Men’s tennis sweeps SJU and SMU

The Gustavus Men’s Tennis team has been relishing in recent victories, and preparing to bounce back from an unfortunate loss in the final month of the season. The Gusties swept both St. John’s University and St. Mary’s University over the weekend, with records of 9-0 for both tournaments. First-year Josh Christensen’s efforts against St. John’s earned him the honors of MIAC Men’s Tennis Athlete of the Week. After such convincing victories, the Gusties traveled to the University of Chicago, where the team concluded with a record of 1-8. However, the Gusties are not to be discouraged as they maintain high hopes and diligent training to establish their dominance in the MIAC, and hopefully pursue national recognition.
The Gusties had several notable performances in the matches on April 2. Against St. Mary’s in the singles matches, Senior Joel Hug, First-year Taona Mhwandagara, Senior Joseph Punnoose, Junior Justin Sehlin, Junior Frederico Florda, and Sophomore Geoffrey Youngs all contributed wins of either 6-0 or 6-1 in every match. The Gusties’ dominance continued in the doubles matches. Teams of Hug and Punnoose, First-year Diego Guzman and Mhwandagara, and Sehlin and Youngs defeated their opponents with scores of 8-2, 8-1, and 8-2, respectively.
Other members of the team echoed the success against St. Mary’s in matches against St. John’s on the same day. In the singles, Christensen, Junior Jack Bergmeyer, Junior Oscar Wikstrom, Sophomore Caleb Fridinger, Junior Sean Bochman, and Senior Luke Haddorff all showed similar successes over the Johnnies. In the doubles, teams of Christensen and Fridinger, Bergmeyer and Wikstrom, and Bochman and Haddorff all demonstrated their ability to perform just as well in doubles as in singles, with their respective final scores being 8-3, 8-1, and 8-3.
The matches against St. John’s allowed Christensen to earn the title of MIAC Men’s Tennis Athlete of the Week. Christensen’s wins were at the No. 1 doubles, as well as the top singles spot. He is now 2-0 in MIAC play. “I was very grateful when I heard that I was MIAC athlete of the week, and as a team, it is a good step forward for us. All of the guys are playing at such a high level and I hope we continue that for the remainder of the season,” Christensen said.
Overall, the success that the Gusties had within the MIAC is very telling of their ongoing hard work and focus on their goal to be the MIAC Champions. “Everyone played their part really well, I think the thing that people are most proud of is the all around good play from everyone. Two sweeps means that 12 or more guys had to play at a high level all day,” said Junior Alex Budde.
The team plans to use the success within the MIAC this weekend as a way to frame the losses at the University of Chicago on April 3. The group of athletes in attendance offered only one defeat overall, with that being in the singles from Junior Daniel Fouchier. Two singles matches were also won by Budde and First-year Rafael Costa, but unfortunately they were not enough to garner a defeat. However, as in many cases, the record here does not tell the full story. The competition the group faced was incredibly difficult, with the University of Chicago being ranked No. 2 in the region and No. 11 in Division III. Despite that, the Gusties held their own and view the matches as opportunities for improvement.
“We try to build and grow and move forward coming out of every match – win or lose. Certainly we look at the results and study key areas where we can improve. But it’s really about how well we’re living out our philosophy and values each time we compete.” said Head Coach Tommy Valentini.
“We try to grow coming out of every match – win or lose.”
Budde reiterated that growth mindset, saying, “We have to look at it as a growing moment and not an obstacle. There were a couple matches that we definitely could’ve taken and we see that as we have the ability to beat these teams.” He added that the team plans to, “use this loss as a learning moment and then use it to beat the next high level team we face.”
Overall, the competition faced over the weekend and the triumphs and shortcomings all reflect the effort put in by the Gusties and how well the Gusties are prepared to compete in the MIAC over the final portion of the spring season. “We rely on depth, doubles, and each guy making the guys around them have more trust in their own games and in our team game. It takes everyone each time we take the court – this past weekend was no different. We played some good tennis against Chicago” Budde said.
“We learned a lot about our group coming out of that match, and given the character of the guys in our room, I’m confident we’ll be a better team coming out of that match. But we can’t even play that match if we don’t have 2 groups of guys who are able to go to St. John’s and St. Mary’s and play at very high levels there. So it’s really about everyone being there for each other and making significant contributions to our success,” Budde said.
Moving forward, the Gusties will be facing MIAC competition every weekend in April until the MIAC Playoffs commence on May 4. In the shorter term, the Gusties will host Macalester College and The College of St. Scholastica on April 9 and hopefully continue to establish themselves as contenders for the MIAC title.