This past weekend, the No. 15 ranked Gustavus Men’s Tennis team competed at the Stag-Hen Invitational in Claremont, CA.
The Gusties took seventh place amongst a field of eight nationally ranked programs located all around the country.
The Gusties went 1-2 in the tournament, winning their final match to secure the seventh place spot.
The first match of the weekend took place on Friday, as the Gusties faced off against No. 12-ranked Sewanee from Tennessee.
The men fell 5-4 after a series of very close matches. Senior Chase Johnson was able to bounce back from losing his first set 6-2, decisively defeating his opponent in the last two sets (6-2, 6-0).
Junior Yassine Derbani also defeated his opponent in singles play in two consecutive sets (6-4, 6-4).
The men did better in doubles play, winning two of the three matches. Senior Patrick Whaling and Johnson were able to take control of the top court, securing an 8-4 victory.
The second match of the day was against No. 26 ranked Skidmore College from New York, resulting in an 8-3 loss for the Gusties.
In singles play, both Johnson and Junior Michael O’Neil were able to win their matches.
In doubles play, the Gusties were able to pick up their last point as O’Neil and Sophomore Xavier Sanga defeated their opponents in a close match, finishing with a score of 8-7.
Despite the tough losses on Friday, Head Coach Tommy Valentini didn’t fail to recognize the hard work the men put in throughout the day.
“We played hard and competed well on Friday and just didn’t get the results to go our way,” Valentini said.
Saturday was completely different for the men, as they won their final match of the Stag-Hen Invitational 8-1.
“The guys put together a great effort today,” Valentini said. “Coming off a few tough results on Friday of the Stag-Hen, one of the most challenging days in college tennis, [and] the guys responded extremely well today.”
On Saturday, the Gusties competed in their final match of the weekend against No. 31 ranked Swarthmore College from Pennsylvania.
The men came out firing in singles, winning five of their six matches. The Gusties were led by Whaling on the top court, who bounced back to win after losing his first set (2-6, 6-1, 7-5).
Johnson also had a close match on the second court, ultimately defeating his opponent after a neck-and-neck final set (6-4, 4-6, 10-7).
The Gusties carried their winning momentum throughout doubles play as well, winning all three matches.
Whaling and Johnson took care of business on the top court, winning their match 8-4.
Valentini was positive about the results against Swarthmore, and feels as though the experience was helpful for the team.
“The energy was positive and we executed our plan well in doubles. The singles was a grind, but the guys stuck together and stayed positive and played some gutsy tennis,” Valentini said. “We’re grateful to come away with a good results today, and feel like we took another step forward with the experience we gained at the Stag-Hen.”
Following the Stag-Hen invitational, Johnson earned his second MIAC Men’s Tennis Athlete of the Week Honor this season.
Johnson went 3-0 in his single matches, two of which came down to the wire and required a third-set tiebreaker.
Johnson and Whaling also went 2-1 in his double matches over the weekend with his partner, all of which occured on the No. 1 courts.
He played a key role in the Gusties dominant defeat of No. 31 Swarthmore on Saturday.
The Gustavus Men’s Tennis team look to extend their 9-4 record this Saturday, March 23. The Gusties will be hosting Conference opponents Saint Mary’s and Saint John’s and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.
A final match against non-conference opponent Morningside College will wrap up the event at 6 p.m.
All matches will be played at the Swanson Tennis Center on campus.