A regular season that featured 24 matches, 20 wins and visits to nearly every Subway franchise in the Upper Midwest concluded this past weekend as the Carleton men’s tennis team defeated conference foes St. Thomas and Macalester in 8-1 and 7-2 decisions, respectively. With the victories, the Knights tied a school record for regular-season wins while also securing the number two seed and a first-round bye for the MIAC playoffs, which take place today and tomorrow at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter. The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
“I’m really pleased with the efforts of our fine young gentlemen this season. Our sizeable roster has been confused for an Ellis Island-bound ship at times, with its diverse mix of players. Fortunately, the players have blended into a ‘melting pot’ of strong team dynamics and athletic success,” remarked head coach Stephan Zweifel.
Eager to make a statement in their final home match of the season, the Knights started off strong Friday against the Tommies by sweeping all three doubles matches handily. The singles matches possessed much more drama, as four of the six matches were decided by third-set super tiebreakers.
However, the Knights came through in the clutch, winning three of these four matches and adding straight-set wins from Austin Jiang ’13 and Paul Cooper ’13 for an 8-1 final tally.
“I was very pleased with the way I played. I work hard and I am a good boy,” said Jiang, who won for the sixth time in seven post-spring break matches.
The Knights also succeeded in doubles, winning first, second, and third doubles. After Cooper and Peter Dunn ’12 won at first doubles, 8-5, Jon Aranda ’12 and Avery Rux ’15 won at second doubles, 8-4. Jiang and Andrew Hwang ’15 also posted an 8-1 victory at third doubles.
The team resumed action with a Sunday afternoon visit to Macalester. The Knights began the outing by taking two of three doubles matches and never looked back, adding a series of straight-set wins and another super-tiebreaker triumph, this time by Cooper, for a 7-2 overall win over the Scots. Mauricio Gonzalez ’15 scored a victory when his opponent retired from the match after suffering a 6-0 first set defeat at the hands of the skilled Bolivian. Meanwhile, Matthew Ta ’15 notched his tenth singles win of the campaign, using his overwhelming power game and signature hairstyle effectively to earn a convincing triumph.
The team looks to send senior captains Dunn, Aranda, and Dan Vollman off with a NCAA tournament berth by winning the playoff tournament. To do so, they will have to top a competitive field led by nationally ranked host Gustavus Adolphus. While Gusties handed the Knights their only conference defeat in April and claimed the MIAC regular-season crown, Zweifel was quick to emphasize that anything is possible this weekend.
“Like the rapper Tupac’s posthumous holographic performance at the Coachella music festival, our players have a penchant for showing up and executing in the closing, pivotal moments,” Zweifel said. “We’ll see how far that can lead us in the post-season.”