Gusties shine in final regular season match

Nyden HillStaff Writer

This past weekend, on Sunday, April 23, the Gustavus women’s tennis team traveled to the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to take on Macalester College in their final match of the regular season.

With the thought of the postseason looming, it is important to note that the Gusties have had a history of success under coach Jon Carlson. As recently as last year, the Gusties captured the MIAC title and have played the best teams that Division III has to offer this year, as well as Division I and II teams.

The day before this contest, the Gusties engaged in a hard-fought battle against Carleton. This match also took place in neutral territory in Rochester, Minnesota, but the Gusties unfortunately fell short of a victory, resulting in a 3-6 loss to the Knights.

Even given the Gusties’ most recent loss, the team still stands at 16-12, with a 9-1 in-conference record, which puts them second in the MIAC. With the last contest of regular season play looming, the Gusties remained hopeful in their chances of heading into the conference playoffs on a good note.

“It was a long weekend of matches, so everyone was motivated to end the regular season on a high note and get the 2nd seed in the conference tournament,” said Junior Alli Laux.

Against Macalester, the Gusties proved themselves correct. In doubles play, the Gusties were nothing short of dominant. Playing in the number one doubles spot, the duo of first-years Molly Austin and Allison Szalay put the Gusties in the driver’s seat as they cruised to an 8-2 victory over their opposition.

In the number two spot, the pair of seniors Yuki Oda and Emily Norman equaled the mark set by Austin and Szalay as they also defeated the Scots by a score of 8-2. In the final action of doubles for the day, Junior Alli Laux and Senior Renata Hernandez helped give the Gusties a definite boost heading into singles play, winning by a margin of 5 points as they registered an 8-3 victory.

“Going up 3-0 after doubles is always a huge momentum builder because everyone is feeling confident and very positive,” Laux said.

Laux was not the only Gustie to share this assertion.

“Going up 3-0 after doubles is a huge boost. We knew we could pick up enough singles matches to win, and went in on a high,” Szalay said.

Throughout the second half of play, it was clear that the Gusties had transferred the momentum they had built from doubles to singles play. Playing in the number one singles spot, Oda defeated her rival via a convincing 6-2, 6-3 performance. Szalay followed suit and won her match 6-0, 6-3. 

As singles play continued, it was clear that the Gusties would not be losing a set, as not one Gustie player took their match to three sets. In the third singles spot, Austin defeated her opponent 6-4, 6-1. Laux swept her matchup 6-0, 6-0, while Yakimova bested her opposition 6-2, 6-2. In the final spot, Haddroff won her match 6-3, 6-1.

While it was clear from the results of this match that they were clicking on all cylinders, one challenge that the Gusties had to overcome was evident. While one may assume that this difficulty would be related to conditions, injuries, or the skill of the opposition, this block was much more mental than physical, having to do with the Gusties’ 3-6 loss to Carleton the day prior.

“Coming off the mentality that Carleton didn’t go our way, being able to forget about that match and give it our all in the next match was our biggest challenge,” Norman admitted.

Despite the loss to Carleton, Laux had this to say: “Beating Bethel and Macalester 9-0 this past weekend gives our team a lot of confidence going into playoffs because we know we can beat these teams if we play well. Carleton is the team to beat and we will be the “underdogs” since we lost in a close match, so it’s exciting to have another chance to beat them.”

With this most recent dominant win in mind, the Gusties are feeling extremely confident and hopeful heading into post-season play. As they anticipate the MIAC playoffs, they will have the advantage of location during practice compared to the other conference teams, as the semifinals will be held in St. Peter. Thanks to Laux, we know that the Gusties are excitedly anticipating the start of the tournament, which starts on April 28th. We wish them the best of luck as they hope to repeat as MIAC champions this year.

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