ST. PETER, Minn. – After a dramatic comeback 5-4 victory over University of St. Thomas during the semifinal round, the Carleton College men’s tennis team did not have enough magic left and saw its season come to an end with an 8-1 loss to national No. 18 Gustavus Adolphus College in the finals of the MIAC Playoffs.
With the win, the Gusties claim the MIAC's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Championships. Gustavus has won 24 straight regular-season MIAC titles and has won 10 of the 11 post-season team tournaments sponsored by the conference. Carleton ruined the Gusties' perfect record with the MIAC Playoffs crown in 2010.
What turned into a very long day of tennis started with a 9 a.m. match against St. Thomas. The Knights dug a big hole early, dropping all three doubles matches, but the squad utilized its depth to rally during singles and pull out a 5-4 victory. McCoy Becker’s (Jr./Ojai, Calif./Thacher School) 6-3, 7-6 triumph at fifth singles provided the winning point.
The Knights, ranked No. 10 in the central region, beat St. Thomas only six days ago by a 7-2 score in the regular-season finale, but today Carleton got off to a slow start. Identical 8-4 setbacks at first and second doubles put the Knights in an early disadvantage, and the hole got deeper when Erik Johnson (Fy./Grand Forks, N.D./Red River) and Christian Nagy (Fy./Fairway, Kans./Pembroke Hill School) dropped a 9-7 decision at the third spot.
Upon moving to singles, Carleton began its long climb toward victory. Johnson notched the Knights’ first team point with a quick 6-0, 6-0 win at sixth singles, but the Tommies, ranked No. 17 in the region, got that point right back with a 6-3, 6-4 victory atop the lineup.
The decision left Carleton with no margin for error. The Knights now needed victories in the four remaining singles matches. Alex Chin (Sr./Hingham, Mass./Hingham) continued his stellar senior season with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 triumph at second singles, keeping Carleton alive. Classmate Paul Cooper (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale Central) pulled the squad closer with his 6-3, 7-5 win at third singles.
Andrew Hwang (So./Brookfield, Wis./University School) evened the match at 4-4 when he dispatched of his opponent at fourth singles by scores of 6-1 and 6-2. Becker completed the rally with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) result.
After cheering the Carleton women’s team to a semifinal victory, the men’s team was back on the court to face top seed Gustavus. Once again the Knights found themselves staring at a 3-0 deficit at the conclusion of doubles.
At first doubles, Cooper and Hwang lost to the No. 2 tandem in the region by an 8-6 score. Chin and Austin Jiang (Sr./Green Bay, Wis./Bay Port) were bested, 8-3, by the region’s No. 7 duo at second doubles. Johnson and Nagy fell 8-2 at the third slot.
In singles, Cooper closed his career with a 6-4, 4-6, 10-3 victory. Johnson sent his sixth singles match to a super tiebreaker, eventually falling 6-1, 6-7, 10-5. Jiang, Chin, Hwang, and Becker all lost in straight sets.
The Knights close the year 15-6 overall after going 8-1 in the MIAC during the regular season.