The Gustavus men’s tennis team, which is currently ranked #8 in the country with a 17-8 overall record, is once again enjoying a successful season.
The term “once again” is almost necessary when describing the team’s strong season, as the squad has had a string of dominant seasons dating back decades.
In fact, earlier this week, the Gusties won their 300th consecutive MIAC Conference match.
This streak dates back to 1985, and the team has no intentions of it ending anytime soon.
“We have had a great season so far with some big wins. We’ve done a great job of using every day to get better, and we are competing at a very high level. We close out the regular season this weekend with four MIAC matches that we’re looking to use as opportunities to compete the right way and get better. Following this weekend, the postseason begins, where every match is critical,” Senior Mason Bultje said.
Besides running the table thus far in MIAC competition, the Gusties have played against several highly rated non-conference opponents as well this season.
The team has impressive wins over Chicago, Wash. U, Carnegie Mellon, Redlands, and Pomona Pitzer, all of which are ranked in the top 12 teams in the country.
“This season has been great so far. We started off with indoor nationals where we almost took out the number one team in the country, Emory, losing 5-4. We’ve taken down every national ranked team we’ve played except for the two finalists of last year, Emory and Claremont Mudscripts,” Senior Zach Ekstein said.
Not only is the team having an amazing season on the court, but also off the court, as well.
“This season has been special so far for so many reasons. I have never been a part of a team with chemistry this strong on and off the court. We have a very similar group to last year, and it is amazing to see how far we have come as individuals and as a team,” Junior Patrick Whaling said.
As Whaling mentioned, this year’s squad has many members from the team a season ago, a team that reached the Elite 8 at the NCAA Tournament.
While Head Coach Tommy Valentini stresses staying in the moment and focusing on the present, this special group of Gustavus tennis players have their sights set on improving from their finish at nationals last year.
“We would love to win the regular season, as well as the playoff tournament. If we make it into the postseason, our goal is to do just as well as last year, which was make it to the Elite 8, but take it at least one step further than that and make it to the Final 4,” Ekstein said.
This goal is by no means out of the question for a team that ranks in the top 10 in the nation with a handful of wins over other highly ranked opponents. Until then, however, the Gusties will focus on the matches that lie ahead before the postseason begins, as well as constantly improving as much as possible.
“As a team, we want to continue pushing each other every day in practice and using it as an opportunity to get better. Every match is a chance to improve as teammates, players and competitors,” Bultje said.
The Gusties will attempt to continue their MIAC win streak this weekend when the team travels to the Twin Cities to take on both Macalester and Hamline on Friday, April 27 before returning home to host conference rival St. Thomas in their regular season finale on Saturday, April 28 at 1:00 P.M.