This past weekend, the Gustavus Women’s Tennis Team competed in its largest competition of the fall season, the ITA Midwest Regional Championships.
This competition showcased both singles and doubles matches and 28 different college teams were hosted here at the Swanson Tennis Center.
After day one, the Gusties had strong performances from many individuals, advancing six singles players into the round of 32 as well as three doubles teams into the round of 16.
Head Coach Jon Carlson was very excited with the way the team played and the number of athletes that advanced to the next stage of the competition.
“It was our best first day we’ve had in a long time,” Carlson said. “I’m very proud of how hard we battled. Even the matches we lost, we lost to high quality players. We’ve also never been as successful in the fall invitational as we were this year. It’s been over 10 years since we’ve been this successful so I’m looking forward to day two tomorrow.”
Advancing on the singles side were First-years Simona Potockova and Anna Stutz, Sophomore Ginger Valentine, and Seniors Lilly Hartman, Bri Hartmann, and Ally Thorsen.
On the doubles side, tandems of Hartman and Hartmann, Valentine and Senior Sheila Sullivan, and Potockova and Stutz all advanced to day two as well.
After a tough, emotional day full of challenging matches between the top 32 players in the region for both singles and doubles, the Gusties were proud to advance two singles players to the quarterfinals and one doubles team to the semifinal matches that would take place the next day.
Advancing for the Gusties on the singles side was Senior Bri Hartmann, winning her round of 32 match 6-2, 6-2 and followed this with a round of 16 win with identical scores.
Hartmann was a favorite in this year’s competition, having won the Regional Singles Title and status of All-American last fall.
Also advancing was Valentine, winning her round of 32 match with commanding scores of 6-0, 6-0. Valentine then went on to win her round of 16 match 6-0, 6-3.
The strong Senior doubles team of Hartman and Hartmann also had impressive performances on day two, defeating a doubles team from Luther College by a score of 8-3 in the round of 16, and a team from UW-La Crosse 8-3 as well to advance to the semifinals the next day.
Carlson was proud of the way the team played and happy with the experience some of the younger athletes received by playing against some high-level competition.
“I’m really proud of how we played today,” Carlson said. “The biggest enjoyment out of the weekend is that we are continually getting better and that is key as we go into the offseason and get ready for the spring.”
The run ended for the Gustie Senior doubles team on day three of the competition.
After a hard-fought match the team lost to a doubles team from Bethel University by a score of 8-4.
The journey also ended for Hartmann on the singles side, losing to a Bethel opponent in the quarterfinals by a score of 6-3, 6-4.
Valentine continued to run through the competition however, winning both of her matches in a day of tennis that showcased the top 8 players in the region.
She won her first match of the day by a score of 6-2, 7-5. Taking this momentum into her semifinal match, Valentine came out strongly against the top-seeded player in the tournament.
After winning the first set by a score of 6-4, the impressive UW-Whitewater opponent answered back, winning the second set 2-6.
After regrouping with Carlson, Valentine played more aggressive and confidently, winning and closing off the game with a score of 6-3.
The next day the only thing on the agenda was the singles championship match between Valentine and conference opponent Ali Kopiecki from Hamline.
Valentine commanded the first set, winning by a score of 6-0, and continued to put the pressure on her opponent in the second. After a back and forth battle, Valentine closed the game with a scored of 6-4 in the second set.
With this win, Valentine became the 42nd All-American in program history and kept the Midwest Regional Singles Championship Title at Gustavus for the second consecutive year.
She will compete Oct. 11 at the ITA Cup, an elite competition which hosts the singles and doubles regional champions from across the country.
Valentine highlighted the competition, but the team was very happy and impressed with its overall performance and is excited for its main season this spring.