WINONA, Minn. – Despite nearly two weeks away from competition, the Carleton College men’s tennis team showed little in the way of rust as the Knights clinched a berth in next month’s MIAC Playoffs with a 7-2 victory at Saint Mary’ University. McCoy Becker (So./Ojai, Calif./Thacher School) was victorious in both singles and doubles play. Krishna Vege (Jr./Rochester, Minn./Mayo) prevailed in a third-set super tiebreaker as he made his season debut.
The Knights, ranked No. 10 in the central region, improved to 15-3 on the season and 5-0 in conference action. They have qualified for the MIAC Playoffs every year of the event’s existence. Over the last 10 seasons, Carleton is now 77-8 (.906) in regular-season conference matches.
"After a two week layoff from playing matches, the guys were as eager to see hard fought competition as a group of middle school kids waiting in line to see the Hunger Games," explained Carleton head coach Stephan Zweifel.
The Knights started the evening off by winning two of the three doubles contests. Becker and Jon Aranda (Sr./Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) won at the second spot, 8-4, while rookies Ben Huang (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) and Mauricio Gonzalez (La Paz, Bolivia/American Cooperative School) prevailed at third doubles, 8-6.
After falling to a regionally-ranked tandem at first doubles, juniors Austin Jiang (Green Bay, Wis./Bay Port) and Paul Cooper (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale Central) both won atop the singles lineup. Jiang posted a 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) victory, and Cooper won his fourth straight, this time by a 6-2, 6-3 score.
After a tight opening to the match, Matthew Ta (Fy./Mission Viejo, Calif./Capistrano Valley) dispatched of his opponent at third singles by a 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 margin.
Becker cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win at the fourth spot, while Paul Elbow (Fy./Madison, Wis./Madison East) absorbed his first setback of the season at either singles or doubles. He dropped the opening set at fifth singles to Gavin Smith, 6-4, then tied things up with a 7-5 win. However, Smith came out on top in the super-tiebreaker, 10-6.
At sixth singles, Vege rallied from a set down to notch a 5-7, 6-1, 10-8 triumph.
"Krishna was able to tap his inner Katniss Everdeen, as he fought back to win a thrilling third set tiebreaker," Zweifel said.
The Knights will remain busy this weekend as they have contests against regionally ranked opponents on Saturday (No. 12 Luther College) and Sunday (No. 17 Coe College).