After two convincing wins this past weekend, the Gustavus Women’s Tennis Team secured the MIAC Playoff Championship, and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Gusties earned the No.1 seed going into the playoff tournament after winning the regular season title outright, and enjoyed a first round bye.
In the second round, the Gusties were set to face the Bethel Royals, a team that they had beat 7-2 just a week before.
The Gusties came in focused and energized in front of their home crowd and jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the doubles play.
Senior Ally Baker and Junior Bri Hartmann led the way with an 8-5 victory at No. 1 doubles.
At No. 2, Senior Katie Aney and Junior Lilly Hartman won by a score of 9-7.
The youngest Gustie duo had the closest match, but proved solid in the big moments to earn their win. Junior Sheila Sullivan and First-year Ginger Valentine came out victorious in a tiebreaker to complete the doubles sweep.
In singles play, the Gusties needed only two points to reach a decision and end the match.
They continued rolling through the Royals after the doubles sweep by taking first sets at all six singles positions.
At this point, it came down to who would win their second sets fastest. Hartmann was the first one done, with a 6-3, 6-0 victory at No. 1 singles.
Valentine clinched the match after dominating her second set and securing a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 4 singles.
Because the Gusties scored five points, the match was over and the remaining matches went unfinished.
The 5-0 victory sent the Gusties back to the MIAC Playoff Championship to defend their title from the last two years.
“The girls knew Bethel was going to be better this time around. Everybody stepped up their level of intensity and focus. I am so proud of how hard they competed individually and as a team,” Head Coach Jon Carlson said after the match.
The No. 2 seed Carleton Knights awaited the Gusties in the final.
Once again, the doubles matches were close throughout and played at a very high level.
“Everybody stepped up their level of intensity and focus. I am so proud of how hard they competed individually and as a team.” — Coach Carlson
At No. 1 doubles, the duo of Baker and Hartmann defeated Carleton’s top team 8-6.
The second doubles pairing of Aney and Hartman had an uncharacteristic bad day and fell 8-3 to a very strong team from Carleton.
With the score notched at one match apiece, the No. 3 doubles team of Sullivan and Valentine entered into a tiebreaker to decide who would earn the third doubles point.
After falling behind early in the tiebreaker, they rattled off a number of big points in a row to secure the match for the Gusties and give them a 2-1 lead going into singles play.
“From the very first point, the girls brought the highest level of competitiveness and intensity that I have ever coached in my 28 years,” Carlson said.
In singles, Hartmann gave the Gusties another point quickly with a 6-0, 6-4 win at No.1 singles.
The next point came at No. 6 singles, where Sullivan put the Gusties within one match of the Championship with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
Carleton tried to mount a comeback, and earned their sole singles victory at No. 2, where Aney fell 6-4, 6-2.
Finally, Hartmann clinched the match with a 6-4, 7-5 victory at No. 5 singles and with that, the Gusties were headed back to the NCAA tournament.
“It was truly an inspiring day on every single court. Carleton played very well but our girls stepped up. Having all six players playing at their highest level of effort is every coach’s dream and I got my dream today,” Carlson said.
For their efforts throughout the season, Hartmann, Aney, Baker, Valentine, and Hartman earned All-MIAC honors.
Head Coach Jon Carlson also earned the MIAC Co-Coach of the Year Award.
The Gusties will now travel to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater this weekend to compete in the regional tournament there.
The other top seeds in their region are No. 10 University of Chicago and No. 34 UW-Whitewater.
Their first round match is on Friday, May 11 against St. Scholastica.