The Gustavus Men’s Tennis team is off to a hot start in their 2019 campaign. The team has won its first three matches of the season and hope to take this momentum into the ITA National Indoor Championships this weekend.
This annual competition hosted by Gustavus showcases some of the top Division 3 teams in the country including Emory University, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the University of Chicago, and more.
It was important for the team to get a few wins under its belt before this big competition, according to Head Coach Tommy Valentini.
The team kicked off its spring season with a trip to Florida where they took on Warner University and Webster International University.
In the first game of the weekend the Gusties found themselves in a close battle with Warner.
The match started out with a dominant performance from Gustavus in doubles. Senior Yassine Derbani and Sophomore Nick Aney led the way with a 6-4 win which was quickly matched by the No. 2 doubles team of Sophomore Drew Elofson and First-year Alex Budde.
Senior Zeke Haugen and Sophomore Luke Haddorf completed the doubles sweep with a score of 6-1, putting Gustavus up 3-0 heading into the singles matches.
Warner showed some fighting spirit in the match and didn’t let Gustavus run away with the win after notching wins in three of the singles matchups.
Singles wins from Budde and First-years Oscar Wikstrum and Jack Bergmeyer was enough for a 6-3 Gustie victory.
In the second match against Webber International, the Gusties seemed to coast to a 7-2 victory, while mixing up doubles teams and singles match up order.
Valentini had nothing but positive comments for the team during its first few contests of the season.
“It was a great start to our spring,” Valentini said. “We’ve had a great week of practice at the USTA national campus and tough scrimmages heading into the matches with Warner and Webber. The conditions were unlike anything I’ve ever seen in terms of wind, and our guys were very impressive in embracing the challenge. We controlled what we could at a high level and played some smart and gritty tennis. We were able to rely on our depth and play two full groups yesterday against two tough opponents. Our leaders did a great job modeling our approach to handling adversity, and we had some excellent showing from a number of young guys.”
After the Gusties returned, they had a quick turnaround before they were back in action against MIAC opponent Bethel University Feb. 15.
In the match, the team once again started strongly with three doubles wins behind teams of Derbani and Aney, Senior Michael O’Neil and First-year Daniel Fouchier and Junior Xavier Sanga and Budde. The teams won their matches 8-4, 8-4 and 8-2, respectively.
All Gustie singles players followed up this dominant start with wins in their singles matchups to complete a 9-0 sweep.
“The guys played a solid match today,” said Head Coach Tommy Valentini. “Bethel came out with a strong effort in the doubles. We did well to stay calm early and find better execution of our game plan as the doubles went along. We got a big lift from Sanga and Budde at No.3 and once we grabbed the 3-0 lead the guys settled in and competed well in the singles. It was a great team effort and we’ll look to use it to build on as we move into preparations for an exciting series of challenges at the national indoor.”
The ITA National Indoor Championships begin this Friday, Feb. 21 at the Swanson Tennis Center.
In the first match of the tournament, the Gusties will be squaring up against No. 1 ranked Emory University.