Women’s Tennis wins two matches

Kieran Ripken-

The Gustavus Women’s Tennis team hosted Grinnell and Luther at the Swanson Tennis Center this past Saturday, winning both matches 6-3. With a pair of wins on the day, the Gusties improved their record to 4-2 on the season.

Gustavus began the day with a strong opponent in Grinnell, who came into the competition with an undefeated record of 10-0.

“The team was super excited to play Grinnell because we knew they are a very strong team with a lot of talent,” Senior Alli Laux said. “We knew we would have to play well and as a team to pull out a win, which we did!”

Sophomore Kaya De Bruijn, last week’s MIAC Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Week, continued her momentum into the weekend with three total victories.

“Last spring, I was injured for the whole spring and didn’t get to play any matches,” De Bruijn said. “It’s really different playing matches versus practice, and I feel like I’m really grooving right now in playing matches as opposed to just practicing.”

Sophomores Molly Austin and Allison Szalay teamed up in doubles, besting Grinnell’s top duo 8-6. De Bruijn and First-year Bethany Smith downed the Pioneer’s No. 2 squad with an identical score of 8-6.

“Doubles is played before singles and can be worth up to 3 points (of the 5 needed to win a dual match),” Szalay said. “It’s super important to come out with a lot of energy and put points on the board, as well as set up for singles. We’ve been working especially hard on doubles this season, and it’s definitely showing.”

The Gusties’ top four singles each emerged victorious, tallying wins from Szalay (6-3, 6-2), Austin (7-6, 6-3), Laux (6-4, 6-1), and De Bruijn (6-0, 6-1) in straight sets.

“It’s always so fun to play with [Austin] and Grinnell was a team ranked above us regionally last year,” Szalay said. “It was great to get a win over them. Molly and I have been working together very well this season, continuing from the fall, which is also super encouraging.”

According to the Gustavus Athletics website, the Gusties had a streak of 8 consecutive wins against the Norse spanning back to 1997. On Saturday, the total increased to 9.

Beginning with doubles, Gustavus jumped to a 2-1 advantage with the pairs of Austin and Szalay (8-4) and Laux and Junior Brooke Haddorff (8-6) each earning wins.

In singles, Laux (6-3, 6-2), De Bruijn (6-4, 6-1), First-year Ella De Young (6-1, 6-3), and Sophomore Pavla Yakimova (6-3, 7-5) each notched wins in straight sets to bring the team score to 6-3.

“It has been a pretty good couple weeks now,” said De Bruijn. “This past weekend, we played two regionally-ranked Division III teams… This is the first time we have this season and we won both of them. It was a great achievement. We’re getting up there and playing really great matches.”

With a pair of wins on Saturday, the Gusties appear to be hitting their stride on the court and as a team early in the season.

“I think the team is really coming together as a ‘team’ as we start playing these important and tough matches,” Laux said. “We don’t play for ourselves, but rather for each other, which inspires us when we are on the court playing or watching a teammate play.”

“Our team does a really awesome job of cheering each other on,” Szalay said. “When it gets down to the last couple [of] matches on [the] court, we make noise after every single point. It’s not something you see in every team, and it really makes you feel like everyone has your back no matter the outcome.”

After Gustavus lost last year in the MIAC Championship, the team carries big goals into this season with a chance at redemption.

“[One of our goals is] definitely winning the MIAC,” De Bruijn said. “I feel like we’re really pumped to win it this year. Obviously, the playoffs would be really great too!”

The Gusties hope to carry their momentum into next weekend, hosting non-conference teams Northwestern-Iowa (4-3), Bethany Lutheran (1-0), and conference opponent Concordia (3-14) in Saint Peter.

The following week, which is Spring Break, Gustavus will travel to Virginia to face off against five different opponents from March 24th through the 29th.

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