The Gustavus Men’s Tennis team has been the dominant athletic program competing for the black and gold by a long sight. Since 1969, legendary head coach Steve Wilkinson’s first year on the hill, the Gusties have won 34 of the past 37 MIAC Championships and have won every one since 1989—the year most of the freshman class was born. Although the 2008 edition of the Gusties haven’t had a chance to add to their astonishing 328-1 dual match record, they have been adding to a different trophy case before chasing another MIAC Championship.
Over this past weekend, Gustavus hosted the ITA Division III National Indoor Championships and the home court advantage came up big for the Gusties. Gustavus came into the tournament seeded third and after wins over #6 seed Trinity (7-2) and #2 Emory (6-3) in the semifinals, only #1 seeded UC-Santa Cruz stood in their way.
After the doubles play, the #2 and #3 pairs (Juniors Mike Burdakin/John Kauss and Ben Tomasek/Nick Hansen) came up big for the Gusties, winning their respective matches and giving their squad a 2-1 advantage. Senior Andy Bryan and Junior Charlie Paukert, the #1 doubles pair for Gustavus, fell 8-4 in the first match.
In singles play, Kauss, Tomasek and #1 Andy Bryan all rose victorious for the Gusties. Kauss won the first match of play from the #2 position with a score of 6-2, 6-4 and Tomasek iced it for Gustavus with a win in slot #5. Bryan’s two-and-a-half hour marathon of a match ended 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 and was easily the highlight of the match. Santa Cruz won the final two sets, ending the match 5-4.
“The guys who are responsible for this championship have improved immensely since last year. Two years ago, when we last won the Indoor title, everyone except Andy [Bryan] were on the junior varsity,” said Wilkinson. “They pulled together as a team, and I am so proud of them. Beating Trinity, Emory, and Santa Cruz in the same weekend is an accomplishment they will always remember.”
Up next the team will host a trio of opponents this upcoming weekend. They start with a match with UW-Eau Claire at 9:00 a.m., followed by a match with the University of Sioux Falls at 1:30 p.m. and will be capped off with MIAC opponent Bethel at 6:00 p.m.
Photo Courtesy Of: Sports Information