defeating University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (6-3) and St. Norbert College (8-1). Sandwiched in between was a 6-3 setback at the hands of Michigan Tech University, a very strong Division II program.
Saturday opened with the Knights dropping two of the three doubles contests, but Carleton was undaunted and proceeded to win five of the six singles matches, two of them in tiebreakers to determine the match.
Chin won 6-4, 6-1 at third singles, with Paul Cooper (Sr./Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale Central) and Mauricio Gonzalez (So./La Paz, Bolivia/American Cooperative School) also posting straight set victories. After UW-Oshkosh got a point at second singles, the match was 4-3 in favor of the Knights.
Austin Jiang (Sr./Green Bay, Wis./Bay Port) and Nelson Wolf (Jr./Faibault, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary's School) both ended up needing the third set. At one point Wolf was down 8-4 in the tiebreaker before rallying for the 6-7, 6-1, 11-9 decision. “Nelson's come-from-behind victory captivated the standing room only crowd,” explained Carleton head coach Stephan Zweifel. “His match lasted so long and was so intense, many of us developed Stockholm Syndrome."
Jiang, playing in his home state, had to win two tiebreakers to close out the match 4-6, 7-6, 10-8. "Austin's groundstrokes in that first set were as non-existent as a Notre Dame linebacker's girlfriend,” said Zweifel. “But his sheer stubbornness to lose allowed him to claw his way to victory."
The Knights carried the momentum of their season-opening victory over to their match against Michigan Tech as Carleton received very strong performances at second and third doubles.
Chin and Jiang posted an 8-5 triumph at the second spot, while Christian Nagy (Fy./Fairway, Kans./Pembroke Hill School) and Avery Rux (So./Austin, Texas/Home School) debuted at third doubles with a convincing 8-2 decision.
The Huskies would not yield, though, taking five of the singles matches. The lone exception was Chin’s 6-1, 6-2 victory at the fourth spot. “Alex displayed amazing court coverage and speed today,” Zweifel said. “Not since the international search for the Higgs bosun have we seen a physicist chase a small object with such intense focus".
The weekend concluded with a Sunday morning match against St. Norbert. Cooper and Andrew Hwang (So./Brookfield, Wis./University School) set the tone for the day with an impressive performance at first doubles, dispatching the competition by an 8-2 score. “Those two gentlemen were all over the net like a couple of crows on a road-killed squirrel," noted Zweifel.
Chin and Jiang recorded an 8-0 shutout at second doubles, then each posted a 6-3, 6-0 victory during the singles contests. Rux, Gonzalez, Wolf, and Nagy also won in straight sets.
"The long weekend in Green Bay gave us an opportunity to start the season with some excellent match experience,” Zweifel said, “and allowed the Vikings fans on the team to fulfill their RAD requirement."
The Knights will face another Division II opponent on Sunday, Feb. 10 when they faced St. Cloud State University at LifeTime Fitness in Lakeville, Minn.