Brady Boie – Staff Writer
The Gustavus tennis teams took the MIAC by storm this weekend, with decisive victories over Saint Bens, Hamline, and Macalester College. The women kicked off the busy weekend with a match against St. Bens in the Swanson Tennis Center on Friday. In this match, all three doubles teams declared victory; the six singles players completed the sweep a few hours later, with the final score reading 9-0 Gusties.
Sydney Douglas, a junior from Mankato, was pleased with the team’s performance.
“We played really well. All of the hours of extra hitting and morning conditioning is really starting to show. We are able to outlast these other teams in long points, and our consistency is above par. We are able to make the shots that we need to when we need to,” Douglas said.
On Saturday, the Gusties moved outside to the Brown Tennis courts where they took on Hamline. The cold, windy conditions could not slow the white-hot Gusties, as they dismantled Hamline 9-0. This victory put the Gusties’ record at 10-0 for the season and 3-0 in the MIAC. This winning streak has instilled confidence in the already tight-knit group and brought about championship aspirations.
“We have just taken it to another level this year. Our biggest motivator is to perform well and potentially win the conference championship in a few months. We are going to have harder and harder matches later in the season, so I still think that we have a lot of work to do and lots of things to accomplish before we take on Bethel, St. Thomas, and ultimately compete for the conference championship,” Douglas said.
With these high expectations, Douglas admitted that there is an element of pressure that builds with each victory. However, she seemed unfazed by this pressure and instead decided to focus on the special bond that she shares with all of her teammates.
“We have built in best friends (on the tennis team).We are inseparable… we hang out all the time off the court and when we get together, we just have so much fun… it’s been great to bond this year and the dynamic is really special,” Douglas said.
An exceptional team dynamic is also present on the men’s tennis team. The Gustie men had an equally impressive pair of victories, as they defeated both Hamline and Macalester 9-0 on Saturday.
“All of the guys played really well, especially in the outdoor conditions. We are making the most out of our season despite the challenges that COVID has put in our way,” Junior Joseph Punnoose said.
Both victories were claimed outside on the Brown Tennis Courts, and the change in venue certainly played a factor.
“We’ve been practicing inside for months and months now, so (playing outside) is a completely different game. The earth has a different pressure, so the ball has a different speed and bounces differently. There was also some wind and cold. Dealing with these conditions was an extra challenge, but we were ready for it,” Sophomore Federico Fiorda said.
This exceptional level of preparation has been on display all year for the men’s team. They are 9-2 and undefeated in the MIAC. The Gustie men were also just recently named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s UTR team of the month for Division III in the month of March.
“UTR sees what team is improving the most, and Gustavus was one of the teams that improved the most and that is why we received that recognition. It was quite the honor, and really nice to see our name next to some really good college programs,” Fiorda said.
Fiorda, and the entire men’s tennis team, are pleased, but still not completely satisfied. Their sights are set on what is yet to come.
“MIAC’s, Regionals, and Nationals is what we are playing for (at the end of the season). Nothing is a given this year (with COVID), but if we get the opportunity to compete at these big tournaments, we will be ready. Our goal is to be the best team that we can be by the end of the year, and that is how we will succeed,” Fiorda said.
With these goals in mind and a growing confidence, the sky’s the limit for this ever-improving men’s team. The undefeated women also have limitless potential and are performing at an extremely high level. It will be fun to watch these teams chase greatness over the last month of their season, and who knows, maybe they’ll walk away with a few MIAC championships.