The Gustavus men’s tennis team won its eighth-straight Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship on May 6, besting Carleton 5-3.
The big win caps off an impressive end-of-season run for the Gusties who beat St. Thomas and St. John’s along with Macalester in the Semifinals, winning each match 9-0.
Against St. Thomas on the 28th, the No. 6 ranked Gusties swept the Tommies in the team’s first outdoor home meet of the season.
Each singles member won their respective match in two games while each doubles pairing won their matches in one game.
The win pushed the Gusties to 20-8 while also extending their conference win streak to a whopping 300 straight.
In the final game of the regular season the following day, Gustavus secured its 30th straight conference crown, shutting out St. John 9-0.
“To capture the conference title means a lot to our guys. We’re grateful to be a part of such a special legacy and to stand on the shoulders of the Gustavus great teams and players that have come before us,” Head Coach Tommy Valentini said.
The Gusties cleanly swept the Johnnies in doubles play while only allowing seven combined games to the Johnnies.
They then went on to sweep the competition in singles play as well winning four of six games in straight sets.
“The guys put forth a gritty effort today. The elements were a factor and the guys did well to stick to our plan in doubles. Saint John’s is a tough team and they played some very strong singles. We showed good composure in the key moments and were fortunate to come through,” Valentini said.
As the No. 1 seed in the MIAC playoffs, the Gusties swept their semifinal opponents, Macalester College, 9-0 to advance to the playoff championship.
The team continued its overall dominance, winning each singles match in straight sets and never allowing more than four wins in any of their doubles matches.
The win on May 4 also marked the 200th victory for Coach Valentini in his ninth year coaching the team.
He is currently the second winningest tennis coach in school history.
“The guys did well in the tough moments today. Getting the lead in the doubles was a big lift and from there we showed good poise in the singles. Mac is a tough team that had a great season. We’re grateful to come through today and extend the postseason, and we look forward to enjoying the challenges that come on Sunday,” Valentini said.
Gustavus moved on to the playoff championship against Carleton, where they won 5-3 and automatically qualifies for the NCAA championships.
The match was not an easy win for the home team as they found themselves in a 2-1 hope after doubles play.
However, they managed to fight back in singles play winning four of six matches with one unfinished match.
“The guys showed great belief and poise today. Carleton is an excellent team. They are well coached and first class guys. They played a fantastic match and they were great in the doubles. It was a total team effort from all of our guys. We’re grateful for the result, and that we get to continue on as a team into the NCAA tournament” Valentini said.
Next up for Gustavus, they will be hosting the regionals on Thursday and will have a first round bye.
In addition, four different members of the team received All-Conference honors. Seniors Mohanad Alhouni, Mason Bultje, Gabe Steinwand and Junior Patrick Whaling were all selected for the All-Conference Singles Team, while Alhouni, Bultje, and Whaling were named to the All-Conference Doubles Team.
Alhouni finishes his spectacular career ranked as the best Division III singles player going 26-7 overall and was named the MIAC Athelte of the Week twice this year.