The Gustavus Adolphus men’s tennis team enters the 2007 spring season as somewhat of an unknown quantity. The team returns only two players off last season’s NCAA Tournament lineup, but if last fall’s Wilson/ITA Midwest Regional is any indication of how the Gustavus men’s tennis team will rebound, the outlook for Spring 2007 looks favorable.
Junior Andy Bryan (Edina, Minn.) and senior Jesse Brauer (Mankato, Minn./West), the only holdovers from last year’s NCAA third-place team, are projected to hold down the top two spots in the singles lineup and are currently the team’s top doubles tandem. Brauer defeated Bryan for the Wilson/ITA Midwest Region singles title in the fall.
Although the rest of the lineup may lack big-time national tournament experience, they are not without varsity experience. According to Gustavus Head Men’s Tennis Coach Steve Wilkinson, the team has displayed a high level of intensity in practice and is working on building team cohesiveness.
Sophomores Mike Burdakin (Bettendorf, Iowa) and Charlie Paukert (Grand Forks, N.D.) paired to take the Midwest Region doubles title in the fall over Bryan and Brauer and finished fourth in Division III at October’s ITA Small College Championships. They will hold down the No. 2 doubles spot this spring.
Sophomore Nick Hansen (Duluth, Minn./East) will make up part of Gustavus’ No. 3 doubles team, pairing with either John Kauss (St. Paul, Minn./Harding) or Ben Tomasek (Oakdale, Minn./North St. Paul), both fellow sophomores. Kauss and Tomasek made it to the Midwest Region semifinals before falling to eventual champions Burdakin and Paukert. All three are part of a talented group of young players that Wilkinson expects to step forward.
Kauss will step in at No. 3 singles behind Bryan and Brauer, with Burdakin and Paukert falling in at No. 4 and No. 5 singles, respectively. Senior Danny Suchy (La Crosse, Wis./Central) and junior Chad Olson (Shoreview, Minn./Mounds View) have been battling with Tomasek and Hansen for the final singles position for the Gusties, who look for their 42nd title overall and their 36th in the last 39 years.