Men’s Tennis wins MIAC championship

Kieran Ripken-

The Gustavus Men’s Tennis team wrote another chapter in the program’s storied history on Saturday, besting Carleton 5-0 to secure the team’s 13th consecutive MIAC playoff championship and an automatic NCAA tournament bid. The Gusties ranked #14 in Division III, improved to 22-7 overall, and compiled an undefeated record of 9-0 against MIAC opponents on the season.

The Men’s performance against MIAC opponents is nothing short of dominance. Since 1970, Gustavus is 562-1 against the MIAC—the sole loss came in 1985. As for the regular season, the Gusties recently recorded their 54th MIAC regular season championship and 37th consecutive, dating all the way back to the 1986 season.

“It’s a true honor to be a part of a streak like this. I think the success our team has had is in large part due to the alumni and how big of an impact they’ve had on the entire program,” Sophomore Tyler Haddorff said.

On Saturday, wet courts at the Wilkinson Tennis Complex delayed the scheduled start time by an hour. Nonetheless, the Gusties emerged from the setback displaying no sign of discomfort.

“We know that we are ready for anything that gets thrown our way. Before the match started, we did not know if we would be playing outside or inside, and we also didn’t know that the match would get delayed an hour. Battling through those types of events throughout the season are very important to succeeding late in the season,” Sophomore Gage Gohl said.

The Gusties came out against the Knights firing on all cylinders. Senior Caleb Fridinger and First-year Dominik Knutson were the first pair to record a point and registered a dominant 8-1 win at No. 3 doubles.

Junior duo Josh Christensen and Marco Siviero were not far behind at the No. 2 spot and recorded an 8-3 win shortly after.

Gohl and Haddorff clinched the Gustie sweep in doubles with an 8-5 victory at the No. 1 spot, giving the team a 3-0 edge heading into singles.

“Jumping out to an early lead in doubles is something we take a lot of pride in as a team. We feel that doubles is a spot where we can separate ourselves from our opponents and really give ourselves an advantage early in the match,” Gohl said.

Shifting to singles play, Fifth-year Jack Bergmeyer put on a master-class performance with a 6-0, 6-0 win in a brief 47 minutes at the No. 5 spot. Bergmeyer’s win pushed the Gusties within a point of the necessary five to win.

“My goal for that match was to enjoy what ended up being my last match at home here at Gustavus. I wanted to make sure I got the most out of every point I had left to play, which led to me playing the entire match at a very high level and only losing three points total in the entire first set. I had a lot of energy in my match and I made sure that it could be seen between every point,” Bergmeyer said.

Christensen would prove to be the deciding point and emerged victorious at the No. 2 spot with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 win to clinch the MIAC playoff championship for the Gusties.

Junior Rafael de Camargo Costa, Siviero, Knutson, and Fridinger were all in the midst of strong performances before the team had enough points to win and cut the remaining matches short.

“Ending the season on a win-streak is definitely beneficial heading into the postseason. We have competed all year with the intent of getting to our highest level at the right time of the year, and we are doing exactly that,” Gohl said.

On Tuesday, the MIAC announced its 2023-2024 awards for Men’s Tennis and, to no surprise, an overwhelming number of Gusties received a nomination. Siviero earned the inaugural MIAC Singles Player of the Year distinction while Gohl and Haddorff received MIAC Doubles Team of the Year honors.

In addition, eleven spots were reserved for the Gusties on the All-Conference or All-Conference Honorable Mention singles and/or doubles teams that commemorated their year-long individual success.

“This team always competes and supports each other the same no matter what changes. I think that’s one of the biggest things that makes this team special because no matter who we are playing or who is on the court for us, the support for our teammates is always the same,” Bergmeyer said.

With the win against Carleton in the MIAC final, the Gusties earned an automatic NCAA tournament bid and will travel to UW-Whitewater for a regional field of six teams. The Gusties will square off against Kalamazoo (9-10) in the first round on Friday; the winner will then face the host, No. 17 UW-Whitewater (18-3). The champion of the regional will advance to the Elite Eight.

This year will mark the 36th time that Gustavus has qualified for the NCAA Championships—third most in Division III history; Kalamazoo is in first with 40. This season, Gustavus is 6-6 against ranked opponents.

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