The Gustavus Adolphus College Women’s Tennis team is going dancing. A doubles sweep and two straight-set singles wins gave the Gusties a 5-0 victory over Carleton College on Saturday afternoon at the Bell Field Tennis Courts. The win clinches Gustavus its first conference playoff title since 2011, and the Gusties also earn an automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships.
“I’m so proud of our team,” Coach Jon Carlson said. “They really stepped up and played well against a very good Carleton team. The toughness and passion they showed throughout the entire match was truly inspiring and I’m proud to be their coach.”
Just over one week ago, the Gusties fell to the Knights 7-2 in St. Peter, a match that ended Gustavus’s perfect regular season conference record and proved to be the Gustie’s only match of the season in which they were swept in doubles.
This Saturday was a different story, as the Black and Gold began the match with a 3-0 doubles sweep. Michaela Schulz and Lizzy Stanczyk were first off the court, taking an 8-4 win at the No. 1 position. Ally Baker and Briana Hartmann put up an identical 8-4 win at the second spot, and minutes later, Katie Aney and Sid Dirks sealed the sweep with an 8-5 win at the third position.
The Knights proved to be tough in singles though, and pushed Gustavus at each of the six positions. However, after a tight first set, Hartmann cruised in the second to pick up a 6-4, 6-2 win at the No. 5 position to give the Gusties a 4-0 lead. Then, with the remainder of her teammates locked in tight battles, Baker fought back from a 4-3 second set deficit to take a 6-2, 6-4 victory to clinch the match for Gustavus.
Now, Gustavus returns to the NCAA Championships after a four-year drought between 2012 and 2015. Prior to 2012, Carlson’s teams had a remarkable 21-year run in which the Gusties appeared in the big dance. This year’s national tournament field will be announced Monday afternoon.
The Gustie women are appearing in the NCAA Championships for the 24th time in program history. Gustavus last made the big dance in 2011 and earned each of their 23 bids in consecutive seasons from 1989-2011, including winning the National Championship in 1990. Gustavus earned the MIAC’s automatic bid to this season’s tournament by defeating Carleton College 5-0 in Saturday’s conference playoff title match.
The Black and Gold head to Whitewater, Wis. with a 21-7 overall record, a No. 36 national ranking, and No. 9 regional ranking. Gustavus’s opponent, Wheaton, is 18-1 this season and is ranked No. 13 in the region. The Thunder have two mutual opponents with the Gusties, including Carthage College and Augustana College. Gustavus defeated Carthage 5-1 and Augustana 7-2, while Wheaton took down Carthage 5-0 and Augustana 5-4.
This weekend’s regional will be held at the Wangerin Courts on the campus of UW-Whitewater, with Premier Tennis and Fitness in Janesville, Wis. serving as the backup site in case of inclement weather.
In terms of season honors, five women were named to the All-MIAC Team that was announced Tuesday by the conference office. Seniors Sid Dirks and Lizzy Stanczyk, Junior Michaela Schulz, Sophomore Ally Baker, and First-year Briana Hartmann were each named to both the All-Conference singles and doubles teams. In addition, Sophomore Katie Aney was named the conference’s Elite 22 winner, which honors the individual with the highest GPA at the MIAC Playoff Championship site.
Dirks, a senior captain, is making her third consecutive appearance on the All-MIAC doubles team and second on the singles squad. The St. Peter native primarily held down the No. 3 singles and doubles positions on the year. In singles, Dirks went 16-13 overall, including a 6-2 mark in the MIAC. In doubles, she compiled a record of 22-10, including a 9-1 conference record.
Schulz, who is ranked No. 36 in the nation and No. 9 in the region individually, is making her third straight appearance on both the singles and doubles teams. The junior played No. 1 singles and doubles for the Gusties, posting an 18-14 overall singles record (8-1 MIAC) and 22-9 doubles mark (8-1 MIAC).
Stanczyk, who transferred to Gustavus from St. Louis University midway through her sophomore season, is being honored for the second consecutive season on the singles and doubles teams. Dirks’ fellow senior captain went 8-9 in singles (5-3 MIAC), primarily playing at the No. 2 spot, and went 17-5 (8-1 MIAC) at the No. 1 doubles position.
Baker, a sophomore, made the jump from No. 6 singles last season and held down the No. 4 position this year. The Rosemount native went 22-8 overall (8-1 MIAC) in singles while also going 24-6 in doubles (8-1 MIAC), primarily playing at the second spot.
In her rookie season, Hartmann broke into the collegiate tennis scene with a 24-8 overall mark in singles (10-0 MIAC) while holding down the No. 5 singles spot. In doubles, Hartmann went 21-5 (8-1 MIAC) while teaming with Baker primarily at the No. 2 position.
Aney, a sophomore, went 19-6 in singles (6-1 MIAC) while primarily playing at the No. 6 spot. In doubles, the Rochester product went 18-6 overall (7-1 MIAC) while playing at the third position. She earned the Elite 22 Award after posting a 4.0 GPA as a biology and biochemistry double major.
As part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative, the MIAC also announced the 10th annual All-MIAC Sportsmanship Team for women’s tennis. Members of the All-MIAC Sportsmanship team are selected by their coaches and teammates as individuals who demonstrate ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the court. Representing Gustavus on this year’s All-Sportsmanship Team was Senior Kaity Johnson.
The Gusties will take on Wheaton College this Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Championships in Whitewater, Wis. Gustavus earned the MIAC’s automatic berth to the national tournament after earning the conference playoff title this past Saturday with a 5-0 win over Carleton College.
If you see a Women’s Tennis player around, wish her luck at the tournament!