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No. 38 Knights fall to No. 16 Gustavus in MIAC Finals

May 4, 2019 at 4:58 pm
Photo: Ruthie Yankwitt '22

ST. PETER, Minn. – The No. 38-ranked Carleton College men’s tennis team faced a familiar foe on Sunday when it took the court for the championship match of the MIAC Playoffs. This was the 10th time in the last 13 seasons that the Knights squared off against Gustavus Adolphus College with the MIAC’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championships at stake. This time, the No. 16-ranked Gusties prevailed by a 5-1 margin.

Carleton finished the 2019 campaign with a 23-4 dual match ledger, tied for the highest win total in recorded team history.

MOST TEAM WINS (season) — Carleton Men’s Tennis

23-3 in 2014-15 (22-2 regular season)
23-4 in 2018-19 (22-3 regular season)
21-4 in 2005-06 (19-3 regular season)
21-4 in 2007-08 (20-3 regular season)
21-5 in 2011-12 (20-4 regular season)
21-4 in 2017-18 (20-3 regular season)

The match of the day came at first doubles where a pair of nationally-ranked duos battled for the second time in eight days. Carleton’s Jordon O'Kelly (Sr./Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) and Leo Vithoontien (So./Bangkok, Thailand/Bangkok Patana School) are listed at No. 3 in the Central Region and No. 19 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings, while the Gustavus’ pairing of Patrick Whaling and Chase Anderson are No. 1 in the region and No. 3 in the country.

The Gusties’ tandem held a 5-2 lead before the Knights top twosome began their comeback in earnest. O’Kelly/Vithoontien won five of the next six games and led 7-6 before Whaling/Johnson sent the match to a tiebreaker. The Knights avenged their regular-season loss by posting the 8-7 (7-5) triumph.

Gustavus picked up wins in the other two doubles matches, and built upon that advantage by securing straight-set results at third, fifth and sixth singles. Vithoontien was up a set at first singles when play was halted.

The Gusties have now won 12 of the 13 MIAC Playoffs, which were instituted in 2007. The lone blemish on that ledger was the Knights’ victory in the finals of the 2010 MIAC Playoffs. In fact, that result handed Gustavus its only loss to a conference opponent—regular season or postseason—since at least 1989.

With 36 conferences earning automatic qualifiers to the 43-team NCAA Championships, it is doubtful that the Knights will snare one of the five available Pool C (at-large bids). However, Carleton men’s tennis could still have representation in the postseason.

Selections to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be announced on Wednesday, May 8. With today’s victory, O’Kelly and Vithoontien improved to 16-4 in dual matches and 19-5 overall in 2018-19. They are in contention for one of the 16 spots in the doubles bracket, while Vithoontien (23-2 overall, 18-1 in dual matches) is also up for consideration for a return trip to the NCAA Singles Championships.

#4 Gustavus Adolphus 5, #8 Carleton College 1 (#s are Central Region rankings)
Singles competition

1. #5 Patrick Whaling (GACM) vs. #4 Leo Vithoontien (CAR) 6-7 (5-7), 3-2, unfinished
2. #15 Chase Johnson (GACM) vs. Xander Zuczek (CAR) 6-2, 3-2, unfinished
3. #19 Yassine Derbani (GACM) def. Aaron Goodman (CAR) 6-0, 6-0
4. Michael O'Neil (GACM) vs. Xander Roti (CAR) 7-5, 1-2, unfinished
5. Nick Aney (GACM) def. Jordon O'Kelly (CAR) 6-2, 6-4
6. Indraneel Raut (GACM) def. Sahil Chhugani (CAR) 6-1, 6-2

Doubles competition
1. #3 Leo Vithoontien/Jordon O'Kelly (CAR) def. #1 Patrick Whaling/Chase Johnson (GACM) 8-7 (7-5)
2. #8 Yassine Derbani/Nick Aney (GACM) def. Aaron Goodman/Xander Zuczek (CAR) 8-1
3. Michael O'Neil/Xavier Sanga (GACM) def. Jonas Lindholm-Uzzi/Sahil Chhugani (CAR) 8-1