The Gustavus Men’s Tennis team had a quick turnaround following the ITA Indoor Championships, facing off against two non-conference opponents the following weekend.
At the ITA Indoor Championships, hosted by Gustavus, the team faced off against some of the top-ranked teams in the country.
The Gusties came into the tournament ranked No. 20 in the nation, but after a dramatic 5-4 win against No. 11 Kenyon College, they have since moved up in the national rankings to No. 15.
The match came down to the last game, where First-year Oscar Wikström battled back from a first set loss to win the deciding match in three sets.
Wikström was dominant in his other matches that weekend, winning his singles matchups against No. 1 Emory and No. 9 Washington University-St. Louis in three sets. His efforts were crucial for the team’s success and he was recognized with MIAC Athlete of the Week honors.
The following weekend the team faced off against non-conference opponent Grinnell College at the Swanson Tennis Center.
The Gusties got off to a strong start, winning all three of the doubles matches to set the tone of the day.
Senior Yassine Derbani and Sophomore Nick Aney headed up the doubles effort at the one spot with a tight 8-7 win. Senior Michael O’Neil and First-year Daniel Fouchier commanded their match at two doubles, defeating their Grinnell opponents 8-2 and Junior Xavier Sanga and Sophomore Joe Punnoose held off for a narrow 8-7 lead to put the Gusties up by three heading into the singles matches.
The story of singles was the same, with dominant two set wins from all six of the Gusties.
Aney posted a scores of 6-4, 6-4, Sophomore Indraneel Raut won 6-0, 6-1, O’Neil won 6-1, 6-1, Fouchier won 7-5, 6-2, Wikström added on to the winning with scores of 6-2, 6-1, and Sanga rounded out the Gustie sweep with scores of 6-3 and 6-4 in his sets.
Head Coach Tommy Valentini was impressed with the team’s ability to come out of the gates firing and their composure during the close matches that day.
“The guys turned in a great performance today,” Valentini said. “Grinnell is a tough team and they played very well against us at one and three doubles. Both of our teams at those spots showed great poise and trust and to come through in very pressure-filled moments, and Micheal and Daniel gave us a big lift at number two. Once we got the 3-0 lead I thought our guys settled in and executed very well in the singles.”
Later that day, the Gusties faced off against the Vikings of Augustana University. This match showed the depth the team has, with a large amount of the team’s top players resting and giving chances for some less experienced members to compete.
This change in lineup did not seem to have much of an effect on the end result, however.
The team started off with another 3 wins in their double matchups by an entirely new set of teams.
Aney and Wikström headed up the doubles efforts and won the top match by a score of 6-2. Junior Lawrence Hiquiana and Sophomore Joel Hug followed this up with a 6-2 win of their own and Senior Zeke Haugen and Sophomore Luke Haddorff closed out doubles with a 7-5 victory.
In singles, Punnoose lost a close match up at one singles by scores of 6-4 and 7-6. In order, Hug, First-year Jack Bergmeyer, Hiquiana, and First-years Justin Sehlin and Sourabh Terakanambi all won their matches in two sets. This ended the contest with a final score of 6-1 in the Gusties favor.
“Against [Augustana] we showed a lot of character to bring great energy out of the gates. The guys played excellent doubles with a lot of fire to set the tone. In the singles everyone competed very well and stuck together and supported each other right to the end. Jack Bergmeyer and Joël Hug were fantastic in every phase of the game to get the second and third points to put us in a great position and we were able to capitalize and close out the match from there. Overall, we made good progress as a group today and we’re grateful to come through against two high quality opponents,” Valentini said.
The No. 15 ranked Gusties now hold a record of 6-2 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC. The team’s next set of matches is against a set of MIAC opponents this upcoming weekend.
The Black and Gold play on the road against Hamline at 4 p.m. March 6, and at home against Concordia at 9 a.m. March 7.